Spark plugs are necessary for an engine to perform smoothly, so you should maintain their good condition. It’s simple and quick to clean your spark plugs to keep them operating at their best, but it’s also important to understand why you need to do so frequently.
You must frequently ensure that your car’s engine is thoroughly cleaned if you want to keep it in good condition. It is necessary to clean the spark plug holes in particular. But a lot of automobile owners continue to be confused about how to carefully clean out a spark plug hole so that the engine runs smoothly.
Of course, taking your car to a shop to have it cleaned and maintained would be the most sensible course of action. However, if you do not have this option, we urge you to read this text carefully.
You’ll learn how to remove junk from the spark plug holes in your car’s engine, and we’ll also provide you with two distinct techniques you can employ to do so. In this manner, depending on the tools you have available at the time, you will always have a backup plan.
Additionally, you will learn some practical safety advice that will help you perform the spark plug hole cleaning process safely for both you and the engine of your automobile. With all of that in mind, you probably won’t even need to bring your automobile in for an engine cleaning the following time!
When they locate any oil or debris in the spark plug tube, some car owners immediately clean the spark plug. This is not the proper course of action to take.
This article will precisely demonstrate how to clean both the spark plug’s tubes and the plug itself. As a result, I’ll demonstrate how to remove any oil or dirt from the spark plug hole by cleaning it.
A Step-By-Step Guide On How to Clean Spark Plug Holes
When you remove the spark plugs, if you notice oil in the plug wells, you might want to remove it since if it remains there for a while, it could lead to an engine misfire, which is something you don’t want to happen. To remove oil or lose items from your plug wells, refer to this tutorial.
If there is oil in the plug wells when the spark plugs are removed, you might want to remove it because if it stays there for a long time, it could cause an engine misfire, which is something you don’t want to happen.
You might be wondering what cleaning methods you can use to keep your spark plugs in good condition. The three most popular options that you can utilize for this are generally as follows:
- Spark plugs can be cleaned with the aid of abrasives.
- A blow torch can also work well if you don’t have any of those!
- Another convenient and straightforward method for cleaning spark plugs is compressed air.
Your car’s spark plugs are essential because they enable the engine to function. Your car will experience issues if they break down. Thus, it is crucial to maintain the cleanliness and functionality of the spark plugs. Fortunately, cleaning the spark plugs in your car is a simple and quick task. Of course, if you follow the proper procedures, you will be able to maintain them operating in this manner.
It is crucial to take into account the need for cleaning your plugs, nevertheless. For instance, it is frequently preferable to replace old, dirty spark plugs rather than repeatedly cleaning them. Cleaning them in this situation is just necessary to keep your automobile operating while you wait to acquire new plugs.
You can read more in-depth information about each of the cleaning techniques listed below. This will enable you to determine which option would be the best fit for you.
1. Utilizing Compressed Air to Clean the Spark Plug Holes
One of the most straightforward and efficient ways to clean the spark plug holes is with compressed air. This choice is ideal for you if your garage is always stocked with a can of compressed air! The entire process generally looks like this:
- You unplug the battery’s negative terminal.
- You identify the spark plugs.
- You clear the spark plugs of any debris using a can of compressed air.
- Next, unplug each spark plug individually from the wire.
- The spark plug is unscrewed using a spark plug socket.
This is only a broad strategy, though. We advise you to read the entire process described to complete the cleaning procedure correctly and without harming the engine.
Find the battery first, which should be in the trunk or engine bay. Look for the object that resembles a black plastic box with two protruding metal terminals on the top. Locate the negative terminal (it will be identified by a minus “-” sign) once you’ve located it, then remove the bolt securing the cable to the terminal. Then just slide it away.
Finding the spark plug wires is the following procedure. They appear to be thick cables that extend from the ignition coils to the engine’s top, where they join the spark plugs, then follow those to the cylinder heads’ holes for each plug.
A V6 will have six cables and plugs, however, a two-stroke dirt bike will only have one since each cylinder in your engine should have one cable and one plug.
