I, Grease Monkey. Part II

sparkplug.jpgFor today’s adventure, we replaced our own spark plugs!
Service cost at the dealership: $160
Do-it-myself total cost: $23 + 30 minutes

What you’ll need…

  • New spark plugs ($6 for 4)
  • A good ratchet set ($30 if you don’t already have one)
  • An extender for your ratchet set ($6 if you don’t already have one)
  • A spark plug gapping tool, or guage ($1.30)
  • An iced caramel latte ($3 – optional, but recommended on a hot day)

Turns out this is one of the easiest jobs you can do on your car — easier and quicker than changing your oil!
I guess it’s a little bit different on a 6 or 8 cylinder car. But on our little Saturns, you just pop out 4 spark plug cables (each set of two has a single bolt holding them in place) and ratchet out the spark plug. Then use the gapping tool to measure the gap at the bottom of the plug (top?) and set your new plugs to match — literally just prying apart the gap with the tool. Ratchet the new plugs in place, pop the cable back in, and start the car to test.
I got it right my first try — although next time will be easier and probably a little less greasy because I’ll have less exploring to do. Nonetheless, this job took not even 30 minutes, once I had the tools I needed. No need to make an appointment anywhere, and no need to fork out a wad of cash. I am very pleased with myself. eHow has a great tutorial video that helped a lot.
The serpentine belt, unfortunately, is next, and there’s no way I’m trying that one myself.

5 thoughts on “I, Grease Monkey. Part II

  1. Okay… two comments.
    1. You should lookup the actual recommended gap for your vehicle. Over time the electrode of the plug can wear down and increase the gap. (remember it is measured in thousandths of an inch.) If you have too much gap set, you can get worse fuel economy, poor timing, and wear out your ignition system.
    2. The serpentine belt is really not that bad. But you do have to make sure you buy one from Saturn. My dad tried to get a generic and it was about half an inch too short. This makes you think that it will fit, but will lead to an incredible amount of frustration. 🙂

  2. The serpentine belt really isn’t that hard. Removal is easy, cut it. Put the new belt on, and use a socket wrench in to loosen the tensioner and put the belt around it.
    It is particularly difficult on my car because the belt goes around the engine mount, which means I had to remove the engine mount bolts and jack up the engine. Fortunately, most cars are not like that.

  3. I personally don’t like the idea of cutting it. If the new one doesn’t fit, now your car doesn’t work. Where as if you still have the old one you might be able to put it back on and keep going for a while.

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