HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Made by Monkeys

Tricky Spark Plugs Take Hours to Replace

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
mdvorak
User Rank
Iron
Serpentine Belt
mdvorak   4/4/2014 8:55:34 AM
NO RATINGS
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?

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Serpentine Belt
William K.   4/7/2014 11:19:37 AM
NO RATINGS
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
NO RATINGS
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.

Chartrain
User Rank
Iron
Re: Serpentine Belt
Chartrain   4/29/2014 4:53:59 PM
NO RATINGS
Doing anything on the side of the road is a thing of the past (think Model T Ford) You can't even discern the outline of an engine under the myriad of covers. Those 100,000 mile spark plugs were designed for a reason!

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Serpentine Belt
Larry M   4/30/2014 11:49:05 AM
NO RATINGS
Uhhh, I did change a serpentine belt by the side of the road, maybe six or seven years ago. This was on a 1995 Chevy Lumina APV minivan with transverse V6 engine.  These belts never seem to fail, but the idler pulley on that model comminly fails. The bearing wears and heat up which suddenly melts the hub from the center of the thermoplastic (!) idler wheel.  (Who designs these things anyway?)

I was right at an interstate interchange on the way to work when the steam started rising and the temperature needle pegged. I exited and pulled into a shopping center parking lot. My son lived nearby and he gave me a ride to work. That afternoon I got a ride home, bought the pulley, and went back to the shopping center and installed it and reinstalled the belt. (The dealer had plenty on hand, naturally--I later found out this is a common aftermarket part because it fails so frequently.)

That particular interchange was about eight miles from my house, just enough for the Lumina to reach full operating temperature. So I wasn't too surprised when it overheated and I saw steam again, at the same spot, a few years later. The failure this time (a second monkey item on the same car) was a plastic fitting on the cooling system. It didn't melt; it just sheared off. One end threaded into the plenum (new name for a fiberglass intake manifold). The other end was a heater hose nipple. The dealer provided a brass replacement for $16.00--what should have been used in the first place. I was disgusted to see an aftermarket brass replacement fitting at the auto parts store a few months later for only $4.00. I've since become very attuned to internet shopping for parts, even those I think might be dealer-only items. Don't forget to look here: http://frugalmechanic.com/ first.

 

 

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Off to the Shop
tekochip   4/6/2014 8:53:36 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

Zippy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Off to the Shop
Zippy   4/7/2014 12:05:28 PM
NO RATINGS
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
NO RATINGS
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.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark Plugs
William K.   4/7/2014 9:41:48 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

tomorm
User Rank
Iron
Re: Spark Plugs
tomorm   4/8/2014 11:01:59 AM
NO RATINGS
The engine is OK (this is the same 4.6L V8 that is used in the F150's, with no problems).  It's the design of the cylinder heads that are the problem.  The head design requires an extra long sparkplug, and this extra length inside the head builds up with carbon deposits that tend to lock the lower end of the plug in place inside the head. When you go to remove the plugs, the bottom portion does not move, and the top portion just breaks.

Spark plugs are made of a porcelin material because it is both heat resistant, and an electrical insulator, but porcelin is also fairly brittle.

I had heard of the problem, and a plug change is recommended at 80k miles, so I decded to do it at 70k, hoping to avoid the situation.

I would think that since it is such a know issue, that Ford shoud have some sort of a trade in policy to get a different head design that does not have this problem.  I gues that since it poses no potential safety concerns, they just leave it up to the consumer to deal with it.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark Plugs: A possible simple fix.
William K.   4/8/2014 5:30:35 PM
NO RATINGS
If the only cause of spark plug breakage is that carbo is building up on exposed threads inside the combustion  chamber then there is a quite simple fix available for not much cost or effort. If you know how many threads are exposed it would be a simple matter to carefully grind them off. Of course you will then need to clean the plug very well to remove all of the debris left from the grinding process, but that is not so very hard to do. And if you don't know how many threads are exposed inside the chamber, run the plugs for just a few days, at which point it should be quite obvious. Of course it may be that such plugs are already available for that specific application in that engine. At least grinding off the exposed threads is one option that would prevent the problem. Of course you would need to do it correctly so that the plugs would still engage tyhe threads of the cylinder head correctly.

tomorm
User Rank
Iron
Re: Spark Plugs: A possible simple fix.
tomorm   4/8/2014 6:28:52 PM
NO RATINGS
The issue is the cylinder head design.  Going past the threads towards the piston, there is a narrow chavity that the lower portion of the spark plug resides in.  This area is slightly larger than the plug diameter, and remains that way until the spark end is almost exposed.  This narrow gap gets filled with the deposits and binds the lower portion of the plug to the cylinder head wall.


my only thought was to cover the lower portion with an anti seize product.  I tried that when I installed the new plugs, but didn't get a chance to see if that worked, as I have since sold that car.

