Top 11: Best Spark Plugs Reviews
The roaring power from your engine may come from an explosive combustion to churn those pistons in their cylinders, but it all starts with a little spark.
The spark you need will be very different depending on the type of vehicle and engine you have.
That is is why we put together a list of the 11 best spark plugs available for different types of vehicles. Moreover, we also provide you with a helpful buyer’s guide so you know which spark plug you need and why.
How Big Of An Electrode Gap Do You Need?
This quality does not have a “one size fits all” element to it. Instead, the best sized gap for your spark plug’s electrode will depend on the type of car you have.
It’s important to understand how the gap’s size of your electrode affects it performance. Essentially, the large the gap of the electrode, the higher the voltage your car needs to provide to the spark plug.
Larger gapped electrodes, and thus higher voltage vehicles, are generally older. Newer model vehicles are often more efficient and can produce the same results at a lower voltage. In this case, you need a spark plug with a smaller gap between the electrodes.
The compression for cylinder compression and the air to fuel mixture will also impact the desired gap size. Vehicles with a higher compression and a denser air to fuel mixture will generally require shorter gaps.
This is because the voltage necessary to generate the ignition for these types of systems will be too high for larger gaps, and the charge will simply seek a ground with less resistance. Conversely, lower pressured cylinder systems and leaner air to fuel mixtures are best suited with larger spark plug gaps
What Materials Is The Spark Plug Made Out Of ?
Spark plugs are primarily made with 3 different materials: copper, platinum, and iridium. Each of these materials conduct the spark, though they do so at different effectivenesses in order ascending. So, the iridium spark plugs are the best, followed my the platinum, with copper bringing up the rear.
However, those three materials will often be used together in the same spark plug. For instance, platinum spark plugs are often paired with copper materials, while iridium spark plugs are often paired with platinum.
All of the different materials used with spark plugs are actually housed within a copper body. In fact, it is only the contact point, the electrode itself, which is not copper–this includes for “copper” spark plugs.
In terms of quality, copper spark plugs are often less desirable. These spark plugs use a nickel alloy electrode to conduct the spark to a copper electrode. The nickel alloy electrode, however, is the softest material used in electrodes and will wear out more quickly than either platinum or iridium.
Keep in mind, some vehicles, especially older ones, are designed to use copper spark plugs. Moreover, the type of engine you have, will also affect this. High-energy distributor-less ignition systems (DIS) or coil-on-plug (COP) ignition systems should not use copper spark plugs.
Platinum spark plugs actually come in 2 types: Platinum and Double Platinum.
Essentially, platinum spark plugs conduct the spark between a platinum electrode and a copper electrode.
A double platinum spark plug, as the name implies, uses 2 platinum electrodes–though these electrodes are truly just the cap to a copper base.
These spark plugs were designed for engines with distributor-less ignition systems (DIS). Generally a single platinum spark plug will suffice, but engines which recommend a single platinum spark plug can be upgraded to double platinum or even iridium spark plugs to produce a more efficient firing.
Engines that recommend at least a double platinum spark plug should not use a single platinum spark plug or a copper spark plug.
Iridium is the last material and, consequently, the strongest as well. This type of spark plug will last longer than all the other types. Iridium spark plugs are designed for use in engines with an coil-on-plug (COP) ignition system.
If your vehicle manual recommends iridium spark plugs, do use either type of platinum spark plug or copper spark plugs. These are widely regarded as the best performance spark plugs.
How Is The Spark Plug Insulated?
All spark plugs using ceramic as an insulation to protect the spark plug from the heat of the electricity. However, the amount of the insulation that is exposed and protecting the electrodes will determine whether your car is using “hotplugs” or “coldplugs.”
Keep in mind, hotplugs have less insulation and allow the ignition to burn hotter. Moreover, this hotter burn has a tendency to remove carbon buildup from around the spark plug during ignition.
However, high performance cars often recommend using coldplugs. The reason for this is because high performance cars have engines which already run at an exceedingly high temperature.
