What to do if the spark plugs in the car are wet

What to do if the car’s spark plugs are flooded and you can’t start the car

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Filled spark plugs / Photo: autootogrev.ru

Many car owners have to deal with difficulties when starting a car. In this case, sometimes obvious signs of failure of important nodes and prerequisites for upcoming problems do not appear. Sudden failure and inability to start the engine is observed both on warmed up internal combustion engine, and in the case of a cold start.

Not infrequently, this is caused by the problem of fuel or lubricant filling the spark plugs.

If we are talking about components of a carburetor or injector internal combustion engine, the correct operation of the motor with flooded plugs will be at risk. Let’s understand why such trouble occurs and how to act in case of problems with starting the internal combustion engine.

1. Causes of Plugging at a Cold Start

During the warm period, the trouble occurs much less frequently than during the cold season. Therefore, car owners more often go to service stations in winter in frosty weather. Among the key signs of flooded parts there are several points:

It is important to note that the trouble affects both outdated carburetor engines, and more modern systems with injector injection. Only in the second case, it occurs much less frequently. The specifics of priming also depend on the features of the power supply system on a particular vehicle.

There are several causes and predisposing factors that cause flooding of the plugs:

Problems with auto ignition / Photo: superomsk.ru

A practical example of such a phenomenon looks something like this: on an internal combustion engine with injector injection, the electronic control unit evaluates the outside air temperature, engine condition, oxygen concentration in the unit and a number of other parameters. The ECU then sends a corresponding signal to the injectors to enrich the mixture with air to the degree until it becomes suitable for starting and correct operation of the engine in the future. Given the information, the injector injectors deliver more fuel.

Cylinder and piston - the main parts of the car engine / Photo: mirsmazok.ru

And if we are talking about a worn engine, in this situation there is a place for wear of the cylinder and piston group. In other words, the compression values differ from the ideal ones.

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The problem is aggravated by the discharge or wear of the battery, excessive oil density in the crankcase and plaque on the spark plugs. What we get:

2. Driver Actions.

Drying car spark plugs / Photo: avtoexperts.ru

If you find yourself in such an unpleasant situation and find that the plugs are primed, you need to act coolly and correctly in order to successfully start the car. Auto experts highlight several proven methods for drying out flooded plugs.

First of all, they should be removed with a spark plug wrench and thoroughly dried. After that the engine should be cranked with the starter for 10 seconds with the spark plugs removed. Then you can screw the plugs back into place and try to start the engine again.

Some car owners try to start the engine by blowing out the cylinders. This solves the problem without removing the plugs. To purge the cylinders on the motor with an injector, you need to press the accelerator pedal to the stop, and then crank the crankshaft for 10 seconds and release the pedal. In some cases, such manipulation stimulates the correct starting of the unit.

If the power plant does not start, the blowing must be done manually. To do this, the plugs are unscrewed and cleaned from soot with a special brush with metal bristles (if it is not available, you can do with an ordinary toothbrush). If a professional tool is used, you need to be careful not to apply too much force so as not to damage the parts.

The gap between the electrodes of the spark plugs / Photo: tolkavto.ru

Drying the candles is carried out with a household or construction hair dryer, followed by burning on a gas burner and soaking in an oven. At the end of such manipulations it will be useful to assess the gap between the electrodes and only then put the parts back in place. If everything is done correctly, the engine should start without any problems.

If you have a new set of spark plugs, it is better not to resort to such manipulations, and just change them. After all, during cleaning and burning, the service life of the plugs is rapidly reduced, there is a violation of the gaps and the occurrence of problems with the elements.

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Therefore, it is much more advantageous to buy new plugs than to dry, clean and re-install the old ones. You should also take into account that it is recommended to change cheap consumable elements after 15-25 thousand km run, regardless of how they look and what condition they are in.

If the problem of priming is observed on new or thoroughly cleaned plugs, the cause should be looked for in something else. It may be necessary to conduct a comprehensive diagnosis of the power unit, ignition system, injectors, ignition coil, Hall sensor and other important units responsible for the correct start of the engine.

3. a few helpful hints

To recharge the battery / Photo: tolkavto.ru

Considering the factors listed above, it is easy to conclude that a proper start and subsequent operation of the unit is possible under the right conditions. And in frost the requirements to them only increase.

Trying to achieve a smooth start, inexperienced drivers often ask the question: which plugs are fully protected against pouring? But as the experts say, even if you buy new plugs, but do not repair the ignition system and other important components, the problems will appear again and again. And it does not depend on the quality, condition and brand of consumables.

A few tips for operating your car in winter:

It's better to fill up with good quality fuel at approved fuel stations / Photo: smolmotor.ru

Use quality fuel at proven gas stations with the appropriate quality certificates; Do not allow spark plugs and BB wires to wear out.

In the presence of deposits in the combustion chamber, problems with engine starting in the cold and pouring or greasing of plugs are inevitable. In such a case there is a place of piston rings lodging or limitation of their mobility, due to what the compression sharply decreases, and there is engine oil and other technical fluids in the cylinders.

Lubricants should be replaced according to the regulations from the manufacturer, and as preventive work, periodically flush the lubrication system with ring decompression.

For prevention of failures due to sludge formation it is recommended to periodically crank the engine to high revolutions and overcome at such loads about 30-50 km. This is an important point when operating the vehicle only in urban mode.