One of the bigger questions I had is why the mechanics would charge me to pull the heads and drill them out if this tool is available?  The tool was essentially an easy out desighned for the spark plugs, and took me less than an hour to get all 4 broken plugs out.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark Plugs: A possible simple fix.
William K.   4/8/2014 8:03:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Tom, the reason that the mechanics would charge for pulling the head is because that is what the book says. Some mechanics may know about the "easy-out" tool, but others will insist on doing things the way that their gradndfathers dad did them. Not all mechanics are smart and up to date. And a few of them are not that honest, either.

BUT, based on your description, grinding off those threads should avoid having the problem again, since there would no longer be a tight clearance area for binding to happen in.

Reliabilityguru
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark Plugs: A possible simple fix.
Reliabilityguru   4/29/2014 3:53:56 PM
NO RATINGS
Mechanics will perform the job in the shortest amount of time they possibly can and you will be charged however many hours "the book" says that particular job takes.

I had a 2000 Chrysler Concorde that to change the battery the front passenger side had to be jacked up, the front tire removed, an inside the wheel well access panel then was removed. Inside the engine compartment the air cleaner had to be removed to reach the cables to disconnect them and the battery stay. Then the battery slide back through the wheel well access panel. Installation in reverse. After I did that one time I wished I had taken it to Sears or Sams or someplace that installs new batteries for free.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark Plugs: A possible simple fix.
Amclaussen   4/29/2014 4:31:00 PM
C'mon William K and tom...

It is NOT an ENGINE head defect...

It is clearly a Ford Designers Head defect,

of the birth defect kind (insufficient neurones, many left unconnected). 

An insult to a monkey.  Ford passed it to its cherished clients as an insult or to measure how blind many brand lovers are.

These and many other examples abound and will persist as consumers receive them with complete acceptance "as a matter of fact".  Only when people complaint and fight back will companies stop (or at least reduce) their miserable design problems.

Case in turn: the ignition switches at GM... known since long before. and as Toyota, did, they will claim innocence. Amclaussen.

Cheers.

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Spark Plugs--VW Beetles had a similar issue
Larry M   4/30/2014 11:57:24 AM
NO RATINGS
VW Beetles had a similar issue. The threaded portion of the German plugs was exactlly the right length, but if you bought American plugs (e.g., AC or Champion) at the auto parts store, they were about one thread longer. Carbon built up on the last thread. No problem going in, stuck when you tried to remove them.

The VW beetle had aluminum heads. The spark plug shells were hardened steel. The problem was not that the plugs broke off, but that they simply chewed the threads off the heads. It was even difficult to tell what was happening. You knew you were tugging hard, but couldn't tell (until it was too late) whether you were freeing the plug or stripping the head.

Knowing now what I didn't know then, if I had to do it again, I think I would simply install the plugs with two gaskets.

TRCSr
User Rank
Silver
Spark plug changes
TRCSr   4/7/2014 1:47:03 PM
NO RATINGS
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
NO RATINGS
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.

James Patterson
User Rank
Silver
Spark plug changes on the four banger
James Patterson   4/9/2014 7:42:45 PM
NO RATINGS
The ranger four cylinder has eight plugs. Four of them are easy to get to. but the other four are under the intake manifold. What a bear!

BillG54
User Rank
Iron
Re: Spark plug changes on the four banger
BillG54   4/10/2014 9:00:02 AM
NO RATINGS
I have a 2004 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible with the 3.0L V6 engine.  In order to change the back three spark plugs you must remove the intake manifold and all its plumbing, wires, etc to access those plugs.  A fun car to drive, but that's just one of the maintenance tasks on that car that is difficult due to a crowded engine compartment.

