copper vs platinum vs iridium spark plugs

Copper vs Platinum vs Iridium Spark Plugs

“Copper vs platinum vs iridium spark plugs” As long as you own an automobile, this question should have crossed your mind many times. A part that screws into the cylinder head of the engine is called a spark plug. High voltage electricity is transmitted to one end of a spark plug, where it ignites a spark at the other. The combustion that powers your car is started by the spark, which ignites the air and fuel mixture inside the engine. Your automobile won’t start if you don’t have any spark plugs.

Spark plug replacement is a regular part of car maintenance. The engine runs at its optimum with the help of this necessary tune-up. You must understand the numerous kinds of spark plugs that are available for your car in order to accomplish the task correctly. Thus, in this article, we’ll be discussing “Copper vs platinum vs iridium spark plugs”.

copper vs platinum vs iridium spark plugs

So, let’s dive in!


Copper vs platinum vs iridium spark plugs

Differences Based on Their Features

The followings are the features of Copper, platinum, and iridium spark plugs;

Copper spark plug

  • To increase durability, a nickel alloy with a typical 2.5mm diameter has been welded to the electrodes. Since copper spark plugs have the biggest electrode diameter of any type, they require more current to generate a spark than other materials.
  • Because copper plugs’ nickel alloy is less durable than other metals, it corrodes more quickly when exposed to the extreme heat and pressure found in an engine’s cylinders. This will eventually result in spark plugs that are unclean, fouled, and underperforming.
  • The copper plug normally needs to be replaced every 20,000 miles or so due to its reduced lifespan. So, how common is the use of copper spark plugs? It is the least expensive and most widely used spark plug on the market.
  • In older, pre-1980 autos with distributor-based ignition systems, you can locate it. Additionally, copper plugs are sometimes used in more recent turbocharged engines or engines with greater compression ratios since they can run cooler while still producing a lot of power.
  • However, copper plugs should not be used in high-energy distributor-less ignition systems or coil-on-plug ignition systems since they will wear out too quickly.

Platinum spark plug

Single platinum
  • The center electrode of a single platinum spark plug is fused to a platinum disc rather than a nickel alloy, making it similar to a copper spark plug.
  • Compared to nickel alloy, platinum is tougher and has a higher melting point. As a result, a platinum spark plug can maintain a sharp edge (and resist wear) for a longer period of time.
  • Platinum spark plugs are known for their longevity; they can last up to 100,000 miles before needing to be replaced. Additionally, because platinum can withstand high temperatures, combustion residues burn off more effectively, minimizing spark plug fouling.
  • However, because platinum conducts electricity less efficiently than copper, it performs somewhat worse than copper spark plugs. In more recent vehicles with electronic distributor ignition systems, platinum spark plugs are frequently employed.
  • Don’t switch to less expensive spark plugs like copper if your OEM plug is a platinum spark plug. However, you can upgrade to iridium or double platinum spark plugs.
Double platinum
  • The only difference between the double platinum spark plug and a single platinum plug is that the ground electrode and center electrode each have a platinum disc.
  • Spark plugs made of double platinum were created for “waste spark” systems. Nothing ignites during an exhaust stroke (which extinguishes combustion gases), hence the spark is “wasted”.
  • These systems cannot be used with copper or single platinum spark plugs since they are not made to handle the reverse spark. Therefore, the optimum spark plug for your car is a double platinum spark plug if your vehicle uses them.
  • Upgrading to an iridium-platinum combination plug (with an iridium central electrode and a platinum ground electrode) is an alternative.

Iridium spark plug

Iridium has a melting point of around 1200°F higher than platinum and is approximately 6 times tougher and 8 times stronger. The iridium spark plug can survive up to 25% longer than platinum spark plugs because of this combination of properties.

However, the exceptional conductivity of copper plugs is incomparable to that of even iridium spark plugs. However, there are other benefits.

Manufacturers may make iridium spark plugs with core electrodes as small as 0.4mm because iridium is an expensive but robust metal. This plug’s “fine wire” center electrode reduces cost while also requiring less voltage to produce a spark, improving fire efficiency.

Iridium spark plugs can be distinguished from other spark plugs by the small central electrode tip. A shaped channel on the ground electrode is another common feature of iridium spark plugs that stop the high-voltage spark from quenching.

The iridium plug can produce a higher-quality flame, which results in a more focused spark. This makes the iridium spark plug more efficient at burning fuel and enables it to power engines more quickly than other plug types.  The only significant drawback to iridium spark plugs is their price because iridium is a fairly expensive metal.

Differences Based on Their Performance

Because copper is a great electrical conductor and operates a little colder, it provides the optimum performance in spark plugs. Iridium spark plugs function better than platinum ones but are more expensive. You might wish to skip the section on platinum spark plugs if performance is a big factor in your decision.

