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What Causes Gas Filled Spark Plugs?

by Pete Campbell

A spark plug is an electrical device that provides, as the name suggests, the sparks needed to ignite the gasoline in an engine, which in turn powers the vehicle. However, while the spark plugs typically are designed to be kept dry so they can continue consistently producing sparks, they can get soaked with gasoline. The culprit for gas-soaked spark plugs is a flooded engine.

Flooded Engine

A flooded engine is most typically caused by the driver excessively pressing on the gas before turning the ignition in the car. As a result, too much gasoline enters the car's carburetor without being ignited and burned. Then, when the spark plug enters the carburetor to provide the spark that will ignite the mixture of gasoline and air, it can dip into the excessively high level of gasoline.

The Problem

If a spark plug gets gasoline in it, the significant problem is that the moisture created by the gasoline makes it impossible for the spark plug to generate sparks. As a result, the next time the spark plug enters a carburetor to ignite the gas, no spark is made, so there is nothing there to ignite the gas. The gasoline-and-air mixture will simply remain that, and the lack of ignition will deprive the car of any power to drive it.

The Fix

How to fix a spark plug that has been soaked in gasoline depends on the severity of the problem. If the plug was only soaked in a small amount of gasoline, it may be possible to simply leave the car alone for a period of time, allowing the gasoline to evaporate off the plug and for the plug to dry. Then the spark plug should be able to generate sparks again, returning to working order. Prolonged soaking of a spark plug can require more extensive repair, however. Wiping a soaked plug clean with a dry rag, and then leaving it out in the air to dry could repair the problem. But in extreme circumstances, the plug may need to be replaced.

About the Author

Pete Campbell has written professionally since 2006. He has covered culture, sports, literature, business and politics. He has been published in a wide range of publications, including the "Wall Street Journal." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Notre Dame.

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