Spark plugs are an important element in a car engine. Much depends on their job – stable operation, ignition (both cold and hot), fuel consumption and even power. Therefore, manufacturers are constantly working on this element, improving it. One of these “evolutionary leaps” was iridium spark plugs (some call it platinum).
However, if you read reviews on the Internet, then opinions will be completely different! Some people write that this is a “miracle miracle” with all the advantages I have mentioned above (and the service life is also great).
Others write that nothing changes at all, and the motor works even worse! WHERE IS THE TRUTH? I have experience with such an element, and therefore there is something to tell and show, let’s think about the pros and cons.
At first I wanted to tell you a little about iridium and platinum. Rumor has it that it is the same thing. This is not quite true, of course, iridium is a metal of the platinum group, but it is a transition element, and the method of production is slightly different (we will talk about it below). But the platinum variants (for example, BOSCH Platinum) have a center electrode that is completely platinum, but very thin, which locks (as if poured) into a dense ceramic insulator.
Although in fairness it should be noted that some manufacturers call the iridium option platinum, or cover the point of contact with platinum using a similar technology to iridium (this is not the point now). I will have a separate article on this, so be sure to follow my blog.
What is Iridium Metal?
I’m going to put in a little help, for general development you need to understand what kind of elements are.
Iridium is an element with the atomic number 77 (in Mendeleev D.I.’s system). A very hard, refractory, silver-white transition metal of the platinum group. It has high density, high resistance to corrosion, resistance to acids and alkalis (even at 2000 ° C). It is very rare in terrestrial rock, therefore it is quite expensive and valuable. Melting point – 2466 ° C.
As you can see, metals were almost ideal for use in the combustion chamber, if not for the price.
Problems With Conventional Spark Plugs
Now I will not go into detail about the work of these elements. But we need to understand that the main load is carried by two electrodes – central and lateral (a spark passes between them). They are the ones that wear out over time and the elements themselves need to be replaced
- Typically, the side electrodes are made of steel combined with manganese or nickel.
- The center electrode is made of an iron-nickel alloy with the addition of copper and chromium.
From the factory, not only the gaps are strictly defined, but also a certain resistance is selected (around them a little lower) so that the ignition coil can “break through” and provide the necessary strong spark.
Over time, this is usually 50-80,000 km, the size of the electrodes becomes smaller, the gap increases and the coil cannot effectively spark (it turns out to be weak), the car is not attracted, and fuel consumption can also increase.
This happens because the middle and side electrodes lose some of their metal, they just burn from the constant discharge.
If you don’t replace the spark plugs in time, or if you don’t adjust the gap correctly, the ignition coil may fail (because it needs more strength to “break” the large height between the electrodes).
That’s why spark plug replacement is carried out at 3-4 MOTs, namely 45,000-60,000 km.
Iridium Spark Plugs Clearance and Resistance
Each manufacturer selects a spark plugs from a specific manufacturer for themselves. Here not only gaps are needed, but also resistance.
A gap of about 0.8 – 1 mm is considered normal, the resistance of the spark plug is usually not indicated on the body, but in the seller’s catalog you can choose exactly the right one for your machine.
It should be noted that if you pick up the elements from the wrong distance and obstacles, then on the contrary you can – worsen the characteristics of your car! After all, a spark plugs is chosen for your make and model of ignition coil. THIS IS NEED TO UNDERSTAND.
Iridium Spark Plugs or Regular Spark Plugs – which is better?
So we come to the most interesting, but in fact, what is better than the usual iridium option?
There are some differences here, but as many manufacturers believe, they are significant.
Sometimes the middle and side electrodes are doped (if it is clear) – with iridium. Various application options are now distinguished:
- Two small points for the electrodes (which are made using conventional technology)
- The center alloys with iridium, and a special U-shaped groove is made on the sides, but not alloyed
- Two electrodes, opposite each other. One of them is platinum, the other is iridium.
