Spark plugs have been an essential component of gasoline engines since the invention of the car because they transmit the electrical energy from the ignition system to complete the combustion process. Spark plugs act as a tiny bolt of lightning, igniting the gas/air combination and causing an explosion that pushes a piston downward once it has been completely compressed within the cylinder head.
On diesel engines, spark plugs aren't required because the compression ratios are high enough to produce combustion without the need for a spark. Although 99 percent of engines have one spark plug per cylinder, certain high-performance engines, such as modern Chrysler Hemi V8s, have had two plugs per cylinder since their launch.
The inner central electrode of a spark plug is protected by a visible white porcelain insulating shell. The output terminal of the vehicle's ignition coil is linked to the center electrode via a thickly insulated wire.
The bottom of the spark plug has a threaded shell that enables it to be screwed into the cylinder head of a car, and the very bottom tip of the spark plug extends partway into the combustion chamber. Various types of spark plugs are identified and characterized by the metal used to cover the electrodes.
"Copper," "nickel," "platinum," "double platinum," "iridium," and "silver" are some of the spark plug types commercially available.
Copper/Nickel Spark Plugs
Copper spark plugs have a nickel-alloy coating on the electrode, which is often called "standard" or "normal." Copper is only used in the inner core. This is due to the fact that copper is a soft metal that would melt very quickly if exposed to the high temperatures seen in the outer spark plug regions. For the sake of this essay, we'll refer to these plugs as "copper/nickel" because of their design. It's worth noting that most spark plug cores are composed of copper, which has a good capacity to conduct electricity.
Copper/nickel spark plugs are less expensive and have a shorter lifetime, particularly when used in modern cars with high-energy distributor-less or coil-on-plug ignition systems.
Copper/nickel plugs, on the other hand, are useful in certain situations. Some producers of high-performance late-model cars build their engines to utilize copper/nickel plugs as original equipment because copper provides the greatest spark under the unfavorable circumstances created by turbochargers or greater compression ratios. We suggest going with copper/nickel spark plugs if your vehicle's maintenance manual specifies them. However, most modern cars do not suggest installing these kinds of connectors.
Copper/nickel plugs are also ideal for engines manufactured before the 1970s, when high-energy distributor ignition systems became popular. Copper/nickel plugs are also excellent for natural gas engines.
Single Platinum Spark Plugs
A platinum center electrode is used in platinum spark plugs. These plugs are also known as "single platinum." Because platinum is a more uncommon element in nature, platinum-tipped spark plugs are more costly. The remarkable lifetime of platinum spark plugs under normal driving situations is where they shine. Because platinum is tougher than nickel alloy, it does not corrode like copper/nickel plugs. This means the space at the spark plug's tip does not expand as the metal wears away, resulting in a loss of power, decreased mileage, and intermittent misfires on starting, which may turn on check engine lights in modern cars.
A "fine wire" center core with one or more platinum discs may be mentioned in some platinum plugs. The term "fine wire" refers to an inner central electrode with a thinner design. The cause for this is that premium metals conduct electricity better than other metals; therefore, they don't need to be utilized as much.
Platinum plugs resist carbon buildup better than copper/nickel plugs because they operate at greater temperatures. These are well-suited to modern engines with distributor-based electronic ignition systems, and many new cars come with them as standard equipment.
Platinum spark plugs usually last twice as long as copper ones, but due to perfect computer control of the air-fuel mixture at all operating temperatures, some car manufacturers specify long plug change intervals of up to 100,000 miles. If your vehicle's manufacturer recommends platinum plugs for routine maintenance, use them. It is not suggested to switch to copper/nickel plugs.
Double Platinum Spark Plugs
Single platinum plugs have a platinum center electrode, while double platinum plugs have platinum plating on both the center and ground electrode. While this kind of plug is more expensive, it usually provides slightly better performance as well as the longer life than platinum plugs are famous for. Another benefit is that the double-platinum plugs are particularly well-suited to ignition systems that use "wasted spark" ignition.
Iridium Spark Plugs
Iridium-tipped spark plugs provide greater power, complete combustion, and a longer lifetime than copper/nickel plugs, resulting in smoother-running engines. Iridium plugs may last as long as platinum plugs, depending on the application. Iridium plugs are the most expensive, and they usually include "fine wire" centers that help conduct electrical energy more efficiently.
Silver Spark Plugs
The best thermal conductivity is found in silver-tipped spark plugs. However, They do not have the same lifespan as platinum or iridium. They're often seen in older European performance vehicles and some motorbikes.