Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

General technical discussion and troubleshooting

I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
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Location: Forest Lake, Il

Re: Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

Post by Drumbum »

This is an awesome thread, as I read through it I laughed, I cried, I felt real FEAR!!! All because I needed to do my first tuneup on my wifes 1999 Astro. I paid for the first tune up at 75K and now that it is at 130K I figured good time to teach the freshmen, and myself how. Started out with the thread on removing the dog house, yep it is a pain , but it will be easier nextime, I sh#% canned those torx bolts and nuts , really who carries a torx around on the family vacation. Went to the old Ace Hardware got 2 2 1/4" 8/20 good old american phillips head screws and U-nuts and that was that. A small drift pin to line the holes up and snap in the clips at the radio and we were good to go. You saved me at least a day in purgatory with just the dog house tips alone. BTW the jack handle tip was the best part!

So on to the tuneup IHATEMYBIKE's post was the bomb. Got the universal socket and offset wrench and extra extensions from Harbor Freight for the plugs. Picked up ACDELCO plugs. wires. cap , rotoe and PVC. I did not want to go in here again soon. Also wanted to check for any vacum leaks as I had the intake manifold gaskets done at 100K. So hooked up the vacumm gauge, motor looks dead solid, not a flicker , twitch or stutter in the needle. Cool so I do not have to do the dreaded altenator/ball/vent control vacum line replacement. Next had the boy replace the cap and rotor they had definite wear and pecker tracks on the contact points. PVC slid right in and we were on to the plugs and wires. This was where I got nervous, reading some of the posts it sounded like I was going to need some fishing line for sutures before it was over. Surpisingly it was really easy, well kind off. I used my 15 year old impact wrench, his name is Kevin, to remove the tires. Using the recomended tools the plugs on the passenger side came out easy and using the tube trick they went right back. Took some fancy pliers to get the boots off, but they came. I beleive these were the stock AC wires as they were marked Delco and had the cylander numbers printed on them. Moved on to the Drivers side and #1 was a little harder to get to , but heeding the sage advice from this thread I crawled underneath and got it done. Then used the impact toolto replace the wheels and it asked me. Dad how come you did not put the splash sheilds back on on this side? So we took the wheel off again before road testing. Surprisingly I got off with just one minor scratch on the back of my hand.

This van had dropped to about 12-13MPG in the city and maybe 16 Highway. The old plugs were AC Iridum and all were well worn but had a gap of .60 , except #3 which must have been dropped on the original tuneup cause it had a gap of .035. Dang! I replaced them with the same plugs, no copper. I mean those tiny tips ar SO COOL LOOKING! I have been driving it for 2 weeks now around town and it is back up to 15MPG, hope highway goes back up to 18-20 as well. I will see on my next road trip. Now my wife wants it back as she thinks my Sierra is to hard to park. Anyway thanks to all that have contributed to this thread you made my job so much easier and Kevin learned another life skill. Looking forward to posting up my next adventure on the van.

maing bus
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
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Re: Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

Post by maing bus »

thank you for the thread ihatemybike!!! I just did this on my 98 astro. I felt like I had done this already. I have done the tune up on my 94, but it looks way different.

I was able to do everything through the wheel wells except for the #5 plug. That one I had to do from the underside of the van. Perhaps I wasn't seeing the way to get at it through the wheel well....but anyway, it's all done and its running much smoother!

Thank you again for the info!

Jamie :cheers:
I want to replace that slug bug thing with Maing bus!
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Re: Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

Post by Vanjoe »

Hey Guys, I need HELP! I have done some recent searches here and was overwhelmed. So I am gonna bring up an old post and ask.
Anyone have the situation where the rear sparkplug located on drivers side is stuck??? My son was helping and he did the driver's side so I don't know all the facts. I have a son's wedding to drive 200 plus miles to, in 2 days so I left that plug in.
At this point the pressure to try to turn the plug in either direction is beyond reasonable.
I sprayed it alot, gave it time to sit and tried later but it seems stuck solid. I did the plugs last, maybe late 2007 or 2008. I used a hose to start all plugs so it shouldn't be cross threaded. Dear son, in a hurry to help, started his 2 plugs with socket :yikes: and then he couldn't remember the placement of the wire hold downs [-X

So, what to do to get this plug out? And :yikes: :yikes: what happens when it breaks off?? :yikes: Am I looking at pulling the engine???

Thanks in advance. No real rush as I will be leaving Thursday and returning in a week or two, just in time to go to a Hot Air balloon Festival in Dansville,NY on Labor Day wkend..... look it up if nearby!! Two weeks after that is a Dirt bike Dual Sport Event . Then, a month before the annual Salmon fishing wkend where the Astro tows the camper for us all to stay in. Too much happening to need to tear down and do major work on this thing. But, I sure would like help and OF COURSE an EASY, QUICK solution!
1998 Astro. Sterling Hi-top Conversion. 1st Second gen owned.
Former ....
90 Astro shorty conversion,$500 short term driver
91 ext Astro bad body,bad motor $325, became a 350/4bl cruiser with all under hood acces fault
88 Astro shorty conversion 177k-270k,threw rod. $2500
85 Astro mint body ...totaled 9 days later...not my fault. Paid $1k, insurance gave me $2k
86 Astro shorty 147k-242k, $2500. sold running!

I am merely driving my van
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Re: Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

Post by bots66 »


Wanted to share a tip to make changing the Astro spark plugs go a little easier. As noted before you don't HAVE to
remove the engine cover/doghouse to change the plugs. Just jack up one side of the van at a time, remove the front wheel and wheel well "splash guard" and you can see the plugs. I found that you can remove the spark plug boots fairly easy if you use a zip tie or a 12-18 inch piece of twine or shoelace to "lasso" the spark plug boot. Theres just enough space to get the twine/shoelace around the boot and by holding both ends the twine will stay snug against the boot so you can just slowly pull until the boot pops off! This way you won't damage the boot by prying on it with a bent screw driver. Works like a charm! You can use a regular spark plug socket, "wobbly" adapter and an 18" socket extension to remove the plugs. A good 12-18" of hose with the spark plug head inserted snuggly makes it easy to re-thread the new plug into the hole. Once the new plugs are in you can position the boot over the plug with your finger tips and a little creativity. Use the end of the same 18" socket extension to press on the boot until it clicks on the top of the plug and you're set for another 100,000 miles

Try not to remove the doghouse cover when you can. The plastic fittings for the interior component just weren't expected to have to be pulled on an off over 10, 15 or 20 years and they will eventually fail, leaving you with a very crappy looking doghouse cover or another trip to the salvage yard. to find a replacement.

I am merely driving my van
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Re: Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

Post by Debbys5749 »

Ok I know a mechanic that with me providing the plugs,wires,rotor, distributor cap, will charge me $180.00,.what does everyone think?, bc I usually do my own I haven't a clue bout the labor cost, but strolly is pretty tight and it's too darned hot out! Does 180 sound fair?
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Re: Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

Post by MountainManJoe »

look up the part costs (eg. Add 20% markup.
Mechs charge around $100/hr for labor.

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Re: Tips on Changing Spark Plugs & Wires

Post by Bret Schmerker »

Six straight boots at the plug end would be ideal — minimum risk of frying on the exhaust headers. I've taken a Taylor Spiro-Pro V8 wire set under advisement, as 8.0mm OD is the fattest the High-Voltage Switch cap can take.
1997 GMC M11006 (Safari SLE, 2WD, V6-4300/4L60-E/7.625" 3.73:1 open)
Acquired Jul 2018 / In service Sep 2018 - present
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