Can a Broken Spark Plug Damage Engine? (Here Is What To Do)

can a broken spark plug damage engine

A spark plug is an incredibly cheap component. Tiny too. A lot of people wonder how important it is to the inner workings of their vehicles.

Hint: it is very, very important. So, what happens if your spark plug is broken? Will it damage the engine? Can you keep driving for a little while? Well, let us explain. 

Can a Broken Spark Plug Damage Your Engine?

Yes. In fact, not only could it potentially damage your engine, but there is a risk that it could completely destroy the engine if you are not careful.

If your vehicle’s spark plug is broken, then your vehicle will struggle to start. Your vehicle will find it almost impossible to ignite the fuel that it needs to run.

Because of this, you are going to be putting your vehicle under an immense amount of pressure, particularly your engine.

In the best-case scenario, if you have a broken spark plug, your vehicle isn’t going to start. The engine doesn’t stutter. Nothing.

Worst case scenario? Your engine is going to be pushed to the limit. It is going to be put under a huge amount of pressure, wearing down those components, etc.

This is something that can completely kill the engine. In fact, we have seen people try to start their vehicles with a broken spark plug. For the sake of a few dollars, they have completely destroyed an engine worth thousands of dollars. Don’t do it.

What Should You Do If You Have a Broken Spark Plug?

If your spark plug has just reached the end of its natural lifespan, then you can probably just switch out the spark plug and you should be fine. It is a simple job, and you will be back on the road pretty quickly.

However, if pieces of the spark plug have broken off, or there is noticeable cracking in the spark plug, we suggest that you get your vehicle to a garage as soon as possible.

This is because parts of the spark plug could have fallen into the engine. So, even if you replace the broken spark plug, there may still be issues there.

Of course, under absolutely no circumstances should you be driving a vehicle if you have a broken spark plug in it.

If you have a broken spark plug in your vehicle, then you are going to need to call a tow truck, or perhaps call out a garage that will be able to fix the issue for you.

In some cases, they may be able to do it on your property, particularly if it is just a quick extraction and replacement job.

Remember, even if you need to use a tow truck to get your vehicle to the closest garage, the price of hiring that truck is going to be a whole lot cheaper than if you had to replace the engine.

Can You Replace a Broken Spark Plug Yourself?

Yes. You can.

As we said, it is going to be dependent on how broken the spark plug actually is. If the spark plug has just failed (the ceramic inside of the spark plug has gone), then you can switch out the old spark plug and put in a new one.

If the spark plug has actually broken i.e. it has cracked, broken, or disappeared completely, then do not change it yourself.

You will need to call in a mechanic who can have a quick inspection of your engine to ensure that nothing is floating around that shouldn’t be in there. If it is, then they will be able to remove it for you.

Remember, if you are going to be replacing the spark plug yourself, you should always ensure that you purchase the right spark plug. Putting the wrong spark plug into your vehicle is just as bad as having a broken spark plug in there.

In fact, no. Scratch that. Having an incorrectly sized spark plug inside of your vehicle is actually going to be a lot more dangerous. If the spark plug is too long, there is a serious risk of an explosion happening in your engine. This can cause serious injury or even death.

The replacement of the spark plug can differ from vehicle to vehicle. If you want to know more about how it can be replaced in your vehicle, you should consult the operating manual. This should detail the exact spark plug replacement process.

Perhaps more importantly, it is going to tell you what spark plug you should replace it with. Get a like-for-like replacement, where possible.

Yes, purchasing an actual manufacturer spark plug is going to be a bit more expensive, but it should only be a touch more expensive than aftermarket parts, and at least you know that you are getting the right spark plug installed in your vehicle which, as you know by now, is much, much more important. 

Honestly, in most cases, we would call in an expert to have the spark plug replaced anyway. It is a job that shouldn’t really take all that much time to do and, assuming you don’t need to have your vehicle towed, it shouldn’t be too expensive.

At the end of the day, at least it is going to give you peace of mind knowing that the issue has been dealt with properly.

DAMAGE Caused By A Broken Spark PLug Ground Electrode >> Check out the video below:


A broken spark plug can not only damage the engine, but it can completely destroy the engine. If you have a broken spark plug, then you should not drive your vehicle at all.

At least, not until the spark plug has been replaced.

You should be able to carry out most spark plug replacements by yourself. However, if the spark plug is cracked or broken, then you should probably head to a garage (don’t forget to use a tow truck) to ensure that the issue is dealt with properly.

The last thing you want is for broken chunks of spark plug to be in your engine, after all.


Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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