Platinum tipped spark plugs.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

I would like to know the information you have on platinum tipped spark plugs. Are they really worth their weight in platinum? I have an '86 Chevy S10 pickup with a 2.8 V6 and 98,000 miles. I was thinking about putting platinum plugs into my truck. What do you think of them?

TOM: Here's the story, Mel. The big advantage of platinum plugs is longevity. They're supposed to last 60,000-100,000 miles, or roughly three times as long as regular plugs. And although manufacturers claim that platinum plugs improve mileage and performance, we've never seen any real evidence of this.

RAY: One reason they exist is so that some newer cars can claim to not need a tune up for 100,000 miles. That's a nice thing to be able to tell a buyer when you're trying to sell a car.

TOM: The second reason manufacturers like platinum plugs is because some engines are wedged into cars in such a way that some of their spark plugs are extremely hard to get at. And if the customer knew that it was going to cost him 100 bucks in labor just to change the spark plugs every 30,000 miles, he might keep his old Peugeot a couple of more years. So platinum plugs eliminate the need for more frequent spark plug changes on cars whose plugs are difficult to reach.

RAY: The down side is that when plugs stay in an engine for 100,000 miles--which can easily be seven years--they tend to get frozen in place, and can be nearly impossible to remove.

TOM: Of course, that won't be much of a concern for you, Mel, because you're unlikely to get another 100,000 miles out of this truck. So if you want to put platinum plugs in, go for it. They'll be your last set of plugs, no matter how long the truck lasts. In fact, see if they'll give you the "weld in" kit along with them.

RAY: And for those of you who own newer cars with platinum plugs, our recommendation is to unscrew them (and screw them back in) every 30,000 miles or so, just to be sure they don't "become one" with the cylinder head.

TOM: Right. Take a cue from my brother's wife. She changes the locks on their house and makes him sleep in the garage every few months, just to make sure that plan still works.

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