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Made by Monkeys

Ford Spark Plugs Break During Removal

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patb2009
User Rank
Gold
I think you misscope the job
patb2009   3/17/2015 2:11:44 AM
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I think you are thinking of a Spark Plug change as something you do every

15-20,000 miles,and that it should be simple and low cost.

 

You went 100,000 miles before the electrodes burned away.

Instead of treating this as a small job like (Oil, Filters, Lube, Wires, points and plugs).

I think you need to recognize this as a 100,000 mile major service interval.

That at 100,000 miles, replacing the timing belt, valve job, maybe pull the heads and

remachine those as well as replace the head gaskets....

 

Not quite an engine rebuild but certainly a big job.

 

When my Toyota Camry hit 80,000 miles the timing belt needed to be pulled and that was a big job. While the engine was pulled we did  alot of other jobs.

 

 

doug_linkhart
User Rank
Silver
Re: I think you misscope the job
doug_linkhart   3/17/2015 9:52:47 AM
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Thanks for your comments, patb2009.

Ford changed the design of the modular engine spark plugs in late 2007, so engines produced later have different spark plugs that are not difficult to remove.  The engines have a date code on the valve cover.  For 4.6-liter engines, dates after November 30, 2007 mean the new plug design.  Also, the ignition coil boots are brown on the new-design plugs, rather than black/gray on the old-design plugs.

I recently changed the plugs of my 2008 Mustang, which is equipped with the 3-valve 4.6-liter engine, and the job took less than 15 minutes!  So, yes, spark plug changes should be, and can be, simple and inexpensive, even if done at 90k - 100k mile intervals.

This article isn't about diagnosing the cause of the misfiring.  It was almost time to replace the spark plugs, anyway, so I started with that.  It turned out that the misfiring was caused by water dripping from a hole in the cowl area onto the two ignition coils located at the rear of the engine.  The spark plug electrodes were not burned away.

This engine has no "points," and no "wires."  It uses a coil-on-plug design and engine management electronics.  There is no timing belt; the cams are driven by internal chains.  It is certainly important to replace the timing belt of an interference engine at the prescribed interval to avoid the possibility of internal engine damage.

The Ford modular engines can easily log 300,000 miles or more before they need an overhaul.  100,000 miles is a service interval, but there is no reason to disassemble the engine at 100k.

Changing the timing belt on a Camry is a bit of work- I applaud you for doing that yourself!

LaxDaddy
User Rank
Iron
Re: I think you misscope the job
LaxDaddy   3/17/2015 10:03:46 AM
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It is unreasonable for it to be that hard to remove the spark plugs, even if it is done only 1-2x during the service life of the vehicle.  Timing belts are easy compared to this. Let's acknowledge that Ford engineers didn''t realize the carbon build-up at the bottom was going to turn this into a huge service mess.

I like to turn wrenches on my vehicles.  I don't need to, but enjoy getting my hands dirty and feel it keeps me in tune with other potential issues before they become problems.

I own a 2012 Expedition and traded a 2005 Expedition to get it.  I researched the issues on changing the plugs as the 2005 approached 100K miles.  I chose to pay the "stealership" to do the work because I didn't want anything to fall into the cylinder and trash the engine. It cost me about the same even though I drove it in and out. That's a big ticket "maintenance item" that should have cost about $100.

Yes, I considered that I may have the same issues with the 2012 when it hits that age. However, I really like the platform -- bigger than a Tahoe, but still fits in my garage where a Suburban won't.  Pulling a 6500# boat and lots of passengers make the Expedition the right choice despite this design SNAFU.  

Designed by Monkeys?  I don't think so, but I hope they learned their lesson.

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
Maintenance Cost
Critic   3/23/2015 2:27:45 PM
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Do consumers these days really think it is normal to pay over $500 for spark plug replacement?  If so, it is no wonder that some people replace their car every few years to avoid maintenance costs!

 

Birdman
User Rank
Iron
Re: I think you misscope the job
Birdman   3/23/2015 3:51:31 PM
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I had my mechanic change my 2005 F150 Triton plugs at 60K so as not to run into this problem. Even at that time, he had a very difficult time with a couple of the plugs. I was thankful he suggested it to me at that time. So the cost of it was a "normal" Spark plug change.

 

 

RJE
User Rank
Iron
High Temperature Anti-Seize
RJE   3/23/2015 4:02:04 PM
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I didn't see any mention of anti-seize.

While high-temperature anti-seize compound would not solve the carbon buildup issue on the Fords, it may be of interest to those who maintain their own vehicles.  I started using anti-seize paste on spark plugs, O2 sensors, pretty much any bolt on the undercarriage that I took out, particularly the brakes.

I overhauled the brakes and replaced rotors on my 1999 BMW 528 a couple times between 80k miles and 280k miles and there was no corrosion or frozen bolts whatsoever despite 10+ years of driving on salted winter roads.  Spark plugs came out easily as well after 80k miles.  It's about 10x easier maintaining vehicles than before someone put me onto anti-seize.

Ron Morey
User Rank
Iron
Modular engine tip and comments
Ron Morey   3/23/2015 4:06:12 PM
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I went through this same problem. Some commentators need to recognize that these spark plugs are expensive and last much longer than the old regular plugs. The Motorcraft plugs last 160 K kilometers or 100M miles. If the plugs are broken there are several manufacturers of tools that remove all the pieces. I had to buy one-it is impressive but it is frustrating to have to buy a $100 tool to remove spark plugs. I bought some Champion plugs the first time. $18 ea and they lasted 40000 km. Recently I did the replacement again. The spark plug holes must be blown out with compressed air before attempting to remove the plugs. If you don't you will get dirt in the cylinders. I found that if the engine is warm and the plugs are "cracked loose" this helps immensely. Turn them slowly less than 1/8 of a turn. Drop about 1/2 cap full of carb cleaner and wait a few seconds. Tighten the plug and reverse. Continue this process and feel how the plug moves. Add carb cleaner as needed. I only added small amounts to make sure I didn't wash any particles into the engine. As the plug loosens move it until you feel restriction. Do not force it. Then turn tighter until it moves freely. Back it out again-etc, etc. The first time I tried this with the original plugs I broke one plug. That was the one I tried to loosen when the engine was cold. Just cracking it loose broke the ceramic. Hence the $100 tool. Hope this helps. Other than that I am very happy with the 4.6. Great power and good mileage. The Explorer passes very quickly. Typically it takes about 11.5 litres/100 km or about 21 mi/gal US at 110KM/hr or just under 70mi/hr. It weighs 5500 lbs and has AWD.

ragtoplvr
User Rank
Gold
Re: I think you misscope the job
ragtoplvr   3/23/2015 4:11:28 PM
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The ford thick film distributer module did not fail because it was mounted on the distributer which is not the hottest place.  GM mounted the ignition module inside the distributer from 1975 to the mid I think 2005 and while they fail on occasion, it was not anything like Fords crummy design problems.  It was simply a  poor design.

 

Something they repeated on the high voltage drive for the Peizo diesel injectors.

 

Rod

doug_linkhart
User Rank
Silver
Re: High Temperature Anti-Seize
doug_linkhart   3/23/2015 4:14:04 PM
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@RJE:  in the TSB, Ford recommends that the shells of the new plugs be coated with a thin layer of high-temperature nickel anti-seize compound before installation.  You posted sound advice!  

 

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
Spark Plug Change at 60k Miles
Critic   3/23/2015 4:24:17 PM
NO RATINGS
Birdman, will you have your plugs changed again at 120k miles?  If so, you nearly doubled the cost of spark plug replacements by doing it early, but changing the plugs early is a way to make it easier to remove them.

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