To prevent any dirt or debris from entering the cylinders after you’ve located the spark plugs, you must remove all of them from the area.
A can of pressurized air comes in helpful at this point! Simply blow all flying debris in a safe direction.
The spark plugs in your engine must next be individually disconnected. Why not simply remove them and clean them all?
If you do this, it could be challenging to determine which cable belongs where. Additionally, by cleaning the cylinders in stages, debris won’t get inside them.
Different sizes of automotive spark plugs by Gzuckier / CC BY-SA 3.0. Spark plugs in your car are crucial because they make the engine run. They will cause problems for your car if they malfunction. Therefore, it is essential to keep the spark plugs clean and effective.
Once you’re finished, attach your ratchet to your extension by placing the spark plug socket on the end of the extension. To remove the spark plug from its seated position, place the socket over it and turn it counterclockwise. Once the screw is free, remove the socket from the wrench and continue the unscrewing by hand.
2. Utilizing Abrasives to Clean Spark Plug Holes
Another choice that comes in helpful is using abrasives to clean the spark plug holes in your engine. Here is a basic explanation of the process so that you can visualize it:
- Sand the electrode with 220-grit paper.
- If the electrode is visibly dirty, remove the dirt from it with a file.
- Use a wire brush to clean the threads.
- Using the brake cleaner, pulverize the plug, then clean it.
- Repeat the process for every spark plug.
Once more, to help you better understand the cleaning process, we advise you to read the comprehensive description.
It starts with electrodes. A tiny bit of metal that is protruding out of the spark plug can be found at its end. The electrode is that component. Use the sandpaper to work below the bent-over piece of the electrode between it and the plug itself if you see that it is black or discolored. Repeat this motion until the metal is spotless on both sides.
You can use a small file to scrape away any considerable carbon buildup on the electrode if it is present. To clean the metal, insert the file into the space between the plug and the electrode and move it back and forth.
Then, using the wire brush at a perpendicular angle to the plug, scrape the threads of the spark plug. If you notice an accumulation of dirt and grease in the threads, this is necessary. Most of the muck may be removed by giving them a wire brush scrub.
For the best impact, don’t forget to switch and scrub it from different perspectives! Applying brake cleaner and wiping it down will complete the task.
3. Utilizing Blow Torch Approach to Clean Spark Plug Holes
In case you need to clean your spark plug holes at home, here is one more alternate method for you. You’ll need a blow torch for this technique.
- Take pliers and grasp the spark at the end of the wire.
- Light the torch while wearing the gloves.
- Keep the plug’s end in the flame until it becomes red.
- Allow the plug to cool.
- Follow the steps again for each spark plug.
Since the plugs will be heated up to a very high temperature when treated with the blow torch, this procedure requires the use of pliers and safety gloves. Gloves will shield your skin from sparks, and pliers will put more space between the hands and the hot metal surface.
Additionally, you need to hold each plug securely with the pliers while not applying too much pressure. It’s important not to harm the object. The spark plug will be cleaned of its carbon and debris using the torch, and as it is made to ignite inside the engine, it will withstand the heat without any problems.
Now that you are aware of the three methods, you can safely and effectively clean your spark plug holes. And now that you have a thorough explanation of each approach, you may choose the one that best suits you.
The view of dirty spark plugs by A7N8X / CC BY-SA 3.0. Your car’s spark plugs may be quickly and easily cleaned. Of course, if you follow the right processes, you can keep them functioning in this way.
A Comprehensive Procedure for Removal, Cleaning of Spark Plug Holes, and Reinstallation of Spark Plugs
- A sandpaper
- A giant screwdriver
- An air gun
- A carb cleaner
- A spark plug cleaner tool
- A clean rag
- A spark plug wrench
- An extension
- A pair of safety glasses
- An under-the-hood work light
Step 1: Remove the Negative Battery Terminal
The car battery might be found in the engine compartment or the trunk. Two terminals are visible on top of what appears to be a rectangular plastic box. By releasing the bolt attaching the cable to the negative terminal, you can remove it by pulling. Visit your owner’s manual if you are unable to locate the battery.
