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Discussion Starter #1
Today I decided to tackle the spark plugs and plug wires after last weeks success with Maintenance - Round 1. Again, the vehicle, a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport 3.3L. It had Mopar plug wires and Champion Double Platinum RE14PLP5 spark plugs; most likely factory issue. The engine has 107,000-miles on it.

Before we purchased this vehicle a couple weeks ago, we had our mechanic inspect it which included scanning for trouble codes; the check engine light was on. The trouble code was for a P0300 Mis-fire. My assumption right away was the factory plugs and wires were an issue.

So after some careful thought, I decided to go with my personal favorite brand of spark plugs, NGK, and went with their Iridium IX – PN #LZTR5AIX-13.

As for the plug wires, again I went with an NGK product, their OEM fit wires which feature a Ferrite magnetic alloy coating – PN # RC-CRX055.

The tools I used to complete the job –

1) 3/8” drive ratchet
2) 3/8” X 3” ratchet extensions
1) 5/8” spark plug socket

With my trusty cell phone stop watch, I timed how long it took me to remove each old spark plug and install the new one. In sequence I started with #2 followed by #4, #6, #5, #3, and finally #1. I did the complete job by hovering over the grill and hugging the intake manifold. Further the complete job was done with out removing any components to make room for extra work space. Here are the work times for each plug:

#2 = 5.0 minutes
#4 = 3.5 minutes
#6 = 2.0 minutes
#5 = 6.5 minutes
#3 = 5.5 minutes
#1 = 7.0 minutes

Total time for all six spark plugs – 29.5 minutes

The only major causality was a sliced open finger while doing the last plug, #2, which I believe was from the exhaust manifold heat shield. Use extreme caution, razor sharp.

After returning from bandaging my finger, I moved onto the plug wires. Total time for the plug wires – 20 minutes. All the plug wires were the correct factory length and boot fitment to the coil pack and plugs have a nice positive snap – I recommend these as an option in place of the factory Mopar wires.

Next, I inspected each old spark plug and measured the gaps. These plugs were long past due. The gaps were measured as follows:

#2 = 0.068”
#4 = 0.060”
#6 = 0.078”
#5 = 0.085”
#3 = 0.070”
#1 = 0.074”

Other notes: Plugs #2, #4, and #3 had no visual sign of the platinum pad on the side electrode, while plugs #6, #5, and #1 had significant loss of the center electrode.

I’m thinking for the future, I’ll be following the Schedule B Severe Service category for plugs and wires and will be inspecting at least plugs #2, #4, and #6 every 30,000-miles to make sure things are going well.

Oh and, no more check engine light :thumb:
 

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Great write up. I would recommend using Never-Sieze on any plug threads, saving the headache of galled threads the next time. 4th gen vans are easy as pie compared to 3rd gens. Of course my '95 with the 4 banger is able to be done in the dark by my 11 year old daughter with 1 hand behind her back after drinking 3 BigGulps of Coca-Cola... :biggrin:
 

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I like the look of those NGK wires. I have Champion wires on my 2002. They work well but aren't as pretty. Original OE wires on my Jeep and working fine.

I don't know about the spark plugs though. Many have used "fancy" plugs, had problems and reverted back to what the emissions label called for. There was quite a discussion on a Jeep Forum about spark plugs recently. There are definitely different schools of thought out there. I look at there being three different principles to possibly consider when selecting spark plugs.
1. The KISS principle: Use what the emissions label in the engine compartment says. That was the spark plug used by the experts/engineers when developing/fine tuning the engine. Can't go wrong with that plug. It was OE and stood the test of time and most use of any plug in that engine. That's what they rolled off the assembly line with. It's a no brainer.
2. Quasi Expert principle: Listen to quasi experts, those that have extensive experience with an engine and may have experience with alternate spark plugs, some good, some bad. Their recommendations would be fairly reliable, but not "designer" expert.
3. Wing It principle: Listen to the manufacturers' hype, various personal subjective/objective preferences, parts sellers, and "go for the glow". Try them and you will be the first to know if they are good or bad for your engine. Don't disregard all the bad experiences being reported with Bosch plugs, EA plugs, etc in making a decision. Some even refer to EA plugs as "snake oil". Maybe they don't deserve that but I wouldn't use them regardless, unless they were OE. Holes in pistons from using overly hot plugs aren't uncommon, reportedly (on the web). The heat range characteristics are crucial when selecting a spark plug, so hotter isn't necessarily better. Be careful with that one.

