What was a “regular” spark plug years ago has drastically changed with today’s spark plugs. All spark plugs today are enhanced for performance. Spark plugs work to create sparks within the engine, to keep the engine running. Each one has threads, which work to seal off the chamber where the combustion takes place. Ceramic insulators surround and contain the electrodes. The insulator protects the ignition voltage. The insulator also acts as a transport of the heat and directs it to the cooling system. Ceramic makes up the insulator.
A regular spark plug has an alloy made from chromium nickel to help diminish corrosion. These types of plugs contain a copper core electrode center, with a very high melting point. Iridium spark plugs are made with a hard metal. These have an iridium tip welded on to give the best fuel economy. The center is very small in diameter than the nickel alloy spark plugs, to focus a more concentrated spark, but with less voltage. These spark plugs are gentle on the ignition system and help to preserve the life of the ignition system through a throttle response that enhances the action. It has a very high melting point at over 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is greater than platinum plugs.
Platinum plugs, though they may sound like the premium plugs, are actually the low end of spark plugs as far as performance goes. The platinum spark plugs do offer a higher melting point over nickel alloy and this helps to give the vehicle better fuel economy. Platinum plugs are easy on the ignition system like iridium tip plugs. Generally, platinum plugs will last a lot longer, by an average of 4 years over the nickel alloy plugs.
The recommendations are to use platinum spark plugs because they do outlast the ones with copper electrodes. The copper tends to erode and deteriorate faster, then they are ineffective, the vehicle will not start unless you perform a tune-up. However, there are issues that can cause deposit build up on platinum, if the vehicle has other problems that need to be dealt with. This is why it is vital to the life of the vehicle to perform all the routine services as directed in the owner’s manual, to keep the car running well. Keeping the vehicle well maintained with help platinum spark plugs last out their life span.