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How-To: Replace Spark Plugs

377582 Views 110 Replies 69 Participants Last post by  Grendel65
I've seen plenty of people ask how to replace their spark plugs, but haven't seen a how-to on here. So here it is. :p

Replacing your spark plugs is actually quite easy -- it should take about 20 minutes tops, and you'll only need a few tools:

--8mm wrench or deep socket
--15mm wrench
--5/8" spark plug socket
--Ratchet wrench and extension

In terms of what spark plugs to use, I decided to stick with the OEM plugs, which are of very high quality -- NGK Iridiums. (The OEM plugs are stamped FoMoCo, but they're made in Japan by NGK.) They run about $12 each on Amazon (which is the cheapest I've found them); yes, I know $12 per spark plug is a lot compared to cheap $2 Champions, but considering you can get 70-80k out of them and they're very well-made, I think it's worth the extra cost. I wouldn't use cheap copper spark plugs in my car.

Which model of plugs you'll need to buy will depend on what year your car is. 2004-2005 model Mazda3's use different plugs than the 2006-2009's do due to different cylinder heads (more info about this here, thanks to cali_axela for the link!).

If you want to go with the NGK's, here's what to order:

--2004-2005 Mazda3's, model ITR6-F13, part number 4477 (thanks Mummyman!).
--2006-2009 Mazda3's, model ILTR5A-13G, part number 3811.

You will, of course, need to order 4 plugs of whatever brand/model you pick.

I have a 2006, so here's what I bought:

Next, a note about gapping the plugs. "Gapping" refers to adjusting the ground electrode on the end of the plug to be a specific distance away from the center electrode, to produce a spark of a size within the specifications defined by the car's manufacturer. What it boils down to is this: if you buy the NGK plugs listed above, they come pre-gapped from the factory at a distance that falls within Mazda's spec. If you decide to buy different plugs, you may need to gap them. There are numerous tutorials online that explain the simple process of gapping spark plugs, and the tools needed to do so.

I'd also recommend getting a tube of anti-seize for the threads, to make it easier the next time you need to replace the spark plugs. Anti-seize should cost about $3.50 from any auto parts store.

So let's get started:

1. Pop the hood, and remove the engine cover. Just pull up from the edges and it'll unclip.

2. The Mazda3 uses a coil-on-plug design, meaning there's no distributor or spark plug wires. Each spark plug gets its own coil pack, which plugs right on top of it. Each coil pack is secured with a single bolt. Note that two of the bolts have black plastic studs screwed on to them; these studs are for clipping the engine cover down. The coil packs are circled in red below, and the bolts are in blue:

3. I recommend replacing only one spark plug at a time. With your 8mm wrench or deep socket, remove the first coil pack bolt:

To remove the plastic studs from two of the bolts, use a 15mm wrench to unscrew it, then you can use the 8mm wrench/socket to remove the bolt:

4. With the bolt removed, the coil pack just pulls up from the spark plug. You shouldn't need to disconnect any cables, just swivel the coil pack out of the way. The plug sits at the bottom of the spark plug tube; here's a view of the tube with the coil pack removed:

5. Use the 5/8" spark plug socket, extension and ratchet wrench to remove the old spark plug. The spark plug socket has a rubber grommet in it that will hold onto the spark plug as you remove it, so it won't fall back in. Here's what your old spark plugs are likely to look like (these are my factory plugs with about 68k on them):

6. If you've decided to use it, apply some anti-seize to the new plug. Be very careful that it gets only on the threads; I used a paper towel to wipe off any excess. Better to use too little than too much, it's a very bad thing to have anti-seize getting inside the combustion chamber.

7. Put the new plug into the socket, then thread it into the engine. A trick I like to do is to detach the ratchet so it's just the socket and extension, then start threading the plug couterclockwise a couple turns. This helps make sure the plug gets threaded properly, and not cross-threaded. Then I'll start screwing it in by hand; it should thread easily and smoothly. If it's hard to turn, you're cross-threading it. When you feel some resistance, attach the ratchet and snug the spark plug down. Don't over-tighten it, since our engines are aluminum and you don't want to strip the threads.

According to the shop manual, the torque specs for the plugs are 10-14 N·m, or 8-10 lb-ft. (Thanks to XCNuse for this info!)

8. With the new plug in, put the coil pack back on and reinstall the retaining bolt.

9. Do this same process for the remaining 3 spark plugs.

10. Start the engine and make sure everything sounds normal.

11. You're done! See, that was easy!
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Good write-up, helpful, informative pictures.

Your point about the cost of OEM plugs is also good. Yeah, $12 each seems like a high price but they will last several years. If one were to use basic copper core plugs they would work but would need replacement often enough the cost would probably work out the same as iridiums over the long run, plus the (admittedly small) hassle of replacing the copper core plugs every year.

