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vidiot

Changing spark plugs

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Stupid question time.  AKA My ignorance is showing.

 

I read the article that linked me into these forums about changing to Bosch Platinum 4 spark plugs to improve mileage on e85.

 

Is changing spark plugs as simple as gapping them and replacing them?  Is there anything else I need to do?  We have a 2000 Chrysler Town and Country.

 

I am very mechanically savvy; just never have done spark plugs before.

 

Thanks, Vidiot

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Heat range, gap, and plug type all mean something and work together. Personally, too fancy of a plug just isn't worth it. I use $2.00 NGK V-power plugs.

 

Depending on how dedicated you are to running E85, I'd consider changing heat ranges. If you don't like to tinker repeatedly with it, just stick with the stock heat range plugs at a slightly tighter gap.

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I, too prefer to stay with a simple plug design.  All the fancy V, X, U, Y, diamond, split or what ever else electrode configurations aren't worth it in my opinion.  The spark is only going to jump to one electrode at a time (ie the path of least resistance)  If it does jump to two electrodes (the resistance of the two is almost exactly equal) then you get 1/2 the power in each spark, which is no good. 

 

There might be a slight gain in plug life, because the spark has 2 or 4 ground electrodes to choose from, so you'd expect the wear to be distributed roughly equally on all electrodes.  Of course, there is usually still only one positive electrode, so the life extension might not be as much as you'd think.  Plus, you can get 100,000 miles out of a standard platinum plug, no problem.  So again, may not be worth it unless you plan to keep the car out to 500,000 miles.

 

If you do go with a fancy plug, two things generally happen: 1) you're replacing an old worn out plug, so of course you get a little better performance and mpg.  2) you drive the car extremely gently  for a tank of gas or two after the install to see how much better the mpg really is.  Surprise...you see a slight boost in mileage which makes you say "WOW, that plug gave me more mpg!!"  But after a few more tanks of gas, you go back to your normal driving, and your mileage goes back to it's normal level, too.

 

Either way, most of the fancy electrode designs are factory gapped, no additional adjustment is necessary - or even possible in some. (you won't bend 4 electrodes with enough precision to keep the gap resistance exactly equal, so the spark will always jump to the closest one)

 

As far as the '00 T&C, I think 2 engines were available (3.3L or 3.6L), but either is a transverse V6 in a FWD minivan.  Transverse V6's are legendary for being nearly impossible to change the spark plugs on the rear bank of cylinders.  Often requiring removal of engine mounts, exhaust manifolds/pipes, sometimes even partially removing the engine.  Maybe Chrysler has come up with a slick way to do it, but I know more than a few people who have given up and simply sold the car rather than fork over the cash ($1000+) or put up with the hassle of changing the plugs on the V6 rear bank. 

 

So double check what the specific process is with that engine.  It should be a simple process of pulling out the old plugs and dropping in the new ones...assuming you can get to them!

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Stick with the OE style plugs particularly if it is a factory FFV. The MFG spent lots of time and money choosing the best plug design and heat range for your engine. If you have a waste spark system where 1 coil fires 2 plugs the +4's will cause problems. With the waste spark you need the double platinum, or standard plugs if you like to change them frequently. Single platinum or fancy side electrode designs don't work well with the waste spark systems, half your plugs will be worn out very quickly. If you have a conventional dist or a coil per plug set up then a single platinum plug will be fine and the double platinum is just a waste of money. If it is a factory FFV then make sure you get the correct plugs for the FFV version the guy behind the counter may just assume it's the non FFV version and give you the plugs for that. Many factory FFVs use a colder heat range than their non-FFV versions. It is also important to not use the "fine wire" center electrode style plugs as they can cause pre-ignition under high loads with E85.

 

For brands I would recommend Autolites, they typically last longer than the OE Champions and are less likely to foul. NGK are good plugs but many of their recommended plugs for American engines are consolidated numbers, meaning they replace 2 or 3 heat ranges and/or tip lengths with one part number. This may or may not cause an issue depending on how close the plug your engine needs is to the 1 NGK based theirs on. Champion is kinda bad about part # consolidation but mainly on the older vehicle or import applications. The fancy side electrode plugs are also particularly bad about a 1 size fits all approach.