Step 2: Find the Spark Plugs
Locate the high-tension lead cables or ignition coils. Follow the thick wires that originate from the distributor to find the spark plug tubes. Each cylinder will have a single coil/cable and spark plug. Consult your owner’s manual or service manual if you’re having trouble finding the spark plug tubes in your car.
Step 3: Clear the Area of Debris By Using the Air Gun or a Can of Air
The next step is to clean up all the debris and grime to stop it from getting into the tubes after you’ve located the spark plug holes. If it does, you’ll remove it nevertheless because the topic of this post is how to remove the debris from the spark plug hole. Blow out any debris near the hole with your air gun. Don’t forget to put your safety glasses on.
Step 4: One By One, Disconnect The Lead Cables or Ignition Coils
You must remove the ignition coils one at a time to avoid putting extra dirt and crud into the spark plug holes rather than taking them out. Turn and pull the ignition coil off while maintaining a tight grip on it.
Step 5: Lose the Spark Plug By Using a Spark Plug Socket
After mounting the spark plug socket on an extension, mount the ratchet. Put the socket on the spark plug tube, then spin the spark plug counterclockwise to release it. Once you’ve managed to loosen it, you can remove the ratchet and manually unscrew it.
Step 6. Use An Air Gun to Thoroughly Clean the Spark Plug Holes
The most effective approach to getting rid of dirt, debris, or any other loose material that gets into the spark plug holes is to clean your spark plug hole using an air cannon. To remove any debris and crud inside the spark plug hole, you must insert the tip of your air pistol into the hole. Different air weapons have various tip sizes. You must employ a long tip that can reach nearly the well’s bottom. A longer tip will perform a better job of blowing than a shorter one.
In many cases, replacing dirty, worn-out spark plugs is better than repeatedly cleaning them. In this case, cleaning them is just required to keep your car running while you search for replacement plugs.
Step 7: Using a Screwdriver, a Clean Rag, and Carb Cleaner, Thoroughly Clean the Spark Plug Holes
Either the prior step or this one is an option. When the spark plug is out of the hole and oil is visible on the ignition coil or spark plug, oil in the spark plug tubes is present.
Spray carb cleaner into the spark plug hole to remove oil from it, and then use a large screwdriver and a clean towel to dip into the spark plug Wells to remove the oil.
Spray the carb cleaner on a clean rag rather than into the spark plug wells to prevent over-spraying the tubes that hold the spark plugs. To make sure you have completely removed all of the oil, perform the cleaning many times.
Be aware that there is anomalous oil in the spark plug wells, which points to a bad valve cover gasket. The faulty valve cover gasket must be changed to stop oil from entering again.
Step 8: Configure the Spark Plug Gap After Cleaning the Spark Plug Holes
You must use sandpaper, a wire brush, or spark plug cleaning equipment to clean the spark plugs after cleaning the spark plug holes. Whatever route you choose, make sure to thoroughly clean the spark plugs.
To find out the suggested measurement for the spark plug gap, consult your owner’s manual. Next, place the gap tool between the spark plug electrode and the spark plug. As you pry or press the electrode down to measure the gap, be sure it is within the vehicle’s parameters. Visit the manufacturer’s website if you can’t locate the gap specification for your vehicle.
Step 9: With the Thread Facing Out, Insert the Spark Plug Into the Plug Wrench and Tighten It with a Socket Wrench
You may easily replace the spark plugs without closing the gap since the spark plug wrench contains an inside rubber grommet that will hold the plug in place. Suppose the rubber grommet inside your plug wrench is missing. The spark plug needs to be reinserted gently by hand.
By hand, tighten the spark plug using a socket and extension. Connect the ratchet handle after you have correctly tightened the spark plug with your hand. Verify the spark plug’s stability.
You don’t have to tighten it too much, though. Apply only moderate pressure when tightening the spark plugs because excessive pressure can lead to the spark plug breaking.
Step 10: Reinstall the Plug Wires or Ignition Coils
Take hold of the plug wire or ignition coil, then replace them by applying the reserve method. Everything needs to be fixed in place, including the battery terminals. Start your engine after that and let it idle for a while so you can check for any faults.
