Bosch vs NGK vs Denso Spark Plugs

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Spark plugs…name an aftermarket part that has led to as much discussion as these fellas. Not only in terms of what brand’s best, but also regarding the best type to put in your car.

Let’s talk about Bosch vs NGK vs Denso spark plugs. These three are the usual suspects if your OE parts went kaput.

I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable when people go crazy about a particular brand. Personally, I think NGK’s latest IX spark plugs are the best choice…

But is that a rule of thumb for all vehicle applications? No, there’s only one rule I recommend you to follow:

Stay as close to your OEM plugs as possible. Pick the same brand.

That’s it. Your car maker put a certain manufacturer and type – that’s what works the best with your vehicle’s anatomy. Don’t steer away from that.

Most Japanese cars run on NGK or good quality Denso. Most of the Subaru or Honda models I’ve seen, for example, use NGK.

As far as Bosch spark plugs go, you can expect them to appear in a lot of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen models. German maker, german cars.

Attention GMC/Chevy owners: If your ride is a Silverado, Tahoe, Yukon, you name it…I recommend you these ACDelco plugs. ACDelco has always been the OEM replacement for GM vehicles.

 

 

Now, a quick review of my impressions before I discuss the different spark plug materials:

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NGK Iridium IX

 

 

  • Best iridium spark plugs out there.

  • NGK is the OE choice for most Japanese vehicles.

  • King of durability – easily the longest lasting spark plug right now.

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Denso TT Platinum

 

 

  • TT = Twin Tip tech for faster acceleration.

  • Price for performance is the best with platinum plugs.

  • Pretty durable and well-manufactured.

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Bosch Double Iridium

 

 

  • OE on a lot of BMW and Mercedes models.

  • Copes well with heat and stays durable overall.

  • Not as fancy as NGK plugs, but costs a little less.

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Now, if your car manual lets you choose between two brands, that’s another story.

In that case, I’d recommend grabbing a set of NGK spark plugs. There’s a reason why this brand dominates OEMs.

NGK plugs are well manufactured and have the lowest failure rate from what I’ve seen around. The spark potential is not as powerful as Denso, but NGKs will last you way more miles than any other brand.

But why did I mention Denso’s remarkable power?

One of Denso’s manufacture benefits is the TT system. ‘Twin tip’ technology, as they dubbed it. The double tip achieves a larger explosion within the combustion chamber. Technically, Denso has the best power…as long as your vehicle can support that.

On some models, this is going to make the ignition system go bust. Which takes us back to the stick to your OEM specifications mantra. If you’re curious, here’s how the TT works:

Let’s talk about spark plug materials now.

Bosch vs NGK vs Denso spark plugs:
Should you go iridium, platinum or copper?

Before anything else, let’s get one thing straight. Most, if not all the spark plugs you see have the same core – it’s made of copper.

When we’re talking about difference in materials, we’re referring to what the tip is made of.

So which is the best?

Well, manufacturers do try to push for the newest tech iridium spark plugs because they’re more expensive. Marketing, right?

The truth, however, is that if you’re looking for convenience, iridium plugs are actually the best choice. While they have the highest price tag, they also last the longest – you can even hit some 80 000 miles with them.

If you’re looking for better conductivity and better performance, you should stick to copper spark plugs. Copper steamrolls over iridium and platinum in these areas, but it suffers from a significant drawback:

Copper spark plugs die out way faster than the other two types. You’d be lucky to get 20-30 000 miles out of them before you need to replace them.

Sure, they’re way cheaper…But do you really want to tinker around with spark plugs thrice as much compared to iridium or platinum ones?

If you want quality copper, check NGK’s V-Power (prices here). Alternatively, you also have Denso’s traditional copper plugs.

By the way, here’s a good guide on how to ‘read’ what’s up with your plugs:

You’ll see copper as the OEM preference for a lot of older vehicles, like the 80s or even some very early 90s ones.

Speaking of platinum spark plugs – they’re right in the middle. Their longevity is less than iridium plugs, but more than copper ones. With most makers you can expect some 50-60 000 miles out of them.

Why? Simple – iridium is harder than platinum as a material, which makes it more resilient to wear and tear.

Platinum spark plugs have two kings. One is NGK’s G-Power I’ve recommended for some Toyotas.