M1Dave
User Rank
Iron
Re: Spark plug changes on the four banger
M1Dave   4/29/2014 5:30:37 PM
NO RATINGS
Yep... I just remembered... I am driving a 95 Mazda (identical to Ranger) that I changed plugs last year.  I've learned that given enough flexible rachet handles and extensions and u-joint adapters, and a good LED headlamp, makes the job less of a challenge. 

BrainiacV
User Rank
Platinum
Be thankful it's not the 70's
BrainiacV   4/7/2014 4:43:40 PM
NO RATINGS
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: Be thankful it's not the 70's
William K.   4/7/2014 10:08:04 PM
NO RATINGS
In all of the automotive assembly lines that I have seen the engine assembly is completely built up, including spark plugs and all accessory parts before it ever gets near the body. So that drilling holes is just an urban legend. Of course that does also mean that it may not be possible to change the spark plugs without pulling the engine back out. It does not seem that modern cars are made to be serviced or repaired, except as an assembly. That is horribly inefficient and a great waste of resources. AND our government approves of this policy, it seems.

Reliabilityguru
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Be thankful it's not the 70's
Reliabilityguru   4/29/2014 3:59:04 PM
NO RATINGS
Hopefully our governemnt will stay out of it. Assuring maintainability is not an enumerated power.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Be thankful it's not the 70's
Amclaussen   5/8/2014 3:37:09 PM
NO RATINGS
Well, it seems the term "industry-self regulation" has resulted in these kind of abuses on the consumer.  At least the spirit of the blog shows that 99% of "modern" designs are terribly done, and that the consumer ends up paying a lot more moneyy and having to live with defectively designed items that last little and end up as garbage all too soon, all under the "profit maximizing" mantra that private companies have universally adopted.  After one analyzes many defectively designed products, it seems present day designers are akin to mad monkeys, but that would imply an insult on monkeys.

While government participation is not always welcome, someone has to step in. Recent issues show that even in commercial aviation some designs are simply not appropriate for the risk and safety standpoints. (and thinking again, this has been going on for a longer time than it appears -remember the failed design for the cargo doors on the DC-10 aircraft and the resulting accidents-. Amclaussen.

Jim_E
User Rank
Platinum
Ah, changing spark plugs
Jim_E   4/8/2014 9:08:48 AM
NO RATINGS
In my 1995 Trans-Am, I've gotten pretty good at changing the plugs.

The factory plugs were the worst as the engine has aluminum heads and they didn't put anti-seize on the threads of the spark plugs.  Not only were the plugs difficult to reach, but they were a bear to get out because of the galvanic corrosion.

I put headers on the car and it didn't make it any better, but I got smarter about it.  I switched plug number seven to a 'shorty' spark plug (the ceramic insulator is shorter) and got an O-Ratchet.  The O-Ratchet is awesome as it allows the insulator to pass through the center of the socket wrench.  I still have to use a normal wrench here and there, and I have to lay across the engine and do the rear plugs by feel, but it's not too bad once you've done it.

My poor Trans-Am is sitting smashed in my driveway now though, thanks to an inattentive box truck driver that turned left in front of me back in November.  I was on a two lane road going around 45mph with no place to go.  I got the car slowed down somewhat, but took a big hit that I'm still recovering from.  Those first gen airbags sure do have a lot of force!

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Ah, changing spark plugs
GTOlover   4/8/2014 10:26:49 AM
Sorry about the Trans Am. Shame really.

In light of all the vehicles that could be listed as terrible to change spark plugs, let me introduce one that was easy. 1955 Desoto Fireflite with the 231 Hemi. The spark plugs were right there in the middle of the valve covers. With the correct spark plug socket (one with the rubber ring to hold the plug), one could easily pop out the spark plug! No other junk over the top of the engine. Heck, you could even climb into the engine bay and sit on the fender well while changing the plugs. Lots of room under the hood!!!

