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How To Change Spark Plugs

May 26, 2023

What's a relationship with no spark?



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Like rotating tires or changing oil, replacing spark plugs is a job that can be easily, and inexpensively, done in the confines of your own home. Although they don't need maintenance as often as the other two tasks, spark plugs are equally as important and require consistent monitoring.

Although it might seem intimidating to begin removing engine parts, novices need not worry. With the right tools, and help from your favorite informational team (wink, wink), spark plugs are essentially plug-and-play.

To keep the wrenching as stress-free and smooth as possible, The Drive's crack informational team has laid out exactly what you need and what to do when you want to change your spark plugs.

Estimated Time Needed: Half-hour to 3 hours, depending on plug location

Skill Level : Beginner

Vehicle System : Engine

A spark plug is a key cog in a vehicle's ignition system. The small insulated device uses high-voltage electricity to create a tiny spark within a cylinder combustion chamber. The spark, which is created between a center electrode and a ground electrode, then ignites the air and fuel mixture inside the cylinder, and poof, you’ve got ignition.

Spark plugs are made with a variety of different materials. The most common types use copper, nickel, iridium, and platinum, to varying degrees. Ceramics are used as insulators and protectants on spark plugs.

Working on your car can be dangerous and messy, so here's exactly what you’ll need to ensure you don't die, get maimed, or lose a finger.

Most importantly, spark plug replacement needs to be done with the car off and cooled down completely.

We’re not psychic, nor are we snooping through your toolbox or garage, so here's exactly what you’ll need to get the job done.

Organizing your tools and gear to change your spark plugs so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won't need a blowtorch for this job. Please don't have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)

You’ll also need a flat workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking that's also well-ventilated to change your spark plugs. Check your local laws to make sure you’re not violating any codes when using the street because we aren't getting your ride out of the clink.

Let's do this!

Removing the Spark Plugs

Inspecting the Spark Plugs

Installing New Spark Plugs

That's it, well done!

The Drive recognizes that while our How-To guides are detailed and easily followed, a rusty bolt, an engine component not in the correct position, or oil leaking everywhere can derail a project. That's why we’ve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you to certified mechanics around the globe, to get you through even the toughest jobs.

So if you have a question or are stuck, click here and talk to a mechanic near you.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of faulty spark plugs.

On average, spark plugs should be changed every 30,000 miles, but that could fall between 20,000-40,000 depending on the vehicle. Read the owner's manual for specific information about your car, and use your judgment when checking the plugs to determine if they need to be replaced. If the plugs are corroded, it's time to change.

On traditional consumer cars, not performance-oriented racecars, an average single spark plug can range from $2-$20.

We spoke to Senior Product Manager of Bosch Spark Plugs Justin Wolf about what a beginner needs to know before tackling the task of changing spark plugs. Here are his top tips for DIYers:

Since you may not have access to the right tools or a friend with that wrench you need, we also compiled a list of our best hacks to make your life easier and drain your pocket less.

NGK LFR6AIX-11 Iridium IX Spark Plug

Denso PK20TT Platinum TT Spark Plug

Bosch ZGR6STE2 Copper with Nickel Spark Plug

Got a question? Got a pro tip? Send us a note: [email protected]

Estimated Time Needed: Skill Level : Vehicle System : Removing the Spark Plugs Inspecting the Spark Plugs Installing New Spark Plugs