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Old 08-03-2008, 12:20 AM
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Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

So, I was on here this morning searching for info on giving my car a tune up. I didn't find a post that was extensive enough with the specs, tips, costs, and performance expectations. So I decided to make one.

This is a detailed explanation of changing the spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor on a 1998 Honda Accord 4 cyl. (F23a1)/automatic.

After swapping out all of these parts, I noticed that there is a little more torque at low speed, and now I can actually feel the VTEC kicking in; you can really feel it kick in at 4,500rpms or so, especially at 3/4 throttle. The car also runs and idles smoother. Anyways, here is how I did it:

I decided to first handle the ignition; spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor.



Start by disconnecting the battery. Then proceed by pulling the plug wires out of their holes, but do NOT pull the wires off of the distributor cap. If the wires have not been replaced in a while, they may be tough to pull out and could even break. If they break, then all of the pieces will need to be fished out of the hole BEFORE attempting to remove the plugs. Otherwise, debris will enter the combustion chamber when the plugs are removed. On this motor, they had come out easily.



Next, take out all 3 of the screws holding on the distributor cap.



Two of the screws are located on the underside of the cap. The screw that is under the cap and towards the back may require a different length screw driver to get into the tight space. Remember: do NOT remove any of the plug wires off of the cap; they will be used later for referencing the location of the new plug wires.



Here is a picture of the new cap. Look closely at the 5 shiny metal tabs and compare with the picture below.



From this image, it can be seen that the tabs are all slightly worn down and have left a slight amount of dust within the cap. Wear like this is normal and this particular cap could have just been cleaned up and reinstalled, but was replaced due to the the installation of new wires and rotor.



Now, that the cap is removed, the rotor may be taken off. The rotor is held on by one screw. If this screw is not visible then a shorter screwdriver must be used to get to it, or the mechanic could turn the engine slightly by using a 19mm socket on the crankshaft pulley.



This pictures shows the new rotor (left) placed next to the old rotor (right). Note the wear circle in the middle and the burns marks around it. This is normal in terms of wear and there is no need for alarm, yet the rotor is now out of manuf. specs and will need to be replaced.



Next, reinstall the rotor, and distributor cap in the opposite steps that you used to remove them. But do not replace the plug wires until the new plugs have been installed.


Now is the time to remove the old spark plugs. Caution: look down the spark plug tube and make sure that there is no debris. Any debris found will need to be removed or it will fall down into the combustion chamber when the plug is removed. Also, for this reason, a spark plug socket should always be used to remove spark plugs; a spark plug socket uses a small rubber grommet inside of it that not only grips the spark plug, but also keeps spark plug from breaking and littering the tube with pieces of ceramic.



Next, unscrew and remove the spark plug with the socket wrench.



TIP: After removing each plug, lay it above the cylinder from which it was removed. This is done so that they may be inspected one-by-one to see if there are any certain cylinders that may be having a problem.



For instance, this particular plug has a normal amount of wear: light erosion on the back of the electrode and a hazy, white & gold appearance. All the plugs on this engine proved to be normal. But on some engines there may be oil deposits, black ash, etc., each of which would require that an appropriate measure need be taken.



Now is the time to set the gap on the spark plugs. While many plugs do come with the gap already set, there has been numerous instances that the plug was either dropped or mishandled which led to a closer gap. Either way, it is always best to set the gap to the manuf. specs. Here is a plug gap being set with a $0.99 spark plug gapping tool that is found at most auto parts stores.



There are also other tools that you can use for the plug gap. Here, a standard feeler gauge is being utilized. To use this type of gauge, add up 2 of the gauges and place them together. For instance, these 2 gauges measure .020" and .024" respectively. When coupled together they measure .044".


When the gauges are added up to the exact width, slide the 2 gauges in between the gap. There should be a slight, smooth tug on the gauges when you slide them through the gap.



Warning: wear gloves, work clothes and eye protection when working with anti-seize. When working with anti-seize, always concentrate on what you are doing and touching. Anti-seize is extremely messy; a very small amount goes a very long way. Please pay attention to what you are doing when you are working with it! Consult the warnings and directions on the compound's container prior to working with it.

***This step is not always done by every mechanic. It also is not required on every vehicle. Please consult the vehicle manufacturer's specs for your engine to see if this step needs to be taken. Anti-seize can cause damage to an engine if used improperly***

This step was taken due to a steel thread (spark plug) being installed into an aluminum thread (cylinder head). Anti-seize is a compound that allows the threads of the plug to slide across the threads of the head. Thereby giving a more accurate torque reading, and minimizing the possibility of a stuck spark plug due to galling.

Put a very small amount of anti-seize on just the spark plug threads. Do not get any onto the electrode or the ceramic. If any anti-seize gets onto the electrode or ceramic, immediately clean off using brake cleaner. Also, beware that there are no gobs of anti-seize hanging off of the plug, since a glob may fall into the combustion chamber when installing the new plugs and cause damage. Study the next 3 pictures and take note of how there is a very little amount of anti-seize on the threads of the spark plug.


