Iridium Vs Platinum Spark Plugs – What Are the Differences?

Spark plugs play an important role in making your engine produce sufficient power. Aside from copper, spark plugs are now available in iridium or platinum. What is the difference between iridium vs. platinum spark plugs?

Iridium is known to be stronger and more durable than platinum, with a melting point of 700 degrees. Iridium spark plugs are equipped with exceedingly fine electrodes and can retain impressive wear characteristics. As to its strength, iridium spark plugs last longer than platinum spark plugs by 25%.

Read on to learn more about the difference between iridium and platinum spark plugs.

Iridium Vs Platinum Spark Plugs 

iridium vs platinum spark plugs

Compared to platinum, iridium is more durable and sturdier, with a melting point of 700 degrees. Iridium spark plugs feature exceedingly fine electrodes and can retain impressive wear characteristics. As to its strength, iridium spark plugs last longer than platinum spark plugs by 25%.

What Are Spark Plugs?

When air and fuel combine in the internal combustion chamber, it requires an electrical spark to ignite. The ignition coil is connected to a spark plug. The spark plug is responsible for creating a high voltage electrical spark essential to ignite the fuel and air mixture of the internal combustion chamber.

In general, people think that all spark plugs are manufactured similarly as they all have one similar function anyway. But the truth is, while spark plugs may all look the same, the materials used in making them vary. Suffice it to say that spark plugs do vary in quality.

The durable ones are those made of iridium or platinum. Let’s discuss the difference between platinum vs. iridium spark plugs to help you decide which one to choose.

Advantages of Iridium Spark Plugs

Let’s talk about the advantages of iridium spark plugs. Among these are the following:

  1. Long Lifespan
  2. Durability
  3. Less Voltage Required

1. Long Lifespan

In general, there are three types of spark plugs. Some are made of copper. Others are made of platinum and, lastly, those that are made of iridium. Among the three, spark plugs that are made of iridium last the longest.

Iridium spark plugs are estimated to last for approximately 60,000 miles. But based on user experience, they can last between 80,000 and 120,000 miles. The varying figures may be because the lifespan of spark plugs depends on the type of vehicle and the frequency of usage.

In most cases, 120,000 miles is the amount of mileage that vehicle owners put on their vehicles before deciding to get a new one. This means that when you install iridium spark plugs in your vehicle, you might not encounter any spark plug issues anymore.

2. Durability

Iridium is a hard and silvery metal. Its density, as well as its melting point, is very high. It is also recognized as the most corrosion-resistant material ever known.

This means that the iridium spark plugs are the hardest spark plugs available on the market today. They are the most durable. Undoubtedly, you will be able to maximize its usage.

3. Less Voltage Required

Only a low voltage is required if the electrical current is generated from the iridium spark plug. This is because of the tiny electrode positioned in the center of the spark plug. It is expected to provide your vehicle a more dependable and consistent spark.

Disadvantages of Iridium Spark Plugs

All other users of iridium spark plugs can only think of one negative thing about it, which is the cost.

Since this type of spark plug is the best in the market today, it is understandable that it is also the most costly. Not everyone is willing to spend a lot of money on a spark plug. So, if you are on a tight budget like them, you can always opt for the cheaper ones.

Advantages of Platinum Spark Plugs

iridium vs platinum

Let’s now talk about the advantages of using platinum spark plugs. Among these are the following:

  1. Longer Lifespan than Copper
  2. Stays Cleaner
  3. Affordable Price

1. Longer Lifespan than Copper

Typically, the general features of a platinum spark plug are similar to those of a copper spark plug. The main difference lies in the fact that a copper spark plug features a nickel alloy center electrode. At the same time, a platinum spark plug features a platinum center electrode.

A copper spark plug is proven to last for approximately 20,000 miles. At the same time, a platinum spark plug can last for roughly 60,000 miles.

In general, the lifespan of a platinum spark plug can be on par with that of an iridium spark plug. But it also all depends on the type of vehicle and its frequency of usage. However, what the platinum can’t surpass is the capability of the iridium spark plug to last up to 120,000 miles.

2. Stays Cleaner

Platinum tends to become hot quickly and way faster than other materials. This means that a platinum spark plug gets hot quickly, which is, in fact, a good indication. It has the capability to burn up contaminants that will get in the way easily.

If you use a platinum spark plug, it will attract less debris. This will then maintain a smooth-running ignition system.

3. Affordable Price

The platinum spark plug is the next best product after the iridium spark plug. This also means that the platinum spark plug is cheaper than the iridium one. So, if you want to install a great quality spark plug in your vehicle at a reasonable price, then the platinum spark plug is the right one for you.

Many drivers prefer the platinum spark plug due to its durability and affordable price. While the copper spark plug may be a lot cheaper, it also has a short lifespan. More often than not, replacing the spark plugs every so often brings a lot of inconvenience to drivers or vehicle owners.