If you’ve ever heard of a hot spark plug or a cold spark plug, that’s the insulator tip of the plug, not the electrode metal. In order to swiftly remove heat from the combustion chamber, a cold spark plug has a shorter insulator tip. The firing end of a hotter plug heats up more quickly due to its extended insulator tip.

Differences Based on Their Duration

  • Iridium is the hardest of the three metals, with platinum being harder than copper.
  • In America, car owners travel 13,476 miles on average each year. Using this number, we can state the following:
  • Copper spark plugs have an average lifespan of 20,000 miles or roughly 1.5 years.
  • Typically, platinum spark plugs are replaced after 60,000 miles or roughly 4.5 years.
  • Iridium spark plugs typically last for approximately 7.5 years at 100,000 miles.

Iridium may be the best option if you want to avoid worrying about spark plug replacement for a long time. But if the price of this spark plug puts you off, platinum spark plugs might provide a good compromise between price and durability.

How can I choose the spark plug material that is optimal for my car?

Check your owner’s handbook to learn the suggested spark plugs for your particular car. Avoid downgrading to platinum or copper spark plugs if your owner’s manual calls for iridium spark plugs; doing so increases the likelihood that your engine won’t operate as well. For advice on choosing the ideal spark plug for your vehicle, you may also speak with your mechanic.

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Watch the video below to learn more


Start by reading the manufacturer’s suggestions. When working on an automobile professionally, we typically follow those standards unless there is a specific need to do otherwise. There are some things you would rather avoid doing. The main reason we advise against using copper plugs with coil-on-plug systems is that they could wear out too quickly.

It is not advisable to switch back to copper plugs if the OEM plug is platinum. If you don’t mind spending extra money, you could upgrade to iridium or double platinum.

Additionally, the wasted spark system won’t function well with single platinum and copper plugs. These were never intended to handle this inefficient design in a proper manner. You could upgrade to the iridium-platinum combo plug, which has an iridium core electrode in addition to a platinum ground electrode.

Coil-on-plug systems work best with iridium plugs. If your manufacturer advises utilizing iridium, you shouldn’t switch to a less expensive option. It’s a waste of money to upgrade beyond what is advised for the majority of systems. Based on what the manufacturer advises, you’ll get the optimum performance.


Which is better copper, platinum, or iridium spark plugs?

Copper spark plugs have an average lifespan of 20,000 miles or roughly 1.5 years. Spark plugs made of platinum should typically be replaced every 60,000 miles or every 4.5 years. Iridium spark plugs typically last for approximately 7.5 years or 100,000 miles.

Are copper or iridium plugs better?

Additionally, iridium has a higher electrical resistance than copper, which improves its performance and durability. Even though the iridium spark plugs are a little more expensive than copper spark plugs, they are still worthwhile because you will be paying for quality.

How long do copper spark plugs last?

Because of their excellent conductivity and great heat resistance, conventional spark plugs are frequently utilized. They do, however, typically deteriorate more quickly than others. Here is a summary of how long each kind of spark plug lasts: Sparkplugs made of copper Spark plugs made of copper typically last between 10,000 and 20,000 kilometers.

What is the best spark plug for fuel economy?

These plugs offer you significantly better performance, gas mileage, and longevity that is only surpassed by iridium plugs, making them an excellent value for the money. They are frequently used in city automobiles and some sports cars since they may survive roughly twice as long as their copper counterparts.

What are the disadvantages of copper spark plugs?

They are prone to fouling, which is the buildup of deposits on the electrodes that result in faulty or nonexistent spark plug operation. Copper can wear out more quickly than other materials used for the electrode core because it is softer.

Can I use copper plugs instead of iridium?

Check your owner’s handbook to learn the suggested spark plugs for your particular car. Avoid downgrading to platinum or copper spark plugs if your owner’s manual calls for iridium spark plugs; doing so increases the likelihood that your engine won’t operate as well.

What are the disadvantages of iridium spark plugs?

  • Spark plugs made of iridium are far more expensive than those made of platinum or copper.
  • Iridium spark plugs operate similarly to high-quality platinum spark plugs, which are typically more affordable, in terms of performance.

Which spark plugs last longer iridium or platinum?

Iridium is a significantly more durable metal than platinum, and it can withstand up to eight times as much deterioration before losing its effectiveness. This means that iridium spark plugs last longer than platinum spark plugs, require fewer replacements, and operate more effectively in adverse situations.

Do iridium plugs make more power?

Iridium spark plugs have a well-established reputation for significantly increasing engine power, according to all spark plug manufacturers.

What is better than iridium plugs?

Iridium’s only drawback is that it costs more per spark plug than platinum. The solution is a platinum spark plug if you need an upgrade or some reliability but are on a tight budget. If your car has an electronic distributor ignition system, it’s also one of the best spark plugs that are advised.


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