How to Change Spark Plugs on Toyota Cars

by Contributing Writer

The spark plugs on the Toyota car motor are designed to supply the spark needed to the combustion chamber during the combustion process. The spark ignites the gas fumes and causes the combustion which in return causes the piston to move up and down. When the engine is running, the coil sends the electrical current to the spark plugs that causes the plugs to spark. Over time the spark plus will begin to corrode around the spark base causing the plugs to misfire. Once this happens, change the spark plugs out immediately for maximum engine performance.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change Spark Plugs on a 2001 Toyota Rav4

Check the gap at the base of the new spark plugs with a spark plug gap tool. If the gap on any plug is not between 0.039 and 0.043, exchange the plug for a new one. Do not attempt to adjust the gap on the plugs.

Open the two latches on the passenger's side of the air-filter box. Pull the front half of the air box toward the front of the engine and push it to the side. Remove the air filter from inside the air-filter box. This allows you access to the ignition coil packs.

Unplug the wiring harness from the top of one coil pack. Remove the bolt securing the coil pack with a ratchet and socket, and pull the coil up from the engine.

Remove the spark plug using a ratchet, 6-inch extension and a spark plug socket.

Hand-tighten the new spark plug into the RAV4's engine and torque it to 14 foot-pounds with a torque wrench, 6-inch extension and a spark plug socket.

Squeeze a small amount of dielectric grease into the rubber boot at the bottom of the ignition coil pack. Push the coil pack onto the new spark plug until it clicks into place. Tighten the coil pack bolt to 6 to 7 foot-pounds with a torque wrench, 6-inch extension and a spark plug socket. Reconnect the wiring harness on the top of the coil pack.

Replace all four spark plugs, by repeating Steps 4 through 7 on all four plugs.

Sit the air filter back into the air-filter box. Reinstall the front half of the air-filter box and close the latches to lock it in place.

Items you will need

  • Spark plug gap tool

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • 6-inch extension

  • Spark plug socket

  • Dielectric grease

  • Torque wrench

 How to Change Spark Plugs in a Toyota 4.7 Liter Engine

Remove the wiring harness connector on each of the coils by pressing in on the plastic tabs and pulling the plug off the coil. Working with one coil and one spark plug at a time, unbolt the coil and pull it off the engine.

Remove the spark plug using the 16-mm spark plug socket. Insert a spark plug into the spark plug hole and start turning it by hand. After four or five turns, use the socket to tighten it firmly, but no more than 13 ft.-lbs. of torque. Do not overtighten the plug, as you could crack the porcelain.

Replace the coil, tightening the bolts firmly. Plug the wiring harness connector in. Repeat the process for all eight plugs.

Items you will need

  • Set of sockets

  • 16-mm spark plug socket

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Toyota Highlander

Pull the hood release and raise the hood on the Highlander. Allow the engine plenty of time to cool.

Remove some components to reach the spark plugs. On a 3.3 liter engine, unscrew and remove the V-bank cover and intake air tank. On a 2.4 and 3.0 liter engine, remove the number one engine cover.

Locate the ignition coils and spark plug wires that connect directly to the spark plugs or directly to the engine in the Toyota Highlander. In 2001 and 2002 models, theses are on the front and back of the engine. On models made after 2002, the spark plugs are along the sides. Grab the ignition coils or spark plug wires by the thick plastic piece at the end of the wire. Squeeze the end and turn it to release it from the spark plug. Pull back to remove the plug from the engine.

Slide the spark plug socket over the spark plug. The most common size of spark plug socket used on a Toyota Highlander is 16mm. Turn the socket to the left to unscrew and remove the spark plug from the cylinder well.

Apply a thin coat of anti-seize compound to the spark plug thread and into the wire boot to reduce the chance of sticking.

Insert the spark plug into the well and manually turn the plug into place. If you cannot reach the plug well manually, insert the plug into the socket and extension and use the extension to turn the plug into place. Do not use a socket wrench or flexible extension for this process because their force damages the spark plug.

Connect the ignition coil or spark plug wire to the spark plug. Turn to lock it into place.

Continue this process for the rest of the spark plugs. Replace any removed items onto the engine and lower the hood.

Items you will need

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extension

  • Anti-seize compound

  • New spark plugs

  • Tension tester tool

 How to Replace Spark Plugs on a 1997 Toyota 4Runner

Pop the hood. Unbolt one of the ignition coils from the valve cover of the engine using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket. Grip the ignition coil at the base and lift it up towards the hood while twisting your wrist at the same time.

Remove the spark plug from the engine using the 3/8-inch ratchet, extension and a spark plug socket. Then discard the old spark plug. Set the gap to .044 on the replacement spark plugs using the spark plug-gapping tool.