As we know, this precious metal has excellent melting properties, wear resistance, corrosion and transmission of electric current.
Also, the center is usually narrowed, making it needle-like. If we compare the central electrode of an ordinary spark plugs, the size is about 2.4 – 2.8 mm, but for the iridium version it is only 0.5 – 0.8 mm.
So, we get a very strong, concentrated spark. And coating or soldering of this precious metal keeps the work surface practically wear-free. That is, the distance between the electrodes lasts for a VERY long time, many are talking about 100 – 150,000 km. BUT nothing lasts forever, as soon as the deposition of this platinum group metal is destroyed, literally the working surface of the electrode is immediately destroyed
I know many who may ask the question – why don’t regular spark plugs have the same thin center? Everything is simple here – iron-nickel right with copper and chromium also cannot perfectly withstand the discharge of electricity, temperature, corrosion as opposed to those made of precious metals, it will just wear out and collapse faster (literally within 10-15000 km) , thereby increasing the gap and worsening specifications. That is why it is made thicker so that it is resistant to aggressive environmental influences.
I installed iridium spark plugs, but the engine got worse.
This is common too – but why? The answer is simple – you have chosen the wrong option for your car (usually buy what friends suggest, how well it works for him). As I wrote above, all cars have specific ignition coils, different compression ratios etc.
Therefore, the spark plugs must match not only the overall characteristics (dimensions, height and thread), but also with gaps and resistance
A 0.2mm gap difference, which you may not see visually, can interfere with the performance of your internal combustion engine. That also happens with the resistance of the spark plugs, it has to match your electrical circuit. If you accept them with an increase in resistance, then the coils won’t work properly (giving a weaker spark), and they may fail.
This is why NORMAL SELLERS have a special catalog (or program) they use to select iridium or regular spark plugs for you.
Iridium Spark Plugs Pros And Cons
I make a small plate and write down all the positive and negative points on it.
- Strong splash, steady start (even in winter)
- Long life (running more than 100,000 km)
- Smooth engine operation
- High price, 3-4 times more expensive than conventional counterparts
- No power boost promised
- No big fuel savings (and in about 2-3% error you won’t feel it)
I want to say a few words that the cleaning of such elements, there is a huge amount of information on the network NOT at all to clean it up! And even if you pour bad gasoline – the spark plugs is covered with a coating (say, red from additives) or carbon deposits, then everything needs to be put on top of a new one.
But guys, in fact, this doesn’t make any sense. They can be perfectly cleaned, only it is not necessary to do it with sandpaper (in this way you will remove the working coating), we just soak them in cleaning liquid (ordinary detergent for the kitchen is suitable) and then clean everything with a soft brush (an old toothbrush is ideal ). And they are working again.
Iridium Spark Plugs Review
Well, and finally, I want to tell you about my experience using (so to speak, leave a review). I bought iridium at FORD FUSION, because I thought my own spark plug was dead and needed to be replaced (and got fashionable when I tried it). I picked up the DENSO brand, chose it as usual from the catalog.
I didn’t feel any global changes, the car got a little brighter, but only because the usual spark plugs were already with the electrodes burned and the gap increased. Consumption did not decrease, 10% superpower also did not appear. Winter started, so it was good for me and genuine FORD spark plugs.
I drove about 60,000 km, then I sold the car with them. They did not cause problems, the gaps remained like that, there was not even a sign of burning the electrodes. Standard spark plugs are usually replaced at 50,000 km, they don’t cause any problems either, but with such a rotation the center starts to wear out a little.
What is my personal conclusion. If you have the money, you can pay more for iridium options, they really work well and work for a long time, and it seems to me that winter is starting, albeit slightly, but better. But the cost is expensive. With this money (for me personally), you can buy nearly three sets of regular spark plugs, and really push them (in total) even more. There was no power increase and decrease in fuel consumption that the manufacturer had promised.
So do you guys have experience with this type of spark plug? Please submit in the comments, so that our other friends can find out. Thank you for visiting. GBU all..