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Discussion Starter #1
Put your nose near the exhaust. Smell excessive gas? Ever changed your "maintenance free" platinum spark plugs?

Picked up another Caravan a couple weeks ago (2003). No DTC (Check Engine light). Smells rich. Got it cheap. Fuel trims way off. Pulled out one plug. HUGE gap. Another plug - same. 3rd plug... wtf? Clearly a problem.


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That sparkplug looks really bad. How long was it in there?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
See that their gap between the nearly non-existent electrode inside the ceramic and the plug end? That gap is supposed to be around .050 of an inch. It is nearly 1/8", if not larger.

That causes not only a misfire on a cylinder but it will cause the ignition coil pack to work harder and eventually fail. The engine will begin to ping and knock, creating obviously excessive noise.

Check your plugs! It's a 5/8" Spark plug socket! It requires less than 2 minutes of effort to pull out each of the front plugs. The 3 in the rear are a bit more effort. There is a spark plug chart that you can compare the tip of the plug too as a hint of how your engine is running. These are VERY IMPORTANT to your ignition system.



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Your correct about the sparkplugs being changed. I change ours every 80K and our engine is running very well and healthy for its age and mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Your correct about the sparkplugs being changed. I change ours every 80K and our engine is running very well and healthy for its age and mileage.
I've always been a copper spark plug guy. So when I went to purchase copper spark plugs for our other Caravan, the auto parts store suggested that I purchase platinum plugs because their computer says they are OEM (@$6/e).
The guy looked at me strangely when I said I want ONLY copper. I still run copper plugs till this day. And I run them on the dragstrip just like every other guy I know. Copper doesn't have much of a lifespan under heat but it is one of the top conductors. I've tried both iridium and platinum as well. When it comes to fine tuning a racing EFI engine with other plugs, the difference effects how your ignition fires and efficiency in the combustion process.

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2002 Grand Caravan ES 3.8L
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markofthebeast:

I'll do your front three plugs for you, you do the back three for me.

Sounds fair? :lol:


+++++++++

FWIW I'm getting about 60 - 70K miles before Spark Plug Maintenance is needed.
 

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Put your nose near the exhaust. Smell excessive gas? Ever changed your "maintenance free" platinum spark plugs?

Picked up another Caravan a couple weeks ago (2003). No DTC (Check Engine light). Smells rich. Got it cheap. Fuel trims way off. Pulled out one plug. HUGE gap. Another plug - same. 3rd plug... wtf? Clearly a problem.


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A few comments:
  • There is no such a thing as a "maintenance free plug", however, the plugs specified by Chrysler for your 2003 van do qualify as "low maintenance" plugs in that they will typically last well in excess of 100,000 mile under normal driving conditions.
  • Did you check the above plug for the brand/model number? It's been a while since I changed plugs on a Gen 4 V6, but my eye tells me that plug in the picture may not be an OEM spec plug.
  • How many miles are on the van? If the plugs are in fact the correct part number, I wonder if they were the factory original plugs.
 

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I've always been a copper spark plug guy. So when I went to purchase copper spark plugs for our other Caravan, the auto parts store suggested that I purchase platinum plugs because their computer says they are OEM (@$6/e).
The guy looked at me strangely when I said I want ONLY copper. I still run copper plugs till this day. And I run them on the dragstrip just like every other guy I know. Copper doesn't have much of a lifespan under heat but it is one of the top conductors. I've tried both iridium and platinum as well. When it comes to fine tuning a racing EFI engine with other plugs, the difference effects how your ignition fires and efficiency in the combustion process.

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I would argue under normal street driving conditions there is exactly zero difference in the efficiency of the combustion process between double platinum plugs driven by a modern high energy ignition system and copper plugs (regardless of what type of ignition system they're being driven by).

In the end it comes down to personal preference; you don't want anything but copper plugs in your van, and you couldn't pay me enough to put copper plugs in my van.
 
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I would argue under normal street driving conditions there is exactly zero difference in the efficiency of the combustion process between double platinum plugs driven by a modern high energy ignition system and copper plugs (regardless of what type of ignition system they're being driven by).

In the end it comes down to personal preference; you don't want anything but copper plugs in your van, and you couldn't pay me enough to put copper plugs in my van.
Then we have to define "Copper Plugs" meaning.

Many Platinum plugs are made with copper electrode core. More important than "copper" in racing, would be the heat range. I also own racing vehicles, and my choice would be platinum.

