In order to keep your car’s engine in a good and well-working state, you need to make sure that it is properly cleaned regularly. And in particular, cleaning its spark plug holes is mandatory. However, quite many car owners still tend to wonder how to clean out a spark plug hole safely so that the engine works properly.
Of course, the most reasonable solution would be to take your vehicle to the professionals to have it cleaned and maintained. But if you have no such possibility, then we recommend you read this article very attentively!
You will learn how to clean debris out of your car engine’s spark plug holes, and also, we will provide you with two different methods that can be used for this purpose. Like this, you will always have an alternative approach depending on what tools you have at hand at the moment.
Also, you are going to learn a few handy safety suggestions and tips that will help you to undergo the spark plug hole cleaning procedure safely for both yourself and your car’s engine. With all that in mind, you will most likely not even have to take your vehicle to the car service next time to have its engine cleaned!
How to Clean a Spark Plug Hole?
What about the cleaning options you can use for keeping your spark plugs in a proper state, you may be wondering? In general, there are three most common options that you can make use of for this purpose:
- You can clean your spark plugs with the help of abrasives
- If you don’t have either of those, a blow torch can also do a pretty good job!
- Compressed air is another handy and simple solution for cleaning the spark plugs
Spark plugs are vitally important for your car since they are making its engine run. If they malfunction, you will have problems with your vehicle. So it is important to keep the spark plugs in clean and working order. Fortunately, cleaning your car’s spark plugs is a quick and easy process. This way, you will be able to keep them working, of course, if you do everything right.
However, it is very important to consider the reason your plugs need to be cleaned. For example, if you have old, dirty spark plugs, it is often best to replace them rather than undergo the cleaning procedure multiple times. In this case, cleaning them only makes sense in order to keep your car running until you are able to get plug replacements.
Below, you can learn more about each of the listed cleaning methods in detail. Like this, you will be able to figure out which one might be the most suitable for you.
Cleaning Your Spark Plug Holes With Compressed Air
Using compressed air is one of the simplest and quickest ways to clean your spark plug holes. If you always have a can of compressed air in your garage, this option is right for you! In general, the whole procedure looks like this:
- You disconnect the negative terminal on the battery
- You find the spark plugs
- Using a can of compressed air, you blow debris away from the spark plugs
- Then disconnect the spark plug wire one spark plug at a time
- Using a spark plug socket, you unscrew the spark plug
However, this is just a general plan. In order to be able to undergo the cleaning procedure correctly, without damaging the engine, we recommend you read the entire description of the process.
First, you need to locate the battery either in your engine bay or in the trunk. Search for the thing that looks like a black plastic box with two metal terminals sticking out of the top. Once you spot it, find the negative terminal (it will be marked with a minus “-” sign), and loosen the bolt that is holding the cable on the terminal. Then simply slide it off.
The next step is to find the spark plug wires. They look like thick cables running from the ignition coils to the top of the engine where they connect to the spark plugs and follow them to the openings in the cylinder head for each.
There should be one cable and one plug for each cylinder in your engine, so a V6 will have six of them, whereas a two-stroke dirt bike will only have one.
Once you have found the location of the spark plugs, you will need to clean all the dirt and debris out of there in order to stop any of them from getting into the cylinders.
This is when a can of compressed air becomes handy! Simply blow all loose materials safely away.
The next step is to disconnect your engine’s spark plugs one by one. Why not just take them out and clean them altogether?
If you do this, you may find it difficult to figure out which cable goes where. In addition, such a step-by-step cleaning will prevent the cylinders from being filled with debris.
Now that you are done, you can place the spark plug socket on the end of an extension and then connect it to your ratchet. Put the socket over the spark plug and turn it in a counter-clockwise direction to unscrew the plug from where it’s seated. Once loose, pop the socket off of the wrench and finish the unscrewing process manually.
Cleaning Spark Plug Holes With Abrasives
Using abrasives is another option that becomes handy when you need to clean your engine’s spark plug holes. In order you could imagine how the procedure goes, here is a brief description for you:
- Use 220-grit sandpaper on the electrode
- File down the grime on the electrode if it is noticeably dirty
- Scrub the threads with a wire brush
- Pulverize the plug with the brake cleaner and wipe down
- Do it all again for each spark plug
And again, now we suggest you read the detailed description of the cleaning procedure so that you understand it better.
First, it’s electrodes. At the end of the spark plug, you will find a small piece of metal that is extending out of the plug. That piece is called the electrode. If you see that it is black or discolored, use the sandpaper to work beneath the bent-over portion of the electrode between it and the plug itself. Move it back and forth until the metal gets clean on both sides.
If there is significant carbon build-up on the electrode, you can use a small file to grind it away. Slide the file into the gap between the plug and the electrode and then clean the metal moving it back and forth.
Then, scrub at the threads of your spark plug with the wire brush moving from a perpendicular angle to the plug. This is needed in case you see there is a build-up of oil and grime in the threads. Scrubbing them with a wire brush will be able to remove the majority of the gunk.