 

As far as actually changing them it is just a matter of unscrewing the old, checking the gap, many are pre-gaped, putting some Anti-seize on the threads, and installing them. Of course getting to them may be a challenge in many modern cars. Before installing the plug wire a little dielectric grease in the boot will make future removal easier. Of course if you have a lot of miles then it is probably time to install new wires while you are in there.  For wires I would stay away from the Autolite as they tend to pull apart on removal. I'd look for a Carquest and get their "premium" those are made by Prestolite the OE supplier for most Chrysler applications so they will fit right and not be a consolidation that sort-a-fits with some wires barely reaching and others way too long.

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Allow me to pick up this post regarding Spark Plugs.

 

Now, we have non-FFV vehicles. It is being said that that fine tuning could be done by using Pulstar spark plugs, as they are supposed to have a more intense spark. And eventually help getting a good gas mileage.

 

Does anybody have any experience with these? Reviews I read (i.e. Amazon are not very good). Or any other ideas on if and what to do with spark plugs?

 

Our main vehicle is a Ford, we use OEM plugs, other manufacturer always caused issues. So far everything is fine, but after investing all this money, we want to make sure we did what would be most beneficiary.

 

Greetings!

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Per my conservative best advice thoughts the advice given, so far, to stay out of trouble….best in class.

 

But, many are looking to improvements. If you’re burning E85 fuel in a non-flex your out of range of OEM recommendations, already. Going to Fords flex fuel vehicle specification won’t help either as you again have different circumstances. That vehicle designed with more powerful ignition, among other differences. Also, some vehicles and modifications very sensitive to spark plug selections as these engine produce max hp. The advice for this group is quite different from common technology vehicles.

 

Staying with manufacturers whom have credible and successful track record always a good bet. Having said that the pulstar plug may provide better cold start. Especially, after reading and experiencing the benefits of “Easy Start” plugs for small engines. As you probably know small engines have a reputation for hard starting and poor spark. Cheap magnetos or cheap magnet probably the cause as sloppy assembly. Bought one of those more expensive “Easy Start” plugs and made a big difference. Come to find out they have technology that reads like what Pulstar has. So, go figure? I do believe Pulsestar had and may still have reliability problems. They are a very small manufacturer with a new relatively untested product. 

 

On E85 Vehicles this post “Bosch also claims these plugs will ”The tests found that the four ground electrode spark plugs (the Platinum 4) had up to 33% better cold restart reliability than conventional plugs."

 

Building on the growing evidence of platinum plug technology….irradium. Just having a higher temperature metal within spark gap will increase life per minimizing electric erosion of metal. The center electrode made of higher temp metal will increase spark plug life as most erosion occurs here. Now, the steel grounding strap the first to give out. Not so with 2 or 4 prongs as the spark erosion per spark gap ground is shared. Spark only grounds to one strap per occurrence. 

 

All of this if fine for spark plug life, but does nothing for E85 fuel except for high quality spark gap conditions for a longer operational time. Enter in the smaller diameter center electrode. This will promote hotter spark even under poor conditions of wet plug or lower voltage. Of course your spark plug lifespan may take a hit.   

 

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I do not know you are talking from personal experiences or just have read about it but if we talk about spark plugs and ethanol cold start there is very big difference.

My car is 4 cylinder Peugeot 406, waste spark.

Standard spark plugs NGK. When changed to NGK IRIDIUM cold start on E85 was a big step forward. When tried PULSTAR plugs it got even better. Unfortunately one of PULSTAR plugs failed very quickly but this was few years ago. New PULSTAR plugs are more durable as I have heard.

So most likely you would not get better milage or throttle response when changing to IRIDIUM, PLATINUM, PULSTAR plugs but better cold start when running your non FFV vechicle on E85 - absolutely!     

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I did the spark plugs on our 99 Caravan(same exact thing) from underneath.  I had the luxury of using the lift at work.  But a Chrysler shop mechanic told me that is how they do tune-ups at the dealer.

 

They are not fun from underneath, but not as hard as everyone is making them from trying to do on top.

 

The 3.3 factory FFV engine, we used the factory recommended plug for it.

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I have the OEM iridium plugs in the company Impala FFV's. We just changed plugs in one of them at 135,000 miles- there was no misfire codes or loss of mpg but 2 of the 6 had eroded the narrow center electrode down to the widened portion thus widening the gap approx 15/1000. No loss of material on the ground strap.

 

I cannot answer due to lack of experience with the Pulstar plugs but one guy (Dragonwhip) who used to be in here a lot did put them in his aftermarket conversion (Jeep 4L). He liked them but I do not recall it did anything for him with mpg- he did it for cold start and if I recall- felt it helped a little.

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