How To Remove a Stripped (Broken) Spark Plug?

Have you ever tried removing a stripped spark plug then caused a more catastrophic situation afterward? An event in the sense that you broke the plug into pieces. Which, as a result, left you no room to pull the left debris into the cylinder head.

If that’s the case, you might consider following a guide. And, don’t worry. You’re indeed on the right path. This article consists of information on how to remove a stripped (broken) spark plug.

Ready? Then keep reading.

What Causes a Broken Spark Plug?

Oils and filters are not the only things you must be wary of when doing a car check-up routine. Leaving spark plugs unchecked is the main cause as to why they broke or got damaged.

Yes. It is human error and negligence which mainly causes a broken spark plug. And the most common error is over-tightening the plug upon installation. Your car’s plugs need accurate specifications to avoid the torque exceeding.

Aftermarket News has claimed that 90% of the spark plugs deficiency can be traced to inappropriate torque performance.

When torque is not correctly installed, it will affect the spark plug’s heat release from the chamber into the head. Therefore affecting the car’s performance.

So, you must use adequate torque tools to install it better as preventive measures. Also, other factors causing a broken spark plug are dirty threads and over-usage.

Dirty threads are commonly overlooked since it’s an uncommon cause of spark plugs damage. But, have it checked still.

Meanwhile, when you’re using your spark plugs for too long, they will need replacements. Spark plugs have limits, and failure to monitor them leads to broken plugs.

Broken Spark Plug Symptoms

After knowing the main causes of stripped spark plugs, it’s time to know the signs that it’s already defective. Knowing these symptoms can assist you in urgently replacing them.

Here are the things that can help you identify broken spark plugs:

Engine or Motor Misfire

A misfire happens when your cylinders can’t provide enough power to your engines. And it is because the combustion of the damaged plugs is already compromised. As a result, your engine wouldn’t be able to run smoothly.

This symptom can also affect the fuel economy of your car since the engine would have to struggle to keep up.

Experiencing Difficulty Starting The Engine

Spark plugs are one of the main tools to help your engine run and start effortlessly. Your car must have a dependable spark to give cylinders enough power to fire. So when you start having a hard time starting your car, most probably, its plugs need repair.

Weird Engine Sound

Another common symptom of a stripped spark plug is the weird knocking sound from engines. This sound usually appears when accelerating because your plugs do not detonate and ignite fuel properly.

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Bumpy Idling and Acceleration

These two symptoms can be rooted in an engine misfire. Bad plugs fail to provide the right amount of spark for a smooth car idle. You would notice this inconvenience, especially when you came from several hours of sitting.

Acceleration can also be hard. Broken spark plugs will hinder your car from accelerating or not accelerating at all.

Why Is It Important To Remove Broken Spark Plugs?

Spark plugs may be one of the smallest parts in cars, but they work as much as other huge parts. They are essential in the engine cycle to create movement.

But what is an engine cycle? It is the process of turning your car fuel into potential energy. The process is very technical since it involves combustion and mixtures, which create the spark.  

In its basic sense, spark plugs supply air and fuel mixture to create an internal explosion. Afterward, this explosion will be the one giving your engine the capability to produce power. That’s why spark plugs are designed to endure tons of explosions before they get worn out or damaged.

This provided information above is why replacing broken spark plugs is important. Without properly working plugs, your engine can’t produce power to make the car move.

So once you notice some cynical changes in your car’s performance, make sure to check it, especially the plugs.

Usually, high-class spark plugs can perform to a maximum of 100 000 miles. It would help if you remembered this limit, so you know when is the required time to change your spark plugs.

How To Remove a Stripped (Broken) Spark Plug?

Now for the proper guide, follow each step with preciseness and order. These essential processes and needed supplies listed below will help you unlock your new skill in changing spark plugs.

Supplies Needed

Steps are not the only important matter you must consider when removing spark plugs. It would be best if you also had suitable tools. Here are the tools you need before doing the task:

  • Gloves and other protective gears
  • Flashlight or any source of light
  • Hand drill
  • Ratcheting Socket Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Power Handler or Breaker Bar
  • Pliers
  • Screw Easy-out Extractor (Broken Plug Remover Kit)
  • PB Blaster
  • Oil

Removal of Spark Plug

For the detailed process of removing stripped (broken) spark plugs, check these five steps:

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Before you pull anything, you must assess the engine situation first. Fixing the problem without proper visualization is close to impossible. So, spot the damages and identify which spark plugs you need to remove using a flashlight.

Proper Mechanic gave a glimpse of what you’ll probably see in the engine. It mentioned that there will be a “hollowed-out threaded portion of the spark plug still in the cylinder head.”

If you don’t have enough visuals, you can drill a small hole. This step gives better access to spark plugs, so you can easily point out the parts you have to replace. While drilling, ensure that no other parts are reached to avoid further damage.

Step 2: Utilize an Extractor

For the extraction, pour penetrating oil into the spark plug and let it sit for a couple of minutes. While it is setting, you can start pulling out the spiral cut easy out and the BI-Hex 12 point socket. This action will gradually drive the easy out’s square end.

Afterward, you can start directly installing the easy out into the spark plug hole. Then gently tap the extractor with a hammer to fully reach the hole.

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Be reminded not to break the easy out because it will affect the cylinder head. Once the head is damaged, you’ll need professionals to fix it. Keep in mind not to damage the other healthy spark plugs to avoid more work.

