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Motorcycle Spark Plugs & Some Maintenance Tips

Saleh Md. Hassan
August 18, 2013

Dear riderz do you know any one, who has not faced any problem to start his bike for sometime in some situation and has not checked the motorcycle spark plugs for that? Certainly it will be very tough to get that lucky person. Whatsoever, here I would like to discuss on the simple maintenance of our motor bike spark plug and tips for solving some related issues.

motorcycle spark plugs

Motorcycle Spark Plugs Task:

You know, the spark plug is a major component of motor cycle (air-fuel combustion engine). It is directly related to the engine mechanism (air-fuel combustion). Both of two stroke and four stroke engine has a stroke of power stroke. At the power stroke, the inhaled air-fuel mixture is compressed, the spark plug ignites the mixture, and thereof it makes an explosion of gas and pushes the piston outward with a huge force, and that’s the power stroke.

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So considering this chain of mechanism you can realize the job of spark plug. So for a perfect power stroke or perfect combustion the spark plug plays an essential roll. Now you can realize the situation, if the spark plug does not spark on power stroke or spark early or delay. So whatever it is somewhat clear what major thing the spark plug does and why we face some starting problem or regression problem while riding our bike. So we know why we should concentrate for the maintenance of spark plug.

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Maintenance of  Motorcycle Spark plugs:

This is just a simple set of maintenance task. If you habituate yourself, it can keep you away from some unexpected hassles maybe those arises on the middle of road or at the time of starting for office or a tour. So in this writing the focused thing is to keeping the spark plug clean and solving the issues who are responsible to make the plug covered with rust.

Most of the time proper regular maintenance solves most of the hampering issues of any machine. There are many reasons to decrease the spark plug performance or keep the plug out of order. But regular maintenance can solve many other adverse issues. So it will be fine if we maintain a regular maintenance of spark plug. For this issue we should clean & inspect our bike spark plug once in every two week while riding 20-30km averagely everyday or after every 500 km of ride or after every 2 time fuel refill. I think this habit can solve most of the usual problems related to spark plug & combustion mechanism.

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Cleaning the spark plug:

When you need to clean your bike spark plug, it will be fine if you do that after riding your bike at least 5-10 km. Then just pull out the plug with box wrench provided with your bike tool kit box. Clean the plug tip with a hard tooth brush. You can use little petrol or kerosene to wash it.

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Use a sewing needle to pull out the rust or dry carbon from the electrode base. Again wash out the rust with a hard tooth brush and dry off the plug. Never use any hard metal tip or iron paper to clean the center of the tip (electrode). Cause this thing can damage the sharp edge of the flat electrode. And you should have to be more cautious when cleaning an iridium spark plug. Use only petrol/kerosene and a hard tooth brush to clean it.

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Readjust the electrode Gap:

Sometime you may have to check the gap between the center electrode and side electrode. This is an unusual case. But if in any unusual situation the gap increase or decrease we should correct the gap bending the side electrode upward or downward. The standard gap is provided to the owner manual for the certain model of bike & spark plug and it is between 0.8-1.8 mm.

Inspection for other problem:

When inspecting for the spark plug condition, concentrate when your bike starts first time for the day.

  • Observe it starts smoothly or sound like coughing even with pulling the choke lever.
  • See the silencer, it making smoke for cold start or continuously (applicable for four stroke engine).
  • Check throttle responds smoothly or not even heating the engine perfectly.
  • When you are riding in high speed be cautious for any miss fire or regression or engine stalling tendency.

All the symptoms are related to spark plug and also with other things like carburetor adjustment, air cleaner condition, fuel purity etc.

Understanding the problems:

When facing such symptoms, you need to check the spark plug first to determine the problem. In such situation pull out the spark plug with box wrench. It will be fruitful if you do this after riding your bike a little long maybe 10-20 km or more. After pulling out the spark plug check the center electrode color, is it oily or dry, it is rusted or dry carbonized or oily clean. You can determine the problem by the symptoms as described bellow:

  • Spark Plug tip/electrode is dry: Need to increase fuel ratio.
  • Plug is much oily: Need to decrease fuel ratio.
  • Spark Plug tip/electrode dark color: Sign of contaminate fuel and lower ratio of  fuel mixture with air. Need re-adjustment of carburetor and change the fuel.
  • Dark color with much oily sediment: Sign of contaminate fuel and higher ratio of fuel mixture with air. Need re-adjustment of carburetor and change the fuel or clean the air filter element.
  • Dark color with dry rust: Sign of contaminate fuel and lower ratio of fuel mixture with air. Need re-adjustment of carburetor and change the fuel. Also need to clean the air filter element.
  • Bike sounds like coughing:  Change fuel, clean the spark plug, and clean the air filter element.
  • Misfires or stall when riding in high speed: Change fuel, clean/replace the spark plug, and clean/replace the air filter element.

motorcycle spark plugs maintenence tips

Perfect condition:

The plug electrode will not fully dry or much oily and color of electrode will not dark or whitish brown. When the plug tip is little oily type but not oily and color is brown that’s the sign of perfect condition of whole mechanism. By this symptom you can be sure of your fuel quality, optimum adjustment of carburetor, clean supply of air thereby perfect combustion.

Checking workability of plug:

Sometime when you inspect the spark plug for damage you could not determine whether it is in order or not as you may have not seeing any physical damage. In this case you can test it whether it making spark or not. For this test, just pull out the spark plug from cylinder head. Connect the plug terminal (back side) with the battery wire and keep the electrode side near to any metal. And push the start button for a second or kick the engine starter. If the electrode makes any fire or spark then the plug is Ok, otherwise it is out of order. For this test use insulated pliers or other insulated holder to hold the plug to avoid electric shock.

Replacing a spark plug:

Every component has a limited life span. So in some situation we need to replace the spark plug also. Generally a spark plug works in order within 15,000-25,000 km of mileage. But sometime it can damage early if other unusual problems occur continuously like continuous use of contaminate fuel, over carbonized piston & cylinder, dirty air flow by damaged air filter etc. So in such situation the spark plug may lose its life duration. And if also the electrode edge has decayed due to mechanical trouble (described earlier) or by extreme pressure when cleaning it should have to replace for optimum performance. And it should replaced urgent basis if any type of physical damage is seen, don’t hesitate for money just care for the engine.

So riderz, I think this Motorcycle Spark Plugs & Some Maintenance Tip is enough to enhance your biking general knowledge about motorcycle spark plugs and related issues. And hope this will help you to understand your bike more and make you capable to solve some regular issues related with spark plug. So keep riding & ride safe. And it will be nice to know your thoughts with below commentary box.

Thanks.

Saleh Md. Hassan

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