Platinum Spark Plugs: Benefits, Cost, Lifespan

Platinum spark plug held by a guy applying grease

Platinum spark plugs are what you call middling spark plugs. Neither the best nor the worst. But they do provide several performance advantages at a decent price.

So, what are platinum spark plugs, and what are their benefits?

Spark plugs with platinum center electrodes are called platinum spark plugs. These spark plugs have a good lifespan, can withstand high temperatures, and do not allow carbon deposit formation easily.

This isn’t to say platinum spark plugs do not have drawbacks.

For more details on them, let’s dig deeper.

Platinum spark plugs – overview

Platinum spark plug

Spark plugs with platinum center electrodes are called platinum spark plugs. As simple as that.

Platinum spark plugs were developed as an improvement over conventional copper spark plugs. Interestingly enough, platinum spark plugs provide the same if not slightly inferior performance when compared to copper spark plugs.

But platinum spark plugs do have a higher lifespan, better operating temperature, and low carbon deposit formation.

Platinum spark plugs last longer than copper ones. Almost 2X times.

Platinum spark plugs need to be replaced every 50,000 to 60,000 miles of distance traveled.

Platinum spark plugs also have better melting temperatures and hence, can operate at a higher temperature. A typical melting temperature of platinum is 1768 celsius.

Another better aspect of platinum spark plugs is they do not allow carbon deposits. The platinum coating on the electrodes prevents too much carbon deposit formation. This was a huge problem in copper spark plugs.

Carbon deposits on the electrodes would eventually make the spark plugs dysfunctional. No more electric spraks. Eventually, they need to be replaced.

Pros and Cons

We have already discussed this in the previous section. Still, let’s summarize.

First, platinum spark plugs have a good lifespan. They last longer than copper spark plugs. Almost 2x times.

Second, platinum spark plugs can withstand high temperatures. They can operate at a far higher temperature when the spark plug is hot compared to conventional spark plugs.

Third, they do not allow carbon deposit formation easily. One of the major reasons to replace a spark plug is carbon deposit on the electrodes. These deposits mask the electrode and create problems in the ignition.

But platinum spark plugs do have their disadvantages.

For all their improvements over the copper spark plugs, they in fact perform poorly when compared to copper spark plugs.

Another drawback is their cost. Platinum spark plugs are costlier than copper ones.

Wrapping all these points together:

Pros

  • A higher life span
  • Withstands high temperatures
  • Does not allow carbon deposit formation easily

Cons

  • Slightly poor performance than copper spark plugs
  • Costlier than copper spark plugs

How long does a platinum spark plug last?

Spark plug illustration

Platinum spark plugs usually last around 50,000 to 60,000 miles.

The best practice is to replace the spark plug for every 30,000 miles of distance traveled. In addition, the spark plugs need to be checked every 8000 to 10,000 miles traveled.

As for why the spark plugs need to be replaced, spark plugs over time will stop performing well.

This can be because of worn-out electrodes, deposit formation, or insulator damage. But mostly, deposit formation.

The carbon deposits start accumulating on the electrodes which over time will mask the spark plug preventing it from generating sparks.

A masked spark plug with excessive carbon deposits will not ignite the fuel properly in each combustion cycle. As a result, there will be an uneven acceleration in the motorcycle along with the wastage of fuel.

That’s why you need to check and replace the spark plugs periodically. As for how to do it, check out these steps to replace a spark plug.

How much does a platinum spark plug cost?

Spark plug illustrative image with spark

A typical platinum spark plug will cost you around $5.

Even accounting for the various versions and manufacturers of different platinum spark plugs, you would still get a platinum spark plug in the range of $4 to $8.

I mean, if you ever see a platinum spark plug costing $12-$15, just skip it. You can buy an iridium spark plug (the costliest of the lot) for that price.

If you are buying a set of spark plugs, then a set of 4 or 6 spark plugs should be in the price range of $20 to $50. The price depends on the spark plug type and how many plugs are there in a set (usually it is 4 or 6).

For more info, here is our post spark plug price and replacement cost.

Single and double platinum spark plugs

Spark plug photo

There is a distinction within platinum spark plugs. Single platinum spark plugs and double platinum spark plugs.

Single platinum spark plugs

Single platinum spark plugs are the regular spark plugs we refer to. There is spark generation by the spark plug one time during each compression stroke of a combustion cycle.

In other words, one spark per combustion cycle. That’s it. And that’s how a regular spark functions as well. Spark ignition during the compression stroke to ignite the fuel.

Single platinum spark plugs are used everywhere. Motorcycles, cars (with gasoline engines, diesel engines don’t have spark plugs remember?), other automobiles, and machinery.

Double platinum spark plugs

Double platinum spark plugs, on the other hand, are unusual.

In these spark plugs, there is spark generation both in the compression stroke as well as in the exhaust stroke of the engine combustion cycle.

Basically, two sparks per combustion cycle.

The spark during the exhaust stroke does nothing in terms of power generation in the engine. This exhaust spark is popularly dubbed a ‘wasted spark’.

Double platinum spark plugs are used in the wasted spark ignition systems.

The application of these spark plugs is found in certain lawn mowers and generators.

For more details on double platinum spark plugs, you can check out our post here. And an infographic here comparing single vs double platinum spark plugs.

What’s better – platinum or copper or iridium spark plugs?

Four spark plugs on white cloth

Depends on what parameters you look for in a spark plug.

Platinum spark plugs are what you call a middling spark plug type. Sandwiched between the other two types – copper and iridium spark plugs.

They are better than copper spark plugs but poorer than iridium spark plugs.

Similarly, copper spark plugs are the cheapest and low-cost. Platinum spark plugs are costlier than copper but cheaper than iridium ones.

Purely in terms of performance, Iridium spark plugs are the best type of spark plugs. They deliver superior performance and have a higher life span.

However, iridium spark plugs are costly. Not many are eager to go for them.

That brings us to the point. Often the best spark plugs for your motorcycle engine is the one recommended by the OEM.

So, always check for the spark plug recommended in the owner’s manual. If your vehicle is recommended to have iridium spark plugs, you just can’t downgrade to a copper or a platinum spark plug.

On the other hand, if the manual recommends a copper spark plug, it probably is best to go for copper spark plugs rather than upgrading to a platinum or an iridium one.

Can you replace iridium spark plugs with platinum?

It is usually advised not to replace iridium spark plugs with platinum ones. Especially when the iridium spark plug is recommended for the engine.

Shifting from an iridium spark plug to a platinum one is actually a downgrade for the engine.

The performance would be slightly below par with platinum spark plugs as compared to iridium.

So, it is better to not replace iridium spark plugs with iridium.

To Summarize

  • Spark plugs with platinum center electrodes are called platinum spark plugs.
  • These spark plugs have a good lifespan, can withstand high temperatures, and do not allow carbon deposit formation easily.
  • Platinum spark plugs usually last around 50,000 to 60,000 miles. The best practice is to replace the spark plug for every 30,000 miles of distance traveled.
  • A typical platinum spark plug will cost you around $5, usually in the range of $4 to $8.
  • It is usually advised not to replace iridium spark plugs with platinum ones. Shifting from an iridium spark plug to a platinum one is actually a downgrade for the engine.