Careful Steps to Take When Cleaning Spark Plug Holes
Being cautious is advised when cleaning spark plug holes because it involves working with machinery. The greater the likelihood that you will complete the cleaning procedure, the more meticulous and attentive you must be. Because of this, we have gathered some practical advice and life hacks for you that you ought to take into account before you begin the cleaning process.
- Consult your vehicle’s manual or the manufacturer’s website if you can’t find your battery.
- If you need assistance locating the spark plugs on your car, see the owner’s manual.
- When removing the spark plug, take care to avoid spilling any dirt or debris into the cylinder since this could seriously harm the engine.
- Always use eye protection when cleaning with canned air.
- Make sure nothing else in your work area comes in contact with the torch’s flame.
- To prevent yourself from getting stabbed while using the wire brush, put on gloves.
- When sanding your spark plugs, make sure to always wear safety goggles and a mask.
- Don’t pull from high on the wire when removing spark plugs for cleaning. It was possible to remove the plug’s connector from the cable’s interior.
- If the wire is trapped, try slightly twisting it to free it, then pulling.
- Use a wire brush and brake cleaner in tandem if the spark plugs are dusty.
- Remove all of the brake cleaners, then use the rag to give the plug a thorough cleaning.
- To prevent some cylinders from burning more effectively than others, clean each spark plug.
- Make sure the threaded part of your plugs is at the same end as the electrode when you reinstall them.
- The spark plug could crack within the engine if it is overtightened.
- If the plug doesn’t click or pop, the wire isn’t tightly attached. To prevent engine malfunction, reinstall it.
Oil in the spark plug tubes is present when the spark plug is removed from the hole and is evident on the ignition coil or spark plug.
Cleaning Directions for Dirty Spark Plugs
The spark plugs must also become dusty if the spark plug openings are unclean. Consequently, you will probably need to clean the spark plugs as well after cleaning the spark plug holes. A step-by-step process for cleaning the spark plugs is provided below.
1. Taking Out the Spark Plugs
Start by unplugging the battery’s negative terminal. Find the battery in your engine compartment or the battery in the trunk. Make sure you locate the negative terminal, which will have the negative, minus, sign, as it will resemble a plastic box with two terminals protruding from the top. Slide the cable off the terminal by loosening the bolt holding it there. The first step in cleaning a spark plug is to do this.
Find the spark plugs next to the engine. Locate the spark plug wires at their points of connection, and then provide them access to the cylinder head apertures. In the engine, there will be one plug and one cable for every cylinder. If you are unable to locate your spark plugs in your particular car, consult the owner’s manual or the maintenance manual for that particular vehicle to understand where the spark plugs are and how to clean them.
After completing this process, blow any remaining dirt out of the spark plugs with compressed air to keep the area clean. After locating the location of the spark plug screws, you will need to thoroughly clean the area to prevent debris from going into the engine cylinders. As part of how to clean a spark plug, any dirt or debris that gets within the cylinder might seriously harm the engine and perhaps necessitate engine replacement.
Disconnect the spark plug wire once the debris has been cleared away. Cleaning the spark plugs one at a time can help keep the cables tidy because removing them all at once can make it easy to lose track of which cable goes into which cylinder. Take hold of the spark plug cable and pull it away from the plug. When learning how to clean a spark plug, be careful not to pull too hard on the wire because doing so could cause the cable’s inside to come apart from its connector in the plug.
Using a spark plug socket to unscrew the spark plug is the final step in this process of removing spark plugs. After attaching the ratchet to the spark plug socket on the end of an extension, remove the socket and extension from the wrench and continue unscrewing the spark plug by hand. The process of learning how to clean a spark plug by initially removing it culminates in this phase.
2. Using Abrasives for Cleaning
Using 220-grit sandpaper on the electrode is the first step in this approach for cleaning spark plugs. The electrode is a tiny bit of metal that protrudes from the end of the spark plug. To avoid any damage, make sure to keep sanding the electrode until it resembles bare metal. Then, carry out the first stage in the cleaning process of a spark plug.
