I've covered a lot of maintenance things lately- oil changes, tire pressure, etc. There's one maintenance tip that many Americans may overlook or forget about, and without it, your engine would cease to run.
Spark plugs! Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about check engine lights? Well, if you have a major issue with a spark plug, the light won't just illuminate- on many newer vehicles it will flash if you're having major issues. I've encountered it myself after a long road trip, drove slowly and lightly to a dealership where it was found my engine was misfiring due to a cracked piston! A couple thousand dollars later, I was back on the road.
Do you remember the last time you had your spark plugs checked or replaced? If it's been 30,000-50,000 miles, it would really be a good idea to have them checked out or replaced. (READ MORE!) While they are usually relatively cheap (under $10 per plug for the most basic plugs), they can cause a huge headache if you forget about them. Over the life of a spark plug, it ignites fuel millions of times and eventually wears down and loses its ability to efficiently ignite fuel. This is where the problems begin to occur- misfires, a loss in fuel economy, etc.
Each cylinder in a gasoline engine has a corresponding spark plug. If you have an eight cylinder engine, you have eight spark plugs (and a bigger repair bill) to check and replace. For those with smaller 4-cylinder engines, you have just four plugs.
I would recommend you have a mechanic or dealer perform this service for you, some vehicles are quite difficult, some are easier. Spending a few bucks on spark plugs can go a long way to improving fuel economy and making sure you aren't stuck in a snowstorm (like you East Coast folks!) this holiday season! To see what some spark plugs look like, and what YOURS should look like,