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Can Old Spark Plugs be Cleaned?

November 8, 2011

Technically, yes, you can clean spark plugs, however, in most cases it's not worth it.  We do not recommend it for a number of reasons.

 

Ultimately, you won't get the same performance from a cleaned plug as from a new plug.  Electricity discharges best from sharp edges.  A used plug will have worn edges, and cleaning may contribute to the wearing.

If you insist on trying to clean anyways, the cleaning procedure below was supplied to us by an old motorhead:

  • If the firing end is wet, make sure to clean the plug with a quick drying cleaner such as contact cleaner or brake cleaner.
  • Sand blast the spark plug using low air pressure and a dry compound.
  • Completely blow all sand from the plug.
  • Clean the threads using a wire brush.
  • Re-Gap to your vehicles specifications.

NOTE:  Insufficient cleaning of a spark plug may lead to its failure in a very short period of time.  Clean the spark plug thoroughly to avoid problems later.  Remember, if a plug is fouling, its usually a result of engine side factors or incorrect heat range selection.

Comments

Bart Stephens

Nov. 30, 2012
Scott hit the nail on the head. Sand blasting is a bad practice with plugs.

Scott Mack

Oct. 17, 2012
Sand blasting a spark plug is a very bad idea. Sand will find its way between the insulator and housing where compressed air will not clean out properly. Unfortunately, heat expansion will release that sand into your combustion chamber.
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