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Changing Spark Plugs


Explorer Addict
May 8, 2000
Reaction score
City, State
Eastern NC
Year, Model & Trim Level
'11 Explorer
Anybody ever changed their spark plugs?

Is that tough or what?

Took me 4 hours!

30 mins. on the first 4 and 3 1/2 hours on #5 and #6. Think they could have designed that a little better?
Anyways, after 3 bloodied knuckles, a 6 pack and launching a few extensions, I think I figured out the secret . Take it to somebody else, sit back and drink a corona or two or three.
Thank goodness this only comes along every 60K.

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On the passenger side, it's easier to remove the front tire, pull back the rubber shield, and access the back two plugs from the wheel well.

Yes, a better design would be nice!

Yeah, that is what I finally resorted to. I have never seen plugs that hard.

Being a member of the "busted knuckle club", " I feel your pain."

When I finally break down and get a new vehicle, I plan to remove the plugs and coat the threads with anti-sieze compound and the wire connections with electrolytic grease. If I get motivated I may do the exhaust connections and exhaust manifold bolts.

At least that's my plan - I'll let you know if I ever really do it.

They probably ought to do it at the factory.

Imagine if we had to do this every 10k oe so as in days past.....


I just changed the plugs on a 1998 v6 and it didn't take too long. The driver's side was harder 'cause there is a fuel rail or something in the way, but I managed. The passanger side was a piece of cake. I'm sure that the v8's are even more crammed in there though. I don't think I'd want to do that one...

It does run better after new plugs though. Time and money well spent...

Yeah, I recently had to change them on my '97. That was a pain. I think it took me about 6 hours so you're two ahead of me.

I am glad that is only every 100k and that seems like too soon.

Ford engineers should be forced to put down the keyboards and actually work on the prototypes, doing ever possible repair and replacement, before they are offered for sale.

User Friendly might become more widespread.

I concur, I seem to break the back one on the passenger side everytime I remove it ha ha, very crappy design.

The hardest out of all 6 was definitely the middle on the pass. side. Dealing with the air filter, the condenser and fan, the window washer and coolant overflow and exhaust manifold. Thank you, Craftsman for universals. I think at one point I had 2 universals and 3 extensions on there. Jeez...
Good memories.


Yep, it's a pain in the back side but I'd never let anyone work on my car again. I changed my plugs on a Maxima V6 one time and it was a pain in the butt. When I finally got the last one out back by the firewall I noticed it looked terrible. I compared it to the other plugs and noticed it was a different brand. I had previously 30,000 miles earlier taken it in for a tune up to a Firestone Dealer. Apparently that last plug was hard for them too so they decided to change 5 and charge me for 6. I didn't still have my reciept or anything or I would have gone back and raised you know what with that Firestone shop.

That was the last time I ever took my vehicle to someone to work on it.

Mike H.

I changed them on my 97 pushrod and didn't see what the fuss was about... Took me a little bit, but it wasn't too tough and I did all of them through the hood, just had to use a u-joint on the ratchet. Hell, I even got a torque wrench to all of them to torque it to the proper spec.

Man it took me about 15 minutes per side. You just need to remove the tires if they get in your way (Mine didn't) to get the last two. If you have a KKM that must also help out, because I don't have anything of the original air-filter box left.

Make sure the engine has cooled down really well too, otherwise you will be fighting the heat.

I have a 91 Explorer and i changed all 6 in less than 2 hours. get a 12inch extention and a swivel end then the plug socket. Let me tell you what it was so much easier and no bloody knuckles. Don't even have to take the tire off.

WEll...i just got done changing all my plugs and wires last week. It was a real pain in the a$$. I am used to the old cars where is can be done in less than 10 minutes. It took me a good 3 1/2 hours. I busted my knuckes once and i broke the #5 plug somehow. Nearly broke it in half. Oh well....its done more missing engine....good stuff

My method of pulling plugs on my 97 X and 94 X came from doing it ONCE and while I was cursing and complaining, I thought of everything and anything that I could do to make my life easier the next time. Cause it seemed like it was taking me forever!