Install the spark plug into the engine using the 3/8-inch ratchet, extension and spark plug socket. Push the ignition coil onto the spark plug until it clicks in place. Then bolt the ignition coil to the valve cover using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket.

Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the remaining spark plugs on the engine.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch ratchet, extension and socket set

  • Spark plug socket

  • Spark plug gapping tool

  • Replacement spark plugs

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Toyota Corolla

Allow the Corolla model's engine to cool. Locate the spark plug wires that run along the sides of the engine. Some rotary engines are shaped like a triangle while others are oblong.

Remove one spark plug wire at a time. Grab the wire at its boot and twist it 180 degrees in both directions to loosen the wire. Pull back on the wire to remove it.

Slide the socket over the spark plug and use the wrench to unscrew and remove the plug. Discard the old spark plug.

Apply a fine coat of anti-seize lubricant over the threads of the new spark plug and inside the boot of the wire. The lubricant makes future spark plug inspection and replacement easier.

Thread the spark plug into the cylinder well. Manually turn the plug into place. Test the spark plug's tension.

Adjust the tension to the specifications indicated on the spark plug's packaging. Normally this is between 10 and 15 foot pounds.

Connect the spark plug wire and then repeat the entire process with the other plugs. If you cannot reach the plugs, rotate the engine to gain access to the other wires.

Items you will need

  • Sockets including a spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench

  • Anti-seize lubricant

  • New spark plugs

  • Tension tester

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Toyota Camry

Removing the Spark Plugs

Unhook the negative battery cable whenever working with metal tools that could come in contact with the battery and cause a spark.

Remove the ignition coil from the Camry's cylinder head with a torque wrench.

Twist the spark plug wire boot loose, and then pull it off the plug. Inspect the boot for damage and replace it if necessary.

Blow into the spark plug well with compressed air to remove harmful contaminants. Alternatively, vacuum out the well or brush away debris with a clean towel.

Grab the recessed plug with a spark plug socket and turn counterclockwise to remove it. A spark plug socket has a special rubber fitting that grabs the plug.

Installing the Spark Plugs

Adjust the gap on the replacement plug with a feeler gauge. The gap on a Camry should be .043 inches.

Thread the plug by hand or use a standard socket. If you try to use a spark plug socket, it will grip the spark plug and you won't be able to get the socket out. If it's not threading smoothly, use a thread chaser to clean the threads in a cylinder head.

Tighten the spark plugs to 11 ft-lbs. if installed into the existing cylinder head. On a a new cylinder head, tighten to 15 ft-lbs.

Push the spark plug boot on the plug until it clicks into place. Pull on it gently to make sure it's securely in place.

Repeat all steps for the other spark plugs. Use an extension on the spark plug socket to reach the back spark plugs on the V6.

Reconnect the negative battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Replacement spark plugs

  • Compressed air

  • Feeler gauge

  • Thread chaser

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket extensions

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Toyota Tacoma

Turn the engine off and allow it to cool. Never work on a Toyota Tacoma engine while it is still warm. Locate the spark plug cover on the engine. On some Toyota Tacoma engines, the cover is across the top of the engine. On others, it is along the side. Remove the cover to reveal the ignition coils and spark plugs wires. The spark plug wires are plugged directly into the engine and the ignition coils are in the tip of the spark plug wire.

Remove the coil and wire from the spark plug. Twist and pull the plug out of the engine. Remove the spark plug from the cylinder well with a socket extender and socket wrench. Turn the wrench to the left to unscrew the spark plug from the engine.

Discard the old spark plug and apply a coat of anti-seize compound to the threads of the new spark plug.

Insert the new spark plug into the socket. Use the socket and extension to screw the spark plug into place.

Test the spark plug's tension with the tension testing tool. The spark plug tension may range between 11 and 15 foot pounds, depending on the size of the spark plug. The correct tension is indicated on the spark plug's packaging.

Return the ignition coils and spark plug wires to the engine and turn it to lock the plug in place. Repeat the entire the process with the remaining spark plugs.

Replace the spark plug cover when all of the spark plugs are replaced.

Items you will need

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extension

  • Anti-seize compound

  • New spark plug

  • Tension tester

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Toyota Tundra

Find the spark plug wire or ignition coils on the engine. Once the engine cools for 30 minutes, remove the oil or spark plug wire.

Grab the ignition coil from the top and squeeze your fingers together to unlock the coil. Turn the wire by the boot and pull back to remove the wire.