Jim_E
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Ah, changing spark plugs
Jim_E   4/8/2014 1:06:13 PM

[quote]
Sorry about the Trans Am. Shame really.
[/quote]

It will return again somehow.  It was my first new car and I was saving it for my son when he grows up.  I bought it back from the insurance company and will either rebuilt it or transplant the still good drivetrain into another Trans-Am.  If I can't repair it, I'd love to get another 1989 GTA like I used to have, and put my LT1-T56 drivetrain in there.

ndjalva
User Rank
Iron
spark plugs
ndjalva   4/9/2014 4:44:41 PM
NO RATINGS
Try an older 60-70's Pontiac. Manual says to unblot the engine mounts, tilt the engine (with what I did not wan't to know.) Easy fix a hole saw makes fine access to the burried plug and a std rubber plug to fill the space you are ready to go in a few mins.

TRCSr
User Rank
Silver
More Spark plug removal notes
TRCSr   4/9/2014 9:13:12 PM
NO RATINGS
To
GTOlover; I had many 50's cars that were simple to get to and change the spark plugs; i.e. a '51 Austin, '53 Studebaker, 57 Nash Metropolitan, 55 Nash Rambler, and on and on. As you said about your '55, the plugs were readily accessible and there was plenty of room around the engine to get to them. I am not sure why the '60s caused the change to make the plugs more difficult to get to, but by the '70s and beyond the EPA devices made the engine compartment more and more crowded. I also had a '53 Dodge with the plugs in the center of the valve covers. Easy to get to if you had the right socket, a real pain if you didn't. Oh, for the good old days!

dbell5
User Rank
Platinum
Re: More Spark plug removal notes
dbell5   4/29/2014 3:45:00 PM
NO RATINGS
Those mid-line plugs reminded me of a friend's XK-140 Jaguar, when I was a teen.

Same design, with the plugs down the middle of the straight-six, but the head had hardware at both ends that created an enclosed pan around the plugs. Hit a deep puddle, and the pan filled with water, above the plug wire boots. Yet another Lucas (a.k.a Prince of Darkness) monkey design!

Dave

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: More Spark plug removal notes
Amclaussen   4/29/2014 4:13:09 PM
NO RATINGS
Those "midline" plugs mean a Twin or double overhead cam design, that means a high performance engine much advanced than the archaic typical  (but reliable) american V8 with pushrods and rockers. but the fact is that 99% of those center mounted sparkplugs are sti8ll subjetc to water flooding today! Amclaussen.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: More Spark plug removal notes
Amclaussen   4/29/2014 3:52:09 PM
Blaming all the fault on the EPA is being too kind for the really dumb and monkeyish "designers" of the last 20 years... The reality is that they only care about plugs now lasting for more than 40,000 miles or so, thanks to better engine controls and computers adjusting air-fuel ratio way much better than the finest carburetor in the world...

BUT, what happens if the damn plug decides to fail?  And IT FAILS form time to time, even a "new" plug can break its insulator, don´t tell me I've Actually SEEN more than a couple of "new" plugs fail miserably simply because those came from the factory damaged since new (designers should know: ceramics are somewhat brittle, do they know, and an invisible hairline crack will render the "new" plug unusable after a couple of minutes in the heating cycle?

My present day pet peeve is how to extract the damn O2 sensor that is stuck (welded should be more appropiate) to the exhaust manifold, as those BRILLIANTLY DUMB designers placed and orientated the fitting at the worst possible orientation, leaving apparently no other option than lowering the entire engine, and it is a 4 cylinder turbocharged one, not a V8 or V10... The Sensor has less than 54,000 miles, but the dumber and dumber mexican politicians are buying our gasoline from Canadian and USA companies that are adding an EXCESS of MMT in their product to barely meet octane requirements (the quick and dirty way to get an octane rating), and all that Managnese ends up fouling the sensor and the catalyst too.

Even using some tricks to help to remove the damn sensor have failed. In the case of sparkplugs, a WARM (but not hot) engine helps as using dielectric grease on the boots of the cables and antiseize on the threads. On the O2 sensor, the antiseize is useless, as anything lasting more than 60,000 miles is not available for reducing the seizing effect, and the temperature is higher then in the sparkplug case. Even using a small hand size butane torch to try to loosen the sensor has proven useless, as shooting the sensor body wirth electronics coolant spray to contract the sensor and unstuck it from the fitting. ANY idea or help is welcome, BTW.

All in all, Aren't we insulting too much the poor monkeys, when some humans are much worse? Amclaussen.