Don't get me wrong. I think NGK plugs are an excellent product. The emissions label for my Jeep calls for Champion and NGK - I have a choice and have used both with complete satisfaction. They are copper core plugs with a change interval of 48,000 kms (30,000 miles). Some of the big hemis come with copper core as well. Why copper core, one might ask? My guess is that's the optimum plug for the engine as designed.

A 2004 Accura TSX calles for Bosch Iridium spark plugs in its Owner Manual/emissions label. I assume the engine was designed and tuned with that spark plug as part of the design. Would I use a Champion Iridium or NGK Double Platinum spark plug in that engine? Applying the KISS principle, I wouldn't, nor would I have any concern/loss of sleep about the plugs doing their job/voiding the warranty.

The NGK spark plugs sound good and I hope they serve you well. One thing for sure though, they will not provide any better performance than the Champion Double Platinum per the emissions label.

As to using anti-seize (another Poster), spark plugs now days, like oxygen sensors, have a factory applied plating or coating. Here's what NGK says about anti-seize in one of their Technical Bulletins: http://www.ngksparkplugs.com/pdf/TB-0630111antisieze.pdf
Topic
The use of anti-seize compounds on spark plug threads that have a metal shell plating (i.e. Zinc or Nickel plating).
Issue
Applying anti-seize to the threads of spark plugs that have a metal plating allows the installer to mistakenly over-tighten the spark plug in the cylinder head; This stretches and fatigues the threads of the spark plugs, causing a much higher probability that the plug will break during installation or in some cases upon removal.
Solution
For spark plugs with special metal plating simply do not use anti-seize on initial Installation; All NGK Spark Plugs are manufactured with a special trivalent Zinc-chromate shell plating that is designed to prevent both corrosion and seizure to the cylinder head; Thus eliminating the need for any thread compounds or lubricants.
I never use anti-seize on spark plugs. Used to use a little motor oil on the threads years ago. Not one stuck plug to date. Go figure.
As to leaving the Double Platinums in the engine for 100,000 miles, I don't. 100,000 kms (60,000 miles) is enough for me. Three plug changes takes me to 400,000 kms (248,000 miles), that's not expensive in the big picture.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I like the look of those NGK wires. I have Champion wires on my 2002. They work well but aren't as pretty. Original OE wires on my Jeep and working fine.

I don't know about the spark plugs though. Many have used "fancy" plugs, had problems and reverted back to what the emissions label called for. There was quite a discussion on a Jeep Forum about spark plugs recently. There are definitely different schools of thought out there. I look at there being three different principles to possibly consider when selecting spark plugs.
1. The KISS principle: Use what the emissions label in the engine compartment says. That was the spark plug used by the experts/engineers when developing/fine tuning the engine. Can't go wrong with that plug. It was OE and stood the test of time and most use of any plug in that engine. That's what they rolled off the assembly line with. It's a no brainer.
2. Quasi Expert principle: Listen to quasi experts, those that have extensive experience with an engine and may have experience with alternate spark plugs, some good, some bad. Their recommendations would be fairly reliable, but not "designer" expert.
3. Wing It principle: Listen to the manufacturers' hype, various personal subjective/objective preferences, parts sellers, and "go for the glow". Try them and you will be the first to know if they are good or bad for your engine. Don't disregard all the bad experiences being reported with Bosch plugs, EA plugs, etc in making a decision. Some even refer to EA plugs as "snake oil". Maybe they don't deserve that but I wouldn't use them regardless, unless they were OE. Holes in pistons from using overly hot plugs aren't uncommon, reportedly (on the web). The heat range characteristics are crucial when selecting a spark plug, so hotter isn't necessarily better. Be careful with that one.

Don't get me wrong. I think NGK plugs are an excellent product. The emissions label for my Jeep calls for Champion and NGK - I have a choice and have used both with complete satisfaction. They are copper core plugs with a change interval of 48,000 kms (30,000 miles). Some of the big hemis come with copper core as well. Why copper core, one might ask? My guess is that's the optimum plug for the engine as designed.

