Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to replace the spark plugs on 2000 3.0L Dodge Caravan


   A drop off in gas mileage is a sign that the spark plugs may need replacement. This is not a difficult job on most vehicles but can be a challenge on some, including the Dodge Caravan. On this engine it is an excellent idea to use Iridium spark plugs, which last 100,000 miles.

 Tools: Spark plug socket, spark plug gap tool, 3 inch socket extensions, 3/8 and ½” drive ratchets, offset needle nose pliers, channel-lock pliers.
 Materials: Spark plugs, motor oil
 Cost of materials: $1.79 each for 6 plugs
 Shop cost for the job: $20- 40. $30 on average
 Time to complete: several hours on this van. Many cars can be done in well under an hour.

                                Replacing spark plugs on a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.0 L
    Drive the van up on ramps. One plug on the rear cylinder is very difficult to reach from the top of the engine.
Front cylinder
1) Pull off the plug wires. Often the wire, from heat and time, is stuck to the plug. Use a channel lock pliers in a rocking motion to break the wire seal on the plug. Then leverage the pliers against the valve cover to pull them off. Mark at least two of the wires to be certain of proper re-position.
Use a rocking motion with channel locks and use leverage against the valve cover to pull off the wire
2) Remove plugs. On the far left (passenger) side, a 3-inch socket extension along with a 3/8 to ½ inch adapter and a ½” drive ratchet worked well. On the middle plug, the dipstick and cooling fan intrude and a 3 inch extension and a 3/8” ratchet works well. On the right plug, a 3/8” ratchet and a short cheater bar did the trick.    
3) Gap the new plugs. The gap is 1.1 mm. The Champion plugs I used were close but needed adjustment. Use the gap tool spreader to open the gap wider than desired. Then with the ground end down on a workbench, slip the gap tool between the electrode and the ground and push down on the plug.


4) Install the plugs. Put a drop of motor oil on the threads and torque them good and snug, but not too tight. Twenty foot pounds is plenty. You might be the one removing these again.
Rear Cylinder  (this is not fun)
     The left rear spark plug is under the alternator and behind a bracket. It is very difficult to reach from above and only a bit better from underneath. The middle and right one can be replaced from above, though the ergonomics are awful. Now you see why we have the van on ramps.
1) Starting on the right (driver's side) rear, there'e room to reach an arm down in there from above and get a channel lock pliers on the wire, twist it a bit and pull it out. I recommend using a wrist support to prevent an injury from poor ergonomics here. I injured mine doing just such a job some years ago. Mark it and do the middle one the same way. The plugs will come out from above with the same tools used on the front cylinder.
2) Now for the far left (passenger side) plug. From underneath I got a channel lock pliers around the thick part of the plug wire by going in from the left over the exhaust pipe and getting on it. I couldn't get it off from underneath, so I left the pliers in place and wrenched it free from the top.

The passenger side plug is behind a bracket and accessible (barely) from underneath

3) To remove the plug itself, I got the spark plug socket on the plug from the top; but I have long arms. If you try it this way, put a towel over the wiring and components to protect your arm. I got on the plug from above with the spark plug socket followed by a a ½ to 3/8” socket reducer and a ½” drive socket. The total length of the tools is 4 ½ inches.  I turned it and turned it but still did not have the plug out. I had to work from underneath to finish the removal, just squeezing my arm through a narrow gap to the right (passenger) side of the exhaust pipe. I added a 2 inch extension, got it on the spark plug socket and it turned out.

4) Re installation. From underneath I was able to get my 4 1/2 inch tool up in there to mount the plug. Put the plug in the socket and attach the 3/8 to ½ adapter. Turn the plug in as far as possible with by hand, Take frequent breaks when you arms get tired. Now seat the plug. I had to use both arms, one snaked in on either side of the exhaust. Tighten it up.
     We're not done yet, oh no. The socket usually sticks to the plug owing to the rubber holder inside. I finally got the socket out from the bottom with the offset needle nose pliers. The plug wires were nothing really. Do them from under the vehicle. The tough one was a bit harder but I was able to seat it with the help of a channel lock pliers.
Note for future reference: If the alternator ever has to come out, for any reason at all, change that left rear plug at that time. It also might be smart to put high end iridium plugs in there. They have 3 times the life of standard copper. I thought of that too late.

  Iridium plugs

Here is a video:

1 comment:

  1. Spark plugs are the vital part of our vehicle, it helps to pass the electric current from an ignition system to the combustion chamber. We should keep our spark plug clean and effective so that we can easily skip starting errors in our vehicle. Here from this article, we learn some basic tips on how to replace spark plugs in a Dodge Caravan. Thanks for sharing such wonderful instructions.
    Mercedes Maintenance San Francisco, CA