JohnE
User Rank
Iron
Re: More Spark plug removal notes
JohnE   4/29/2014 4:10:36 PM
NO RATINGS
Amclaussen, I assume you are using the special 22mm / 7/8" O2 sensor wrench, which is a super-beefy variation on the crowsfoot. Worked like a champ for me (2001 VW Passat 1.8T), $22 at the corner Autozone.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: More Spark plug removal notes
Amclaussen   4/30/2014 11:45:34 AM
NO RATINGS
JohnE: the socket that I have at hand is the long, slotted, heavy wall one from Autozone. I don't know the one you are describing, maybe I should make a trip to our local Autozone (not very well supplied here in Mexico City, but maybe with some luck...). Do you have a part number for the one that worked for you?  Thanks for writing.  Amclaussen.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Remove the tire???
Charles Murray   4/25/2014 5:20:49 PM
NO RATINGS
I was out of town when this article first appeared, but I'm astounded to read that any automaker would expect someone to jack up the truck and remove the tire to replace spark plugs. I guess I should be so surprised, though. Every year, there seems to be less and less consideration in the design of products for the do-it-yourselfer.

JohnE
User Rank
Iron
Re: Remove the tire???
JohnE   4/29/2014 3:32:55 PM
NO RATINGS
This sounds like the late 1970s Chevy Monza, with a V8 crammed into an engine compartment designed for a V6. The two rear plugs were reputedly VERY difficult to remove.

 

Spark plug maintenance is also a problem on the rear banks of many transverse-mount V6 engines.

 

The best spark plug access I ever enjoyed was on the 4-cylinder Chrysler K cars -- open the hood and look down on the oil filter, the distributor cap, and the four spark plugs. The cars won a well deserved Popular Mechanics award for ease of maintenance. Fortunately, spark plug replacement is pretty easy on the VW/Audi 1.8T, as well, as long as one does not break the wiring harness clips on the coilpacks. 

Al Klu
User Rank
Gold
Re: Remove the tire???
Al Klu   4/29/2014 3:43:04 PM
NO RATINGS
I don't know if there is a real connection here.  But I want to point out that Lee Iacocca, who championed the K-cars for Chrysler (saving the company), was a Manufacturing Engineer. 

We should all sing the praises of the Manufacturing Engineers who actually look at how the things go together during initial assembly and for service! They are the unsung heroes of the DIY-ers.

 

M1Dave
User Rank
Iron
Re: Remove the tire???
M1Dave   4/29/2014 5:27:19 PM
NO RATINGS
I had a 1978 or 79 Monza Starfire with the 305 V-8 in the mid-80's.  The spark plugs were almost impossible to change.  I think I changed them once.  If was going to do again, would unbolt the motor mounts and jack the engine up.  Also changed the heater core, all day job...  pita.  I've replaced my own heater cores in a 87 Mustang,  95 Explorer, and 2000 Durango.  Same PITA.  Sad thing is that for the model years just prior to 87 and 95 (86 and 94), to replace the heater core involved removal of glove box, remove 4 nuts from plate over h/c, remove h/c, put new core in, bolt plate back on and replace glovebox.  Simple.  What I got... 8-10 hours of remove driver seat, console, shifter, drop steering wheel, pull dash back and wire up out of way, (oops, take rig to shop to discharge A/C before starting job), remove A/C/h/c housing and disassemble housing, change h/c, reassemble, take back to shop to have A/C charged.  All to replace a $35 part that is prone to fail.

2nd h/c in stang, pulled dash back, sawsalled the housing, pried it open enough to get h/c out and replaced, sealed housing with high quality duct tape.  

Being a mechanical engineer with 30 years experience, I wish someone would design a durable vehicle that is intended for long life with easily replaced parts... (and no, the  VW Beetle isn't that vehicle).

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Remove the tire???
William K.   4/30/2014 10:16:54 PM
NO RATINGS
M1Dave, wow, you certainly have had some bad luck with heater cors. Never had to replace one, just a couple of radiators that failed because the clamp band that held the plastic parts on rusted away. Cheap steel and a poor design. Probaly the cheapest Chinese steel that could be found.

