Iridium spark plugs are dubbed as the best spark plugs out there. They look clean and shiny. They perform really good. But they cost more too.
So, what are iridium spark plugs and what are their benefits?
Spark plugs with iridium electrodes are called iridium spark plugs. Their main benefits are high performance, complete fuel burn, and a long service life.
The flipside is the high cost. But the price is well worth it since it compensates with far too many advantages over a normal spark plug.
Let’s discuss each aspect of an iridium spark plug in detail.
What are iridium spark plugs?
Spark plugs with electrodes made of iridium are called iridium spark plugs. For decades, the spark plugs were made of copper tip combined with nickel alloy to toughen the material.
But in recent years, both iridium as well as platinum has gained popularity and are replacing conventional spark plugs made of copper alloys.
Iridium spark plugs, especially, are famous for their high performance. These spark plugs have a high life span, better ignition, and the ability to withstand high engine temperatures.
Put simply, a spark plug with an iridium tip is called an iridium spark plug. These spark plugs are currently the best spark plugs in the market in terms of performance.
How are these different
The difference between an iridium spark plug and a normal copper spark plug is not much. Only the material is different with minimal design changes.
A conventional copper spark plug has a copper-nickel alloy as its tip. On other hand, an iridium spark plug has iridium metal as its tip. The material difference is what differentiates an iridium spark plug from a normal copper spark plug.
In a similar vein, spark plugs with platinum electrodes are called platinum spark plugs. Just like how spark plugs with iridium electrodes are called iridium spark plugs.
Here is a post to know more about different spark plug types.
Benefits of using iridium spark plugs
Now, we know iridium is the best spark plug material out in the market today. But, what exactly are the benefits of using iridium spark plugs in your motorcycle engine.
First, an iridium spark plug requires less current to generate spark and ignite the fuel mixture in the engine. In addition, the ignition will be far more smoother and reliable when compared to the other spark plug types.
Second, an iridium spark plug can withstand high temperatures. This is an important characteristic since engine temperatures can get really high and cross over the normal temperature range if the engine is overheated.
The melting temperature of iridium is 2446 celsius. Far higher than the engine operating temperatures. And far far higher than that of copper and platinum.
Third, iridium spark plugs have the highest lifespan out of all the spark plug types. An iridium spark plug can last 3x to 4x longer than a conventional spark plug.
The typical lifespan of an iridium spark plug is around 75,000 to 100,000 miles. This is far higher than what you could see in a copper or a platinum spark plug. For a copper spark plug, you will be recommended to replace the spark plug every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.
However, there is a flip side to all these benefits. Iridium spark plugs, with all their exceptional qualities, come at a price. They cost too much. A typical iridium spark plugs costs 4x that of a conventional copper spark plug.
Pros and Cons
To summarize, here are brief pros and cons of iridium spark plugs.
- High performance and improved firing efficiency
- Great lifespan
- Can withstand high temperatures
- The costliest spark plug on the market
An iridium spark plug costs somewhere between $7 to $10.
This is actually far higher than what a conventional spark plug would cost. A typical copper spark plug will cost around $2 to $3. Which makes an iridium spark plug around 4x costlier than a copper spark plug.
The higher cost for an iridium spark plug is easily offset by the benefits it brings over the conventional ones. The high-performance, long-lasting operation, and heat-withstanding capabilities are good compensation factors for its high cost.
Iridium vs Normal spark plugs
This will be a rehash of what we discussed earlier.
To start with, iridium as a metal is stronger and harder than copper and platinum. Couple that with a very high melting point of iridium as compared to the other two, the iridium spark plugs last far longer than the normal spark plugs.
Next, spark plugs with iridium electrodes has fine wire center electrode which increases the firing efficiency. As a result, there will be more complete fuel combustion and improved engine performance.
In addition, this fine wire firing pin reduces the voltage requirement for spark ignition. Compared to normal spark plugs, the iridium spark plug draws a lower voltage to generate the spark.
In short, iridium spark plugs provide a better performance, have a higher life span, and withstand heat far better than the normal spark plugs.
If you switch from a normal spark plug to an iridium spark plug, you can be sure to notice: improved engine performance, better fuel economy, and longer service life.
Another thing to note is, that if your motorcycle engine uses a copper spark plug, you can easily upgrade to an iridium spark plug.
However, you cannot change the other way. If the engine comes with an iridium spark plug you cannot change it to a copper spark plug since that would be considered a downgrade.
Are iridium spark plugs worth it?
Iridium spark plugs are costly. They cost 4x more than a normal spark plug.
But, the high cost is very well worth it with all the benefits that an iridium spark plug provides for the engine.
Once you change the spark plug with an iridium one, you will start noticing a better engine performance due to the fine wire electrode in the iridium spark plug maximizing the firing efficiency.
In addition, the fuel economy or the mileage will improve as well since the spark plug burns the fuel in the combustion chamber in a more complete and robust way.
And lastly, iridium spark plugs last longer. You don’t need to change the spark plug every 10,000 to 15,000 miles of distance traveled. An iridium spark plug in a good condition can last as longer as 100,000 miles.
To sum up, yes, iridium spark plugs are definitely worth it!