How To Remove A Stripped Spark Plug: Step-By-Step Guide

How to remove a stripped spark plug is one of the many issues that affect many car owners. Two main issues can cause your car’s spark plug to strip out. The first reason is working on the spark plug when the engine is still hot. When aluminum is hot, it expands, which makes it get hold of the spark plug threads made of steel. Normally, aluminum isn’t strong when hot. Because of this, when you try to remove the plugs, chances are high that you’ll also remove the aluminum threads.

Therefore, you should allow the aluminum head to get cold before trying to remove the plugs. The second reason that can cause your plugs to strip is corrosion. It forms “between two dissimilar metals such as steel and aluminum.” If you install spark plugs “without using an anti-seize compound between the aluminum and steel threads”, then you might strip out the threads regardless of how cool the head gets. You Can Also Use Dielectric Grease; it will prevent your spark plug from being Stripped.

Now is it possible to remove a spark plug that won’t come out? Yes, it’s very much possible. Here’s how …

How to Remove a Stripped Spark Plug: Step-By-Step Guide

Items Needed

  • Spark plug thread chaser
  • Blowgun and shop air
  • Spark plug boot remover
  • Spark plug ratchet and socket
  • Gloves
  • Goggles/safety glasses
  • Underhood work light
  • A set of new plugs
  • Penetrating oil
  • Dielectric grease
  • spark plug extractor

spark plug extractor

Time Needed: Approx 30 minutes to 4 hours

Step #1: Establish whether you need to follow any special procedures in order to access the spark plugs. At times, you need to remove or reposition other components. Your car’s service manual contains all the specifics for your car.

Step #2: Locate the spark plugs. In most cars, they are situated close to the top of the engine. In some cars, you will have to remove the ignition coil for effortless access to every spark plug. Some vehicles have large wires that are attached to the plugs. Grab the wire by the boot (the boot refers to the connector that links the engine with the plug), rotate it, and then pull it off.

Step #3: Use the blowgun to blow any foreign material or dirt away from the plughole. Doing so goes miles in preventing debris from finding its way into the cylinder as you remove the spark plug.

Step #4: Unscrew every spark by using an extension, a ratchet, and the special spark plug socket.

Note: You must ALWAYS remove one spark plug at a time. Because each one of them is connected to a specific place, if you pull them simultaneously, you might have challenges figuring out exactly where to reattach them. This could mean big trouble for your ride. If you desire to pull both plugs at once, you need to write down or label every wire prior to taking it off. This is very important because, with certain cars, such as an 8-cylinder engine, it is very easy to disremember which wire goes where.

Step #5: Check each plug as you remove it as each one of them indicates the engine’s overall condition. If an engine is running normally, the plug tip ought to be greying tan or brown in color. If the tip has any deposits or is any other color, there’s a problem with the way the engine runs. The service manual usually has a chart that helps you ascertain your engine’s running condition depending on the tip’s appearance.

Step #6: Prior to installing your new plugs, “you should apply some little or a thin coat of anti-seize compound into the threads.” As you do that, exercise extra caution not to touch the lower threads.

Step #7: Take one of the new plugs and thread it into the plughole until you’re no longer able to turn it using your fingers. After that, use a torque wrench to help you tighten it to the specification levels contained in the service manual. It’s always a great idea to slip some piece of rubber hose over the plug’s end in order to utilize it as a tool for you to thread it firmly into place.

Step #8: Attach the spark plug wire and ignition coil to the new spark plug, making sure it is seated fully on the plug.

Congratulations, you have removed and replaced a stripped spark plug.

Warnings and Tips

  • Before you remove the spark plug, always ensure you thoroughly clean the plug recess area. If you don’t do this, it can result in engine damage due to the entry of foreign material or dirt into the cylinder head. Additionally, contaminated threads usually prevent the proper seating of new plugs.
  • Is the plug difficult to unthread? If yes, then you need to use some penetrating lubricant and then allow the liquid to soak for roughly 5 minutes. After that, tighten the plug back up and then try to remove it once again. It is necessary to follow this procedure a couple of times until you’re able to completely remove the plug.
  • Only use hand tools when you are removing the plugs. Doing this will go miles in helping you avoid damaging the plug itself or the cylinder head.
  • “Always check the gap of the new spark plugs prior to installing them to the engine”. Installing plugs with the wrong gap causes poor performance and might even damage your car’s engine.

Final Words

Spark plugs are responsible for making a gas engine run by shooting sparks and then igniting the mixture of gas and air in the cylinders, thus causing the pistons to not only move down but also create power that in turn runs your car. Over time, spark plugs wear down or get stripped. When such a thing happens, you need to remove and replace them. Learning how to remove a stripped spark plug is really important because you’ll avoid costly bills from the car repair shop.

Hopefully, the above guide was helpful in assisting you to remove the spark plug stuck in the cylinder head like a pro.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

One thought on “How To Remove A Stripped Spark Plug: Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Make sure u have the right size spark plug socket. Sounds like u may need the next size up. It not engaging on the hex portion would give the feeling of being loose/ unable to tighten from the start. If u are sure the socket is grabbing the hex then it is stripped. Be gentle and follow torque specs

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