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#2583605 - 03/29/12 01:29 PM Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs
bobbob Offline


Registered: 06/07/10
Posts: 194
Loc: Az, from NJ, via NYC
A mechanic just told me that copper is the best conductor so
I don't need Platinum plugs. Is this true?

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#2583607 - 03/29/12 01:33 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
SLCraig Offline


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 5296
Loc: London, ON, Canada
It is true.
Platinum just lasts longer.
I always use copper in my cars.

There may be some instances where platinum is spec'd but I would assume it would just be exotic cars. Most regular vehicles on the road usually come with copper from factory, or at least can use copper as a replacement if they are available.
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#2583608 - 03/29/12 01:33 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 12539
Loc: Chicago, IL
Copper is indeed the best conductor but it does not last long. Platinum is used as a trade-off between conductivity and long-life.

Iridium is better than platinum but does not come close to copper.

Some companies offer platinum-coated copper as another trade-off.

Platinum is factory in tons of cars, with some even using iridium so the maintenance intervals are very long. Toyota is using iridium for sure -- I think the interval is over 100k. I see no reason NOT to use platinum these days. Most street vehicles do not need the copper plugs and the average person doesn't want to change them out every 10k.
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#2583609 - 03/29/12 01:36 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
NateDN10 Offline


Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 1406
Loc: Rochester, NY
Copper is a better conductor. The tradeoff is that you have to change your plugs every 30K miles.
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#2583612 - 03/29/12 01:38 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
tenderloin Offline


Registered: 12/16/02
Posts: 6043
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
Very few new cars come with copper. The way the price has come down on platinum and even Iridium, it makes no sense to use copper in a daily driver.

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#2583614 - 03/29/12 01:39 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: SLCraig]
SteveSRT8 Online   content


Registered: 10/10/08
Posts: 15130
Loc: Sunny Florida
Originally Posted By: SLCraig
It is true.
Platinum just lasts longer.
I always use copper in my cars.

There may be some instances where platinum is spec'd but I would assume it would just be exotic cars. Most regular vehicles on the road usually come with copper from factory, or at least can use copper as a replacement if they are available.


Sorry man, but you're WAY behind the times.

The overwhelming majority of new cars ship with plats or platinum/iridium hybrids. Very few vehicles come with ol' coppers anymore.

It is absolutely true that copper vs. plat is no performance gain, though. There are no real differences in their actual performance, just longevity.

And BTW, almost all plugs are copper cored. I'm only talking about the tips.
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#2583619 - 03/29/12 01:42 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 12539
Loc: Chicago, IL
Copper is better for performance but you will need to change them very frequently, perhaps every 10k. Here are some of the thermal conductivities of some commonly used metals (Watts / centimeter*Kelvin). As you can see, copper is untouchable. Iridium gives you the best trade-off between performance and lifespan.


Zinc = 1.16
Aluminum = 2.37
Copper = 4.01
Steel = 0.70 - 0.82
Platinum = 0.716
Iridium = 1.47


Platinum-coated copper is actually not a bad trade-off either since you sort of get the best of both worlds.
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#2583623 - 03/29/12 01:43 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
Ursae_Majoris Offline


Registered: 03/28/09
Posts: 1350
Loc: South
Yes, copper conducts electricity better than platinum, but no on the plugs.

What vehicle and what year?

There are many other reasons, besides conductivity as to why use non-copper sparks. If OEM sparks are platinum or iridium, more often than not, they need to be replaced with the OEM plugs for optimum performance. My Axiom uses a waste spark system, so I will replace my current plugs with the OEM Denso PK16PR11 Double platinum plugs, since WSS is very sensitive to the plug type.

Platinum and iridium plugs also last 2 to 3 times longer than copper plugs, so there is less labor and expense involved into replacing spark plugs.
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#2583629 - 03/29/12 01:48 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: SteveSRT8]
SLCraig Offline


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 5296
Loc: London, ON, Canada
Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
Sorry man, but you're WAY behind the times.


I suppose.
I've yet to pull the plugs on any car built after 2002, well, ever..
My Saturns came with copper from the factory and the only car I've owned that had platinum from the factory was my Maxima/Altima. I have yet to pull the plugs on the Civic but I assume they are copper. Who knows.

Either way I will replace with copper, as they are stupid easy to replace on the Honda 1.8L. And the plugs are dirt cheap.


Edited by SLCraig (03/29/12 01:49 PM)
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#2583631 - 03/29/12 01:49 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: SteveSRT8]
Ursae_Majoris Offline


Registered: 03/28/09
Posts: 1350
Loc: South
Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
It is true.It is absolutely true that copper vs. plat is no performance gain, though. There are no real differences in their actual performance, just longevity.


I have to disagree with you on this. Refer to my prior post, with waste spark ignition systems, spark plug type does matter.
Some engines maybe more tolerant of different spark plug types than others. 2005+ Tacos come with iridiums in I4 and copper in V6. Properly gapped iridium plug in the correct heat range gives worse gas mileage in a V6 than OEM copper.
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#2583633 - 03/29/12 01:50 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
Loobed Offline


Registered: 07/20/07
Posts: 3742
Loc: Northern California, USA


Doesn't heat effect the flow of electrons? Would copper still conduct better than platinum at engine temps?
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#2583636 - 03/29/12 01:55 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
OVERKILL Offline


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 26417
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Doesn't matter, the TIP on a "copper" plug is STEEL. The TIP on an iridium plug is iridium. The CORE of both plugs can still be (and likely is) copper.

If we are debating the TIP material, then why is everybody talking about copper? The tips are either steel, platinum or iridium. With either steel, or iridium/platinum "pucks" on the ground electrode.
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#2583637 - 03/29/12 01:56 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
Quest Offline


Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 6408
Loc: beaver land EH?
LOL! The real terminology for the so-called "copper" plugs is, copper-core plugs, not copper plugs all the way to the electrodes.

(**all copper plugs electrodes incl. the grounds, are made of nickel alloy (could be plated also) for erosion resistance**)

Copper is the preferred choice simply because of its thermal properties, not so much on the electrical side of things.

Platinum, Iridium, etc. are the chosen one nowadays mainly for the sake of electrode erosion resistance (which leads to the consistency of firing which deemed especially important to the emission-sensitive OBD-II vehicles).

My takes is to go with at least Platinum or Iridium (depending on vehcile types). I would only use copper core resistor plugs on my OPE such as B&S flatheads, Honda GV pressure washer, etc.

Q.
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#2583638 - 03/29/12 01:58 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: bobbob]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 12539
Loc: Chicago, IL
Iridium also allows for extremely sharp tips -- Denso offers the sharpest at 0.4mm.
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#2583648 - 03/29/12 02:05 PM Re: Copper versus Platinum spark Plugs [Re: OVERKILL]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 9951
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
+1000
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