What Do The Spark Plugs Do? (1992, 1993 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am)

The humble spark plug, not much to look at, but it performs a very important function in keeping the engine running in your 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am!

In this article, I'll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the spark plugs.

In Spanish You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: La Bujía ¿Qué Es Y Para Que Sirve? (1992-1993 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  • 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am: 1992, 1993.

What Does A Spark Plug Do?

The humble and inexpensive spark plug is tasked with supplying the spark that the combustion process requires to keep the engine running.

Of course, this spark is created by the ignition coil pack and delivered to the spark plug via a spark plug wire.

Once the spark is delivered to the spark plug, the air/fuel mixture can be ignited to keep the engine humming along.

Symptoms Of A Bad Spark Plug

Here's a basic list of the symptoms you'll see when a spark plug stops functioning:

  • Rough idle.
  • Bad gas mileage.
  • Extended engine cranking (engine takes longer than usual to start).
  • A heavier than normal exhaust smell coming out of the tailpipe.
  • The engine is not as peppy as it used to be.
  • Hesitation when you accelerate the vehicle on the road.

What Causes A Spark Plug To Stop Working?

Spark plugs can give a very long service life. But sooner or later they're going to fail.

Spark plugs will usually stop working due to:

  • Normal wear and tear. In other words, they simply wear out.
  • Carbon deposits block the air gap between the center and side electrode.

And once the air gap is blocked with carbon deposits, spark will not jump between the electrodes.

Carbon deposits blocking the air gap between the electrodes is usually the result of a high-mileage engine that's burning oil within its cylinders.

You can tell these engines apart because they burn oil and have blue smoke coming out of their tailpipe. Not to mention that you've got to add engine oil to the engine on a weekly basis.

How Do I Know My Spark Plugs Need Changing?

What will usually tell you it's time to replace the spark plugs is when one of the following conditions is met:

  • You've removed the spark plugs and they are showing signs of heavy wear and tear.
  • The spark plugs are causing an engine performance problem.
  • You're following the recommended spark plug change interval layed down in a repair manual or owners manual. Even if the spark plugs don't look worn out or blocked with carbon.

There's no rule that says you have to change the spark plugs at a specific interval, but you can if you want to.

Which Spark Plugs Should I Buy?

AC Delco copper spark plugs are the original equipment spark plug for your 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am.

If it's time to replace them, you should definitely go with the AC Delco brand.

Of course, any brand of spark plug, whether it's a copper or a platinum tipped or iridium tipped spark plug, will work in your 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am.

Should I Use 100,000 Mile Spark Plugs?

Spark plugs that are advertised as having a service life up to 100,000 miles have platinum or iridium tipped electrodes. Regular copper spark plugs, won't last as long.

Now the catch here is that if the engine is in perfect working condition (e.g. it's not burning oil) then you'll definitely see these spark plugs give a service life of about 100,000 miles.

But if the engine in your 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am is burning oil, you're not going to see anywhere near 100,000 miles on those spark plugs. Carbon buildup will eventually close the air gap between the spark plug electrodes and cause a misfire.

Important Tips And Suggestions

When replacing your 3.3L V6 Pontiac Grand Am's spark plugs, keep in mind the following tips and suggestions:

TIP 1: Replace the spark plugs with a completely cold engine. If you don't let the engine coool down, you run the risk of damaging the spark plug threads of the spark plug holes in the cylinder head.

Stripping the threads of the spark plug holes is a nightmare that you don't want to experience.

TIP 2: Check the air gap of the new spark plugs with a spark plug gapper. I strongly recommend that you double check that the spark plug gap is correctly set to your vehicle's recommended specification when installing spark plugs.

Don't trust that they are gapped! I've solved more than one driveability problem that was due to incorrectly gapped spark plugs.

TIP 3: Label the spark plug wires with the cylinder number they belong to BEFORE replacing the spark plugs. This will keep your from losing the spark plug wires' firing order.

TIP 4: Use a torque wrench to tighten the spark plugs. If you don't tighten the spark plugs enough you run the risk of having them come out as you're driving down the road. This could also damage the spark plug hole threads in the cylinder heads.

If you over tighten the spark plugs, then you run the risk of damaging the threads of the spark plug hole.

The way to avoid any of these problems is to use a torque wrench to tighten the spark plugs. Now, it's easier said than done because some of the spark plugs are in very tight places and it can be challenging to use a torque wrench on them. Still, you won't go wrong if you use a torque wrench.

More 3.3L Pontiac Grand Am Tutorials

You can find a complete list of 3.3L Pontiac Grand Am tutorials in this index:

Here's a small sample of the tutorials you'll find in the index:

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Pontiac Vehicles:

  • Grand Am 3.3L
    • 1992, 1993