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Mike V.
Mike V., Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 24378
Experience:  25 years of experience, Certified Subaru Technician and Nissan factory trained.
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Taking the old spark plugs out and putting the new ones in

Customer Question

Taking the old spark plugs out and putting the new ones in
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Mike V. replied 10 years ago.

Hi there! Here are the step by steps. Let me know if you need further assistance.Thanks

See Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6

On these vehicles, you probable need a 5/8 in. spark plug socket to remove the plugs.

A set of spark plugs usually requires replacement after about 20,000-30,000 miles (32,000-48,000 km), depending on your style of driving. On some later model vehicles, the replacement interval is 100,000 miles (160,000 km). In normal operation plug gap increases about 0.001 in. (0.03mm) for every 300 miles (4000 km). As the gap increases, the plug's voltage requirement also increases. It requires a greater voltage to jump the wider gap and about two to three times as much voltage to fire the plug at high speeds than at idle. The improved air/fuel ratio control of modern fuel injection combined with the higher voltage output of modern ignition systems will often allow an engine to run significantly longer on a set of standard spark plugs, but keep in mind that efficiency will drop as the gap widens (along with fuel economy and power).

When you're removing spark plugs, work on one at a time. Don't start by removing the plug wires all at once, because, unless you number them, they may become mixed up. Take a minute before you begin and number the wires with tape.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable, and if the vehicle has been run recently, allow the engine to thoroughly cool.

  2. If necessary, remove the retainer, then lift the engine cover off for access to the spark plugs and wires.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 3: Exploded view of the engine cover mounting

Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after handling coated spark plugs, especially if you are a smoker. The spark plug coating itself is a non-hazardous material and incidental contact will not have any negative effects. However, exposure to polymer vapors, which result from the contamination of tobacco products and the subsequent burning of the polymer could cause symptoms similar to the flu and should be avoided.

  1. Carefully twist the spark plug wire boot 1/2 turn in each direction to loosen it, then pull upward and remove the boot from the plug. Be sure to pull on the boot and not on the wire, otherwise the connector located inside the boot may become separated.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 4: Twist the spark plug boot 1/2 turn, then disconnect the wire from the plug by pulling on the boot


  1. Using compressed air, blow any water or debris from the spark plug well to assure that no harmful contaminants are allowed to enter the combustion chamber when the spark plug is removed. If compressed air is not available, use a rag or a brush to clean the area.

Remove the spark plugs when the engine is cold, if possible, to prevent damage to the threads. If removal of the plugs is difficult, apply a few drops of penetrating oil or silicone spray to the area around the base of the plug, and allow it a few minutes to work.

  1. Using a spark plug socket that is equipped with a rubber insert to properly hold the plug, turn the spark plug counterclockwise to loosen and remove the spark plug from the bore.

Be sure not to use a flexible extension on the socket. Use of a flexible extension may allow a shear force to be applied to the plug. A shear force could break the plug off in the cylinder head, leading to costly and frustrating repairs.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 5: Use a ratchet with a spark plug socket to loosen ...

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 6: ... and remove the spark plug from the cylinder head

To install:

  1. Inspect the spark plug boot for tears or damage. If a damaged boot is found, the spark plug wire must be replaced.

  2. Using a wire feeler gauge, check and adjust the spark plug gap. When using a gauge, the proper size should pass between the electrodes with a slight drag. The next larger size should not be able to pass while the next smaller size should pass freely.

  3. Carefully thread the plug into the bore by hand. If resistance is felt before the plug is almost completely threaded, back the plug out and begin threading again. In small, hard to reach areas, an old spark plug wire and boot could be used as a threading tool. The boot will hold the plug while you twist the end of the wire and the wire is supple enough to twist before it would allow the plug to crossthread.

Do not use the spark plug socket to thread the plugs. Always carefully thread the plug by hand or using an old plug wire to prevent the possibility of crossthreading and damaging the cylinder head bore.

  1. Carefully tighten the spark plug. If the plug you are installing is equipped with a crush washer, seat the plug, then tighten about 1/4 turn to crush the washer. If you are installing a tapered seat plug, tighten the plug to specifications provided by the vehicle or plug manufacturer.

On these engines, aluminum heat shields are used over the spark plug boots on cylinders located near the exhaust tubing. Make sure the heat shield are fully seated during installation.

  1. Apply a small amount of silicone dielectric compound to the end of the spark plug lead or inside the spark plug boot to prevent sticking, then install the boot to the spark plug and push until it clicks into place. The click may be felt or heard, then gently pull back on the boot to assure proper contact.

  2. If necessary, position the engine cover, then secure it in place using the retainer.

  3. Connect the negative battery cable.

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