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How many Glow Plugs are in a Diesel Engine

Last updated on January 3rd, 2024

In normal circumstances, there is a minimum of one glow plug per diesel engine cylinder.

So, that means the total number of glow plugs depends on the number of cylinders in an engine.

However, in reality, the manufacturers use multiple glow plugs per cylinder for various reasons. It’s also worth noting that not every diesel engine is equipped with glow plugs.

We will explore how many glow plugs are in a diesel engine moving forward.

How many Glow Plugs does my Car have?

The number of glow plugs differs based on the make and model of the engines. Different engines have different numbers of glow plugs per cylinder.

BrandNumber of Glow Plugs
Ford (Triton V8)4 per cylinder
Chevrolet (Duramax)4 per cylinder
Chevrolet (Duramax 3.0)18 per cylinder + 4 for preheating coils
Mercedes (OM646) 4 per cylinder + 4 for preheating coils
Nissan (M62T)4 per cylinder
Nissan Qashqai4 per cylinder
Renault (8.9L V8)4 per cylinder 
BMW (M57)6 per cylinder
GM (Duramax heavy and medium duty)4 per cylinder 
GM (Duramax light duty)5 per cylinder
Scania (DSI 3.7)4 per cylinder
Skoda Octavia4 per cylinder

Manufacturers use different numbers of glow plugs per cylinder according to this table.

Do all Diesel Engines have Glow Plugs?

Glow plugs are not present in all diesel engines. In diesel engines, glow plugs aid in heating the air within the combustion chamber, facilitating fuel ignition.

However, some diesel engines use other methods to achieve the same result.

Source: Diesel RX Products

A modern diesel engine, for example, may not need glow plugs because it uses high-pressure fuel injectors and advanced engine management systems.

These engines use a combination of high-pressure fuel injection and advanced timing to ignite the fuel, which eliminates the need for glow plugs.

Older diesel engines like the Cummins may use alternative methods to heat the air in the combustion chamber, including intake and block heaters. These methods also eliminate the need for glow plugs.

So while glow plugs are commonly used in diesel engines, they are not always necessary for the engine to operate.

Where are the Glow Plugs Located on a Diesel Engine? 

The usual location of the glow plug is on top of the engine cylinders. The placement of glow plugs on a diesel engine may differ based on the engine’s make and model.

Source: Hyundai Forums

To locate the glow plugs on a specific diesel engine, it is recommended to refer to the engine’s manual or consult with a knowledgeable mechanic.

Can a Diesel Engine Run without Glow Plugs?

Yes, a diesel engine can operate without glow plugs. Glow plugs play a crucial role in enabling the ignition of a diesel engine, particularly in cold weather conditions.

However, the glow plugs are no longer needed once the engine is running.

Once started, diesel engines can sustain combustion using the heat generated by the compressed air in the cylinders. This eliminates the need for glow plugs.

However, starting the engine can be difficult if the engine is cold and the glow plugs are not functioning properly or are missing.

The engine may crank over for longer than usual before it starts, and there may be rough idling or smoke from the exhaust until the engine warms up.

Final thoughts

So, how many glow plugs are in a diesel engine? The number of glow plugs in a diesel engine may differ based on the engine’s make and model.

Some diesel engines may have multiple glow plugs, while others only have one or two.

It’s worth noting that some diesel engines do not utilize glow plugs. This is because certain engines rely on alternative techniques to warm up the air within the combustion chamber.

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