How To Change Spark Plugs – A Simple Guide

Changing Your Spark Plugs – Step By Step Guide…

How To Change Spark PlugsSpark plugs are an essential component of every vehicle – these tiny parts create the spark that is needed to start your car.

Spark plugs do a lot of work for your vehicle and because of this they wear down over time and need to be replaced.

Check out our handy guide here on signs and symptoms of a bad spark plug to help you determine whether you need to change them.

When it comes to how to change a spark plug, it really depends on the type of vehicle that you drive. However, for the most part changing a spark plug is fairly straightforward.

Here is a guide on how to change spark plugs in your vehicle when they go bad.


How To Change Spark Plugs

Remove Old Spark Plugs

The first step in replacing the spark plugs is to locate and remove your old ones.

In a four cylinder vehicle the spark plugs should be located on the side or top of the engine all in a row.

On a six cylinder vehicle the spark plugs are going to be on the side or top of the engine head. They should be separated so they are placed evenly on both sides.

How To Change Spark PlugsThere are some vehicles that will have an engine cover that will need to be removed in order to view the spark plugs. It is always best to refer to your owner’s manual to determine the location of your spark plugs.

The manual should not only tell you where they are, but also how many they are, the size socket that is needed in order to remove them, and the correct “gap.”

Once you have located the spark plugs you will want to make sure that the engine is totally cool before you attempt to remove them.


What You Need to Change Your Spark Plugs

In order to put in new spark plugs you will need the following tools:

  • Extension bar
  • Ratchet socket wrench
  • Spark plug socket
  • Feeler gauge or spark gap gauge
  • New spark plugs

Once you have all of your tools ready it is time to take out the first spark plug.

First, pull on the wire from the engine by grabbing it close to the bottom and then gently working it off. Do not yank on this wire.

Next, place your socket wrench around the spark plug.

You are going to want to very gently move the ratchet back and forth until you can pull the spark plug out of its housing.

Here’s a handy one minute clip on how to remove a spark plug:

Once the spark plug is removed, check the gap and if it has a burned out contact it is time to replace it.

You will want to have the new spark plug on hand to replace the old one with and you want to work on each spark plug on at a time.

It is important to only remove one spark plug at a time because the plugs all fire in a certain order and if the wrong wire is crossed to a different plug, the engine will run rough and can cause damage.

You will need to use the spark plug gauge to test the gap of each spark plug. Use your owner’s manual to determine the optimum distance of the spark plug gap.

If the distance is too high,, but the spark plug is of good quality and is adjustable you may want to try to change the gap by tapping it on a wooden surface with the gauge attached until the desired measurement is reached or you can buy new plugs.

Spark plugs are relatively cheap and it is a good idea to replace them regularly to ensure proper spark.


Installing a New Spark Plug

It is important to make sure that you get the right spark plugs. Your owner’s manual will tell you which spark plugs that you need.

There are many different combinations of measurements and spark plugs available so it is really important that you get the right ones.

The price for a new spark plug ranges from $2 to about $15 and there are several different materials that they can be made of including iridium, platinum, yttrium, and copper. Talk to your autoparts dealer about which ones would be the best option for your vehicle.

There is also a choice between fixed gap or adjustable gap and the choice is up to you. If you do not mind checking your plugs regularly and making adjustments, the adjustable plugs are a good choice.

Most of all you will want to make sure that you have the correct gap measurement for your vehicle.

How To Change Spark PlugsOnce you have your new spark plugs it is time to make the change.

You will want to make sure that you clean the area around the threads before you install the new spark plugs.

It is also a good idea to check the wires around the spark plugs and to make sure it is clean around the wire terminal.

Once you have the area around the terminal cleaned it is time to put the new spark plugs in.

Before you install the plugs you will want to make sure that you lubricate them. If you are installing the spark plugs in an aluminum engine you may want to put some anti-seize lubricant around the plug threads.

This will help prevent any type of reaction between metals that are dissimilar. You may also use dielectric silicone compound for the inside of the wire boot of the spark plug in order to make it easier to remove it in the future.

When you are installing the spark plug you will want to turn it backwards on the thread until the hole is correctly located. This will help you avoid cross threading the plug, which can damage it.

You will also want to make sure that the wire boot is placed back on the spark plug. You will want to push on it until you hear a snap. Not putting this on correctly can cause a misfire in the engine.

Here’s a handy one minute clip on how to install a new spark plug:

As mentioned, you will want to change the spark plugs one at a time.

When you are tightening each one make sure that you do not overtighten them because you can easily strip the thread located on the head of the engine and repairing it can be time consuming and costly.

It is very important to make sure that you replace the spark plug cables on the same plugs that they came from, otherwise you can cause all types of issues with your vehicle, including engine damage.


How To Change Spark Plugs – Conclusion

Changing your spark plugs is not typically a difficult job. However, it is important that you take your time and do it the correct way.

You will want to make sure that you remove just one at a time so that you do not accidently place the wires in the wrong place. If you are going to remove them all at once, make sure that you clearly mark each one.

If you are planning to change your own spark plugs you really need to invest in the right tools. Make sure that you have a quality gap checker or feeler gauge.

Also, make sure that you purchase quality parts as it is worth a few extra dollars for the reliability that they provide.


So there you have it!  We hope that helped.

Have you changed your spark plugs recently?  If so, how did you get on?  Let us know below…

For further help try this useful guide from Pepboys.

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