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Spark plug renewal (Every 30 000 miles or 3 years)
Routine maintenance and servicing / Spark plug renewal (Every 30 000 miles or 3 years)


Spark plug check and renewal 1 It is vital for the correct running, full performance and proper economy of the engine that the spark plugs perform with maximum efficiency. The most important factor in ensuring this is that the plugs fitted are appropriate for the engine. The suitable type is given in the Specifications Section at the beginning of this Chapter, on the Vehicle Emissions Control Information (VECI) label located on the underside of the bonnet (only on models sold in some areas) or in the vehicleТs OwnerТs Handbook. If these sources specify different plugs, purchase the spark plug type specified on the VECI label (where appropriate), as that information is provided specifically for your engine. If this type is used and the engine is in good condition, the spark plugs should not need attention between scheduled renewal intervals. Spark plug cleaning is rarely necessary, and should not be attempted unless specialised equipment is available, as damage can easily be caused to the firing ends.

2 Spark plug removal and refitting requires a spark plug socket, with an extension which can be turned by a ratchet handle or similar.

This socket is lined with a rubber sleeve, to protect the porcelain insulator of the spark plug, and to hold the plug while you insert it into the spark plug hole. You will also need a wire-type feeler gauge, to check and adjust the spark plug electrode gap, and a torque wrench to tighten the new plugs to the specified torque (see illustration).

31.2 Tools required for changing spark plugs
31.2 Tools required for changing spark plugs

1 Spark plug socket - This will have special padding inside, to protect the spark plug porcelain insulator 2 Torque wrench - Although not essential, use of this tool is the best way to ensure that the plugs are tightened properly 3 Ratchet - Standard hand tool to fit the plug socket 4 Extension - Depending on the other tools available, you may need an extension to reach the plugs
5 Spark plug gap gauge - This gauge for checking the gap comes in a variety of styles. Make sure the gap for your engine is inclded

3 To remove the spark plugs, first open the bonnet; the plugs are easily reached at the top of the engine. Note how the spark plug (HT) leads are routed and secured by clips along the channel in the cylinder head cover.

To prevent the possibility of mixing up spark plug (HT) leads, it is a good idea to try to work on one spark plug at a time.

4 If the marks on the original-equipment spark plug (HT) leads cannot be seen, mark the leads 1 to 4, to correspond to the cylinder the lead serves (No 1 cylinder is at the timing belt end of the engine). Pull the leads from the plugs by gripping the rubber boot sealing the cylinder head cover opening, not the lead, otherwise the lead connection may be fractured.

5 It is advisable to soak up any water in the spark plug recesses with a rag, and to remove any dirt from them using a clean brush, vacuum cleaner or compressed air before removing the plugs, to prevent any dirt or water from dropping into the cylinders.

Warning: Wear eye protection when using compressed air!

6 Unscrew the spark plugs, ensuring that the socket is kept in alignment with each plug - if the socket is forcibly moved to either side, the porcelain top of the plug may be broken off. If any undue difficulty is encountered when unscrewing any of the spark plugs, carefully check the cylinder head threads and tapered sealing surfaces for signs of wear, excessive corrosion or damage; if any of these conditions is found, seek the advice of a Ford dealer as to the best method of repair.

7 As each plug is removed, examine it as follows - this will give a good indication of the condition of the engine. If the insulator nose of the spark plug is clean and white, with no deposits, this is indicative of a weak mixture.

8 If the tip and insulator nose are covered with hard black-looking deposits, then this is indicative that the mixture is too rich. Should the plug be black and oily, then it is likely that the engine is fairly worn, as well as the mixture being too rich.

9 If the insulator nose is covered with light tan to greyish-brown deposits, then the mixture is correct, and it is likely that the engine is in good condition.

10 If you are renewing the spark plugs, purchase the new plugs, then check each of them first for faults such as cracked insulators or damaged threads. Note also that, whenever the spark plugs are renewed as a routine service operation, the spark plug (HT) leads should be checked as described below.

11 The spark plug electrode gap is of considerable importance as, if it is too large or too small, the size of the spark and its efficiency will be seriously impaired. The gap should be set to the value given in the Specifications Section of this Chapter. New plugs will not necessarily be set to the correct gap, so they should always be checked before fitting.

