Fixing or removing a stripped spark plug is one of the most common issues many car owners face. If your engine is not running or starting, the first thing that you would want to check is, of course, the spark plug.
This is why having the basic knowledge of how to remove and change your car’s spark plug is important.
This doesn’t just save you a trip to the mechanic but also helps you save some of the heavy expenses that come along with it. If spark plugs aren’t changed in a long time, they might just become one with the cylinder head.
In this guide, we’ll help you learn how to remove a stripped spark plug yourself so that you don’t be helpless with your vehicle in any urgent situation.
Things Required To Remove a Stripped Spark Plug:
There are usually two main problems that can cause your spark plug to be stripped out. One, if you are working on your spark plug while your car’s engine is still hot.
Since aluminum tends to expand when it’s hot, it can get a hold of the spark plug threads, which are made of steel.
Aluminum isn’t really strong when hot, but there are high chances that you might remove the aluminum threads as well when you’re removing the plugs. This is why you should let the aluminum head cool down before you try to remove the plugs.
Another reason that causes your spark plugs to strip is corrosion. This is something that forms between two different metals, such as aluminum and steel.
If you are to install a spark plug without using an anti-seize compound going between the steel and aluminum threads, then chances are you will strip the threads out no matter how cool the head is.
Removing the stripped spark plug from an engine can be pretty easy if you’re following the right steps. However, it is also a delicate process that can go wrong easily if you are not careful.
Whether or not you have the tools required to carry this out yourself, you might not need to spend anything at all!
However, a workshop can charge anywhere from $150 to $300 and even $1000 or more if the head needs to be removed.
This is something that can be done quickly and easily if you have the right tools and experience. It should take just around 20 minutes to even as long as 3 to 4 hours.
If you are new to this, it is recommended that you take your time and get the job done slowly and gently with patience.
- A spark plug thread chaser
- A blowgun and shop air
- Spark plug ratchet and socket
- Spark plug boot remover
- An under-hood work light (if your workspace doesn’t get much light)
- Safety glasses or goggles
- A set of gloves
- Torque wrench
- Dielectric grease
- Penetrating oil
- A new set of plugs
- Extractor for spark plugs
Of course, some of these tools depend on your personal preference, such as the under-hood lights, gloves, etc.
How To Remove a Stripped Spark Plug – In Easy Steps
Step 1 – Preparation
The first step is to make sure whether or not you would need to follow any special procedures to gain access to the spark plugs. You may need to reposition or remove other components at times.
Remember to check the service manual of your car since it contains all the specifications for your car that you may need.
Step 2 – Remove The Ignition Coil
Your second step is locating where the spark plugs are. You will most likely find them situated close to your engine’s top area.
However, in some types of cars, you will first need to remove the ignition coil to gain access to the spark plugs.
Some vehicles come with large wires which are attached to the spark plugs. You need to grab the wire at the boot (the connector that links the plug with the engine is called a boot). You need to then rotate it and then just pull it off.
It is recommended that you don’t just manhandle these wires when you’re removing them, make sure to be extra careful.
Step 3 – Use Blowgun To Clean Plughole
You can now use your blowgun to blow any of the dirt of foreign material that may be on your plughole so that it’s all clear for you to carry on with your job.
By doing this, you can prevent any kind of debris from getting into your cylinder when you’re removing the spark plug.
However, if you cannot get access to a blowgun, you can always follow a simpler method and use an old paintbrush to clean the plughole, it may not be as effective, but it gets the job done.
Step 4 – Check Spark Plug Wires
You can now unscrew all the spark plugs with the help of a ratchet, an extension, and the special spark plug socket.
You can also use needle nose pliers to check the spark plug wires by gently pulling them out. Make sure that you’re always working on/ removing one spark plug at a time, and then go for the next one.
If you pull them all out at once, you might have trouble figuring out where exactly each one goes since each one is connected to a specific place. Taking them out one by one also reduces the mess while you’re working.
It could mean many problems for your car if you’re unable to reattach them at the right places. It is advised that you write down or even label all of the wires before you take them off if you want to pull both the plugs at once.
This is very important to keep in mind since with some cars, the 8 cylinder engine. You can easily forget where each of the wires goes.