A 2004 Accura TSX calles for Bosch Iridium spark plugs in its Owner Manual/emissions label. I assume the engine was designed and tuned with that spark plug as part of the design. Would I use a Champion Iridium or NGK Double Platinum spark plug in that engine? Applying the KISS principle, I wouldn't, nor would I have any concern/loss of sleep about the plugs doing their job/voiding the warranty.

The NGK spark plugs sound good and I hope they serve you well. One thing for sure though, they will not provide any better performance than the Champion Double Platinum per the emissions label.

As to using anti-seize (another Poster), spark plugs now days, like oxygen sensors, have a factory applied plating or coating. Here's what NGK says about anti-seize in one of their Technical Bulletins: http://www.ngksparkplugs.com/pdf/TB-0630111antisieze.pdf


I never use anti-seize on spark plugs. Used to use a little motor oil on the threads years ago. Not one stuck plug to date. Go figure.
As to leaving the Double Platinums in the engine for 100,000 miles, I don't. 100,000 kms (60,000 miles) is enough for me. Three plug changes takes me to 400,000 kms (248,000 miles), that's not expensive in the big picture.
All good info to consider.

Before purchasing the plugs, I read and heard many comments with regard to sticking with the OEM plugs as spelled out by the emissions decal, which I agree is the safest rout to go. But I had to ask myself how much of the negative response to using spark plugs other than OEM can be equated to urban legend or myth? Sort of like one of those my cousin’s uncle’s dad said to never use a certain brand/type of plug because of grave consequences, etc. You know, it kind of reminds of all the untrue bunk that’s circulated around about the use of synthetic motor oil.

For me it was just one of those things where in the past I personally used NGK Iridium plugs in the place of OEM requirements and have had good luck and no ill side effects to report; so that’s what I went with.

I’m believing the NGK plugs I have a correspond to the correct heat range to that of the OEM plugs so I don’t believe the emissions system with notice the difference. Sure, I could be wrong, but no check engine light as of late.

From other things I have read, the Iridium tip will last longer; maintain its gap longer than compared to its platinum equivalent. For this, peak efficiency may be maintained over the duration lending to peak fuel efficiency and performance.

Another interesting concept I read about is the smaller wire tip of the Iridium center electrode concentrates its sparking power better over the alternatives which actually requires less voltage requirements from the coil packs.

Well, don’t take my word for it, here are some FAQs from Denso – link

As for the use of anti-seize on the spark plugs, I opted out of this recommendation that my Chilton’s manual wants me to do. In the past I had tried anti-seize during spark plug changes on other vehicles and found it gummed up the threads actually making future removal and installation more difficult. So for this go around I used a coating of motor oil on the threads.
 

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So you had no issues breaking the old plugs free? Mine haven't been changed for maybe 150K. Runs just a little rough but no codes (knock on wood). I am afraid of breaking a plug off trying to get these out.....
 

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So you had no issues breaking the old plugs free? Mine haven't been changed for maybe 150K. Runs just a little rough but no codes (knock on wood). I am afraid of breaking a plug off trying to get these out.....
If you're going to replace your plugs, does it really matter if one of them break? they have to come out anyway.
Some people say it's easier to remove them when the engine is hot, other people say it's easier when the engine is cold, I don't know which is better,
I've always changed my plugs when the engine is just warm and never had a problem.
 

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If you're going to replace your plugs, does it really matter if one of them break? they have to come out anyway.
Some people say it's easier to remove them when the engine is hot, other people say it's easier when the engine is cold, I don't know which is better,
I've always changed my plugs when the engine is just warm and never had a problem.
The bigger problem is a stuck plug. The plug won't break unless it isn't being removed properly (wrench out of alignment). Some say use an impact wrench to remove them. There's a Thread on this site discussing that. Champion says "cold engine" for removal.

