How to Change Spark Plugs and Wires — The DIY Way
For drivers who put frequent miles on their odometer each year, car maintenance tasks can seem like a routine chore. Between oil changes and minor repairs, your mechanic bill can rack up fast if you don’t tackle some of the responsibilities yourself. Fortunately, there are several DIY maintenance and repairs that even the most novice car owners can learn to handle. Today, we’ll detail how to change spark plugs and wires on your vehicle, specifically after they’ve reached their end point. This DIY project is both cost-effective and easy-to-do with the right tools on hand.
Before you start the process, it’s important to consult your owner’s manual for any specifics on this fundamental car part. While a great deal of spark plugs can last up to 80,000 to 100,000 miles, the amount of wear-and-tear you put on your vehicle will impact its longevity. Some car owners will need to put in a replacement after as little as 40,000 miles. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is stay alert for any ignition issues. Many times, a struggle to start your car is a clear indication of failing spark plugs.
Here, you’ll find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about spark plug replacements and the steps to doing the job yourself:
Can I replace spark plugs and wires myself?
Yes! In fact, a spark plug replacement lands on the list of 10 easy DIY car repairs and maintenance projects. The timespan in which you’ll need a replacement will vary between manufacturer and how often you drive each day, so this is something to take note of before making any changes.
How long does it take to change spark plugs and wires?
On average, the amount of time it takes to replace spark plugs on a vehicle is around 1-2 hours. However, depending on experience and speed, it could take a beginner a bit longer to fully complete the job. In any case, it’s important to approach each step carefully and make sure you have the right tools and equipment nearby to get the job done.
What do I need to change my spark plugs and wires?
If possible, you’ll want to have the following items readily available throughout the replacement process:
- Vehicle’s owner’s manual
- Spark plug socket
- Wobble socket
- Spark plug boot puller pliers
- Handle ratchet
- Torque wrench
- Spark plug gap gauge
Steps to a spark plug replacement
1. Disconnect the wires
Open the hood of your car and disconnect the wires from the spark plugs. You can use your owner’s manual as a guide to locate the spark plugs if necessary. Once disconnected, carefully inspect the plugs and wipe clean.
2. Remove the spark plugs
Using the spark plug socket and ratchet, loosen and pull the first plug from its housing. Inspect for corrosion or signs of deficiency. Continue this process while discarding the old plugs.
3. Prep the new spark plugs
In order to proceed with this step, you’ll need to purchase the correct spark plugs for your vehicle. This information is located in your owner’s manual. We recommend purchasing pre-gapped spark plugs for smooth installation. At this stage you can use the spark plug gap gauge to make sure the specifications match the manufacturer’s guidelines.
4. Install the replacements
Ensure the cylinder head is cool and begin to replace them by hand-tightening the plug. Afterwards, use a torque wrench to wrap up installation of the new spark plugs. You can also add lubricant to the interior of the spark plug wire when reattaching to the spark plugs.
While this four-step process is easy to process, it’s always better to have a visual of the job. Take a few minutes to watch automotive YouTube, Chris Fix, perform a DIY spark plug replacement:
How to achieve success
Replacing spark plugs is not the most simple DIY task due to the intricate tools needed, however, once you know how to do the work it is something that any driver can manage. We hope this DIY guide gave you the added knowledge and confidence to undertake a spark plug replacement.
If you’re looking for more DIY tips, read our guide on How to Maintain Your Car’s Cooling System.