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How Long Do Copper Spark Plugs Last? (+5 FAQs)

May 6, 2022

Spark plugs play an important role in starting your car. They’re available in many different materials and can directly affect your car’s engine performance and fuel efficiency.

Copper spark plugs, for example, are among the most common. They’re usually recommended for older vehicles and late-model cars with turbocharged engines. 

So you might be wondering, how long do copper spark plugs last? 
Moreover, is there any way to make them last longer? 

We’ll answer those questions in this article. We’ll also look at some common FAQs about copper spark plugs, including how they compare with others and what happens if you don’t change them on time

This Article Contains: 

Let’s begin!

How Long Do Copper Spark Plugs Last?

Copper spark plugs (also known as conventional spark plugs or the regular spark plug) are the cheapest and most commonly used spark plugs on the market. 

The standard copper plug can go anywhere between 10,000-20,000 miles. Compared to iridium plugs or platinum spark plugs (which last for over 60,000-100,000 miles), copper spark plugs wear out very quickly. 

Why is that? 
Copper plugs have a copper core, a softer metal with a lower melting point that tends to wear down quickly. For this reason, standard copper spark plugs consist of a nickel-alloy outer material to protect the copper center electrode. 

As such, old copper plugs need to be changed more often than iridium plugs or platinum plugs to prevent carbon fouling and misfires.

So is there any way to make them last longer?

Can I Make Copper Spark Plugs Last Longer?

Partly, yes. While you can’t use conventional spark plugs beyond their recommended mileage, you can ensure they last their longest in good condition. 

Here are some tips to help your copper plugs last long:

Most importantly, get your old spark plug checked and replaced at the recommended service intervals to prevent potential ignition system and fuel economy problems. 

Next, let’s glance over some common queries about standard copper spark plugs.

5 FAQs About Copper Spark Plugs 

Here are some frequently asked questions about copper spark plugs and their answers.

1. What Does A Spark Plug Do?

A spark plug is a small device in your engine that creates an electrical spark every time you start your car. This electrical spark fires the air-fuel mixture, creating a small explosion that creates sufficient power for the pistons to keep moving. 

Spark plugs consist of a ground electrode (side electrode) and a center electrode. These electrodes are typically made up of high-quality nickel alloys and have a small gap. 

Here’s how they work: 

2. What Happens If I Don’t Change My Spark Plugs?

As with any other engine components, spark plugs deteriorate over time. As it nears its changing cycle, the old spark plug can cause several problems like reduced fuel efficiency, poor engine performance, and lower fuel economy. 

If you don’t get a new spark plug in time, you may experience difficulty starting the car. Eventually, worn spark plugs may lead to complete engine failure. 

3. How Are Copper Spark Plugs Compared To Others?

Conventional spark plugs are commonly used for their high heat resistance and conductivity. However, they do tend to wear out faster than others. 

Here’s a general breakdown of how long each spark plug type lasts: 

4. Is A Copper Spark Plug Better Than An Iridium Plug?

Not really. It depends on the type of car you use and your driving habits. 

Generally, precious metal iridium spark plugs are considered to be superior to copper plugs. They’re more durable and last longer than copper plugs. However, getting an iridium spark plug replacement can be pricey. 

In contrast, copper spark plugs cost far less. They also perform well under pressure, have a better heat range, and are the recommended type for most old vehicles. 

However, the best spark plug for your car is the one recommended in your owner’s manual. Using a bad spark plug or the wrong plug can have detrimental effects on your engine and lead to costly repairs. 

5. Do Platinum Plugs Perform Better Than Copper?

Yes and no. In theory, no spark plug is ‘better’ than another. It just depends on which one is the best spark plug for your vehicle. 

Copper plugs have a higher heat range. However, this also means that their nickel alloy coated electrodes will melt faster and need frequent replacing.

A platinum plug (single platinum or double platinum) also has a copper core but makes use of a platinum disc on the center electrode. The platinum disc is more durable than the nickel alloy, helping the platinum plugs last longer.

Final Thoughts

Spark plugs should be maintained regularly for optimum performance of your ignition system. 

Especially in the case of shorter-lived copper spark plugs, you need to get a new spark plug within the recommended interval to avoid engine misfires, rough idling, and other issues. 

If you need help with a spark plug replacement, engine tune-up or any other car issue, give RepairSmith a call! 

RepairSmith is a mobile auto repair and maintenance company with easy and convenient online booking. We offer a 12-month | 12,000 miles warranty on all our repairs, with top ASE-certified mechanics and quality equipment. 

Fill out this online form to get an accurate cost estimate for spark plug replacement. For further queries, contact us here!