Engine - I've never done plugs before on a car ever so how many? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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Engine I've never done plugs before on a car ever so how many?

Discussion in '3rd Gen 1997-2002 2.0L SOHC' started by Deej-one, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. Deej-one

    Deej-one FEOA Member

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    How many plugs are on our cars(98 Sedan)?
  2. madmatt2024

    madmatt2024 FEOA Member

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    Four though if you have to ask that question then you probably shouldn't be messing around under the hood.
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  3. Deej-one

    Deej-one FEOA Member

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    I did a throttlebody cleaning on this car and my old Tracer. I’ve also done air filter on both cars and PCV. Just never plugs.
  4. FordMan59

    FordMan59 FEOA Member

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    Be sure to do the plugs on a cold engine otherwise they might seize and ruin the threads in the head. Since these cars use platinum plugs that often run 100K+ miles and stay in for several years be sure to use anti seize on the threads so they'll come out easily next time they have to be changed. Don't ask how I learned that anti seize is a very important part of plug changes. LOL I had a plug seize on it's way out in my '88 Pony many years ago. When I finally got the plug out the threads on the plug were filled with metal out of the plug hole in the head. Luckily I was able to re-tap the threads into the head using the old plugs without having to remove the head and put a new one on. I haven't done a plug replacement since without using plenty of anti seize.
  5. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    The plug on the passenger side (#1) can be hard to work with, due to interference from the a.c. lines and top of the alternator. The best thing here is to have a spark plug wrench with an extension that is able to allow an angle between the centerline of the spark plug and the wrench you are turning it with. If you do a search on ebay using "3/8" flexible extension" or "flexible spark plug wrench" you will see the kind of thing I use.
    Dont overtighten spark plugs either. The torque spec is about 12-17 lbs ft. You can get them that tight using one hand on a 3/8" ratchet.
    I also put a tiny smear of antiseize compound on the plug threads before they go back in.
    I have a spray can of silicone oil. I squirt a small amount this into the end of the spark plug wires. Then I can feel the little 'click' as the plug wire goes fully onto the top of the plug. They are also easier to pull off the next time, without internally disintegrating.

    I think the first work I did on a vehicle was changing spark plugs on my neighbor's old 36 Ford 1-1/2 ton truck, back in 1956. I was so pleased with myself that I offered to replace/adjust the ignition points; and if you know about flathead V8's you know what a misery that was with the front mounted distributor.
  6. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    It's also a good idea to have proper spark plug wire pliers to help keep them from pulling apart.

    As for adjusting the early flathead points, wasn't the "correct" procedure taking the distributor out and setting it up with a special tool?
  7. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess if you had the special tool it might have been.
  8. Not THAT kind of 'escort'

    Not THAT kind of 'escort' FEOA Donator

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    well said. and newer cars are much harder to install plugs in. I learned stuff like plugs on old dinosaur cars.

    If you cross-thread the plugs you can kill the whole engine, and if you don't have a good feel for threads its easy to do. You should also blast each plug with compressed air before removing, etc. I got confused when I went to install new plug wires and was only four in the box. I went back to Autozone and had to have a young women clerk explain that "new cars"(1996 Escort in 2010!) don't have a "plug wire" that goes from cap to coil.

    PS-why you think you need plugs? because today's plugs last MUCH longer than in the old days.https://www.testingautos.com/car_care/when-replace-spark-plugs.html
    Conventional spark plugs need to be replaced every 30,000-50,000 miles.
    [​IMG]New spark plug.
    Recommended replacement intervals for iridium- or platinum-tipped spark plugs vary between 50,000 and 120,000 miles.

