Changing your own spark plugs is an easy way to save a few dollars versus expensive tune-ups. While fairly straight forward, it’s important while changing your spark plugs to follow the procedure exactly, otherwise you may mix up the spark plug wires and your engine won’t run correctly. For this project, you will need a new set of spark plugs, a ratchet with a 12 inch extension, a spark plug socket for your car, a spark plug gapping tool, and a small pouch of dielectric grease.

Step One
Spark Plug GapWith your new spark plugs in hand, use the gapping tool to set the gap to the proper size for your vehicle. This information can usually be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual, otherwise it can easily be found in your repair manual or on the internet. You can also get pre-gapped plugs for your car at most auto parts stores, which allows you to bypass this step.

Step Two
Spark Plug Wire Boot LocationLocate and remove the boot from one spark plug installed in your engine. Only remove one boot at a time to prevent confusion of the proper wiring configuration. You can also label each plug wire in a fashion that you will remember, but I find it’s easiest just to do one at a time. It’s also a good idea to inspect the connection inside the plug wire’s boot for damage or corrosion and replace the spark plug wires if necessary.

Step Three
Loosen Spark PlugAttach the 12 inch extension and spark plug socket to your ratchet and place it on the spark plug. Your ratchet should be set to go counter-clockwise as to loosen the spark plug; just as if it were a bolt. Once the plug is all the way unscrewed, the rubber bushing inside the spark plug socket should allow you to lift the plug free from the engine without any trouble. It’s a good idea to inspect the firing tip of the old spark plugs as you remove them. This can give you insight as to what is happening in your engine.

Step Four
New Plug In SocketPush a new spark plug into the spark plug socket bushing and slide it back into the engine. Your ratchet should now be set to go clockwise so you can tighten the spark plug back into the hole. Take care not to rub the tip of the new plug against the greasy walls of the tunnel. Once you have started in the hole, it should turn without too much resistance. If you feel a lot of resistance, you may be cross-threading the hole and should remove the plug start again. Once the plug is “snug” to the engine, turn it about a quarter-turn more. Be careful not to over-tighten it, as you could shatter the porcelain spark plug.

Step Five
Apply Dielectric GreaseRemove the ratchet from the spark plug. Place a small amount of dielectric grease into the end of the spark plug wire boot. This will ensure good conductivity between the plug and the wire. Now, firmly press the wire’s boot down onto spark plug. You should hear a little click when the wire is all the way on, and you should get some resistance if you give it a light tug.

Repeat these steps for the remaining spark plugs. Once you’re finished start the vehicle up and enjoy your work. If the car doesn’t idle right or doesn’t start at all, double check your wires again. When in doubt, pull the wire off again and re-seat it onto the spark plug. Following these five easy steps, just about anyone can change their own spark plugs.

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