12 Special spark plug electrode gap adjusting tools are available from most motor accessory shops (see illustration).

31.12 Spark plug manufacturers recommend using a wire-type gauge when
31.12 Spark plug manufacturers recommend using a wire-type gauge when checking the gap - if the wire does not slide between the electrodes with a slight drag, adjustment is required

13 To set the electrode gap, measure the gap with a feeler gauge, and then bend open, or closed, the outer plug electrode until the correct gap is achieved (see illustration). The centre electrode should never be bent, as this may crack the insulation and cause plug failure, if nothing worse. If the outer electrode is not exactly over the centre electrode, bend it gently to align them.

31.13 To change the gap, bend the outer electrode only, as indicated by the
31.13 To change the gap, bend the outer electrode only, as indicated by the arrows, and be very careful not to crack or chip the porcelain insulator surrounding the centre electrode

14 Before fitting the spark plugs, check that the threaded connector
sleeves at the top of the plugs are tight, and that the plug exterior surfaces and threads are clean. Brown staining on the porcelain, immediately above the metal body, is quite normal, and does not necessarily indicate a leak between the body and insulator.

15 On installing the spark plugs, first check that the cylinder head thread and sealing surface are as clean as possible; use a clean rag wrapped around a paintbrush to wipe clean the sealing surface. Apply a smear of copper-based grease or anti-seize compound to the threads of each plug, and screw them in by hand where possible. Take extra care to enter the plug threads correctly, as the cylinder head is of aluminium alloy - itТs often difficult to insert spark plugs into their holes without cross-threading them.

16 When each spark plug is started correctly on its threads, screw it down until it just seats lightly, then tighten it to the specified torque wrench setting (see illustration). If a torque wrench is not available - and this is one case where the use of a torque wrench is strongly recommended - tighten each spark plug through no more than 1/16 of a turn. Do not exceed the specified torque setting, and NEVER overtighten these spark plugs - their tapered seats mean they are almost impossible to remove if abused.

31.16 Spark plugs have tapered seats - do not overtighten them on refitting,
31.16 Spark plugs have tapered seats - do not overtighten them on refitting, or you will not be able to get them out again without risking damage to the plugs and cylinder head

17 Reconnect the spark plug (HT) leads in their correct order, using a twisting motion on the boot until it is firmly seated on the end of the spark plug and on the cylinder head cover.

Spark plug (HT) lead check 18 The spark plug (HT) leads should be checked whenever the plugs themselves are renewed. Start by making a visual check of the leads while the engine is running. In a darkened garage (make sure there is ventilation) start the engine and observe each lead. Be careful not to come into contact with any moving engine parts. If there is a break in the lead, you will see arcing or a small spark at the damaged area.

19 The spark plug (HT) leads should be inspected one at a time, to prevent mixing up the firing order, which is essential for proper engine operation. Each original lead should be numbered to identify its cylinder. If the number is illegible, a piece of tape can be marked with the correct number, and wrapped around the lead (the leads should be numbered 1 to 4, with No 1 lead nearest the timing belt end of the engine). The lead can then be disconnected.

20 Check inside the boot for corrosion, which will look like a white crusty powder. Clean this off as much as possible; if it is excessive, or if cleaning leaves the metal connector too badly corroded to be fit for further use, the lead must be renewed. Push the lead and boot back onto the end of the spark plug. The boot should fit tightly onto the end of the plug - if it doesnТt, remove the lead and use pliers carefully to crimp the metal connector inside the boot until the fit is snug.

21 Using a clean rag, wipe the entire length of the lead to remove built-up dirt and grease.

Once the lead is clean, check for burns, cracks and other damage. Do not bend the lead sharply, because the conductor might break.

22 Disconnect the lead from the ignition coil by pressing together the plastic retaining catches and pulling the end fitting off the coil terminal. Check for corrosion and for a tight fit. If a meter with the correct measuring range is available, measure the resistance of the disconnected lead from its coil connector to its spark plug connector (see illustration). If the resistance recorded for any of the leads exceeds the value specified, all the leads should be renewed as a set. Refit the lead to the coil, noting that each coil terminal is marked with its respective cylinder number, so that there is no risk of mixing up the leads and upsetting the firing order.

31.22 Measure the resistance of the spark plug leads - if any exceeds the
31.22 Measure the resistance of the spark plug leads - if any exceeds the specified maximum value, renew all the leads

23 Inspect the remaining plug leads, ensuring that each is securely fastened both ends when the check is complete. If any sign of arcing, severe connector corrosion, burns, cracks or other damage is noticed, obtain new spark plug (HT) leads, renewing them as a set. If new spark plug leads are to be fitted, remove and refit them one at a time, to avoid mix-ups in the firing order.

Specifications
Specifications


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