If the electrode is unclean, the next step is to file down the dirt. Sandpaper should only be used as a last resort before replacing the spark plug. If a rapid remedy is required, you can insert a small file into the space between the plug and the electrode and move it back and forth to clean the metal.
Scrubbing the threads with a wire brush is the third step in understanding how to properly clean a spark plug. Your spark plug’s threads likely have a significant accumulation of oil and dust, making it challenging to reinstall them. To get the best cleaning results, scrub the threads with the wire brush from different angles after removing the muck them perpendicular to the plug.
A typical car engine by Carolla / CC BY-SA 3.0. A two-stroke dirt bike just needs one cable and plug, however, a V6 has six, as each cylinder in your engine should have one wire and one plug.
The next step in cleaning a spark plug is to spray brake cleaner on the plug and wipe it down after finishing this step. Spray cans of brake cleaner are readily available and are great for cleaning dirt. Following that, it swiftly evaporates, allowing the pairs to dry fast.
The method of cleaning the spark plug is repeated for each spark plug as the final step. Reinstall the first spark plug when it has been cleaned, and then reattach the spark plug wire. To finish the steps on how to clean a spark plug, you must then repeat the procedure with each spark plug.
3. Utilizing a Blowtorch for Cleaning
Utilizing a blow torch is the third way to clean a spark plug. Using pliers, grasp the spark on the end where the wires attach as the first step in learning how to clean a spark plug. Hold the spark plug securely while maintaining a strong grip on it to prevent damage and to keep it safe in the hands.
Put on gloves after that start the torch. Place an ignition source in front of the nozzle after turning the knob on your gas or propane torch to allow the gas to flow.
After doing this, keep the spark plug’s tip in the flame until it turns red. The spark plug will be rotated from side to side and cleaned of carbon and dirt while being burned with the torch until the electrode and plug end are blazing brightly.
The next step in learning how to clean a spark plug is to allow the plug to cool before handling it with your fingers. Before attempting to reinstall it in the mechanism, let it cool for a short while and revert to its original colors.
Repeat the procedure for each spark plug after it has cooled and is safe to insert it again. After cleaning one spark plug, reconnect the wire and continue to the next one.
4. Reinstall the Spark Plugs After They Have Been Cleaned
Reinstalling the clean spark plugs is the final technique you can learn to use to clean spark plugs. To close the space between the plug and the electrode, use a gap tool.
A gap tool should then be inserted into the area between the spark plug body and the electrode after consulting the service manual to determine the measurement for the spark plugs. To increase the distance, pull the electrode farther away from the body, or press it closer, using a tool to measure the gap beforehand.
After completing step one, insert the plug with the threads facing out into the spark plug socket. It is simpler to thread the plug into the spark plug socket because of the rubber grommet that holds the plug in place as you lower it to the engine.
After completing the second step, insert the spark plug and seat it by rotating it clockwise. When learning how to clean a spark plug, watch out for cross-threading, which can happen from over-tightening.
The spark plug is tightened with a socket wrench in the fourth step. Connect a ratchet to the extension and completely tighten it when the spark plug has been properly installed and is snugly in place. When cleaning a spark plug, make sure it is tightly fastened and avoid using too much effort on the wrench.
Reconnecting the plug wire to the spark plug is the last step in reinstalling the clean spark plugs. To reveal the spark plug end that protrudes from the engine, grasp the plug wire by the boot near the end and apply pressure firmly.
Start by unplugging the negative battery terminal so you may work on the spark plugs. Locate the battery in the trunk or the engine compartment of your car.
You might be surprised to learn that spark plug tubes need to be cleaned after hundreds of thousands of miles, and yes, some do need cleaning because of oil in the spark wells or crud on the threads of the spark plug tube.
Cleaning the threads in the spark plug holes can help to avoid potential spark plug seizures and make the plugs much simpler to remove when it’s time to replace them. So, to remove oil from the spark plug hole and avoid plug seizure, refer to this tutorial on how to clean a spark plug hole.
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”