The other – Denso’s legendary TT plugs. These two are easily the best platinum plugs on the market in terms of performance, manufacture, and reliability.

NGK G-Power

Best platinum spark plugs out there. Durable, good performance, A+ style NGK design.

Best platinum spark plugs out there. Durable, good performance, A+ style NGK design.

Gapping: it matters

Every spark plug has its gap – the distance between its two electrodes, center and ground. If you want everything to run smoothly, you need to adjust it as accurately as you can.

Usually, your vehicle’s manual will mention the desired gap according to your car make. And usually, Bosch, NGK or Denso plugs will come factory pre-gapped.

But what if you need to do some gapping yourself?

The first thing is to get a reliable gapping tool. But it goes further than that.

So, one of the other benefits of copper spark plugs is that they’re the easiest to gap.

However, platinum and iridium plugs are trickier. Some say they can’t be gapped – they can, but you need to be extra careful. The reason? Both iridium and platinum center electrodes are fickle and brittle easily.

If you’re not careful, you might just scrape off the coating, affecting the longevity of your spark plugs. The tool I linked above is a bit better than the usual coin-style spark plug gappers in this sense. It’s still risky, though.

If you’re curious about the whole gapping thing, there’s this Revzilla guide which I find pretty informative.

Also, here I talked quite a bit about Denso and Bosch. Spark plugs aren’t the only arena of these two brands battling it out. If you’re in search of an oxygen sensor, check out my Bosch vs Denso sensors post.

Last but not least, as always – let me know of your own spark plug adventures. What did you end up using, and are you satisfied with your choice?

6 thoughts on “Bosch vs NGK vs Denso Spark Plugs”

  1. I really wanted Denzo TT Iridium… but local supply here only had Bosch available..
    Internet ordering…well I dont know..

  2. I was going to put NGKs in our ’16 Tuscon 2.0L, but the store was out of them, so I went with Bosch Double Iridium. I am completely happy with the car’s driveability and performance. The minor hesitation that was present is gone, and the acceleration is instant and smooth. The engine also starts more quickly now. I think any of the three top brands would be a good choice.

    1. Hi Keith!

      Great to hear that everything’s fine with your new set of spark plugs 🙂

      You’re completely right – as long as you stick to the big brands, you’re making a good choice. That said, from personal observations some Japanese car brands really hit optimal performance with NGKs or Densos. At least Honda models.

      Here’s to thousands upon thousands of miles with your new purchase.

      Take care!
      Alex

  3. In ancient times we used steel spark plugs (at least we always called them such since a magnet would find them). We are talking Champion and Delco and Autolite, all-American plugs that lasted maybe 6000 miles before performance drop off, very common in the days of the 6k tune up interval for ANY stone ax era points-fired car. They were so-so, though when the Champion extended tip “Y” series appeared, as in J12Y for my old 60’s Pontiac, they seemed to make a real difference, putting the spark closer to the center of the chamber a few MM and I noted better gas mileage… 5-10% on my delivery routes. Almost all plugs these days are extended tip and exceed our “stone knives and bear skins” devices.

    Then I got my 1970’s UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) and found a more modern type that worked really well, like the Nippon Denso U-groves. The U-grove plugs are still the best for my ancient 1978 Yamaha XS-650SE motorcycle (which I discovered a ways back are a copper core design). Nothing comes close for solid performance and cold start ease and I didn’t mind swapping them every 10-12k. That was what you did then (and 10k was a lot more than 6k after all). From that experience I switched and have enjoyed using them in all my old machines, even lawn mowers, for decades.

    My modern cars have all OEM specced for Platinum and Iridium’s. The Iridium’s are definitely better of the two, but vs old-school copper… don’t know. Never tried them in new cars. Above I discover they might be a better choice for us old wrenchers who care about every mile being “righteous” and love to get our hands dirty blacksmithing our rides. Thank you for that Magnus. My modern rides will give them a trial vs their OEM spec. Maybe get back to you if I can remember to. ;^D

    1. Hi Jojo,

      Thanks for writing down a fantastic story! I live for seeing such comments on my blog, much appreciated! Man, you really make me nostalgic as I was probably a bit too young for these times. Not that much of a motorbike guy, but I just checked the ’78 Yamaha you mentioned and wow is that a beauty.

      Best of luck with your spark plug experiments, and let me know if you remember indeed!

      Cheers and be well,
      Alex

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