Sparkity-Spark-Spark-Sparkarinos!

Yeah, it’s almost midnight and I’m pretty tired and a little punch-drunk. I just changed the spark plugs for my lovely motorcycle (Ginger…she’s so purty!) because I want her to be happy. And I want me to be happy when the engine is running all nice and smooth. She is coming up on her 30,000 mile birthday and I want her to celebrate in style.

I know quite a few other women who ride motorcycles (hi Mom! Cindee! Anna! Demi! Aunt Kate! Yozora! Rainey! Cyndi!) and in case there are any other ladies out there in blog-land feeling intimidated by spark plug changing, I’m going to post a photo tutorial. You know, for those of us who are more visual creatures.

What I used:

  • 5/8″ deep socket (couldn’t find the spark plug socket)
  • 1/2″ ratchet
  • 3/4″ to 1/2″ drive adapter (for my torque wrench)
  • a torque wrench
  • anti-seize
  • gapper
  • one of those awesome magnetic parts-holder-dishes. Geez, I love those things.
  • two NGK CPR6EB-9 spark plugs

First, pull the caps off the spark plugs. Don’t tug on the spark plug wires, but gently (or sometimes firmly) wiggle the covering until it comes loose and you can pull it off. After these are off, you can use compressed air to blast any debris or dust out of the holebeforeremoving the spark plug. You don’t want any dirt getting into the cylinder heads!

Step 1: Removing the spark plug caps.

Second, use a deep socket or a spark plug socket to remove the spark plugs from each cylinder. Honestly, the spark plug socket is a nice specialized tool worth having, and would be the better option because it sort of cushions the insulation and the terminal as you are ratcheting it back and forth.

Step 2: Removing the spark plugs.

Third, inspect your spark plugs! The condition of old spark plugs can tell you how your engine is running. You’ll notice that one of my spark plugs (this came from the cylinder towards the front of the bike) is a bit corroded right below the hex nut. This means that my cap wasn’t well seated on that plug and water was able to get into it. Not good! (This is an excellent reason to inspect your spark plugs regularly…it’s the closest your engine will get to talking with you.) I took this opportunity to clean the corrosion out of the spark plug’s seat so when I put the new ones in, they won’t be all yucky.

Step 3: Inspect the old spark plugs.

Fourth, prepare the new spark plugs. Make sure they are gapped according to your motorcycle’s specs; mine is 0.8mm. Use a little bit of anti-seize and rub it on the threads of the plugs. This will help to keep the plugs from getting stuck in there after you ride around with the heat of the engine and all that pressure. See the slightly shiny, coppery gloss on the threads? That’s the anti-seize. It’s not particularly great on skin, so extra hand washing doesn’t hurt.

Step 4: Spark plug w/anti-seize.

Next, insert the new spark plugs into their proper spots and torque according to the torque specs for your motorcycle!

Nice shiny new spark plug, ready to go into the engine!

My handy-dandy torque wrench.

This part is SO IMPORTANT. If you over-torque your spark plugs they may get stuck. If you under-torque them, they won’t be properly seated and you might not be able to get the bike to start and run properly, or if they’re really loose they might eventually jiggle out while you’re on the road. I’m pretty sure we can all agree that would suck. For my bike (a 2006 Victory Kingpin) it requires 11 Newton-meters of torque, or 8 ft-lbs. Not very much! With most torque wrenches, you just set your specs and lock them in, and then torque ’em down until you feel the release or hear the distinct “click” indicating that the spec has been reached. Unless you’re wicked good at mechanics, don’t try to guess these things and use a regular ratchet. Invest in a decent torque wrench.

Last but not least, replace the spark plug caps over the terminals of the new spark plugs. Make sure they are firmly seated so no water can get in!

Last step! Replace the caps on the spark plugs.

Ta-daaaaa! Spark plugs replaced. Hopefully my foggy, tired brain hasn’t left out any important steps…but if I did, tell me in the comments so I can fix it!

Happy maintaining & safe riding,
Sumiko

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