One of the greatest wonders of a modern car is that “it only takes a single spark to move it a hundred miles.” Curiously, this electricity-driven mechanism has existed as early as 1888 – courtesy of the German pioneer named Karl Benz. The importance of the spark plug in every modern car can be likened to the condition of the central nervous system of human beings.
A certain deficiency in the nervous response reduces the optimal reaction time, comprehension and positive temperament among human beings. A defect in the spark plug causes the car to either delay or experience engine misfire whenever it is started. And curiously enough, both realities are caused by one thing – stress.
Like all machines, spark plugs may eventually deteriorate due to long distance travel, especially under road conditions that are harsher than the normal climate (e.g. snow storm, midday drought, flood, etc). Replacing spark plugs past their threshold durability keeps the car running at its best performance. These advantages include consistent optimal combustion, better fuel economy, smooth engine starts, and less harmful emissions.
Average Cost Categories
So, how much does it cost to replace spark plugs? There are three types of budget all prospective consumers must take note when it comes to knowing the average price to replace spark plugs. These are the general price ranges according to Open Bay:
- Do-it-yourself (DIY): $50 to $65
- Independent Repair Shop: $115 to $140
- Car Dealership: $175 to $240
These categories of the spark plug replacement cost only reflect the type of service done for the typical American automobile model that sports an 8-cylinder engine. Median prices for other configurations may vary to some extent.
Signs for Replacing Spark Plugs
Knowing how much it costs to replace a spark plug is one thing. It is also equally important for consumers to be smart and know when such investment is highly necessary. In essence, it is simply wasteful to replace spark plugs if it has not yet gone past its limits. The greatest return on investment for every category of spark plug change cost depends on how well a car owner knows the condition of his or her vehicle.
Granted that one in every two people in the United States is a car owner since the early 1990’s, not every member of that huge population knows how to take good care of their vehicles – much less know when to change the spark plugs. These are the following signs that keen car owners see that drives them to decide on getting replacements:
- Rattling noise when starting the ignition
- Difficulty starting the engine (caused by misfires)
- Poor fuel economy (gas supply quickly depletes)
- The ‘check engine’ light is turned on
Knowing when to replace the spark plugs may also depend on the material durability of the spark plug itself. The generic copper plugs have a shorter lifespan than those varieties with advanced components like platinum (single or double) and iridium. The baseline requirement for the frequency of spark plug replacement is ‘if the car has traveled a total of 30,000 miles in harsher than normal weather conditions.’
All about DIY Replacement
When it comes to reaping the highest value strictly in terms of monetary savings, the DIY spark plug change cost has to be the best choice. However, this alternative also exposes consumers to higher risks. After all, a huge part of its value solely rides on the competence of the owners who decide to perform spark plug replacements independently.
Anyone who has no working knowledge of basic auto repairs is not advised to perform DIY. But for those who know their way around tinkering with functional car engines, these are the sequenced guidelines that both intermediate and expert mechanics follow:
- Scanning the car for codes
- Cleaning the surface spark plug areas
- Removing the spark plugs
- Inspection of engine head threads
- Performing compression threads
- Inspection of ignition wires
- Applying anti-freeze agents onto spark plug threads
- Installing new spark plugs
- Replacement of gaskets if necessary
Granted that a consumer knows what he or she is doing, there is a chance that he or she may not know the ropes around buying spark plugs. Auto Service Costs compares the generic prices sold in the following well-known retail providers in the country:
- Pep Boys: $16 to $108
- Amazon: $18 to $167
- Wal-Mart: $32 to $98
Mechanical Service Comparison
In terms of acquiring the best return on investment, hiring a professional auto mechanic proves to be the safest option. Although labor cost adds up to the overall price to replace spark plugs, it guarantees a better chance of a successful modification for consumers who have no working knowledge of basic auto repairs.
As mentioned earlier, independent repair shops are cheaper service providers than car dealerships. The usual warranty period following a typical repair or other related mechanical service in many legitimate auto shops is 12 months.
Considering that there are plenty of independent repair shops across the country, a smart consumer would always compare quotations for service costs before choosing one provider. Examples of well-known providers with multiple branches throughout the United States include the following names:
- Mr. Tire: $55 to $269
- Your Mechanic: $65 to $189
- Midas: $87 to $245
Replacement Cost per Model
Judging from the three choices mentioned in the previous part of the article, the safest option in terms of the price range would be Your Mechanic. As it happens, this independent repair shop features an inventory of the exact spark plug replacement costs for various automobile models widely distributed in the United States.
Compared to the national average price cost of replacing spark plugs, one can save at least 30% by availing any of the spark plug replacements under Your Mechanic. The list of these price ranges are arranged accordingly, from the cheapest to the most expensive:
- 2013 Mini Cooper: $84
- 2006 Audi A3: $86
- 2005 Hyundai Accent: $86
- 2008 Isuzu 1-370: $104
- 2007 Subaru Forrester: $108
- 2002 Dodge Caravan: $118
- 2009 Toyota Tundra: $143
- 2003 BMW M5: $165
- 2007 Lexus RX350: $248