Of course, in racing, "copper" plugs are a good choice because you just want to win that race, then replace the cheap plugs for the next race. No need of expensive, long lasting plugs for a 1/4 mile track.
 

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Beast, did someone disconnect the 'check engine' light? Did you query the codes before you changed plugs.

The long life platinum plugs were installed in new cars when the government forced the manufacturers to guarantee emissions related issues for say seven years and 70K miles. I actually don't remember the real number.

The only real difference between a working copper and platinum plug is cost. That said, the platinum plugs will last much longer.
 

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My 2000 Caravan went 108,000 miles with original copper Champion plugs. Got the same performance and mileage as when new. I went back with the same exact plugs. Why would i want to experiment?
 

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Then we have to define "Copper Plugs" meaning.

Many Platinum plugs are made with copper electrode core. More important than "copper" in racing, would be the heat range. I also own racing vehicles, and my choice would be platinum.

Of course, in racing, "copper" plugs are a good choice because you just want to win that race, then replace the cheap plugs for the next race. No need of expensive, long lasting plugs for a 1/4 mile track.
Agreed; I think for the purposes of this discussion we should define Copper Plugs as plugs with copper electrodes.

I also agree if I'm racing a quarter-mile and swapping plugs after each run, then copper plugs are okay, beyond that, not happening.
 

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My 2000 Caravan went 108,000 miles with original copper Champion plugs. Got the same performance and mileage as when new. I went back with the same exact plugs. Why would i want to experiment?
The thing is, your van came from the factory with Champion Double Platinum plugs, not copper plugs.
 

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The thing is, your van came from the factory with Champion Double Platinum plugs, not copper plugs.
They are CHAMPION 89 {#RC12YC5} and are defined as copper at Rock Auto.

"Copper core center electrode allows for accurate control of heat range for longer life"


''
 

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They are CHAMPION 89 {#RC12YC5} and are defined as copper at Rock Auto.

"Copper core center electrode allows for accurate control of heat range for longer life"


''
Hmmm, 4-Cylinder engine? If "Yes", then my comments from above can be ignored as I have no idea what plugs the four-banger engine uses; my comments were relative to the 3.3 and 3.8 liter V6 engines.

The above said, Per the champion website, the Champion 89s use nickel alloy for the electrodes and not pure copper (which I suspect would erode away to nothing in a very short time frame).
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
markofthebeast:

I'll do your front three plugs for you, you do the back three for me.

Sounds fair?


+++++++++

FWIW I'm getting about 60 - 70K miles before Spark Plug Maintenance is needed.
I can do those 3 rear plugs like nothin'. Try bolting up the exhaust manifold on the rear once!

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
A few comments:
  • There is no such a thing as a "maintenance free plug", however, the plugs specified by Chrysler for your 2003 van do qualify as "low maintenance" plugs in that they will typically last well in excess of 100,000 mile under normal driving conditions.
  • Did you check the above plug for the brand/model number? It's been a while since I changed plugs on a Gen 4 V6, but my eye tells me that plug in the picture may not be an OEM spec plug.
  • How many miles are on the van? If the plugs are in fact the correct part number, I wonder if they were the factory original plugs.
I thought the plugs looked different than our other van. Looks longer. These are Champions. Van has 217k. I wouldn't be surprised if these are OEM. Got the van from the neighbor and he doesn't even know how to change his own oil.

Anyway, I ordered a set of NGK plugs for $18.

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Beast, did someone disconnect the 'check engine' light? Did you query the codes before you changed plugs.

The long life platinum plugs were installed in new cars when the government forced the manufacturers to guarantee emissions related issues for say seven years and 70K miles. I actually don't remember the real number.

The only real difference between a working copper and platinum plug is cost. That said, the platinum plugs will last much longer.
It HAD a code but never came up again. Guy we got it from said his mechanic told him it was an evap code. My dad had the van and reset the ECM by erasing the code and disconnecting the battery before I got to scan it. I hate when he does that. He must think his code reader has an erase button to shut the CEL off and magically fix the vehicle. I'm going to rip that erase button out! I couldn't get the DTC history.

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I shopped a '06 T&C w/176K mi a couple of days ago.

Two of the front plugs were finger tight. I removed and inspected one (w/my fingers) and it looked exactly like the one in the pic but insulator was so dirty I couldn't read the brand.

Probably original plugs.

Van ran fine! Pretty amazing when you think about it!
 
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