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jca2's avatar

How difficult is it to put spark plugs in a car?

Asked by jca2 (16086points) 2 months ago

I have a Honda CRV that has about 204k miles on it. I’ve had the majority of work done at the Honda dealer, and it hasn’t needed much other than routine maintenance, filters, brakes, and of course I get new tires when needed. Tires I get from Costco. It’s a great car and when it needs work, I get it done.

Anyway, I digress. Recently I had it at the dealer for an oil change and they told me it needs spark plugs, alignment, engine filter, front brakes, and the brake fluid and transmission fluid changed, totalling about a thousand dollars, plus it needs new tires. It also needs a cabin air filter but I can do that myself and have done it – it’s about a two minute job.

I have had back brakes done at a local mechanic and I know with him I can save a little by paying cash.

My question is, is spark plugs something I should go to the local guy for, or am I better off getting them done at the Honda dealer? I am considering whether to get the spark plugs done at the dealer and the rest done at the local mechanic shop.

It’s not that I don’t trust the local mechanic shop, it’s just that I know if it comes to the engine (which is what the spark plugs involve), it’s critical that it’s done right.

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13 Answers

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@jca2 Changing plugs is easy on one condition: you can get to them. To change the plugs on my Toyota it took ten minutes with a socket set. My Nissan truck took a day because you have to remove the entire intake manifold. If those are the original plugs at 204K miles, it’s past time to change them. Looks like it’s very easy on a CRV so let your regular mechanic do it. There is a special socket for sparkplugs but he video shows you how to do it without one. The stealership will likely overcharge you for this.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Is this the first time they have been changed? If yes then it could be a pain to remove them. They could be rusted in and difficult to move. Also the wires might crumble when taking them off.
If they have been changed regularly then it is a relatively easy job – unless there is something about the CRV engine placement that makes it difficult. I don’t know the layout of your engine.

jca2's avatar

I don’t think I’ve ever had them changed before. If the dealer had said to do it, I would have, whenever they recommended it.

I’m also wondering if it makes sense to do certain things at the same time. My plan to offset the cost is to do some things in December and some in January.. Brakes are critical and spark plugs are probably important, although the car is not running rough or anything. The dealer didn’t say anthing is super urgent.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

You can certainly stagger all of this. Iridium plugs honestly will last 200k miles. Most maintenance schedules will have you replace them at ~100k. I have waited as long as 150K, and the plugs I pulled out could have gone right back in. If they have been changed once already, there is no rush at all.

jca2's avatar

I don’t think they’ve been changed, @Blackwater_Park but if the dealer had said to change them, I would have, so maybe they were changed, since they would have suggested it prior to 200k.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If the car is newer than 1990 it probably has coil packs or pencil coils, each spark plugs has a pencil coil. That said it is a straight forward process. I replace my platinum spark plugs after 100,000 miles; a nickle electrode plug should be replaced every 25,000 to 30,000 miles.

Zaku's avatar

I thought that tuning spark plugs took much more attention and knowhow than just putting them in. No?

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Years ago yes. Not now. There is no such thing as a “tune up” anymore. You don’t even have to gap most of them now.

kritiper's avatar

If they are easily reached, use a spark plug socket. Check gap and set to specifications, if needed. When installing, don’t over tighten. Put a small bit of dielectric compound on the ends of the wires/plugs to seal the rubber boot and help to make taking off the next time easier.

If you check the timing, set it to EXACTLY what the specs say. (My Nissan is 10 degrees BTDC and that is exactly where I have it.)

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@kritiper You don’t set timing anymore and most plugs modern cars use are pre-gapped and can be damaged with a feeler gauge. Timing and ignition are computer controlled on pretty much every car made in the last 30 years.

kritiper's avatar

@Blackwater_Park And maybe not. Depends on how old a car one has. But it doesn’t hurt to be certain about these things.
(I have never damaged a spark plug with any type of feeler gauge.)

JLeslie's avatar

I think they must have been changed previously since you have so many miles on your car.

That sounds expensive to me, but I’m clueless what is typical now. I have cars that cost us a small fortune to service and others that are very reasonable. Part of it is how hard it is to get to the part and the other factors are everything is more expensive at luxury car dealers and the service location matters too. I can change the oil and rotate the tires on my Lexus and for $105 at Toyota near me, or $200 at Lexus in Orlando.

As far as who should change your spark plugs and do a routine service, if you have a mechanic you trust, he should be able to do it all just fine. Dealer or mechanic can take care of it.

Forever_Free's avatar

It sounds like the typical dealership list of “do this”. I rarely send a vehicle back to a dealership for repairs. These can be handled by a good repair organization or person.
It is always good to build a relationship with a local repair organization.
If you aren’t able to do these yourself, then a respected local repair shop can handle these. Ask them their take on this list.
Outside of the alignment and transmission, I do all these on my own vehicles. They aren’t worthy of the dealership labor costs. Especially for a vehicle that has 204K on it.

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