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Changing your car's spark plugs is essential to keep your ignition system in top shape. To find out how to replace them, keep reading this post by Mike Ford Shop in Ham Lake.

Did you know that your vehicle needs a spark to start? Every time you start your car, a spark of 20,000 to 25,000 volts is enough to ignite the mixture of gasoline and oxygen. As the name suggests, this spark comes from the spark plugs, small devices located on the upper side of the cylinder head. Although your vehicle's spark plugs can last for a long time, you should know that their insulating tips are exposed to extreme heat, combustion gases, and corrosion; therefore, they wear out and stop working overtime. To prevent your vehicle from having ignition or idle issues, you should replace your spark plugs approximately every 30,000 miles. Doing this maintenance job is safe and easy; therefore, you can do it at home. If you want to learn how to change spark plugs, read on.

If you're looking for the most effective synthetic oil in Ham Lake, reach out to Mike Ford Shop at (763) 257-3130 or visit AMSOIL's online store to order top-shelf motor oils and products for your vehicle maintenance.

How to Change Your Vehicle's Spark Plugs

First, Get the Required Tools

Replacing your vehicle's spark plugs might seem challenging if you've never done it before; however, you'll find the task much safer and easier by having the right tools. Here are the tools you need:
  • A set of new spark plugs (consult your owner's manual to verify which type works best for your engine)
  • Socket
  • Torque wrench
  • Ratchet
  • Compressed air
  • Gapping tool
  • An extension bar

Check the Electrode Gap on the New Spark Plugs

Next up is to take your new spark plugs and measure the gap between their electrodes. This small gap plays a crucial role in the plug's operation since it is there where the spark is produced. Ideally, the gap between electrons should measure the millimeters indicated in the operator's manual; otherwise, the current flow could have problems "jumping" from one electrode to another, causing a weak spark and failures in the ignition system. To perform this measurement, start by verifying how many millimeters the gap between electrodes should measure according to your owner's manual. Next, take your gap gauge and measure the gap between electrodes on each spark plug. If one of the parts has an incorrect measurement, correct the gap size by adjusting the ground electrode with the gap gauge, inward or outward, as needed.

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Make Sure the Engine is Cool

Make sure your engine is cold before proceeding with the spark plug replacement. Doing this is essential for two reasons: the first is that working on a cold engine is safer to the touch, and the second is that it will make it easier to unscrew and insert the spark plugs without causing friction damage to the thread or the cylinder head. Keep in mind that certain materials tend to expand when the engine temperature rises, among them the aluminum of the cylinder head and the steel of the spark plugs. Hence, performing this replacement while the engine is hot could increase the friction between the surfaces and cause damage to both the spark plug threads and the cylinder head.

Pinpoint the Spark Plugs

The next step is to find out how many plugs you need to replace and where they are. Depending on your engine, your vehicle requires one spark plug for each cylinder under the hood; that is, if your engine is a V4, you will need to find four spark plugs; similarly, you will need to replace six spark plugs if your engine is a V6, and so on. To find the spark plugs, locate the wires on the top of your engine, and follow them until you reach the boots that seal the spark plug wells in the cylinder head. If you have trouble locating the spark plugs in your engine, consult your owner's manual to find them.

Uninstall the Old Spark Plugs

Next is to remove the spark plugs. First, take your compressed air duster to blow away dust and debris around the cylinder head. Then, grab one of the wires by the boot and carefully pull it out to open the spark plug well. Considering that there might be debris inside the hole, retake your compressed air to clean the spark plug well. What follows is very important: take your extension and connect it to the ratchet on one side and the spark plug socket on the other; then, insert the spark plug socket into the well to grab the spark plug, and loosen it with the help of the ratchet. Once it feels loose, remove the ratchet from the extension and unscrew the spark plug by hand until it comes out.

Do a Visual Inspection

Be sure to inspect the spark plugs after removal. If all of your spark plugs look good, you can keep using them for a while; otherwise, you must replace them if they show signs of wear, such as a rounded insulator tip, cracks in the insulator, or corrosion on the electrodes.

Install New Spark Plugs

Finally, install your new spark plugs. Start by connecting the spark plug to the socket attached to the extension, then insert it into the well and screw it in by hand until it feels tight. Next, attach the torque wrench to the extension and tighten the spark plug according to the torque specifications listed in your operator's manual. Lastly, seal the well with the spark plug wire and repeat the same procedure with the rest of the plugs.

Keeping your vehicle well-maintained is key for it to run smoothly for longer. Reach out to Mike Ford Shop at (763) 257-3130, and talk to their oil specialists about the benefits of getting the most effective synthetic oil change in Ham Lake. Don't forget to browse AMSOIL's online store to place your order on top-shelf formulas and products for your car.