Chevy Uplander Spark Plug Procedures

by WadeH

Chevrolet's Uplander uses one spark plug per cylinder. What people don't realize is that, regardless of brand, emissions control equipment blows smoke back into the engine. This design was mandated to protect air quality. The result is that you have a sensitive machine that coughs and gasps when anything is the least bit out of sync, including spark plugs. That's why you must replace the plugs on a regular basis.

Preliminary Steps

Disconnect your battery by removing the ground connection. That's a safety step because modern distributors deliver significant electrical current at high voltage to the spark plugs. High voltage can kill you, so disconnect the battery first. Make sure the motor is clean because removing the spark plug exposes a hole into the motor.

Finding the Spark Plug

For the novice, this can be an issue. The Resources link to GM's 3800 V-6 engine shows a picture of a Chevy engine with the same number of cylinders as an Uplander. Notice the three rubber wires under the yellow oil stick handle. Those wires are three spark plug wires, and the other three are on the opposite side of the motor.

Removing the plugs

Pull the "boot" or end of the spark plug wire gently from the top of the spark plug. Gently nestle your socket over the top of the spark plug. When you're sure it's on properly, remove the plug by turning it counter-clockwise.

Differing philosophies

Some experts take the "preventive maintenance is best" approach, which means they are under the hood constantly. Additionally, there's the issue of replacing inexpensive parts versus adjusting them. Replacement saves time, but adjustment saves money in the short run, as long as it doesn't damage your motor. Replacing your plugs, to make sure your engine burns as cleanly as possible, seems marginally better for the environment. On the other hand, there is also the philosophy, "If it isn't broken why fix it?"

Check the spark plug

It may be that the spark plugs are undergoing normal wear and you can just adjust the plugs and continue to use them. You can buy special feeler gauges at auto supply stores to check your plugs for the proper gap between their electrodes. The same tools generally include a small wrench that can be used to bend the upper electrode in order to adjust the gap. Refer to your repair manual for the proper gap size. You may find that the spark plug gap needs no adjustment. In that case, just clean it and re-install it, as long as the plug shows no signs of burning, fouling or wear.

Re-installing or replacing the spark plug

Gently put the spark plug in the hole by hand and turn it slowly so that you don't strip the motor thread--a novice's mistake. Avoid engine damage and don't strip the thread. Re-install each spark plug or replace it after removal. Reconnect your battery when finished.

About the Author

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera car engine image by itsallgood from