Using an impact wrench: http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/showthread.php/11785-Champion-Platinums?p=103666#post103666

Champion says cold engine: http://dodgeram.info/Engine-Gas/SparkPlugs/spkplghnbook.html
The first is to remove spark plugs from aluminum cylinder heads only when the engine is cool. Since aluminum and steel expand and contract at different rates, removing spark plugs from an aluminum cylinder head while hot can actually cause thread and cylinder head damage.
NGK on cool engine: http://www.ngkspark.co.nz/sparkplug_tech.php#
Of course, you should only install spark plugs in a cool engine, because metal expands when its hot and installation may prove difficult.
Champion - Heat Range Comparisons (NGK, Denso, Bosch): http://www.championsparkplugs.com/sparkplug411.asp?kw=Heat+Range+Interchange+(NGK-Denso-Champion-Bosch)&mfid=2
In identical spark plug types, the difference from one full heat range to the next is the ability to remove 70°C to 100°C from the combustion chamber.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
So you had no issues breaking the old plugs free? Mine haven't been changed for maybe 150K. Runs just a little rough but no codes (knock on wood). I am afraid of breaking a plug off trying to get these out.....
Some of my plugs were a little tougher to remove than others but they all came out just fine. I can now understand the observation that some have made with regard to the plugs hitting a sticky spot as they're backed out, in fact, some of my old plugs made a creaking sound similar to that of removing a nail from wood. But I just kept backing out the plugs slowly and firmly with no issues. Also, I did remove them with a cold engine. When the new plugs went in, I coated the threads with fresh motor and I was able to tighten them down all most all of the way by hand only needing a little snug of the 3/8" drive ratchet. If I were at a 150K with the original plugs, I'd go ahead change them, you'll be fine.
 

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Drivin' Maniac
2002 Grand Caravan ES 3.8L
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NGK Iridiums = :thumb:



I also found missing platinum pads on my OE Double Platinum plugs...that made me wary of using them again.



30K miles on the NGKs, no problems.
 

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As to using anti-seize (another Poster), spark plugs now days, like oxygen sensors, have a factory applied plating or coating. Here's what NGK says about anti-seize in one of their Technical Bulletins: http://www.ngksparkplugs.com/pdf/TB-0630111antisieze.pdf


I never use anti-seize on spark plugs. Used to use a little motor oil on the threads years ago. Not one stuck plug to date. Go figure.
As to leaving the Double Platinums in the engine for 100,000 miles, I don't. 100,000 kms (60,000 miles) is enough for me. Three plug changes takes me to 400,000 kms (248,000 miles), that's not expensive in the big picture.
I appreciate the comment, however my hard headed self will continue to coat the threads of any plug I install as well as the lug threads on my wheels. I have installed and removed hundreds and hundreds of plugs in my life and have never had one that I coated give me any trouble. I am glad that NGK and other manufacturers have been using coatings on the threads to alleviate the all too common galling problem with aluminum heads. Looking at the pictures from the NGK document, it amazes me that they were torqued til the breaking point like that. I know how much torque I have had to use to remove some plugs before and have only ever broken a few during removal. If someone isn't sure how much to tighten something, buy a torque wrench. Too much can be as bad as too little!
 

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NGK Iridiums = :thumb:



I also found missing platinum pads on my OE Double Platinum plugs...that made me wary of using them again.



30K miles on the NGKs, no problems.
The problems usually start at 31K. Just kidding. :) Do the Iridiums not use pads as well? I haven't checked their construction.

Yes, the platinum pads can disappear after a while, usually over 100,000 miles though, and the copper core keeps on working, even with the widened gap. I would think that would happen with other makes as well that use the platinum pads. I wonder if the type of fuel makes any difference, ethanol for example.

Some experiences here including those of shipo based on two vans. http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/showthread.php/11785-Champion-Platinums?
Hmmm, both of our vans went over 100,000 miles with literally no problems with the plugs, and when the new ones finally did go in, there was absolutely zero difference in engine smoothness, drivablilty or fuel economy.

