How to Fix a Spark Plug Wire Mix Up

by WadeH
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spark image by Zbigniew Nowak from

Your car coughs and jerks down the road after an amateur spark plug change--chances are you mixed up the spark plug wires. The "firing order" of the spark plugs refers to the order in which the distributor sends electricity to the spark plug. If the spark plug works, it sparks when it receives electricity. For a 4-cylinder car, the firing order is 1-2-3-4. For an 8-cylinder vehicle, the firing order is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Of course, firing order depends on how you number the plugs. You probably just crossed a couple of wires.

Step 1

Find the firing order information. Look in a Haynes or Chilton manual or call the dealer or an auto parts store. Find the diagram that shows the firing order of the plugs and how they connect to the distributor.

Step 2

Disconnect the battery.

Step 3

Refer to the diagram and disconnect the mixed up spark plug wires.

Step 4

Reconnect the spark plug wires to their corresponding spark plugs. Trace the spark plug wire from the distributor to the correct spark plug. Ensure that both ends are tightly connected.

Step 5

Connect the battery and start the engine.

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