5. Change spark plugs (on an older car)
This is really for older cars, because newer cars a) don’t require spark plug changes as often as the classics, and b) the packaging of the engine bay is now so tight that getting to your spark plugs without having to use special (read: expensive) tools and removing a bunch of panels isn’t going to happen most of the time. But if your car is at least 10 years old and it looks like you have space under the hood, here's what to do:
- Pick up a spark plug socket, which is a deep and thin-walled socket that will make your life much easier, and a feeler gauge, which helps you measure the plug’s gap. More on that in a second.
- Unplug the spark plug wire from the first plug, and using your new socket, simply unscrew the old plug and pull it out.
- Using your gap gauge, open or close the curved part of the spark plug until the distance to the center portion matches the gap that corresponds with your manual.
- Put the new plug into the socket and tighten it by hand until it’s snug. Attach your ratchet and screw it only a quarter turn past hand tight. Any more than that and you run the risk of breaking the spark plug, which will send tiny shards of porcelain down into your engine. Which is a very, very bad thing.
- Reinstall the spark plug wire over the plug, and move onto the next one. Repeat on all the remaining plugs.
Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. He once had to change a spark plug on an old Mustang on the side of a highway. He wasn't concerned with the gap at that moment in time.