While it does seem to be true that some vans go through plugs faster than others, it also seems to be true that 100,000 miles is easily achieved for most vans.
What is this Iridium stuff anyway: http://www.performancetuner.co.uk/site/495/Tech_Choosing_Spark_Plugs.aspx
Iridium is a hard, brittle material that’s part of the platinum family. It’s more commonly encountered in meteorites than on earth, but here on terra firma it’s found in alluvial deposits, which is soil found close to running water – rivers, basically. Discovered in 1803 by London-based Smithson Tennant, iridium is the most corrosion-resistant element known. It melts at around 2450 degrees Celsius, and is around eight times stronger than platinum. Champion has used iridium technology in aviation- and industrial-application spark plugs since the 1960s.
 

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Drivin' Maniac
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Do the Iridiums not use pads as well?

No, the iridium electrode is very small and encourages a clean spark. The anode (negative side) doesn't have anything stuck to it like the OE Double-Plats.

http://ngk.com/more_info.asp?AAIA=1384657&pid=16604

Interesting that on the NGK website, the MSRP for Iridium plugs for my 3.8L is 50% less than for double-plats.




In the Old Days (before precious metal construction) we would file the edges of spark plug electrodes to "sharpen" them. Then we would re-gap the plugs. This would assure a better spark.


Back then, this maintenance action made the plugs good for another 10 to 15 thousand miles. (I for one do NOT miss the good old days...changing plugs, points, and condensers all the time.) :help_wsig
 

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Discussion Starter #14
No, the iridium electrode is very small and encourages a clean spark. The anode (negative side) doesn't have anything stuck to it like the OE Double-Plats.

http://ngk.com/more_info.asp?AAIA=1384657&pid=16604

Interesting that on the NGK website, the MSRP for Iridium plugs for my 3.8L is 50% less than for double-plats.




In the Old Days (before precious metal construction) we would file the edges of spark plug electrodes to "sharpen" them. Then we would re-gap the plugs. This would assure a better spark.


Back then, this maintenance action made the plugs good for another 10 to 15 thousand miles. (I for one do NOT miss the good old days...changing plugs, points, and condensers all the time.) :help_wsig
I purchased my NGK Iridium #LZTR5AIX-13 from RockAuto.com for $7.05 per plug including shipping. That's with the 5% discount code. I ordered the plugs on Friday, they mailed them on Saturday, I got them on Monday :thumb:
 

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No, the iridium electrode is very small and encourages a clean spark. The anode (negative side) doesn't have anything stuck to it like the OE Double-Plats.

In the Old Days (before precious metal construction) we would file the edges of spark plug electrodes to "sharpen" them. Then we would re-gap the plugs. This would assure a better spark.

Back then, this maintenance action made the plugs good for another 10 to 15 thousand miles. (I for one do NOT miss the good old days...changing plugs, points, and condensers all the time.) :help_wsig
The Champion Iridiums have a platinum ground, I asume that is a platinum pad: http://www.federalmogul.com/en/AftermarketSolutions/NorthAmerica/ServiceSolutions/Products/ChampionSparkPlugs/Automotive/Iridium/
Each plug has an extremely fine-wire iridium center electrode that is “laser-locked” to the center electrode, and a platinum V-trimmed ground electrode to ensure the longest life and greatest erosion resistance.
The good old days ................ it was always a treat to put in a new set of plugs, points, rotor button and distributor cap ... gave those V8 engines a 25 hp jump it seemed. Then playing with the timing and the vacuum to the carburetor would add a bit more. A wash and shine would max out the hp increase and give the car better aerodynamics. :)
I certainly don't miss the cold weather starting/idling problems with the carbureted systems for sure. It gave using both feet on the pedals a new meaning.
 

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The Champion Iridiums have a platinum ground, I asume that is a platinum pad: http://www.federalmogul.com/en/AftermarketSolutions/NorthAmerica/ServiceSolutions/Products/ChampionSparkPlugs/Automotive/Iridium/


The good old days ................ it was always a treat to put in a new set of plugs, points, rotor button and distributor cap ... gave those V8 engines a 25 hp jump it seemed. Then playing with the timing and the vacuum to the carburetor would add a bit more. A wash and shine would max out the hp increase and give the car better aerodynamics. :)
I certainly don't miss the cold weather starting/idling problems with the carbureted systems for sure. It gave using both feet on the pedals a new meaning.
I Like the sound of the Iridium electrode and Platinum pad on the ground. I'm not seeing this type of plug listed for 3.3L application though.
 
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