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15th July 2010
The Step-By-Step Guide To Changing Your Car’s Spark Plugs
If you crank your engine and experience a hard start, there’s a good chance the problem involves your spark plugs. They are responsible for igniting the air-fuel mixture within your engine’s cylinders. Unfortunately, they become fouled over time. Constant exposure to the combustion process results in a buildup of deposits on the plugs that eventually prevents them from delivering a sufficient spark. They need to be changed in order to maintain the efficient operation of your engine. Otherwise, you’ll experience misfires, difficulty accelerating, a rough idle, and poor gas mileage.
Fortunately, changing your spark plugs is easy. If you have the right tools, you should be able to change a set of four plugs in less than an hour. With a little experience, you may be able to do so in half the time. This article will provide step-by-step details to walk you through the process.
Step 1: Gather The Tools For The Job
Before you get started, make sure you have everything you need within reach. Besides the replacement spark plugs, you’ll need a ratchet wrench, plug socket, and socket extensions. You should also have lubrication to grease the plugs’ threads as well as a gapping tool (though the gapping tool is optional). Lastly, it’s a good idea to use protective goggles since debris can become airborne and pose a danger to your eyes.
Step 2: Locate The Plugs And Remove The Wires
Lift the hood of your vehicle and find the thick hoses sprawled across the top of your engine. At the end of each hose, you’ll find a spark plug. In a typical 4-cylinder engine, the plugs are located along the top of the assembly and positioned in a straight line. They’re very easy to access. On a typical 8-cylinder configuration, the plugs are positioned on the sides of the engine. They are more difficult to reach, but still doable.
Because the cylinders follow a specific firing order, remove the plug wires one at a time. If you remove all of the wires at once, you’ll risk reinserting them incorrectly. Grab each wire at the base and pull upward.
Step 3: Take Out The Old Plugs
After you have removed the first plug wire, grab your ratchet wrench. Attach the socket extension and plug socket onto it and fit the socket over the spark plug. It should form a snug fit. Turn the ratchet to unscrew the plug from its slot.
Step 4: Install The Replacement Plugs
When installing the replacement spark plug, be careful. Avoid pushing or forcing the plug into the slot since doing so can damage the threads and the new plug. Simply position it in the slot and screw it in by hand. If you feel resistance, unscrew the plug to reposition it, and then start over. Once the replacement spark plug has been screwed in as far as it will go by hand, use the ratchet wrench to finish the job. The plug should fit firmly in place.
Next, attach the plug wire to the replacement spark plug and double-check the connection before moving on to the next plug.
Step 5: Crank The Engine To Test The Installation
If you have completed the steps as described for each plug, you should be able to start your car with no problem. Turn the key and test your installation. If your engine idles roughly or misfires immediately upon starting your car, that’s a sign you have installed the plug wires out of firing order. You’ll need to confirm the order (you can find the information online), review your installation, and make any necessary changes.
Plan to replace your spark plugs every 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Even if you suspect they’re in good condition, it’s better to replace them than wait for them to become fouled and ineffective. They’re inexpensive, which makes a set of replacements a wise investment.
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