Performance and Technical information on setting spark
Are plugs pre-gapped from the factory?
Yes and no. A spark plug part number might fit hundreds of engines, and although the
factory will typically set gap to a pre-selected setting, this gap may not be the right
one for your particular engine, and may not take into account modifications that you may
have performed to the engine.
Insufficient spark plug gap can cause pre-ignition, detonation, even engine damage. Too
much gap can result in a higher rate of misfires, noticeable loss of power, plug fouling,
and poor economy.
When you raise compression or add forced induction (a turbo system, nitrous, or
supercharger kit), you must lower the gap (reduce gap about .004" for every 50 hp you
add on an V-8 engine, for a Harley-Davidson V-2 engine every 12.5 hp
you add). However, when you add a high power ignition system (such as those offered
by MSD, Crane, Nology,) you can open the gap back up about .002"-.005".
As an example, let's use a hypothetical `96 350 Chevrolet LT1 engine build-up. The
standard gap is .050" for an un-modified LT1. We'll add 150hp Nitrous, so we must
lower the gap about .012" to .038". We then decide to add that killer MSD
6A/Crane Hi-6 box and, using our guidelines as outlined above, we can now open the gap up
.002"-.005" to about .040"- .043". By following this basic guideline
should get you very close.
Further experimentation may be necessary, but by always starting with a larger gap than
it thought necessary to reduce the risk of detonation, you should be safe.