Note that only a 1/4 of the threads have anti-seize applied. This small amount will work itself all the way around the plug as the plug is screwed into its hole.


From this picture, it is clear that the anti-seize has not been applied all the way around the plug's threads.


This picture was taken after the spark plug had been coated and installed in its hole. The spark plug was then removed to show that the anti-seize had worked its way all the way around the plug's threads when it was installed.



Now, simply push the plug into the socket and place it down the plug's tube.



Start screwing the plug in by hand. Caution: If a wrench is used to start the plug, cross-threading may occur!



After all 4 plugs have been screwed in by hand, follow up with torqueing them down to the manufacturer's specs. These spec differ on many engines, but may be found in the Owner's Manual.

Now that the 4 plugs are tight, begin by getting ready to install the wires. Since the plug wires have not been removed from the cap, place the whole assembly onto the top of the engine.



Before putting any wires onto the engine, rub a small amount of dielectric grease into each of the boots that connect to a spark plug. Putting grease on the boots that attach to the distributor cap is purely optional, as many mechanics replace the cap, rotor, and wires during the same tune up; the grease allows easier removal of the boots.



Take the longest of the new wires and match it up to the longest of the old wires. Note which terminal on the old cap that this wire goes to and place the new wire onto the same terminal on the new cap.



After identifying and installing each of the wires one-by-one, make sure that they are all properly seated into the spacers. The spacers keep the wires from touching; if wires touch arcing or cross-firing may occur.



Here is another picture of the spacers that keep the plug wires properly spaced away from each other.


Now, take a look through the entire engine bay and make sure that all tools are removed, bolts & screws are tight, and make sure that everything appears to be fine. Also, double-check that all of the wires have been put onto their correct terminals on the disturbutor (if not, the car will backfire or worse). After verifying that everything is correct, reinstall the battery cables and start the car. Be prepared to shut the car off if there is a problem, but if the car is running smoothly, then give yourself a pat on the back.


All parts were purchase from Pepboys:
-Plug Wire Set (CH74122SP)...........$34.99
-Spark Plugs--OEM NGK's (2262).....$8.36 (pkg of 4)
-Distributor Cap (C985).................$12.99
-Distributor Rotor (D713)...............$12.99
-Anti-seize.................................$0.99 (usually in a small packet at the parts counter)
-Spark Plug Gap Tool....................$0.99



TIPS:
--Hold onto all of the old ignition parts. If, in the future, you ever need to trouble shoot a part, you will always have an extra. Also, as many can attest, there are times that someone may be installing a cylinder head on a Sunday at 6:00p.m. and accidentally drop and crack a plug. If you have an extra, then you can easily just place it in the vehicle and get you to work and back on Monday morning.


---It's also smart to put the date and mileage on the boxes of the old parts that you may store. This will help you to keep track of it all for your next tune up.



Things to look for:
---Whenever you inspect your wires, look for small white spots. These usually develop around cracks or splits in your wires and are a tell-tale sign of arcing.






*The author of this thread is not repsonsible for any damages that may occur due to any misinformation, errors, typos, or the such. The mechanic should consult the manufacturer prior to working on their vehicle. This post is for reference only!*

Last edited by ManyLivesToLive; 08-03-2008 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:23 AM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

should i be a complete **** and post up filberts DIY from years and years ago



very extensive i must say
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:27 AM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

good write up. it will sure help me. =]
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:31 AM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

great write up
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:40 AM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

Originally Posted by BadgerType View Post
should i be a complete **** and post up filberts DIY from years and years ago



very extensive i must say
Yeah, I had found other write-ups and links for different DIY on here and Honda-Tech, but I thought that I could do it a little better.
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Old 08-03-2008, 01:36 AM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

wow, awesome write up man, + rep for you.
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Old 08-03-2008, 02:06 PM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

damn. real good diy.
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Old 08-03-2008, 03:21 PM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

you must be a honda tech with all the anti-seize and grease use

and also just an fyi for those buying parts for the f23a1/4: we have the hitachi distributor. the cap needs to have flat sides. if it has round sides, its wrong (for the non vtec a5).

the rotor also needs to have flat sides, as shown. if its all round, its for the a5 (and wrong).
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:11 AM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

nice write-up. +rep 4 sure.
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Old 03-01-2009, 10:44 AM
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Re: Changing Spark Plugs: Caution TONS of PICS...56k's Beware!!!

I'm a total noob when it comes to car maintenance. Your DIY is awesome and thanks very much for the pics too.

I have a 2002 Accord SE that I bought used with 84,000 miles. I've replaced the spark plugs with NGK Iridium IX and also picked up a distributor cap and rotor at AutoZone. They assured me that if I could replace my plugs I could replace the distributor cap and rotor.

I came across the article below that talks about TDC (Top Dead Center) I'm a bit confused, is this really something that I should be worried about.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4508873_repl...da-accord.html

I'm planning on following your instructions. Should I be concerned with TDC?

Thanks,

Mark
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