Oh yeah, this thread should become a sticky.
According to the shop manual, here are the torque values (DRY ONLY)

Tightening torque
10-14 N·m {1.1-1.4 kgf·m, 8-10 ft·lbf}

it does not mention wet torque, but it is typical torque values are 10% decrease when wet, but anti-seize isn't entirely recommended as it is part metal based, any of it that gets in your engine can cause very serious damage.
Excellent write-up, definite sticky! Can you put the plug torque specs XCNuse gave in the OP? 10 ft/lbs of force is very low, and it'd be easy for someone to over-tighten.
OK, got the torque specs added to the post. I also included a note about not using too much anti-seize as well; I still think putting some on the threads is a good idea, because it was kinda tough breaking the old plugs loose (doesn't look like they use any anti-seize at the factory), but I made sure to only get it within the threads so there wouldn't be much, if any, excess.
Great writeup. I need to replace my plugs, still on original. 2005 Mazda3 S with 42,000 miles, it's probably time to put some new one's in. I can't find those spark plugs the OP bought. I only find these:

NGK V-Power NGK 4177 (copper) - $2.09/ea
NGK Laser Iridium NGK 4477 - $13.69/ea
NGK Iridium IX NGK 3689 - $9.59/ea

I don't think I want to spend $14 for 1 spark plug, I might go for the IX's. Any advice?
Technically you don't have to replace your spark plugs until 75,000 miles according to the manual.

I got mine on Amazon, just search for NGK ILTR5A; mine shipped out of Floriday, shipped with Amazon Prime 2 day free shipping. Total cost was a smidgen below $50
[quote author=XCNuse link=topic=177283.msg3750440#msg3750440 date=1280849229]
I got mine on Amazon, just search for NGK ILTR5A; mine shipped out of Floriday, shipped with Amazon Prime 2 day free shipping. Total cost was a smidgen below $50

Yep, that's what I did too. Here's the link to the part:
Just got mine done. My old ones look pretty much exactly like your old ones do. Gap is still pretty much near perfect (visually). Doubt it will make any difference, oh well, supposedly they needed replacing!
[quote author=XCNuse link=topic=177283.msg3750531#msg3750531 date=1280853135]
Just got mine done. My old ones look pretty much exactly like your old ones do. Gap is still pretty much near perfect (visually). Doubt it will make any difference, oh well, supposedly they needed replacing!

Any notable change in pickup?
Just in time!!! Great write up DrWebster. Thanks!
This really will help this weekend!

UPDATE: Dr. Webster's instructions are about as exact as can be.
everything was & behaved exactly as he described.

Had a little bit of an issue taking out 1st plug on left of engine (right passenger side) but if finally came loose.

Car feels smoother starting & idling. Throttle/clutch responses seems smoother also.
No data on gas mileage yet.
But I am quite impress with this little maintenance.
[quote author=p0wer1 link=topic=177283.msg3804622#msg3804622 date=1285181816]
No need to gap the spark plugs?

Nope, at least not with the Laser Iridiums. I held a new one and old one up side by side when I replaced them, and the gap was (visually) the same.
Good write up, but you've got to gap the new plugs. You can't verify gap by a visual inspection, unless you can accurately see 5/1,000th's of an inch! Otherwise, great job. :cheers:
Is it okay to use Autolite Double Platnums on the 3??? i've had good luck with them in my Ford Ranger.
Actually Dr. Webster is correct. The OEM spark plug "ITR6F13", is pre-gapped at the factory to .052 inch. As specified in my manual, the spark plug gap should be anywhere from .049 - .053 inch.

Thus, the gap when you receive the plug is perfectly acceptable to put right in, no need to gap the plug at all. NGK sets the gap at a certain distance so the most applications can be served without the need of a gap tool. This is what I was told by a NGK rep.|GRPTUNEAMS_775179638___

Advance auto is one site that lists the gap from the factory, which is within spec. Hope this clears up any confusion.

Is that the same as the ones posted in this thread? I was on amazon and their tool says the XXX-13G isn't going to fit the 2004 Mazda3.
Why? It has the same number (3811)
ILTR5A-13G are the plugs I used, yes (see the first pic). They should work fine in all 2004-2009 NA Mazda3s. There is a good explanation posted in the other thread, but basically Amazon is half-wrong in saying these won't work in a should be fine.

The plugs I used should only be used on 2006-2009 Mazda3's; the 2004-2005 models use different plugs. I've updated the first post to reflect this.
OEM spark plugs for 2004 Mazda 3 2.0L/2.3L are Laser Series Iridium Spark Plug; ITR6F13, part number 4477. Don't need to be gapped as I mentioned earlier. I can't speak for ILTR5A-13G's that Webster used, me personally I'd just use whatever the manual calls for and call it a day since they are all around the $10 mark each.
I'll continue to take the 3 extra minutes it requires to gap all of my plugs, as will my buds who are certified techs, regardless of what that NGK customer service rep says................ To each their own. :cheers:
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