Disadvantages of Platinum Spark Plugs

I can only think of one negative thing about the platinum spark plug. But, in fact, it’s not even a disadvantage at all. For sure, the users of platinum spark plugs will agree with me. I’m talking about its limited durability.

Again, the platinum spark plug is not as durable as the iridium spark plug. But still, it is durable. It can still last for up to 60,000 miles which the copper spark plug is not capable of.

However, if you are looking for spark plugs with the highest quality, the iridium spark plug is the way to go. You have to pay more for it.

The Purpose of Metal in a Spark Plug

We have finished discussing everything you need to know about the difference between platinum and iridium spark plugs. Now, let’s learn more about the spark plug itself. Have you ever really thought about the purpose of the metal in a spark plug?

Manufacturers make use of various types of metals in the middle and side electrodes of a spark plug. The metal channels high voltage from the spark plug wire through the spark plug. This then produces a spark when it reaches the small gap between the side electrode and the central electrode. This is the essential spark that starts the combustion process.

Nickel alloy, platinum, and iridium are the preferred metals by manufacturers. These metals do not easily wear from high voltage sparks. At the same time, these metals minimize the occurrence of misfires.

So again, iridium vs. platinum spark plugs – what is the difference? Iridium spark plugs are equipped with exceedingly fine electrodes and can retain impressive wear characteristics. As to its strength, iridium spark plugs last longer than platinum spark plugs by 25%.

The Purpose of the Scoop on Platinum Spark Plugs

Compared to nickel alloy, platinum has a higher melting point. Since the platinum spark plug is harder, it can hold its sharp edge longer than the copper spark plug. 

There are two types of platinum spark plugs. These are the single and double platinum spark plugs.

The single platinum spark plug resembles the copper spark plug. However, the former features a platinum disc, and the latter doesn’t. The platinum disc is welded to the central electrode.

The double-platinum spark plug features a platinum disc welded not only to the central electrode. A platinum disc is also welded to the side electrode.

What Is a Double Iridium Spark Plug?

Like the platinum spark plug, the iridium spark plug has two types. One is the single iridium spark plug, and the other one is the double iridium spark plug.

The double iridium spark plug works pretty much the same as the double-platinum ones. It also features two discs that are made of rare metal. These discs are expected to help improve performance as well as durability.

This type of plug is designed to provide extraordinary performance for all types of driving conditions. These include continual high speeds and extreme heat.

While it may have similar functions as that of the double-platinum spark plug, the double iridium plug is more durable. Of course, it is because iridium is more durable than platinum. The double iridium spark plug is proven to last four times longer than the standard copper spark plug.

The Copper Spark Plug

Let’s also briefly discuss the features of the copper spark plug.

As we all know, most spark plugs feature a copper-core central electrode. This was also the only type of spark plug we knew of before the emergence of platinum and iridium plugs.

Copper is a great conductor of electricity as it is capable of transferring heat quickly. But copper has a low melting point and is way softer than platinum and iridium. That’s why it is covered with a nickel alloy for protection. And it can feature a platinum or iridium tip on the electrodes for better performance.

Advantages of Copper Spark Plugs

platinum vs iridium

The most common and the cheapest spark plug of all is the one made of copper. Just a trivia – almost all spark plugs are equipped with a copper core. They only differ in terms of the outer material: nickel alloy, platinum, or iridium.

However, people refer to the most common plug of all as the copper spark plug, in general. In which case, it features a nickel-alloy outer material with copper-core electrodes.

Copper spark plugs are proven to run cooler and deliver more power in any performance-driving situation. In most cases, they are installed as original equipment in engines with higher compression ratios or turbocharged engines.

Often, copper spark plugs are installed in old vehicles that feature a distributor-based ignition system.

Its nickel-alloy outer material is not as hard as other types of metals. This makes it susceptible to wearing and tearing. It gets damaged due to the high pressure and heat coming from the engine cylinder. In most cases, copper spark plugs need to be replaced once the engine reaches 20,000 miles.

What Is the Best Spark Plug for Your Vehicle?

The best spark plug for your vehicle is the one recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. This is indicated in your Owner’s Manual.

If it states in your Owner’s Manual that your vehicle has iridium spark plugs, it is not advisable to downgrade to lower quality plugs. This means that if you need to replace your vehicle’s spark plug, avoid installing platinum or a copper one. Otherwise, it might result in poor engine performance.

Aside from the Owner’s Manual, you may also seek professional assistance. Ask your mechanic to ensure that you will get the best spark plug for your vehicle.

Conclusion – Platinum vs Iridium Spark Plugs 

Iridium is more durable and sturdier than platinum, with a melting point of 700 degrees. Iridium spark plugs feature exceedingly fine electrodes and can retain impressive wear characteristics. As to its strength, iridium spark plugs last longer than platinum spark plugs by 25%.

However, nobody is obliged to switch to the iridium spark plug unless your Owner’s Manual says so. So, it is always best to check your Owner’s Manual and follow factory recommendations.