View Full Version : Is it me or is it really hard to properly seat plug wires ?

GT Wagon
10-15-2005, 10:17 PM
Was doing some "new car" maitenance on the Wagon, the owner said it was almost time for the 96k interval so I wanted to get it done before the weather turns cold. Today this included changing the spark plugs and the wire set. First off, what a friggin PITA to even get at the plugs. Remove the air filter assembly on one side and remove the washer resevoir on the other side.

I went with NGK Iridium plugs, they're $9 Cdn vs $5 Cdn for the NGK factory replacements. It seems like they engineered the car to make access to the plugs difficult regardless of whether your leaning over it or standing under it. Nothing like trying to install plugs blindly cause you can't even see the hole its going into.

Fitting the boots on top of the plugs is no easier. Its hit & miss, you can barely tell you're actually hitting the plug let alone seating it properly. It took a little while but eventually I was sure I had it done right. Cranked the car over and it ran nice and smooth. Figuring I was set, I reinstalled all the other parts and left my buddy's place. Drove down the highway for about 30 minutes and all was fine. Suddenly the car starts to miss every 2 seconds and the engine light starts flashing on-off-on-off..... so I pulled over.

It was obvious to me that it was directly related to this afternoon's project. Checking the wires I see one boot has come loose from the plug and is sitting in the chamber. Its the rear passenger side one which of course is nearly impossible to reach with the air filter parts in place. Try fitting your hands in between the plastic airbox and against a nice hot motor to push a boot back onto a plug you can't see. I burnt my knuckles nicely in the process.

Crank the car up and it runs nicely. CE light is no longer flashing but stays on. I'm sure its going to display a "misfire" code for that cylinder. Drive another 30 mins, car drives fine. I get off the highway and I hear what sounds like a ticking sound coming from the motor. Has me wondering if I'm just feeling paranoid but I don't recall that sound before. I pull into a parking lot 2 minutes down the road and pop the hood. Definately a noticeable ticking sound, this time from the driver's side.

At this point its dark out, bust out the flash light and check the wires. Seems this time its the rear driver's side boot that's come loose. Funny the car isn't running like crap. Must be enough of a connection to get a spark. This time I removed the washer resevoir since its two quick bolts (one in my case, someone must have lost the other one). Another minute or two of messing around to get the boot securely back on. This time without burning any flesh.

So this has me wondering, is it really that difficult to properly seat the plug wires ? I've done this many times on many cars in the past including my 2.2 litre Legacy. This is the first time I've had not one but two plug wires come off. I'm using NGK plugs made for the car, you don't get any more OEM fit than that. What's your experience been ?

gator gt
10-16-2005, 12:00 AM
I have more problems taking them off! Man, I spent 30 minutes on 1 wire last time I changed them, until I figured out a way to get them off. Big fumbly hands don't help get between the car rails and motor.

I found by turning the wire on the plug and wiggling it back and forth, side to side, that it finally came off. This thing just wouldn't budge. at all. And I've changed them before with no drama. That day, I had plenty of drama.

Keeping them on though, no, no real issues there. I wait till I hear the 'pop' and then press the boot shroud onto the valve cover to keep it weather tight and off I go. I'm actually paranoid that its not on there, but haven't had them come loose.


10-16-2005, 03:59 AM
Next time put some dielectric grease on them. That will make them slide on easier. You really have to reef on them to get them off, and really push to make them stay on!

If you have the right bendy bits you can change plugs without removing most stuff (I still had to move the washer resevoir though)

gator gt
10-16-2005, 07:31 PM
nice avatar Lee. :-D

I put dielectric grease on them and it helped neither way (putting on or taking off).

Hmph. Dunno.


GT Wagon
10-16-2005, 08:07 PM
Got up this morning and checked the plugs, they seemed on well. Went to Canadian Tire (Like a Home Depot + Auto Parts store in one) and bought a replacement pair of mechanics gloves. Came off the highway and the car started to miss again, then tick loud and the engine light started flashing. Pulled over and the rear passenger side plug came off again. Thank God I had gloves this time, barely felt the warmth of the motor (my knuckles are already pink in spots from last nigh). This time I put that grease on the plug end so we'll see how well it holds.

10-16-2005, 09:03 PM
My wires were tough coming off, but easy putting the new set on. It's a damn nightmare changing the plugs.

10-17-2005, 03:56 PM
My fingers start slipping before the boot will go onto the plug, so, being the kind of guy that I am (use the wrong tool for the right job) I generally will use a pair of lock grips (oversized pliers with multiple width settings???). I grab right above the part of the boot that expands out, so that I know I am clamping the wire. Then I push like there is no tomorrow. The only downer is the pop feel is reduced with the tool, so I am often paranoid about them popping off too.