Using a hotplug can increase that temperature to the point where it may damage the engine itself. Though not a “rule” exactly, it is often the case that colder plugs are the best spark plugs for horsepower since engine with higher horsepower generally run hotter.
What Kind Of Vehicle Do You Drive?
Ultimately, the different qualities of a spark plug are only relevant if they are designed for the type of vehicle you drive.
Cars require a different grade of spark plug than trucks which in turn require a different spark plug than SUVs.
Motorcycles require their own kind of spark plug as do ATVs. Understanding what kind of spark plug your vehicle requires is equally as important as the quality of the spark plug itself.
In fact, many tools–especially for lawn care or that have a smaller horsepower motor attached–also require spark plugs.
Best Spark Plug Reviews
Best New Model High Performance Car Spark Plug
Champion is a brand that has earned a reputation as producing some of the best spark plugs for high performance vehicles. If you spent a quarter of a million dollars of a super sportscar, this is the area you should look at when selecting a spark plug.
Keep in mind, you want this plug to run a bit colder since the engine will already run exceptionally hot. That is why this spark plug uses a copper core and SAC-9 semi-conductor resistor to ensure that the spark produced will not add any undue heat to your already piping engine.
Moreover, the TinTac and ULTRASEAL shell prevent damage or leakage.
Best New Model Car Spark Plug
At this point, you should get ready, because NGK is going to occupy the most positions on our list. Aside from the fact that they are an incredibly reliable brand with numerous types of spark plugs to fit almost every kind of vehicle on the market, they also use some of the highest grade materials.
For newer vehicles, you are generally going to want to go with iridium spark plugs. This model features a laser welded iridium electrode to provide longer life to the plug.
Moreover, the long, corrugated insulator prevents the spark from jumping the ground. Furthermore, there is no need to worry about combustion leakage with the triple gasket seal.
Best New Model SUV Spark Plug
Our next spark plug is designed for us in newer model SUVs. Like the previous model, this spark plug also features a laser welded, iridium electrode. This provides a long life to the spark plug while ensuring the contact edges remain crisp and sharp.
Moreover, this spark plug also features a similar extended ceramic insulator that is corrugated to prevent ground jumping.
However, this plug also offers trivalent metal plating to prevent corrosion or seizing once it is time to change the plug out. The triple gasket seal provides additional protection to ensure no leakage so all of your fuel and combustion goes directly to the cylinder.
Best New Model Pick Up Truck Spark Plugs
Considering pick up trucks generally have some of the larger and more powerful engines available, you need a set of spark plugs that can handle the voltage they put out. That is why this spark plug’s 0.52 mm electrode gap is perfect.
Moreover, this spark plug likewise features an iridium electrode to provide a longer life and produce a consistent spark even after 50,000 miles.
These plugs will also help you reduce your mpg–especially important for gas hungry trucks. However, some models of this spark plug may require a gap adjustment to be properly fitted.
Best Middle Aged Car Spark Plug
As you vehicle ages, you will need to be more careful to ensure that you purchase the right spark plug for its engine.
Thankfully, even middle aged car engines had already developed to a point where they could make use of iridium electrodes.This allows you to drive up to 50,000 miles or more before you need to change them.
With a 0.6 mm electrode gap, this spark plug expects your car to put out a higher voltage–an expectation that is met more and more the older your car gets.Keep in mind, this gap is rated for a higher voltage than even newer model pick up trucks.
Best Middle Aged SUV Spark Plugs
This is the first Bosch spark plug to make our list. Normally known for producing some of the highest quality power tools, Bosch also makes excellent spark plugs for middle aged and older model vehicles.
The longer insulator nose is especially helpful. Since the large gap requires such a high voltage, the longer insulator prevents the charge from jumping the ground.
This is also the first platinum spark plug on our list. Expect older model vehicles to be designed for either platinum or copper electrodes. Remember, you can sometimes move up in the material quality scale, but never move down.
Best Middle Aged Pick Up Truck Spark Plugs
Back to NGK, but this time we are outside of their iridium spark plugs and back with a platinum electrode. Considering that cars have a tendency to be developed somewhat quicker than the larger engined vehicles, this should not come as too much of a surprise.