    IMO you are more likely to need new plug WIRES than plugs. If car running rough, run motor in dark garage at night and look for any little flashes where the plug wires are.
  9. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    Using a code reader on the car will tell you if any cylinders have been misfiring. Way easier than the old ways.
  10. madmatt2024

    madmatt2024 FEOA Member

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    Um, how do you even manage to crossthread plugs? It isn't "easy" to do or requires a special feel. A spark plug should thread in by hand all the way down to the seat without issue, if you need a ratchet to thread them in then something isn't right. Not to mention my Mazda 3 with coil on plug is way easier to change plugs on that even my Escort.
  11. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Agreed its not so easy to cross-thread a spark plug, unless someone has already messed up the threads part way down. And with the plug in cylinder #1 (closest to the passenger side), its hard to get the plug lined up directly. With two of my Escorts the threads in that #1 plug hole were slighlty tortured. To get that plug in; I used a spark plug socket wrench that has a flex link where the socket connects to the extension.
    I also like to run a thread tap into the spark plug threads, 13mm 1.25 I think) to clean them up. I choose not to worry about any minor thread chips that fall into the cylinder.
    I smear a tiny amount of antiseize compound onto the plug threads. I insist on being able to run the spark plug all the way to its seat, just turning the deep-deep 5/8" socket with my fingers. Then I use a torque wrench for final tightening.
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  12. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    The thread is actually M14 x 1.25. Older Fords are M18 x 1.5
    According to the "Machinery's Handbook" (the bible of machinists) the spark plug threads have slightly different tolerances than the ostensibly identical ISO metric threads, but for all intents and purposes are interchangeable. It is much preferable to buy a ground thread, high speed steel tap than the crummy formed taps commonly sold at auto parts stores.

    I was pretty excited to obtain the spark plug thread taps many years ago when I was young and building up my tool collection. My preferred way of cleaning up spark plug threads is to run the tap from the bottom of the head when it is off for servicing. This avoids the danger of the tap following mangled threads at the top.

    I certainly agree on the antiseize compound. I use the Moly paste stuff, and add a drop of oil if it is too thick.
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  13. madmatt2024

    madmatt2024 FEOA Member

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    Whats interesting is the shop I work at told me specifically not to use anti-seize on customer's spark plugs, that the plating on most plugs functions as the anti-seize and that anti-seize can gall aluminum threads. I've personally never had an issue getting factory installed spark plugs (which have no anti-seize) out of an engine, aside from those stupid Ford 3V ones. I've also never had one with anti-seize gall up so...
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  14. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    I've also heard about the recommendation to not use antiseize because the plug threads are nickel plated or something else. Some plugs don't have such coatings however.
    There is also the concern that a bit of AS can get on the insulator and cause a short, but I have never experienced this. I assume the AS will get burnt off pretty quickly in a properly running engine.

    I call hogwash on the statement that antiseize can gall aluminum threads. I may be willing to change my mind given test results or a clear explanation of how.
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  15. Not THAT kind of 'escort'

    Not THAT kind of 'escort' FEOA Donator

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    Never done it myself but when I worked at a couple gas stations both had people coming in that had cross-threaded plugs in aluminum heads and needed to be Heli-coiled. This was mid-1980s and IIRC both were on back side of FWD V-6.
  16. FordMan59

    FordMan59 FEOA Member

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    Having had a plug seize in the head in the past I'll continue to use anti seize. My plugs usually stay in for several years. My '97 wagon only has 41K miles on it and still has the original plugs in it. I guess I should take them out and put some anti seize on them. I've often ran plugs for 100-150K miles and changed them not because they were missing, but because I felt guilty about them being so old. I also don't doubt I've at some time got a little anti seize on the insulator but it's never caused a problem. I've also heard people on this forum advise against using Bosch platinum plug in an Escort, but that's all I ever put in mine.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
  17. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I had occasion to remove the plugs on a Toyota Avalon V6. The car had commenced running on 5 cylinders. It proved hard enough to get at them, that I pulled the intake manifold for access. I checked the compression, and it was good. The coil-on-plug was getting a nice spark to the non-working cylinder, so I replaced the injector with a $30 "reconditioned" one from ebay. That fixed the problem. Getting the rear set of plugs back in took careful work with my fingers. My sister-in-law put another 140k miles on it - selling the car with about 300k miles on the odo..... and burning a lot of oil.
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  18. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    Nowadays with OBD-II, if the code reader doesn't indicate misfiring, the spark plugs are doing their job.

    However it is a good idea to check them occasionally to close up the gap if it has gotten too wide from wear, which will cause the coil to work harder to generate higher voltage.
  19. Escort230

    Escort230 I named my baby OJ.

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  20. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    Thanks for the heads up! I forgot I was getting low on blinker fluid.

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