All Fired Up - How to Remove and Install Spark Plugs
It’s no secret that cars have gotten more complex over the years. With computers being used to run everything from anti-lock brakes to cruise control, it can leave you feeling like you need an advanced degree just to open the hood.
However, there are still some repairs that the car manufacturers haven’t taken away from the backyard mechanic. Changing your vehicle’s spark plugs in most cases is a straightforward job that you can tackle in your home garage on most applications.
Before jumping into the job, you want to make sure you have the right spark plugs for your vehicle. From advanced iridium spark plugs to basic copper plus design spark plugs, Champion has you covered.
There’s a Champion spark plug for every application:
Champion® Iridium spark plugs offer maximum service life of all plug type.
Champion Double Platinum Power™ spark plugs feature platinum on both the center and ground electrodes.
Champion Platinum Power™ spark plugs are an excellent choice as an upgrade for vehicles originally equipped with nickel/copper technology.
Champion Copper Plus® spark plugs deliver dependable performance and durability.
Once you have selected the right spark plugs, it’s time to get your hands dirty!
Removing the Old Spark Plugs
Locate the spark plug (some applications the spark plug might be hidden under the upper intake manifold, Ignition coil or ignition coil cover); locate the wire connected to the spark plug or ignition coil. Pull on the boot - the connector at the end of the wire or unplug wiring connector on the coil. Be sure not to pull on the wire itself, you risk damaging the wire or wiring connector.
After the wire or coil is removed, use your socket wrench with the spark plug socket to remove the spark plug. Place the socket around the spark plug and turn the socket counterclockwise. The spark plug should unscrew easily. If you are having problems removing a spark plug that is too tight, stop before you break it off. You can put a bit of penetrating oil like WD-40 to help loosen it.
Take a look at the old plug; it should be a little dirty on the end. If it is oily or white, this could point to other issues that you need to investigate with the help of a professional mechanic. Set the old spark plug aside.
Examine the threads in the engine, if they are dirty; clean them with a thread cleaning tool.
Installing the New Spark Plugs
If necessary, set the gap on the new spark plug before installing it. In the past, it was necessary to use a gapping tool to make sure the gap in the spark plugs was the correct size. Today, Champion spark plugs come pre gapped, eliminating the need for this step most times. You should double check that the gap is correctly set; check your owner’s manual to find the distance for the spark plug gap and use a gap gauge or feeler gauge to check the distance.
Seat the new spark plug by hand; turning it clockwise at least two full turns. Once you have the spark plug snug, use the socket wrench with extension and spark plug socket to tighten it turning the plug clockwise. The plug’s washer should be pressed against the mounting surface.
Take care not to over tighten the plug; you can strip the thread on the head of the engine leading to costly repairs. You can also use a torque wrench to torque it to specification (OE service or repair manual).
Replace the spark plug wire boot or ignition coil and wiring connector. A plastic boot should click into place while a rubber boot may require a coat of dielectric grease on the inside of the boot for easy removal next time.
Repeat the removal and installation process for each spark plug. That’s all there is to it! You have breathed new life into your car with a set of new spark plugs. If at any point you run into issues or have a question, consult your mechanic.
The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein.
- Make sure your car's engine is cold before you start. Spark plugs get very hot – only remove the spark plugs when the engine is cool to the touch. It can take a few hours for an engine to cool.
- Check your car’s owner manual for the location of the spark plugs in the engine compartment.
- Make sure you have the correct Champion spark plugs for your vehicle. Consult your owner's manual or use the reference catalog at the auto parts store to get the correct part number.
- Change spark plugs one at a time – spark plugs fire in a specific order and crossing a wire to the wrong plug can damage your engine. If you are going to remove all the spark plugs at once, label each wire using a marker and masking tape.
- Before starting the job, clean the spark plug area with compressed air, this prevents dirt from falling into the cylinder area. Dirt can do a lot of damage if it falls into a cylinder.
- 60 Minutes for a four-cylinder engine. However, the time can vary depending on how hard it is to reach the spark plugs on your vehicle.
- Socket wrench
- Extension for socket wrench
- Spark plug socket
More Installation Guides
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