While they do not come pre-gapped, it is a relatively simple order to do so, and your mechanic can accomplish this in seconds. Moreover, many consumers have reported these plugs to last well over 75,000 miles–though thei mpgs suffered by 1-2.
In fact, these plugs were actually preferred by drivers who tricked out their trucks for street races back when it was popular.
Best Old Model Car Spark Plugs
Now that we have reached the point where the vehicles are old geezers in automotive years, expect the materials to decrease and the gaps to increase. That is the case with our second set of Bosch spark plugs. This is also the first spark plug on our list to feature a v-profile.
With an electrode gap of 0.44 mm, the voltage this car produces is comparable to a newer model truck with a smaller engine. Moreover, the lack of a DIS or COP engine removes iridium or platinum out of the mix of materials we have to play with. Still, Bosch does at least provide high quality yttrium copper.
Best Old Model SUV Spark Plugs
SUVs may have been around for a while, but they are still one of the newer types of consumer automobile on the market–all things considered. As such, the older models of SUV are notably behind the technological curve compared to cars and trucks which had a good 50 year head start on them.
That is why Bosch relied on an air-gap firing method for early SUVs. This prevents the need to adjust the gap, though it also requires that you do not try to either.
Still, it features 4 yttrium copper electrodes to produce a consistent spark every time. Moreover, an alloy is applied to the ground electrodes to reduce oxidation and wear.
Best Old Model Pick Up Truck Spark Plugs
Our final spark plug for a common type of automobile is once again an NGK. However, this is NGK’s first appearance on our list providing a spark plug made out of a material that was not at least platinum or better.
Of course, older model pick ups did not have access to DIS or COP engines, so copper is a necessity. Still, this spark plug does get plenty of points for some more modern advancements.
First, it features a triple gasket design to prevent combustion leaks. However, it also features high alumina ceramics to dissipate heat and allows a wider range of temperatures than most spark plugs.
Best Performance Iridium Spark Plug for a Motorcycle
Our final spark plug is, no surprise, an NGK. However, the last spark plug on our list, much like the first, is fairly unique. This is the only spark plug that is rated for use in motorcycles, snowmobiles, and ATVs.
This spark plug sees a return to the highest quality materials used in spark plugs, iridium. This spark plug features a 0.6 mm electrode gap, so make sure that your engine fires at a high voltage.
Since non-automotive vehicles are not necessarily advanced at the same rate, this should not be an issue. Take car if you have a sport bike though–this may require a regapping.
How Many Spark Plugs Do You Need?
The number of spark plugs your engine requires will depend on 2 factors: the number of cylinders it has and the type of engine it is. Some engines are set up where they only require spark plugs at the point of fuel ignition.
Other engines are set up to ignite the cylinder exhaust as well. This second type of engine is designed to burn off any excess combustible waste from the exhaust and produce a cleaner emission.
Which type of engine you have will often be heavily dependent on the year of your vehicle, the model, and even the maker. Newer cars are fit to burn a cleaner emission. However, the region your car was made for and its local laws will also play an important factor.
Some parts of the world have looser emission standards, while others are more strict. Generally, the more industrialized the region, the stricter the emission standards.
Regardless, if your engine only ignites at the intake, you will require a single spark plug per cylinder. This means that v4s will require 4, v6s will require 6, and v8s will require 8.
If your engine ignites at both the intake and cylinder exhaust, however, you will need to double the number of spark plugs required. In this case, each cylinder will require 2 plugs a piece meaning a v4 will require 8, a v6 will require 12, and a v8 will require 16.
Related: What Size Jump Starter Do I Need?
As we can see, there really is not a spark plug that is best for everyone. Depending on your engine and your vehicle, different spark plugs work better than others.
Even though there is a general consensus about the quality of materials, you cannot always use a better quality material spark plug–especially if you have an older model vehicle.
The highest end super sports cars will require a vastly different grade spark plug than those which you would use for common consumer vehicles.
Finally, motorcycles and other non-traditional vehicles will also require special attention when selecting the best spark plugs.