And of course, remember to switch and scrub it from other angles for maximum effect! Now you can finish it by applying some brake cleaner and wiping it down.
Blow Torch Method
Finally, here is one more alternative approach for you in case you need to clean your spark plug holes at home. For this method, you will need a blow torch.
- Grip the spark with pliers on the end the wire connects to
- With the gloves on, ignite the torch
- Hold the end of the plug in the flame until it’s red
- Let the plug cool down
- Repeat the procedure for each spark plug
For this method, you must use pliers and protective gloves since the plugs will get extremely hot when treated with the blow torch! Pliers will give you the extra distance between your hands and the hot metal surface, and gloves will protect your skin from the sparks.
Also, you should hold each plug with the pliers firmly, but don’t squeeze it too hard! You don’t want to damage the item. The torch will burn the carbon and debris off of the spark plug, and because the plug is designed to be inside the engine when it ignites, it will survive the heat without issue.
So, now you know all the three approaches that can be used for cleaning your spark plug holes safely and easily. And since now you have a detailed description of each method, you will be able to decide easily which one suits you best.
Precaution Measures to Consider When Cleaning Spark Plug Holes
Since cleaning spark plug holes means that you need to deal with mechanisms, you should be very careful when doing it. The more attention you pay to the process, and the more careful you are, the higher the chances that you will complete the cleaning procedure successfully. This is why we collected a few handy tips and life hacks for you that should be considered before you start the cleaning process.
- If you can’t find your battery, refer to the vehicle’s manual or the manufacturer’s website.
- If you have trouble locating the spark plugs on your vehicle, refer to the owner’s manual for help.
- Make sure no dirt or debris falls into the cylinder while the spark plug is removed, since it may cause serious damage to the engine.
- Always wear eye protection when using canned air for cleaning.
- Be careful not to allow the flame from the torch to reach anything else in your work area.
- Wear gloves while you work with the wire brush to avoid poking yourself.
- Always wear eye protection and a mask when sanding your spark plugs.
- When disconnecting spark plugs for cleaning, don’t pull from high on the wire. It could separate the inside of the cable from its connector for the plug.
- If the wire is really stuck, try twisting it a little to loosen it up, then pull.
- If your spark plugs are really dirty, you can use the brake cleaner and wire brush together.
- After removing all of the brake cleaners, wipe the plug down thoroughly with the rag.
- Clean each spark plug so that some cylinders don’t burn more efficiently than others.
- When reinstalling your plugs, make sure that the threaded portion of the plug is at the same end as the electrode.
- Over-tightening the spark plug could cause it to break inside the engine!
- If you don’t hear the plug click or pop, its wire isn’t connected firmly enough. Reinstall it to avoid engine malfunction.
How to Reinstall Clean Spark Plugs?
All right, you have cleaned your engine’s spark plugs according to the instructions that we gave you above. But what’s now? How do you put them back where they belong?
Well, this procedure is rather simple. You just need to make sure that you don’t hurry and you do everything according to the instructions. And we will gladly provide you with some!
Correct the Gap Between the Plug And the Electrode
To do this, you need to check your vehicle’s owner manual since it’s important to find the exact gap measurement for your spark plugs. Once this is done, insert a gap tool between the spark plug’s body and the electrode that sticks out of it.
Using the tool, measure the gap, and then press the electrode closer to the plug body to decrease it. Do it until the gap matches the vehicle’s specifications.
Place the Plug In a Spark Plug Socket
The spark plug socket has a rubber grommet that will hold the plug in place as you lower it down into the engine and make it easier to thread the plug once you have it in there.
Insert the Spark Plug
When inserting the plugs, it is essential that you don’t cross-thread your spark plugs! It typically happens when we keep on tightening it even though it hasn’t been seated properly in the engine. In order to avoid this, tighten the spark plug manually using an extension connected to the plug socket.
Tighten the Spark Plug
Once the spark plug is seated in place, connect a ratchet to the extension and finish with tightening.
At this point, it is essential that you make sure the plug is secure, however, you don’t have to put too much force on it when working with the wrench!
Reconnect the Plug Wire
The final stage is reconnecting. Grip the plug wire by the boot near the end and press it firmly down onto the exposed end of the spark plug that is sticking out of the engine. At this point, you should hear a pop sound when the plug wire is firmly connected.
Well, now you know how you can clean your car’s spark plugs in your own garage without taking your vehicle to the car service. With these three approaches, you will surely be able to find the one that works best for you, however, if you face any serious complications during the procedure, or you suspect that there’s something wrong with your plugs, you should take your car to the professionals to check it!
Frequently Asked Questions
⭐What tools do I need to adjust the plug cap?
Always use wire gauge-type gap gauges. See, coin-type gauges can damage the electrode and cause misfiring of the plug!
⭐Is it ok to clean a hole that the spark plug is inserted in?
Be careful with that! There is the piston directly below! So you should use compressed air to blow any debris out before reinstalling your plug.
⭐Is it possible to rethread a stripped spark plug port somehow?
You could try aluminum foil on the spark plug, on the part that screws in. This will mend to the port when you put it in.