Your 2.2L Chevy S10 (GMC Sonoma) comes with 4 spark plugs. And sooner or later you'll need to replace them.
In this article, I'll discuss which are the best spark plugs to use, how often you should replace them, if you need to gap them, and some important tips and suggestions on replacing them.
Contents of this tutorial at a glance:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: ¿Cuando Debería Reemplazar Las Bujías? (2.2L Chevy S10) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
What Does A Spark Plug Do?
The spark plug is the component of the ignition system that delivers the spark into the cylinder that the ignition coil pack creates.
This is no small feat considering that the conditions inside the cylinder are very extreme in terms of temperature and pressure.
Once the spark that (the spark plug provides) ignites the air-fuel mixture inside its cylinder, the resulting combustion pressure pushes down the piston.
Symptoms Of Worn Out Spark Plugs
When a spark plug is causing a problem, you're going to see one of several things. But the main thing that you'll see is the OBD2 system of your 2.2L Chevy S10 (GMC Sonoma) lighting up the check engine light with a misfire trouble code.
You'll see one or more of the following diagnostic trouble codes:
- P0300: Random Cylinder Misfire.
- P0301: Cylinder #1 Misfire.
- P0302: Cylinder #2 Misfire.
- P0303: Cylinder #3 Misfire.
- P0304: Cylinder #4 Misfire.
Besides a misfire or rough idle condition, you're going to see that your 2.2L Chevy S10 will use more fuel than normal (yup, bad gas mileage).
You'll probably also notice a heavier exhaust smell coming out of the tailpipe when the engine is running.
Not to mention that your 2.2L Chevy S10 or GMC Sonoma pickup isn't going to be as peppy as it once was.
What Causes A Spark Plug To Stop Working?
What wears out a spark plug, over many thousands of miles, is the spark that jumps between its center and side electrodes. Of course this doesn't happen overnight but given enough time and mileage it will.
In the majority of cases, it's not that the spark plug has worn out but that it has accumulated quite a bit of carbon buildup between its center and side electrodes.
You're going to see this carbon buildup (on the spark plugs) mainly on high-mileage engines with a bit of wear and tear and that are burning oil.
On newer or properly maintained high mile-age engines, carbon buildup on the spark plugs really isn't an issue.
Which Spark Plugs Should I Buy?
The recommended spark plugs (which are also the factory original spark plugs) are the AC Delco brand spark plugs.
Having said that, all spark plug brands will fit and work (if they are specifically made for your particular model year and engine size). But the ones that are going to function the best are the AC Delco brand spark plugs.
The AC Delco brand spark plugs and the other aftermarket ones come in a variety of price points and are made with different materials.
The pricier spark plugs have platinum and iridium tips on their center and Ground electrodes.
Since the ignition system of your 2.2L Chevy S10 pickup comes equipped with a distributorless ignition system (coil pack type ignition system) the recommended spark plugs are platinum tipped spark plugs. Regular copper spark plugs are not going to last very long on this type of ignition system.
Should I Buy The 100,000 Miles Per Plugs?
If you're going with the original AC Delco platinum spark plugs (as the replacement spark plugs), then these are 100,000 mile spark plugs.
For the most part, all platinum or iridium tipped spark plugs last 100,000 miles under normal driving conditions. This means that the engine in your 2.2L Chevy S10 or GMC Sonoma isn't burning oil.
If your pickup's 2.2L engine is burning oil, you're not going to see those spark plugs last those 100,000 miles. Other than that you could get the advertised mileage out of the platinum or iridium tipped spark plugs.
Important Tips And Suggestions
When replacing the spark plugs on your 2.2L Chevrolet S10 or GMC Sonoma, keep the following tips and suggestions in mine:
TIP 1: Replace the spark plugs with a cold engine. This is a very important suggestion since you run the risk of stripping the threads of the spark plug holes by removing the spark plugs from a hot engine.
The main reason behind this type of problem is the fact that the cylinder head, on your 2.2L Chevy S10 or GMC Sonoma, is made from aluminum metal. A hot engine will make this possibility more likely since the cylinder head will be hot too.
The fastest and easiest way to cool down the engine completely (if it has been running) is by placing a box fan or any other type of house fan on top of your Chevy S10's engine. The fan will cool the engine in around 15 to 30 minutes. Once the engine is cooled down, you can safely remove the spark plugs.
TIP 2: Check the air gap of the new spark plugs before installing them. If the packaging of your new spark plugs advertise that they are already pre-gapped, check the gap anyway.
It's been my experience that I've had brand new pre-gapped spark plugs come out of the box with their air gap closed. There's a good chance that the spark plugs were dropped somewhere along the supply chain that caused the air gap to close.
I have also had the opportunity to diagnose and resolve misfire conditions caused by pre-gapped spark plugs that were not pre-gapped.
When you do check the air gap on this type of spark plug, check it very gently with the spark plug gapper so as to avoid damaging the platinum or iridium tips on the electrodes.
TIP 3: Use a torque wrench to tighten the spark plugs . What makes using a torque wrench so important is that if you don't tighten the spark plugs enough, they could work themselves out as you're driving down the road and this could also damage the threads in the spark plug holes.
Also, you run the risk of stripping the threads in the spark plug holes as you're installing the spark plugs, if you over tighten them.
The safest and easiest way to avoid these two complications is by using a torque wrench. What makes it so easy to use a torque wrench on GM's 2.2L 4 cylinder engine is the fact that the spark plugs are very accessible and using a torque wrench to tighten them is a breeze.
More 2.2L GM Tutorials
You can find a complete list of 2.2L Chevy S10 (GMC Sonoma) tutorials in this index:
Here's a small sample of the tutorials you'll find in the index:
- How To Test The Throttle Position Sensor (1998-2003 2.2L S10 and Sonoma).
- How To Test The Throttle Position Sensor (1995-1997 2.2L S10 and Sonoma).
- Oxygen Sensor Heater Test -P0141 (2.2L Chevy S10 - GMC Sonoma).
- How To Test the MAP Sensor (GM 2.2L) (at troubleshootmyvehicle.com).
If this info really saved the day, buy me a beer!