Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:26 am Post subject: Spark plug change from hell
I finally got around to swapping the orginal spark plugs and spark plug wires (108k+ miles) with some new AC Delco Iridium plugs and PRJ wires. Unfortunately for me, it did not go as easily I had anticipated. I started the job at 10:30 Saturday morning and didn't call it a day until almost 8:30 PM including a test drive after hooking everything up.
To start things off, I went to hook up the Lisle engine tilter I picked up for this job and quickly realized that when I was at home working on my car with my friend at his garage, the sleeves in my MSP motor mounts were thrashed. It took me almost 20 minutes to get the stupid bolts out of the dog bones and then I pushed out the sleeves to find this.... the moral of this story is make sure anyone helping you know air tools are a no no on certain parts.
After this discovery, I quickly realized that I needed to take care of this issue immediately as I wouldn't be able to re-secure the dog bones without new sleeves. My roommate was kind enough to drive me to Lowe's to grab some new tubing suitable for making new sleeves... taking car of this issue took me the better part of 2 hours, but I fixed it. Then I went ahead and pulled the engine forward to replace the rear plugs.
The plug 4 was so easy I thought I'd be done in less than an hour. I quickly regretted being so optimistic. I moved onto plug 2, as it wasn't obstructed by the oxygen sensor. I spent almost an hour trying to free the boot from the plug with no success. Eventually I realized it would probably be a good idea to call a friend who has a decent collection of tools and he picked me up and took me back to his place where I grabbed a fluorescent work light and then he drove me to Lowe's to grab a universal joint and then to Autozone to rent an oxygen sensor socket.
When I got back to my place I decided it would be best to do the front plugs and feel like I accomplished something. The front plugs took me a grand total of 15 minutes to remove the boots, pull the old plugs, reinstall new plugs and pull the engine forward to tackle the rear plugs again. But before i went back ot the rears, I took a look at the 4 plugs I had already pulled and thought,"damn, If I had a Civic, I'd be done right now...."
After pulling the engine forward, I went back to work on plug two... spent at least an hour trying to pull the GD boot from the plug and failed miserably... the best I could do was pull the spark plug wire from the boot. After some choice words I decided to do plug 6.
Shockingly, plug six went nearly as well as the front plugs. I didn't even need to remove the oxygen sensor. I had the old boot off quickly, but it took a bit more work to thread and secure the new plug in place. Unfortunately, this left me with only one boot to remove... the boot secured to plug number 2... my arch-nemesis.
I tried everything possible to remove this stupid plug and kept failing miserably. Because I had ripped the wire out of the boot, I had no choice but to continue. Eventually I pulled out a pair of channel lock fliers and had at it. I really messed up the heat shield, but was eventually able to pull the boot. Here is a picture of that bastard that is plug 2....
After finally replacing the spark plugs, I was ready to run new wires. This part was way more difficult than I had ever thought it would be. The PRJs don't follow the stock wires routing, so I had to work from a tiny little picture and figure out where all the spark plug separators go. It took me almost 2 hours to get it to a point where I'd be happy to call it done. The finished product looks pretty damn good to me (for the moment, I'll be going back sometime this week to clean up the wiring)..
The car runs great with the new plug and wires, I'm eager to see what it does for my fuel economy. For those that are curious, the next step for me is to get some red engine enamel on the STB and cross braces to complement the red plug wires.
Protip: If you don't know what you're doing, don't do it.
The more often your wires come off, the easier they will be.
He speaks the truth. Part of my problem was once I hit about 90k, I knew the plugs needed to be done. I also knew they were going to be a royal PITA.
and thats all on the 3.8?
reading that makes me kick myself for not changing my plugs when I replaced my head gaskets. I literally had the heads off the engine and cleaned them for hours... why didn't I just change them then
Unless you have the engine completely torn apart or out of the car, the rear bank is going to be a hassle. Even with moving the forward as far as it will go, the most visibility you get is the boot and a little of the post.
I told you I hate that plug. The rest are easy, just the one behind the o2 sucks. Had the same issues you did, the rest took 30 minutes, that one took an hour. It will be easier with the prjs now....
Yes, my car will be a dream to replace the plugs or remove the wires again. Unfortunately for me, I promised my dad I'd do the plugs on my brother's 3800 Intrigue with 125k on the clock when I'm home for Thanksgiving. At least know I know the potential problems.
For the rest of you who might stumble on this thread looking to change your plugs, it's really not that bad. Make sure you have the following tools on hand at the minimum.
1)spark plug socket
2) 3/8" ratchet with 3" and 6" extensions
3) 3/8" universal joint
4) oxygen sensor socket (you may need to remove the O2 sensor to get the boot off plug 6)
5) some way to tilt the engine forward (I used Lisle P/N 48260)
6) channel lock pliers
7) regular pliers
8)15mm box wrench and 15mm deep socket (to remove dog bones)
9) some sort of protection for your fenders and bumpers (you will be laying across the engine to change the rears)
Also do yourself the favor of investing in a pair of mechanics gloves. I used them for most of the process and saved my hands from getting even more beaten up than they did.
Protip: If you don't know what you're doing, don't do it.
You'll love the PRJ wires. I did a plug change a few months ago and it took me about 30 minutes. With the offset poly mounts, I don't even have to tilt the engine forward.
I'll be going back to stock delco plugs soon. My mileage is in the crapper now and the only thing I can think of that's causing it are the colder plugs. I barely get 20 mpg with mixed driving. When I hit the highway for long trips, I get 26-28 and that's not too bad but I feel like I'll do better with the stock plugs.
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i remember when i changed my plugs for the first time........took me 2 hours. then the second time took an hour. and the third time took half an hour. the fronts are easier than spinning the wheels while its raining
I assume the majority of you don't have california emissions?
#4 is on par with #2 with the secondary air injection garbage right above it. I remember changing Lingenfelter's plugs (he doesn't have california emissions) and I was ecstatic with how easy #4 was
The upper mount on the passenger side has a hole above where the dog bone usually mounts. I find the easiest way to change the plugs in the rear is to disconnect the dog bones, tilt the engine forward and attach the passenger side dog bone using that hole.
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