Another thing to note is that the extractor you’ll use should be a size larger than the hole of spark plugs. If your extractor has a major difference in spark plugs’ size, it’ll expand and can be more challenging to remove.

Step 3: Remove the Stripped Part

When the easy out is already in place, attach the socket and steadily rotate it counter-clockwise. If you’re struggling to turn the easy out, use a breaker bar alongside the wrench for better grip.

How would you know if it’s working? After a few rotations, you would notice the extractor grabbing the threads.

If it’s working, the thread will rotate with the extractor, but if not, you must make the necessary adjustments. Also, you can re-do the process or check for possible unseen damage.

You’ll know you have completed your task when the broken portion of the spark plug pops out.  

Please take note that threads are usually heated for it to roll out. So if the plug is stuck inside, you can apply heat while being careful with the cylinder head.

Step 4: Fix the Plug Hole (if necessary)

This step completely depends on how successful you perform the previous processes. If the thread has been devastated in the process of removing the stripped spark plugs, it’ll need fixes.

You can re-thread the hole into the cylinder head using a tap to fit new plugs. But before this, you need an air compressor to clean off the hole.

After ensuring that it’s clean, you can pour oil for convenience. There are available thread kits in the market. So if you worry you might break the thread while working on the plugs, the kit will be of great help.

Step 5: Insert the New Spark Plug

After ensuring that all damaged spark plugs are out and threads are in good condition, clean the hole once more. Before installing the new plug replacement, don’t forget to apply anti-seize to the threads and make enough space in between.

You must also thread the new spark plug into the hole by hand. By using appropriate torque wrench tools, completely apply the new spark plug.

Again, it is important to note that efficiently performing the torque work will ease you with recurring problems. As mentioned in the causes of broken plugs, the most common is improper torquing.

Once done with all the steps, engine up because you’re ready for a ride again.

After Care for New Spark Plug

If installing the new spark plug is a success, the next thing you will worry about is its aftercare. And, it is indeed important since you don’t want to repair your plugs constantly.

Check these aftercare tips that you can follow to maintain your spark plugs in good condition:

  • Read and understand the new spark plugs manufacturer’s specifications. It will inform you of the limits
  • Even though you know the limits, it’s still best to regularly check the functionality of the plugs
  • Avoid leaning on your car while the engine is working
  • If you detect a problem, take immediate action to prevent further damage

Benefits of Changing Spark Plug

At this point, you’ll probably master the function and importance of spark plugs. That’s why the next details will focus more on the benefits of regularly changing your car’s plugs.

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Combustion Optimization

Since spark plugs get worn out with time and usage, it affects your engine’s performance. So embedding your car with high-performing spark plugs improves the combustion process. With this optimization, you no longer have to worry about performance problems.

Effortless Engine Start and Acceleration

New spark plugs offer a quality performing ignition which causes a smooth engine start and effortless acceleration. In previous parts, it has been pointed out that these two factors are great modifiers to identify healthy plugs.

True enough, with improved spark plugs, you won’t have to experience jerky starts and low performance.

Save Fuel

As stated in Stang Auto Tech, misfired spark plugs lessen your car’s fuel efficiency by 30%. As a result, it costs you more fuel than you normally would use.

Meanwhile, new spark plugs can assist you in maximizing your fuel, which helps you save gas money.

How to Clean Your Spark Plugs?

Spark plugs replacement is not always the solution to your low-performing engine. Sometimes all you need is some cleaning. By moving forward, you’ll get an in-depth idea of the easy hacks in cleaning your plugs.

After disassembling your spark plug, you might notice a speck of black carbon covering the top of its head.

 

To remove and clean it, you have to apply a lot of heat using a blow torch. But before that, make sure that there’s no leakage and the plug is in good condition.

Continue putting in the heat for four minutes or until you manage to transform the carbon into dust. Once cooled down, check the gaps again and ensure that there’s no damage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

When do Spark Plugs need changing?

You would know if your spark plugs need changing when your engine’s performance continuously decreases. Specific examples include difficulty starting the engine, exceeding fuel consumption, and engine misfires.

How often should you replace your Spark Plug?

The lifespan of your spark plugs depends on whether it’s a conventional or long-life type of spark plug. In fact, the conventional has a 30,000 to 50,000 miles limit.

Meanwhile, the latter needs changing after 60,000 to 150,000 miles.

Can a broken Spark Plug damage the engine?

Yes. A defective spark plug can cause severe damage to your engine if not fixed head-on.

What happens if you don’t change your Spark Plugs?

Your car won’t move or work at all. Spark plugs are essential to the engine cycle that translate fuel into energy. So without spark plugs, the engine cycle will not happen. It is also proven that your spark plugs’ health is similar to your engine.

Are Spark Plugs hard to replace?

Depends on the damage. Usually, changing spark plugs will cost you an hour if you have the proper tools needed. Follow the guides presented above for a more efficient and effective spark plugs replacement.

Takeaway

Spark plugs have a major say on how your car’s engine will perform. They are small parts that bring huge functionality. That’s why you must constantly check them and avoid further damage.  

Changing spark plugs is easier than it looks like. It might not sound very comforting, especially for people that are not fond of working around engines. However, as long as you know how to follow directions, you can perform it yourself.

Not only can you save money from labor, but changing spark plugs on your own will also save you time and hassle.