How to Replace Spark Plug Wires

Changing ignition spark plug wires are fairly easy and usually requires no tools. Each spark plug wire is connected to a spark plug, and brings the electrical spark to the spark plug in order to ignite the fuel inside the engine's cylinders. A damaged ignition spark plug wire can make your car run rough and affect gas mileage.. here's our guide on how to replace them.



Step 1 of 8 

Open the hood and locate the ignition spark plug wires. They can be black, blue, red or orange. Most are black. The number of spark plug wires most often corresponds to the number of cylinders your engine has.


 Step 2 of 8 


Open the box of new ignition spark plug wires. If the new wires aren't labeled ("1," "2" and so on), lay them out in order of length.


 Step 3 of 8 

Start at one end of the engine and remove only the first ignition spark plug wire: Pull on the boot (at the end) of the plug wire until it pops off.


 Step 4 of 8 

Follow the wire to its other end, where it's plugged into the distributor cap. Remove the wire from the distributor cap by pulling on the end of the wire.


 Step 5 of 8


Check the spark plug. A good spark plug will be lightly coated with greyish brown deposits. If heavy deposits are present, if the spark plug is black, or if the electrode or core nose are damaged, replace the spark plug.


 Step 6 of 8 


Note that most cars have small plastic pieces with slots or groves that hold the wires in place so they don't rub against each other or rest on any part of the engine. Be sure to put the ignition plug wires back into their slots to ensure longer life.


 Step 7 of 8


Replace with a new ignition spark plug wire of the same length or number. The plug wire will make a quiet "pop" when it snaps on the spark plug.


 Step 8 of 8


Continue with the next ignition spark plug wire, always taking one off at a time and replacing with a new wire until you've replaced all of the wires.


Tips & Warnings


Remove and replace the spark plug wires one at a time.


Although replacing the spark plug wires should be part of a 48,000-kilometres tune-up, many shops don't include this because the cost of spark plug wires brings up the cost of the tune-up.


Don't take all the spark plug wires off at once, even if they're numbered. Remove and replace the spark plug wires one at a time. They must go back on the distributor cap in exactly the same order they came off, or you'll have changed the "firing order" and your car may run badly or not at all. You can cause expensive damage by switching the order of the plug wires