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Tricky Spark Plugs Take Hours to Replace

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mdvorak
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Iron
Serpentine Belt
mdvorak   4/4/2014 8:55:34 AM
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My wife drives a 2003 pontiac grand am. While I was in the process of replacing the intake gasket I needed to remove various components from the engine, this included the serpentine belt.  In order to remove the belt you need to unbolt the passenger side motor mount and jack up the engine enough to slide the belt out.  How one would ever replace a belt on the side of the road is beyond me! Perhaps the belts on this vehicle do not get "thrown" very often?

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Off to the Shop
tekochip   4/6/2014 8:53:36 AM
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I had a `98 Explorer and when I saw what was required for changing the plugs I just took it to the shop.  I put almost 200K on the truck, though, and changing the plugs was the only maintenance I took it in for.  The Explorer was high enough off the ground that I didn't have to jack it up to get underneath, and that made life easy.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Serpentine Belt
William K.   4/7/2014 11:19:37 AM
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Replacing one of those serpentine belts is not the sort of thing that you would do alongside the road. The transition to that form of beltsystem is one of those things that has reduced the servicability of current engines quite a bit. The main benefit was shortening the engine a few inches, which allowed for transverse engine applications. Just like a lot of other changes, this one had no concern for the fact that sometimes engines do need to be serviced, and that not all vehicles are scrapped at 75,000 miles. Since that is beyond most warranty periods, the effort and cost of repairs was not a consideration.

mdvorak
User Rank
Iron
Re: Serpentine Belt
mdvorak   4/7/2014 11:27:17 AM
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I would agree with the reasoning behind the configuration and it's benefits.  That said, I have had vehicles and know of others who have had vehicles that have torn a belt.  Having a spare available that was easy to replace was certainly beneficial.  One cannot always know when these things will happend, even if it is a rare occurance I do like the ability to not be stranded on the side of the road.

Zippy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Off to the Shop
Zippy   4/7/2014 12:05:28 PM
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For a very long time spark plug servicability has been ignored by the automakers, as evident from the many blogs and websites discussing custom-built socket wrenches and shorter spark plugs, as well as pulling the engine, removing the alternator, and/or cutting holes in the wheel wells.  Forcing you to go the dealer for service doesn't have much downside for the manufacturers.

tomorm
User Rank
Iron
Spark Plugs
tomorm   4/7/2014 12:06:11 PM
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You think 4 hours is bad, I had a friend with a 2000 Chevy Camarro SS.  In order to replace the plugs on that, it required disassembly of the entire front end of the car to get to them.  The dealer wanted over $2000 for a spark plug change.

 

I had a 2006 Mustang GT, and while the plugs were pretty easy to get at, there is a known issue with the plugs getting stuck and breaking (the top half where you unscrew from breaks, leaving the lower half inside the engine).  The dealer told me that if everything went well, the cost would be about $250, but if a plug broke, it could cost around $2000 to remove the heads and drill out the plug.  I decided to do it myself, and had 4 of 8 plugs break off in the engine.  I did a bit of searching, and found a tool for less than $100 to remove the broken plugs without taking the heads off.  I ended up spending about 2 hours on this job, and it cost me $200 for new plugs and the tool.

TRCSr
User Rank
Silver
Spark plug changes
TRCSr   4/7/2014 1:47:03 PM
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I have a '98 F150 V8. It only has about 60K miles on it, but my son was going to borrow it to move his household things from FL to NC. Since he was going to be making several trips, most pulling a fairly large utility trailer, I decided to have some maintanence work done on it. I took it to my trusted local mechanic and the plugs cost > $30, but the labor to change them was > $150. Same problem as others have mentioned here; the need to remove so many things to get to some of the plugs.

I remember back in the 60's, I think it was the Vega that needed to have the engine mounts removed and the engine jacked up in order to get the back plug out.

And lastly, I have a '13 Camaro and I have yet to see the plugs yet! There is a lot of metal parts that have to be removed from the top of the engine to get to them. I hope that in another50K miles or so I find that not too much needs to be removed to get to them, but I won't be holding my breath for that.

 

 

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark plug changes
GTOlover   4/7/2014 3:04:25 PM
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Even a 1968 Tempest requires a little contortionist to get the passenger back plug off on a V8! But the others are a snap! When it was time to service my 1984 Oldsmobile, I pulled the entire engine and replaced the plugs. Had to fix a few other things but I would never have changed the plugs unless I pulled the engine! Time to change plugs 5 minutes. Time to pull engine and reset, 3 days.

BrainiacV
User Rank
Platinum
Be thankful it's not the 70's
BrainiacV   4/7/2014 4:43:40 PM
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http://community.cartalk.com/discussion/2284752/1970s-urban-legends-cars-that-required-engine-removal-to-replace-spark-plugs

I had heard there was one car they were drilling holes in the wheel wells to get to the spark plugs on the assembly line. I'm sure they corroded fast.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark Plugs
William K.   4/7/2014 9:41:48 PM
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I would assert that if a spark plug breaks off while being turned in the correct direction to loosen it that there is a defect, either in the plug or in the engine. Probably in the plug, the defect veing totally insufficient strength of material, either the wall too thin or the heat treat and alloy being wrong. A total boycot of that engine model would be the solution.

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