I agree though, cutting the box to replace the core is much better, but only if you can avoid cutting other expensive parts at the same time.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Remove the tire???
Amclaussen   4/30/2014 1:22:06 AM
Chrysler cars derived form the original K-cars, specially those sold from 1990 to 1995 were the best of all.  Reliability and maintenability were above average. That's the reason I still keep and drive my 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T, which is a Turbocharged four that leaves behind many V8's at our very high altitude of more than 7350 ft. asl, (usually our Density-Altitude is above 10,000 ft).

Engine access and layout is very good, component durability is surprinsingly good for the price, and overall results were comparable to Japanese options of the time, at a lower price.

After designing those excellent automobiles, Chrysler only went down. Germans (Daimler) only damaged the company.  The "cloud cars" were much less well designed.  To improve looks, a "Cab-Forward" and lower hood design reduced engine compartment volume, but the design of the engine compartment, was left to truly dumb people that placed batteries inside fenders and transformed the previous good design into maintenability nightmares.  A radiator service in my 1991 Spirit takes me about 4 hours, taking it out to properly clean it inside and out, replacing all the hoses, Thermostat, engine coolant flushing and replenishment, all working at a leisurely calm pace (enjoying it).  On my 2002 Stratus R/T, the same exact task demands several times the 4 hours demanded by the older car: even removing the radiator is a chore!

Trying to purge air out shows the stupidity of the designers, as the purging accesory is UNDER the pockets inside the engine head and thus, useless. Engine is so cramped inside the compartment, that first years (1995 to 2000) reported many heat induced failures. Now, after many years of owning both models, I can report that the older was comparatively better, demanding much less replacement parts at the same mileages. So much for true progress and improved "quality of design"  Amclaussen.

a.saji
User Rank
Silver
Re: Remove the tire???
a.saji   4/30/2014 6:26:19 AM
NO RATINGS
What about the market? Has the market share increased ?      

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Remove the tire???
Amclaussen   5/8/2014 3:49:32 PM
NO RATINGS
Exactly JohnE, those Chryslers still are a benchmark of serviceability (and reliability too). Even hard to convince magazines like Consumer Reports (credibility aside), reported high reliability for the last versions of the K cars (like the Dodge Spirit/Plymouth Acclaim) when compared to other family sedans of those years (1990-95). I still drive and keep my 1991 Spirit R/T as it still delivers a lot of punch for its price and has proved to be a reliable and fun to drive car. Maybe because is was a "premium" or Sports oriented package with Turbo engine, 4-disc brakes and sport suspension.  Anyhow, it compares very favorably to later models ('cloud cars') which are badly designed comparatively. Amclaussen.

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Remove the tire???
bob from maine   4/29/2014 3:43:08 PM
NO RATINGS
It's the manufacturer (as far as I know) who sets the flat rate for each operation. I've seen Ford's "take apart" shop, pretty impressive - clean, smooth floors, nice lifts. Every model year factory trained service technicians (dealers only) get to go to school and learn the short-cuts for each operation. The 'drill the holes in the fender well' trick is only one of many and when done properly the owner will never know! The bad part is the technician gets paid the flat rate which may be 4 or 5 hours for a plug change but actually be able to finish the job in 20 minutes after drilling holes and using the magic wrench.

air_n_water
User Rank
Iron
Memories of 1967 Cougar
air_n_water   4/29/2014 3:43:00 PM
NO RATINGS
I once owned a 1967 Cougar GT.  This was a small car with a BIG engine.  The passenger side rear plug was also a pain to get to and no option of removing innerwell parts to get to it.  After having such issues changing plugs, I had it in the dealership and had them change the plugs.  A few days later, I was driving about 50 mph and hear this god awful whooshing noise.  I pulled over only to find the rear plug wire and plug hanging down along the side of the engine.  I guess the dealership had issues tighening the plug too, as it worked out of the engine.

