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Kittyfeet 11-07-2012 04:10 AM

Changing Spark Plugs
My little Nissan Sentra turned 100k miles a few weeks ago, and it's time to either get her serviced or do some of the stuff myself.

At the moment, I'm opting to learn more about the car and do a few things myself. First off is changing the spark plugs. It costs an arm and a leg to have it done, and the entire interwebs says it's an easy thing to do.

I'm here to prove the interwebs wrong.

I ordered some spark plugs (NGK Iridiums to those interested), and a GearWrench spark plug socket, which I foolishly thought would fit our crappy ratchet set. It doesn't. I spent a few minutes looking at the socket end with the square hole, and then looking at the broken ratchet with the round peg, and wondering how I could get them to fit together. No ideas struck.

So my first step is to buy a ratchet set that will fit this 5/8 socket. Which one do I buy? Will any GearWrench ratchet in a set do the trick? Do I need one that's 5/8?

Tex 11-07-2012 04:13 AM

The socket is a 3/8" drive for a 5/8" spark plug. Buy a 3/8" ratchet wrench. I'd also buy an extension for ease.

nukebrewer 11-07-2012 04:21 AM

IIRC a spark plug socket just means it's deep enough to fit the spark plug in and still make it to the nut type portion that you actually apply the torque to, so really nothing special when compared to a normal socket. If you have a ratchet with a round peg, I'd say you have very worn out ratchet. As long as the drive size (size of the peg) on the ratchet is the same as the square hole on the socket you're good to go.

turvis 11-07-2012 04:35 AM

Spark plug sockets have a rubber piece inside the socket that holds on to the spark plug for when you put it in and take it out. What year sentra is it.

jgln 11-07-2012 08:12 AM

I used to change plugs myself years ago when there seemed to be more room in the engine compartment but I tried changing them ONCE on my pickup truck and I am done with it. Have fun though, good to learn about your car but for me these days I can find better things to spend my time on. So when I do put it in the shop, it is not just to have the plugs changed, I'll have other work done too so it worth it to me for that time spent.

estricklin 11-07-2012 08:34 AM

I have an associates degree in automotive technology and even I hate changing spark plugs haha. Of coarse I don't work as a mechanic anymore and haven't in years, but yep still hate it.

Any 3/8 ratchet will do, for the money I'd buy Stanely but that's just personal preference.

Try to change the spark plugs when the engine is cool, also start them back by hand. If you cross thread one, you will have BIG problems.

Conan 11-07-2012 10:36 AM

If/ when you try to take the boots off (thicker rubber connecting the plug wire to the plug) and it's stuck, don't yank on the wire itself. On my truck I've had instances in which Vise-Grip pliers were required to take the boots off- though that is definitely not recommended. Once you are able to remove and change the plugs, apply some dialectric grease to the top, above-the-white part of the plug. It'll help for next time you do this. The grease is available wherever plugs are sold and may also be called spark plug grease or similar. Good luck! Kyle

edmanster 11-07-2012 12:05 PM

Might want to double check the gap on your new plugs also!! 3 of my 6 were not correct the last time I did mine..

Tex 11-07-2012 01:24 PM

They make pliers specifically for removing spark plug boots. Get a pair or those if you can't get a firm grip on the boots with your fingers, as someone said earlier do not pull on the wires themselves.

dkwolf 11-07-2012 02:03 PM

Also, buy a tube of copper anti-sieze lubricant. Helps keep the plugs from corroding into the block. If you've got an air compressor (or even just a can of compressed air), once you remove the boot and "break" the plug loose, shoot some air down the hole BEFORE removing the plug. In essence trying to blow any dust/dirt out of the plug hole before it drops into the cylinder. ALWAYS check the gap on the plugs before you install them (you'll need a feeler gauge or spark plug gap tool - commonly available for about $5, if that). Gap all your new plugs before you get started, and put a thin coat of anti-sieze on the threads of the plugs.

As has been said, always start the plugs by hand -- and "by hand", I mean seat them in the spark plug socket, attach the extension if needed (most likely will be), and tighten hand-tight before you put the wrench on. It's really important once you start with the wrench that you make sure to keep it in line with the plug - it's easier than you might think to snap the ceramic top off, and then you've got a problem as well.

(For that reason, I always buy my plugs locally, in case I bust one I can run to the store and pick it up)

Depending on the layout of your engine compartment, you may need a couple extensions, and possibly a knuckle. Or, worst case, if it's a V-6 mounted sideways, you might have to loosen the engine mounts and 'rock' the engine forward to get at the back-side plugs.

Good luck!

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