Step 5 – Remove Old Spark Plugs
While you’re removing the spark plugs, you can take a glance at each one of the old plugs since you can get a good idea of how your engine is doing and its overall health and condition.
Now, if the engine is running just as it should be, then the tip of your spark plug would be a brown or greying tan color.
If the tip of your plug is any other color or has any sort of deposits on it, then there is probably something wrong with the engine, and it isn’t running the way it should.
You can usually find a chart in your car’s service manual that can help you work out what exactly your engine’s running condition is, depending on the appearance and the color of the tip.
Keep in mind that this is also a good opportunity for you to clean and check the threads of the spark plugs and the holes, and you can also make sure if the wires are in good condition or not.
Now that you have done all that and successfully removed your old spark plugs, it is time for us to install the new spark plug with the help of some simple steps.
Step 6 – Use Feeler Gauge To Check The Gap
Before installing your new spark plugs, you should use a feeler gauge to check for the right gap between the electrode and the tip.
Most of the spark plugs that you get are normally pre-set as per the spark plug application and model number.
You can always check and go through the Owner’s Manual if you need any kind of help related to the spark plug you’re using.
Step 7 – Use Dielectric Grease And Apply Coats
When installing the new spark plug, you should use an anti-seize compound or just a dielectric grease and apply some thin coats or just a little into the threads.
While you’re doing this, make sure to be extra careful and not touch the lower threads at all.
Applying a dielectric grease or an anti-seize compound prevents any sort of interference and electrical noise in your vehicle.
What the grease does is that it makes it a lot easier for you to remove the spark plug in the future, and it also prevents misfires.
Step 8 – Threaded Spark Plugs into The Plughole
You can now take one of the new spark plugs and have it threaded into the plughole until you cannot turn it with the help of your fingers anymore.
Once you’re at that point, you can just use a torque wrench to tighten it according to the specification levels mentioned in your service manual. You should also ensure that you’re not over-tightening the spark plug.
It is recommended that you put a piece of rubber hose over the end of the spark plug so that you can use it as a tool that allows you to thread it into place firmly.
Step 9 – Reattach The Respective Wires And The Ignition Coil
You’re almost there. After you have attached the spark plugs in the right positions, all there’s left to do is reattach the respective wires and the ignition coil to the spark plugs and ensure that it is completely seated on the spark plug.
Now that you’re finally done removing the stripped spark plug and fixing it, you need to just check your engine and make sure that it’s running fine.
You can now enjoy the extra money that you saved and the extra power in your ride as well!
Frequently Asked Questions
What size extractor do I use?
Using the correct size of the extractor is obviously important. Most of the modern spark plugs can easily be removed using a ⅝” or 16 mm socket.
You might find the Irwin extractor set to be quite handy since it has a few options for you to choose the right one from.
Is it okay to drive the car when the spark plug is damaged?
You shouldn’t be even starting your engine before fixing your spark plug if you know it is damaged because it is really risky and can most likely cause serious damage to your ride.
It can even be a risk for you to be driving around like that since the engine might just explode.
How to make sure that you’re not damaging the plug?
It is recommended that you properly clean around the plug recess area before removing the spark plug. This prevents any damage to your cylinder head and allows for proper seating for your spark plugs as well.
You are also advised to only use hand tools when you’re working on your spark plugs so that you don’t end up damaging the cylinder head or even the spark plug itself.
Is it difficult to unthread the Spark Plug?
It shouldn’t be that hard to unthread your spark plug, but if you are having trouble with it, you should use some penetrating oil and let it soak for at least around 5 minutes. You can then try to remove the spark plug once more after tightening it.
Don’t worry if you have to repeat this process a few times before completely getting the spark plug removed.
You may save a lot of time and money if you have some knowledge about spark plugs. Gas engines are only run with the help of spark plugs.
They ignite the air and gas mixture in the cylinders by shooting sparks. This causes the piston to move up and down, eventually creating enough power for your car to run.
To increase your vehicle’s startup ability and maintain its power, you must have a healthy spark plug. We hope that this guide on how to remove a stripped spark plug was helpful for you, and you were able to safely remove the spark plug by following the steps.