John
User Rank
Gold
changes in manufacture
John   4/29/2014 4:12:35 PM
NO RATINGS
Removal of the wheel and well liner is pretty common.  With the right tools it comes off quick and isn't that big of a deal.  However, my mother-and-law has Ford minivan and backside of the engine hides the spark plugs and wires far from view.  I was really surprised to see that.  I imagine an extension and u-joint swivel socket would have done the trick, but she insisted that a friend of hers could change them out in 20 minutes.  Having always done all the mechanical work ourselves, I always pop the hood before I buy anything to see if I want to fix it before buying.  However, things are becoming more compact and lighter than ever, especially since many engines drop from under the car.  A winch and six bolts drops the engine under it all for easy access to most everything.  It's a piece of cake. :p

Drifter57
User Rank
Silver
I can beat that!
Drifter57   4/29/2014 6:32:09 PM
I have a 97 Crysler Grand Caravan with a 3.3 litre transverse V6.  The 3 plugs in the front are replaceable in about 5 minutes, but the service manual demands you REMOVE THE INTAKE MANIFOLD along with all attached upper engine parts to replace the rear set!  I have managed to accomplish the task with circus genre contortions, ripped knuckles and elbows, destroyed plug wires and significant profanity by coming from under the vehicle and only removing the alternator.  Make sure you use a 100,000 mile rated plug for replacement.  Only want to do this ONCE.  I would desperately love to slap silly the engineers who stuffed that engine in there.

fire-iron.biz
User Rank
Gold
Re: I can beat that!
fire-iron.biz   4/30/2014 6:46:23 AM
I'll gladly take that 3.3L '97 off your hands, once you make some modifications to correct the blatant stupidity of automotive dis-engineering they're not too bad. Change the rear plugs from the bottom. At least on these you can change the belt ... or at least put it back on along side the road when it routinely flies off from rain and puddles.

Automobiles and appliances are the prime examples of "how not to".

Drifter57
User Rank
Silver
Re: I can beat that!
Drifter57   5/1/2014 12:21:39 PM
I was able with great effort (arms too short, fat?) as I said to reach the 3 and 5 plugs from underneath, destroying plug boots and wires along the way, but the number 1 plug was just out of reach.  I didn't have the ability to get anything on the plug boot to remove it, so getting a wrench on it was moot.  I had to remove the alternator to get at that one from the top.  Still a miserable experience.  A half hour project took most of the day.

fire-iron.biz
User Rank
Gold
Re: I can beat that!
fire-iron.biz   5/24/2014 8:58:21 AM
NO RATINGS
Oh, the boots come off using a pair of extra-long 45° angle needlenose rounded jaw hose pliers then silicone the snot out of the boots before putting them back on so they don't seize to the plugs again. I know I've removed/installed the plugs without special tools, put the plug socket on then break it free with a combo wrench - lay on your side somewhat facing down reaching up with your arm as if sidestroke swimming. BTW, my alternator bracket is now a 2-piece to eliminate the additional 2+ hours of labor that would normally be required to remove everything that's in the way of getting the alternator out. 

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Platinum plugs
Larry M   4/30/2014 12:24:15 PM
Well, the author of this post never said it so I will. If the plugs are that hard to change, use platinum or iridium replacements to stretch out the replacement interval.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Platinum plugs
Amclaussen   5/8/2014 4:27:32 PM
NO RATINGS
I've seen failed NEW plugs a couple of times (broken ceramic insulation, hardly visible hairline cracks). Those plugs behaved OK for a couple of minutes... but as soon as temperarture went up, they started misfiring.  Puzzed a couple of old time mechanics for a while.

The thing is that sparkplugs should be accesible items, not to require more than a couple of minutes to replace or inspect!  On ther other hand, some engines don't like exotic plugs (my Turbocharged 4's need standard (copper) plugs since platinum (or iridium) ones tend to overheat because electrodes are way too thin to resist and conduct heat away, causing preignition/detonation at high Turbo Boost levels on these engines. And sparkplug reading is one of the best engine health indicators available, that should be easy to performon all engines. Amclaussen.

timbalionguy
User Rank
Gold
Various auto maintainability woes
timbalionguy   4/30/2014 1:25:34 PM
NO RATINGS
My fun is with a 1995 Chevy S-10 pickup. Like the OP, one of the spark plugs are for all intents and purposes inaccessible. At least, the spark plugs should last 100,000 miles in this vehicle (and I did use platinum plugs when I replaced them). I have noticed that nothing is easy to work on in this vehicle.

The GM products that were supposed to recieve the rotary engine that was cancelled at the last moment had even a worse problem. To replace the spark plugs in the substitute reciprocating engine, one had to cut a hole in the fender well.

