The 10 Best Spark Plugs

We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. There aren’t many parts of a car as essential — and easy to upgrade — as its spark plugs, which require routine inspection and replacement for proper vehicle operation. And like any car part, there are a variety of aftermarket options out there for increasing the efficiency and longevity of your motor. We’ve put together a list of great options, ranked in terms of affordability and performance. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.

10. Champion J19LM

Made for smaller machines like lawnmowers and generators, the Champion J19LM resists fouling and corrosion in cold temperatures, and is also effective for use on small boats and tractors. Frequent gas-powered tool users may want to keep a few of these in the workshop.

  • Highly conductive copper makeup
  • Extremely short-reach design
  • Not appropriate for cars and trucks

Brand Champion
Model 861
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Splitfire SF406C

In tiny, precise 2-cycles, a clear path between electrodes A and B is as important as ever, which is what the Splitfire SF406C promises, to the delight of motocross devotees. Its patented dual-conductor strap ensures consistent firing every time.

  • For up to 80cc engines
  • Ideal for dual-sport bikes
  • Not intended for passenger vehicles

Brand SplitFire
Model SF406C
Weight pending
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Bosch Fusion

Featuring an innovative receiving conductor, the Bosch Fusion combines the brand’s patented iridium and platinum center with four equally spaced arms to create a clean and resistance-free connection, possibly increasing combustion efficiency.

  • Lower voltage need than copper
  • Preset gap cannot be adjusted
  • More costly than other platinums

Brand Bosch
Model 4501
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Autolite 3923

Like most older plugs, the Autolite 3923 is crafted with a nickel-plated copper electrode that requires slightly more energy to create an arc. While it doesn’t last nearly as long as noble metal models, track racers often prefer these due to their good response to tuning.

  • Great in warm or cold conditions
  • Cheap enough to replace every race
  • Contact point wears down quickly

Brand Fram
Model 3923
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. NGK 6502

These NGK 6502s offer the same level of reliability as their more basic units, plus they’re welded with a high-powered laser. While this makes for a stronger connection and a longer lifespan, it also results in a notably higher price.

  • Long hot-style insulator nose
  • Consistent gas mileage and emissions
  • Fit most makes and models

Brand NGK
Model IFR5L-11
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Denso PK20TT

Combining the conductivity of copper and the durability of iridium, Denso PK20TTs are a platinum-coated option suitable for a wide range of vehicles. A titanium-enhanced ground strap helps them stand up under extreme heat and stress.

  • Great for cold climates
  • Manufactured by a pioneering brand
  • Twin noble metal contact tips

Brand Denso
Model PK20TT
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Brisk Premium Evo

If consistency in the face of high-octane fuel is of primary concern, Brisk Premium Evos are probably your best bet. Their innovative, 6-way ground strap enables a more efficient arc than nearly any other options available.

  • Contacts are recessed below the tip
  • Increase chamber turbulence
  • Exceptionally high cost

Model GR15SXC
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Bosch Platinum

With a four-year satisfaction guarantee from a renowned manufacturer, Bosch Platinums assure drivers of consistent driving performance for a long time to come, because their tips are built to last almost twice as long as the standard copper style.

  • Tapered ground electrode
  • Laser-fused construction
  • Cheap for a precious-metal option

Brand Bosch
Model 6701
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Autolite APP104

Autolite APP104s incorporate platinum into the tip as well as the arm, encouraging a long life, and helping to mitigate the fouling and carbon residue that might otherwise disrupt ignition after thousands of miles of driving.

  • Nickel-plated steel shell
  • Guaranteed for five years
  • Especially affordable

Brand Fram
Model APP104
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. NGK Iridium

Long recommended by home auto enthusiasts as well as experienced mechanics, NGK Iridiums are all-around great performers. While they are a touch more expensive than basic options, they’re the last set many owners will ever have to purchase.

  • Laser-welded fine-wire tip
  • Effective in almost any weather
  • Anti-seize thread plating

Brand NGK
Model BKR5EIX-11
Weight 1.4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Spark Plugs

It may come as a shock to anyone who’s ever overheard guys yelling at each other for hours about the merits of Ford vs. Chevy, but automobile facts can be contentious issues. So, it should come as no surprise that the history of spark plugs would have highly disputed origins.

