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how to clean a spark plug?

BISON will walk you through the process step by step, explaining the importance of keeping your spark plugs clean, identifying the signs of a dirty spark plug.

Table of Contents

Generator spark plugs are like tiny lightning bolts! But don’t focus on their size. They play a vital role in the health and performance of any gasoline engine. They are responsible for generating the electrical spark, a key element in the engine cycle that initiates the combustion that powers the engine.

So how do spark plugs become contaminated? During the rainy season or when the generator is being repaired, moisture buildup in the spark plugs can prevent the generator from starting. As with any component exposed to such harsh conditions, spark plugs can accumulate deposits and wear over time. Additionally, over time, carbon residue can form on the surface of the spark plug. It will directly affect engine performance and fuel mileage. Now, no one wants that.

So, BISON will walk you through the process step by step, explaining the importance of keeping your spark plugs clean, identifying the signs of a dirty spark plug, and finally teaching you how to rejuvenate your spark plugs to keep these little guys running smoothly.

how to clean a spark plug

List of tools and materials needed to clean spark plugs

Before Bison walks you through a step-by-step guide on how to clean spark plugs, let’s gather the tools and materials you’ll need beforehand:

  • Sandpaper: Clean the electrode area.
  • Compressed air: Blow out any debris from around the spark plug hole and electrode before and after cleaning.
  • Spark plug cleaning machine: used to supply air and sandblast spark plugs.
  • Spark Plug Gap Tool: Check and adjust the spark plug gap according to vehicle specifications.
  • Carbohydrate cleaner: Place the spark plug on a clean surface like a vise and spray the cleaner. Can be used with a wire brush.
  • Spark plug sleeve and wrench: remove and reinstall the spark plug.
  • Wire brush: Scrubs away any deposits on the spark plug without damaging it.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Make sure the surface is clean and remove oil and dirt.
  • Pliers or bench vise: Pliers hold the plug to extend the length of the plug to prevent your hands from being burned.
  • Blowtorch: Burn away all trash, debris, and oil from the spark plug.
  • Clean cloth: quickly dry the spark plug and plug after spraying the cleaner.
  • Carburetor cleaning machine: used to supply air and sandblast spark plugs.
  • Wear gloves and goggles: Protect your hands with sturdy gloves. This not only protects you from heat but also from sharp edges and debris.

how to clean spark plugs – step-by-step

Step 1: Locate and remove the spark plug

For your safety, you first want to make sure the engine is turned off and cool to the touch to prevent burns.

Remove the engine cover and the spark plug is located under the ignition coil in the combustion chamber cylinder. To access them, use a wrench to loosen the combustion chamber bolts. Before doing so, brush away any loose dirt and debris that may have fallen into the spark plug hole or combustion chamber. Remove the ignition coil from the cylinder. Insert a socket wrench consisting of an extension rod and spark plug socket to loosen the spark plug. Then use pliers to twist slightly and pull out the spark plug. Be careful at this time to avoid cross-threading or damage to the spark plug threads.

Step 2: Interpretation of spark plug

Before you start cleaning your spark plugs, analyze them. Check the spark plug to see if it is worn, damaged, or heavily contaminated. If the plug cannot be cleaned, replacement is your best option. Here is a brief overview of spark plug conditions and what they mean.

  • If the center electrode of the spark plug is worn, it needs to be replaced.
  • A dry, smoky appearance to the spark plug center electrode may indicate a fuel leak. You need to check the spark plugs on all cylinders to verify if there are any leaks or overall fuel control issues.
  • If you notice slight discoloration on the center electrode of the spark plug but no deposits, this is normal. This indicates that the spark plug is working properly and the engine is working properly.
  • If there are dry sandy deposits on the outer electrode of the spark plug, there is a fault. The valve seal is not working and oil is being sucked into the cylinder. You need professional help to solve this problem.
  • If you notice a lot of wet, muddy deposits on both ends of the spark plug, this is a sign that you need to overhaul your engine for major internal repairs.
  • After checking the spark plugs, it’s time to clean them thoroughly.

Step 3: Clean the spark plug

A wire brush (brass or nylon) is great for removing dirt without damaging the plug. A wire brush (brass or nylon) is great for removing dirt without damaging the plug. For stubborn deposits, use 220-grit sandpaper lightly, but this should be a last resort to prevent damage. For light dirt on small engine spark plugs, soaking in rubbing alcohol and scrubbing with a soft brush can be effective. For deep cleaning, use a spark plug cleaning tool or carefully use sandpaper to remove deeper deposits. Use compressed air after scrubbing to remove loose particles from the electrodes and insulators. After completing the above steps, check the spark plug’s check electrode here for wear or cracks and use a spark plug gap tool to measure the width of the gap. Adjust the correct clearance according to the engine manufacturer’s guidelines. Small engines typically require a spark plug gap of 0.020 to 0.030 inches.

Step 4: Reinstall the spark plug

After making sure to clean and allow the spark plug to dry completely, manually screw the spark plug back into the engine, then use a torque wrench to tighten the plug to the manufacturer’s specifications, making sure it is secure without over-tightening. Secure the spark plug wire to the end of the spark plug. When placing the rubber boots, gently rock the rubber boot in both directions to confirm that the connection is secure. Replace the previously removed guard or cover. To verify your work, start the engine and let it run.

cleaning alternator spark plugs with abrasives

preventive maintenance

Following the detailed steps below will not only help maintain efficient engine performance, but will also help extend the life of your spark plugs, ensuring your machine runs smoothly for a long time.

  • Regular inspection: Schedule regular inspection of spark plugs as part of routine vehicle maintenance.
  • Recognize when to replace: Understand that cleaning has its limitations; when a spark plug is excessively worn, it needs to be replaced.
  • Extended spark plug life: Regular cleaning, proper installation, and following a maintenance schedule can significantly extend the life of your spark plugs.

conclusion

Learning to clean spark plugs is a simple and cost-effective way to maintain optimal engine performance and fuel efficiency. By following the step-by-step guidelines outlined in this blog post, you can easily remove carbon deposits and other contaminants that hinder spark plug function. Cleaning your spark plugs regularly will extend their life, keep your engine running smoothly, and save you time and money on potential repairs. Remember, safety is paramount throughout the entire process, so take the necessary precautions.

how to clean a spark plug? FAQ

Technically, yes, you can clean your spark plugs, but it's usually not worth it. We don't recommend this for a number of reasons. Ultimately, cleaned spark plugs will not perform as well as new ones.

It's important not to grease the spark plug, but to know how and where to grease it. Since dielectric grease is an insulator, you'll need to apply a small amount to the spark plug alone. Do not let it come into contact with the metal connector on the boot. Pick up the oil with cotton wool and apply a small amount.

Apply a thin layer of electrical grease to the inside of the boot using a circular motion. For optimal protection, you can apply a layer of grease to the spark plug's ceramic coating. Use it again in the same circular motion. Be sure not to touch the grease on the metal terminals of the spark plug.

It's important not to grease the spark plug, but to know how and where to grease it. Since dielectric grease is an insulator, you'll need to apply a small amount to the spark plug alone. Do not let it come into contact with the metal connector on the boot. Pick up the oil with cotton wool and apply a small amount.

Apply a thin layer of electrical grease to the inside of the boot using a circular motion. For optimal protection, you can apply a layer of grease to the spark plug's ceramic coating. Use it again in the same circular motion. Be sure not to touch the grease on the metal terminals of the spark plug.

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