I had a 1985 Plymouth Horizon that was very easy to do routine maintenance on (except the timing belt!). This vehicle's downfall was its poor body protection. It rusted out terribly in western New York winters, and I finally gave up trying to stop it. This was also the last model year to use a carburator, and it was dreadfully complicated due to the emission controls. if someone hadn't rear-ended it one day, it would have required a new carb in a few more months. (Ironically, I lived next door to GM's Carter carbuerator plant!)

My other current vehicle (beside the S-10) is a 2004 Ford Focus. That is a pleasant vehicle to work on. I can practically take it apart with hand tools!

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Various auto maintainability woes
Amclaussen   5/8/2014 5:00:43 PM
NO RATINGS
timbalionguy: your 1985 Horizon was transformed into the later Fuel Injection models that performed way much better than the old carbureted ones. Chrysler's Fuel Injection on those years (1990-95) was very reliable and simple enough to diagnose thanks to a very clever On-Board diagnosis accesible through the "Check-Engine" light displaying a kind of "Morse Code" DTC´s (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) ranging from "11" to "60" or so thanks to the light blinking on and off with pauses.  Chrysler codes were easier to read than other brands and did NOT require an external Scanner to be retrieved, a bonus to DIY mechanics.  Too bad the company lost its track when Daimler took over and we are still undecided if it returns to its previous good days. (I'm not convinced FIAT won´t damage it still more than Daimler did).

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
A smaller level of agravation, but still a pain.
William K.   4/30/2014 9:46:25 PM
NO RATINGS
I just changed the brake pads on our 2005 Dodge Caravan, which would have happened sooner except that for some dumb reason the caliper alignment posts did not have that easy to work with 8mm hex pattern on top that is so very simple to grab with an 8mm socket. I have changed quite a few with that arrangement. It is easy, since the head is not visible, just poke the socket into the rubber sleeve. BUT NOT FOR 2005! That vehicle, with the 4-wheel disk brakes option, takes a 7mm male driver to get those guide pins out. But 7mm is not a very standard size, since the metric system was designed by accountants, the steps in sizes are strange. And 7mm drivers are a bit less common. I did find one at O Rileys, for a sort of reasonable price, and now I can do the job. But figuring out what the unsen toll connection needed was quite an exercise.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
TRICKY SPARK PLUGS
bobjengr   5/4/2014 9:50:03 AM
NO RATINGS
Bradley--I'm playing a little catch-up here due to schedule but felt the need to comment anyway.  I definitely got spoiled with my first car.  It was a third-hand, four cylinder, inline 1960 Ford Falcon.  I was a junior in college and had no real disposable income so the Falcon was an ideal choice.  I found out quickly I could fix anything and everything because components were accessible. I could walk around the engine compartment; there was so much space available under the hood.  My present "ride" is nowhere close to allowing that convenience and dropping a screw brings on panic and hyperventilation.  There are small screws, nuts, bolts, etc etc lodged in the compartment that will be lost forever.  Excellent post.   

 

GeoOT
User Rank
Silver
Re: TRICKY SPARK PLUGS
GeoOT   6/4/2014 8:23:14 PM
NO RATINGS
Your 1960 Ford Falcon (if it was a US domestic model) had a six cylinder engine, not a four.  Ford did not start putting 4 cylinder engines into its US built passenger cars until the Pinto.  It had a choice of a Brit built 1600 cc or the US built 2 liter belt driven OHC four.  I believe that the 1960 six cylinder was 170 cu.in.  It was easy to service.  There wasn't quite enough room to stand inside the engine compartment, but there was lots of room in there. I bought a 1960 2 door in 1966 for $200 (lots of rust).

Ockham
User Rank
Gold
tricky plug replacement
Ockham   5/8/2014 3:35:13 PM
NO RATINGS
What did you expect? It's a FORD.

 

:-)

 

JRT256
User Rank
Iron
Spark Plug Wrench
JRT256   5/8/2014 11:19:07 PM
NO RATINGS
I was wondering -- Ford couldn't be that stupid.  Do you think that there might be a special spark plug wrench to remove the plugs.  Something similar to what comes with an old air cooled VW Beatle to reach in and access the plugs?

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Made by Monkeys
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made by Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Made By Monkeys highlights products that somehow slipped by the QC cops.
Design News Webinar Series
11/19/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
11/6/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Dec 1 - 5, An Introduction to Embedded Software Architecture and Design
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service