It is quite realistic to cope with the filling of the spark plugs. But what to do to start the engine of the car in a 40-degree frost?

How and when to change spark plugs in the car

Seven reasons why the plugs are flooded. What to do?

If you find that the engine won’t start, don’t be discouraged. Maybe your spark plugs are just flooded. This problem occurs especially often in winter, which already gives motorists a lot of trouble. Most often the spark plugs are flooded with gasoline, sometimes with oil. It is necessary to understand how and why it happens, then it is possible to be proactive and avoid the situation when it is impossible to start the car. Well, if everything has already happened, it will be good to know how to return the spark plugs to the working form and start the engine.

On the left is a primed plug, on the right - a normal plug.

On the left is a flooded spark plug, on the right is a normal one.

Symptoms and mechanism of flooding

When it comes to flooded spark plugs, it does not matter whether we are dealing with a carburetor or an injector. Both types of engine are not protected against flooding. The consequences are unpleasant in that they do not allow you to start the engine. It may smell like gasoline, the starter may crank, but most importantly, it is easy to detect traces of foreign substance on the plugs themselves: gasoline, oil or soot. To assess the condition of the plugs it is necessary to unscrew them.

The priming mechanism is quite simple. The fuel coming in to run the engine is not ignited. The plugs get wet, and this blocks the ability to start the engine normally.

Seven reasons for plugging in the cold

If you decided to start your engine, but it didn’t work, and instead you found your spark plugs stained with gasoline, it could be for the following reasons:

1. An insufficiently charged battery . Even if the battery was able to do its job without a problem at above-freezing temperatures, the onset of frost may have changed the situation radically. It is enough that the battery was discharged by 50%. Even with such a figure power to start the engine may not be enough.

Cylinder wear and tear . A worn engine cannot work perfectly, so it is not surprising that the compression in the cylinders of unworn engines is insufficient. Combined with other factors, this can lead to plugging.

Modification of the cap from the expansion tank

Compression measurement

Compression measurement

3. Old spark plugs . Not without reason, this part is expendable and requires regular inspection and, if necessary, replacement. If you do not change the plugs for a long time, defects appear on them, which can prevent the spark formation, so necessary for starting the engine.

plug wear

4. Faulty ignition system components.Faulty wires and sour contacts can be one of the causes of plugging.

Wear of ignition wires

Wear of the armature conduits

5. Poor fuel quality . This is not about being cheated and being sold bad gasoline. It’s about the fact that in winter, there are a number of factors that can negatively affect the quality of the fuel.

For example, the formation of condensation in the fuel tank and getting it into the gasoline. As a result, the fuel does not ignite at the right moment, which becomes one of the causes of “wet” spark plugs.

6. Unsuitable oil in the engine .If we are talking about winter, you need to use oil with a viscosity that will not load the engine, otherwise it will be another factor that creates conditions for pouring.

7. Accumulation of soot in the combustion chamber . Short journeys in the city do not allow the engine to “breathe”. This results in the formation of soot, which settles thickly on the walls of the combustion chamber. The mobility of the piston rings decreases, and with it the compression in the cylinders. As a preventive measure it is necessary to run the engine at high revolutions. Sometimes a special system flushing is required to restore mobility to the piston rings.

Carbon deposits in combustion chamber

Deposition in combustion chamber

Sometimes it happens that there is a spark and the starter rotates normally, but the gasoline still pours out. In this case, it is necessary to carry out a diagnosis to check the condition of the spark plugs. In rare cases, the problem may be in the ECU itself.

Motor oil on the spark plugs

Gasoline is not the only fluid that can be found on spark plugs. Sometimes engine oil fills them up. Again, this can happen with either an injector or a carburetor. What matters is which part of the plug has traces of oil on it. If the top of the plug is stained, the problem is most likely related to the valve cover gasket. If oil is observed at the bottom of the plug, then you need to worry about the condition of the engine and the compression in it. Read about the causes of oil on the plugs in the article

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Emergency aid in the case of plugging

If you act according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the entire procedure for solving the problem can be presented in several steps.

Step 1. Unscrew the plugs.

Step 2. Dry the wet part.

Step 3. Crank the engine without plugs for 10 seconds.

Step 4. Put the dry part back in place.

Step 5. Trying to start the engine.

But not always the driver has time for these uncomplicated actions. Filling the plugs is an unexpected situation, and what to do if there is no time to bother with the wet parts?

Motorists have another way in stock for such a case: starting the engine with blowing out the cylinders. It is performed in the following way. We are talking about the injection engine.

Depress the accelerator pedal to the stop, then crank the starter for about 10 seconds. Return the gas pedal to its original position. Thanks to this manipulation, more air enters the cylinders, which allows the spark plugs to dry out.

If the “people’s” method did not help, then there is no getting around the need to unscrew the plugs and spend some time drying them. The unscrewed part is cleaned. It can be dried with a hair dryer, on an electric or gas stove.

Drying plugs with a hair dryer is one way.

Drying candles with a hair dryer is one way.

True, there is an even more effective way: buy new candles. Any drying will shorten the life of the soaked candles. It is only a temporary measure, so if it is possible to replace spark plugs with new ones, in this case it will be the best option.


By observing the following conditions, you will be able to avoid flooding at any time of the year:

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