Ruthenium vs Iridium Spark Plug: How Do They Differ?

When it comes to spark plugs, there are many options available in the market. Two of the most popular types of spark plugs are ruthenium and iridium. Both of these spark plugs have their pros and cons, and it can be challenging to decide which one is right for you. In this article, we will compare ruthenium and iridium spark plugs and highlight their differences.

Functions of Spark Plugs in Ignition System

Before we dive into the differences between ruthenium and iridium spark plugs, it’s essential to understand the functions of spark plugs in an ignition system. The primary function of a spark plug is to provide the spark needed to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. This ignition provides the power needed to start your vehicle.

What is a Ruthenium Spark Plug?

Ruthenium spark plugs are spark plugs whose electrodes are made of ruthenium, a very rare and precious metal in the platinum metal group. NGK Spark produces these spark plugs, which are designed to provide excellent power and efficiency to a car’s engine. Ruthenium spark plugs have high ignition power, allowing for optimal combustion. This translates to complete fuel burning, better throttle response, and acceleration.

Pros of Ruthenium Spark Plugs

Affordability: Ruthenium spark plugs are inexpensive compared to iridium spark plugs.

High Performance: Ruthenium spark plugs have high ignitability and ensure complete burning of fuel, resulting in better throttle response, cold starts, and smoother idle.

High Gas Mileage: Ruthenium spark plugs can increase fuel efficiency by 20% compared to iridium.

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Withstands High Pressure: Ruthenium spark plugs work perfectly at high temperatures and various driving conditions.

Low Chance of Fouling: Ruthenium spark plugs run hot, which helps burn off dirt and other deposits from the plug’s tip, minimizing fouling.

Cons of Ruthenium Spark Plugs

A bit expensive: While ruthenium plugs are inexpensive compared to iridium spark plugs, they are still a bit costlier compared to regular spark plugs.

Can be unpredictable: While ruthenium plugs work well under high temperatures, they can be unpredictable under such conditions and start acting up.

Wear with higher revs: When used in an engine with higher RPM, ruthenium spark plugs tend to wear faster.

Short life span: Ruthenium spark plugs have a lower life span compared to conventional iridium spark plugs.

Selective: Ruthenium spark plugs are selective as they don’t work well with certain car engines.

What is an Iridium Spark Plug?

Iridium spark plugs utilize a central electrode made with iridium. This electrode material helps in better electricity conductivity type with better firing efficiency. This translates to better engine performance, such as better acceleration and throttle response. Iridium spark plugs are corrosion-resistant and very durable, reducing the need for new plugs. They are built for high-end engines, such as supercharged and turbo engines.

Pros of Iridium Spark Plugs

Durable: Iridium is a tough and durable metal, and iridium plugs can last up to 120k miles.

Highly Ignitable: Iridium plugs generate a more potent spark, which helps in better combustion and fuel economy.

Low Rate of Fouling: Iridium is stable and has lower chances of getting corroded.

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Cons of Iridium Spark Plugs

Expensive: Iridium plugs are made of iridium tips, which are very expensive, making them costlier than any other spark plugs.

Overgraded: Placed side by side with a good platinum plug, both have the same performance. Yet, platinum is available for a lesser price, making it look like the iridium plug is overhyped.

Compel users to opt for the highest: Iridium spark plugs come in various ranges. While the cheapest model uses one layer of iridium in the central electrode, the best model uses three layers. And because those with one layer wear faster, users are forced to opt for the most expensive ones.

Ruthenium vs. Iridium Spark Plug: Differences

Price: Ruthenium spark plugs are cheaper than iridium spark plugs.

Durability: While ruthenium spark plugs are less expensive than iridium, they tend to wear out faster.

Working Conditions: While both plugs can withstand high temperatures, ruthenium can work under higher temperatures than iridium spark plugs.

Fouling: While both plugs have a low chance of fouling, ruthenium degrades faster than iridium when exposed to harsh elements.

Performance and Engine Type: While ruthenium and iridium plugs offer excellent performance, they are built for different engines. Most ruthenium spark plugs are a great choice for regular engines, while iridium plugs are built for high-performance engines.

Design: When it comes to looks, iridium comes in only one style, whereas ruthenium is available in two designs—DFE and PSPE. While DFE ruthenium plugs work well with regular engines, PSPEs are built for high-performance engines like turbo and supercharged engines.

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