Spark Plugs Successfully Changed
Well, I finally grew a set and changed the spark plugs on my 2006 5.4 3 valve. It certainly wasn't the most pleasant job that I have done on this truck, but it wasn't as bad as changing the exhaust manifold gaskets.
The truck has 101,000 kms (63,000 miles) on it, most of which is highway miles, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I picked up the SP-515 plugs and the Lisle plug extractor about a month ago and already had the nickel anti-seize compound. Time and courage finally showed up at the same time, so it was a chance to get the job done. By removing the air intake ducts, it gave me a place to sit and stand inside the engine compartment. Of course I removed the computer and mounting bracket, and by removing the battery, it gave me a nice tray to lay my tools in.
I followed the latest TSB, (08-7-7) and still managed to break 4 out of the 8. Fortunately, the rear passenger side plug came out in 1 piece. After the initial breaking loose and soaking of the plugs, if you hear some grinding and crunching sounds, the plugs have broken. If you hear creaking and squeaking, they are coming out in 1 piece. The coil boots were still soft and in good condition with no cracks, so I didn't replace them.
The Lisle tool managed to extract the tips quite easily, but did produce some other issues. I found that when the pusher tool was threaded down until it bottomed out as per the instructions, it pushed the porcelain to a point where it broke off half of the ground electrode strap into the cylinders. There were also some porcelain chips which fell into the cylinder. My recommendation is to NOT screw the pusher bolt down all of the way, but to leave 1/16" under the head of it. This seems to be sufficient to get the extractor tool securely into the electrode shield, and lessen the chance of snapping the ground strap into the cylinder. I tried to vacuum out the cylinders with a small hose attached to a vacuum cleaner that fit through the spark plug hole, as well as blow them out with compressed air. Not sure if I actually sucked up or blew out any of the metal straps of porcelain. Hopefully, any remaining pieces didn't do any damage as they blew out the exhaust valves during initial start-up.
The entire job took 10 hours, from start to finish. The old plugs were showing significant wear, and the gaps were an average of .075".
The truck idles smoother now, and changing plugs seems to have fixed a minor stumble under load that I didn't realize that I had. It was kind of a scary job with some tense moments, but I'm glad that I saved the money and did it myself.
Last edited by The Pig; 12-23-2010 at 02:59 PM.