Some people believe that a man named Edmond Berger came up with the idea all the way back in 1839. However, the internal combustion engine was still in its nascent stages, so it’s unlikely that Berger had both the access to prototypes and the creative spark necessary to come up with the idea.

We do know, however, that Belgian engineer Etienne Lenoir created an electric spark plug in 1860. He used it his gas-powered internal-combustion piston engine, and while he’d also go on to create electric brakes for trains and even a motorboat engine, spark plugs are still his claim to fame.

Lots of different inventors — including big names like Nikola Tesla and Robert Bosch — tried their hands at making plugs, but it was an assistant of Bosch’s named Gottlob Honold that would finally engineer the major breakthrough. He came up with a high-voltage model that worked in a magneto-based ignition system, which laid the groundwork for the spark-ignition engine.

In the 1930s, a geologist named Helen Blair Bartlett developed a way to insulate plugs using alumina ceramics, which made them more durable while also improving their ability to handle high heat and voltages. This allowed engines to be more efficient, which in turn let them travel further and faster.

The basic design of the spark plug has stayed more or less constant since then, with a few slight changes. As vehicles begin to move from traditional fossil fuels to other power sources, though, it’s becoming more and more likely that the technology will soon have to change to keep up — if it’s not discarded entirely.

How Spark Plugs Work

If you’ve ever poked around under the hood, you may have a few questions, like, “Where are the spark plugs? How do they work? Why am I doing this?”

We can help with at least the first two questions.

The location of the spark plugs can vary from car to car, so check your owner’s manual first. However, they’re usually situated on the top or side of the cylinder head, under plug covers. Look for a bundle of 4-8 wires, as that should be a tell-tale sign that the plugs are in the area. The exact number will vary based on car model and engine size.

Spark plugs are designed to ignite a mixture of gasoline and air in internal combustion engines. When the piston inside the cylinder compresses the air and gasoline at the top of its cycle (aka “top dead center”), the plug creates a spark to ignite the whole thing. If the spark goes off at anything other than the exact right time, it upsets the whole process; that’s what’s referred to as “the timing being off.”

What happens next is basically a miniature explosion. The power of the ignition forces the piston head back down, generating force in what’s known as the “power stroke.”

After the power stroke, all that heat needs to go somewhere, and the spark plug helps to transfer it from the cylinder to the cooling system. Different plugs have different heat ranges, which determines their ability to dissipate that heat.

It’s amazing that such tiny little devices could have such a huge impact on engine performance, but the fact of the matter is, without spark plugs, you won’t get very far down the road.

How To Know When It’s Time To Replace Your Plugs

Your spark plugs will have to fire thousands and thousands of times over the course of their lives, and, as with any other equipment, they get worn down with constant use.

Different makes and models can last for various amounts of time, so you should consult your owner’s manual or a trusted mechanic before making any changes. Most can last at least 30,000 miles, but extended-life models are often used that can survive three times as long. You may also be able to prolong the usefulness of your plugs by adding a fuel cleaner to your tank, preventing crud from building up on the electrodes.

There are a few signs you should look for if you suspect your plugs are beginning to be worn. The most obvious is the performance of the engine itself. Is it idling roughly — meaning, does it vibrate more than usual, or sound different? If so, there’s likely something wrong, and checking the plugs is a good place to start.

Speaking of starting things, if your car doesn’t like to wake up and get to work — and you’re sure the battery is good and there’s fuel in the tank — then checking the plugs is a good idea.

Beyond that, pay attention to how it handles out on the road. If it’s jerky or continually starting and stopping, there’s a good chance that the cylinders aren’t firing properly, and the plugs are often the culprit.

Check on your fuel economy every time you gas up as well. If your chariot is sucking down the petrol at an increased pace, that might mean that there’s incomplete combustion in the cylinder, which could be due to worn plugs.

Of course, there are any number of reasons why your car could be malfunctioning, so check with a mechanic before you just go blindly swapping out parts. Luckily, replacing plugs is a relatively cheap procedure, so you should be able to get your car back up and running in no time.