Here is what I came up with: (I know there is some repetition from above and some items may be obvious, sorry for that)

Take the passenger side wheel off and the skirt over the front spring. Unless you’re with the circus, both have to come off.

Get something to sit on that is comfortable cause you will be on that passenger side for a while. I have one of those plastic garden seats on wheels - $20 at Wal-Mart, Kmart etc. It works great for me. You can sit on it and literally roll down the side of the car when you are waxing and cleaning low parts on the car or use it to just park yourself. Perhaps not very manly, but for $20? and it does have a lid with a compartment so?…..put beer in it.

Get some height on that thing when you jack it up. You won’t be so crouched over. As always, put a jack stand under there. If something goes bad, you can live to tell about it.

Get good light(s) and keep em close. These plugs are in the shadows and who needs to keep getting up and down looking for better light. I know I get tired very quickly bouncing up and down for stuff.

Make or buy a tool to pop the plastic tie downs on the fender skirts. Why argue with those pops or rip something and get POed at the start of the job?

Get a spark plug boot puller, even a cheap plastic thing. My hands turned blue and looked like raw meat the first time I tried to get the boots off. Silicone suggestion comes later.

There is no law that you have to use 3/8 drive. A 1/4 drive may ease you pain in close quarters for plugs or anything else.

Get a short piece of rubber hose to put on the end of the plug. It may make it easier to remove things once loose or to get the threads started. You may not even need it, but its there, if you do. Helps most for those of us with fat fingers.

As mentioned, passenger bank plugs have that d*&^ metal pipe in front of them. First time, I found my spark plug socket with my shortest extension wouldn’t swing and a swivel didn’t help. Who needs to crack a plug fussing with a swivel? I found an “almost nothing in length” extension (no sure the exact size, but it could not have been any shorter) at Sears…it worked perfect!…. I had to build it up (i.e. 1. socket on plug 2. extension on the socket 3. the socket wrench on the extension) but it cleared the pipe and everything for good swings. That was my biggest problems the first time.

Antiseize compounded is your best friend and you will know it the next time you take them out. Again, you will not be arguing on each and every turn and/or removing chucks of the block between threads. Don’t get the s*%$# on the electrode for obvious reasons.

Your next best friend is silicone in those spark plugs. A big problem for me the first time! - no problemo the second. The spark plug boots get a few twists back and forth, then go for the big pull. I found the strong man method of “just pull” is less effective.

Finally my personal problem:
I will and can drop each and every nut, bolt, screw and spark plug that comes in contact with my fingers. These will always find themselves into the deepest, darkest part of any engine. This not only gets me pissed off but wastes usually 10 minutes and is sheer aggravation… Lesson learned? stuff a neatly rolled cloth (towel works well) under where you are working. It increases you odds of a quick recovery.

Bottom line:
It ain’t a straight six and it does take time. The above helped me a lot and I don’t dread it quite so much anymore.

Hope something in the above mess is useful to someone.

I guess it's just casue we got a basic engine without mods to block things, but like I said above, it only took a little while. Maybe an hour for all six. I hope the rest of you have better luck at it next time. I don't think I'll have a next time. The vehicle is just about to hit 100k and my wife believes that fords are great until they hit that magic number. She said that EVERY single one of her dad's fords pulled awesome up to 100k... Then, out of nowhere they all just started falling apart before his eyes. And he does most regular maint...

changing plugs and wires

I just changed mine yesterday on my 91. Only took about 1/2 an hour. The drivers side was easy. The passenger side was fairly easy thru the wheel well having a lift kit


I just wanted to say thanks for all your help. I just did my spark plugs and wires today and it took me 4 hours mostly because the wires took some time to get loose. The passenger side was actually faster than the drivers side when you go through the wheel well. My only advice is to get a good metal wire puller. THe cheap plastic ones do not work. I bought one from harbor freight. I have motocraft double platinums and Jacob wires. So far they are great. I really feel the power.

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The V8's are cake to change the plugs in. You remove the inner fender lining and all the plugs are right there. Now wires... thats another story. Same with headers. I was about ready to take it to someone else to do. Luckly my dad came home to save the day.