How to Remove Hard-to-Reach Spark Plugs
3 of 6 in Series: The Essentials of Replacing and Gapping Spark Plugs
When changing your spark plugs, you may have some difficulty loosening a spark plug for the first time. Grease, sludge, and other junk may have caused the plug to stick in place, especially if it’s been a long time since it was changed. If it feels stuck, try a little spray lubricant. You’ll feel better knowing that after you’ve installed your new plugs by hand, it will be a lot easier to get them loose the next time.
Almost every vehicle has at least one spark plug that’s a miserable thing to reach. If you have one, and it’s safe for you to deal with, save it for last. Then you can work on it with the satisfaction of knowing that, when you get the darn thing finished, you’ll have finished the job.
If you find that one or more plugs are blocked by an air conditioner or some other part, try using various ratchet handle extensions to get around the problem. There are universal extensions that allow the ratchet handle to be held at odd angles; T-bar handles for better leverage; and offset handles for hard-to-reach places. Just remember that you must keep the ratchet handle right in line with the angle of the plug it’s contacting to avoid stripping the threads.
If you absolutely can’t reach the offending plug, you can always drive to your service station and humbly ask them to change just that one plug. They won’t like it, but it is a last resort. If you get to that point, you’ll probably be glad to pay to have it done.
How often you replace spark plugs depends on the type of plugs you have. You may have 30,000-mile plugs, or if the plugs have platinum tips, they may be good for up to 100,000 miles, although some professionals recommend replacement every 60,000 miles to avoid damage to the engine.