Insert the socket with extension into the cylinder well and attach it to the spark plug. Connect the socket wrench and turn it to the left to unscrew the spark plug. Pull the old spark plug out of the well with the socket wrench. Some Tundra engines have their spark plugs deep in the engine block. The socket extension is vital to pull the plug out.

Spray the canned air into the well and wire boot or coil to remove any debris.

Lubricate the wire boot and spark plug thread with the silicon spray. Lower the spark plug into the well with the socket and extension. Do not use the wrench.

Tighten the spark plug into the well with the extension and socket. If the spark plug has a crush washer, turn the spark plug 90 degrees with the wrench after it is tight in the well. For a tapered spark plug use a tension tester to check and set the correct tension for the spark plug. The required tension is stated on the spark plug packaging.

Replace the ignition coil or spark plug wire on the spark plug and lock into place by turning them side to side.

Repeat Steps 2 through 7 for the remaining spark plugs.

Items you will need

  • 3/8 or 16mm spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extension

  • Canned air

  • Silicon spray

  • New spark plug

  • Tension tester

 How to Replace the Spark Plugs in a Toyota Avalon

Open the Avalon's hood and allow the engine to cool completely. Follow the wire on the top of the distributor cap to the side of the engine and spark plugs.

Pull the rubber wire off of one spark plug. Remove the plug with the ratchet and socket.

Place the gapping tool between the pin and the arm at the top of the plug. Turn the gap tool until the number .034 is in the center of the gap tool. Insert the plug into the engine and tighten it. Replace the wire to the new plug. Repeat for all the other plugs.

Items you will need

  • Ratchet

  • Spark plug socket

  • Spark plug gapper

 How to Replace the Spark Plugs in a 2000 Toyota Corolla

Open the hood of the car. Remove the engine cover from the top of the engine. The cover has retaining bolts on each side that can be removed with a socket wrench.

Disconnect the electrical connections to each individual ignition coil over the spark plugs. Pry outward on the tab with a small standard screwdriver located on the electrical connector to release the connection from the coil. Remove the mounting bolt with a socket wrench holding each ignition coil over the spark plug. Label each ignition coil as you remove them or work on removing and installing one ignition coil and spark plug at a time.

Remove each spark plug with a socket wrench and spark plug socket.

Apply anti-seize compound to each spark plug, coating the threads with a thin coat.

Install the spark plugs in the cylinder head. Finger-tighten the bolts before tightening them with a torque wrench and spark plug socket. Tighten the spark plugs to 156 inch-pounds.

Cover each plug with the corresponding ignition coil. Tighten each mounting bolt with a socket wrench. Connect the electrical connections to each ignition coil by hand.

Place the engine cover over the top of the engine block and install the retaining bolts with a socket wrench.

Items you will need

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket set

  • Small standard screwdriver

  • Torque wrench

  • Anti-seize compound

 How to Replace the Spark Plugs in a 2001 Toyota Tacoma

Open the hood and locate the row of spark plugs on the driver side and passenger side of the engine. The 2001 Toyota Tacoma comes with basic spark plug wires on the driver side of the engine and ignition coil plugs on the passenger side of the engine. Start replacing the spark plugs on the driver side of the engine.

Pull the first spark plug wire off of the driver side spark plug closest to the front of the vehicle. Insert the deep-well socket and the six-inch extension onto the spark plug. Lock the ratchet onto the extension and turn the ratchet counter clockwise to loosen the spark plug. Remove the ratchet and finish unscrewing the plug with your fingers. Pull the spark plug out of the hole and discard it.

Screw the new spark plug into the hole with your hand until it stops turning. Continue to tighten the spark plug another half-turn with the ratchet, extension and socket to properly tighten the plug. Push the spark plug wire over the new spark plug until it locks on to the end of the plug. Move to the other driver side spark plugs and repeat the same process for replacing the plugs one plug at a time.

Move to the passenger side of the engine and unscrew the top of the ignition coil wire from the first spark plug closest to the front of the vehicle with your hand. Pull the wire off of the spark plug and insert the spark plug socket, extension and ratchet onto the plug. Turn the ratchet counter clockwise to loosen the plug. Remove the ratchet from the plug and finish unscrewing the plug with your hand. Pull the plug out of the hole and discard it.

Screw the new spark plug into the hole until it stops turning. Finish tightening the plug by turning the plug another half-turn with the ratchet, extension and socket. Push the ignition coil wire back onto the top of the spark plug wire and screw the top of the coil wire onto the spark plug clockwise until the end of the coil wire is tightened to the top of the spark plug. Move to the other passenger side spark plugs and repeat the same process for replacing the spark plugs one plug at a time.

Inspect all of the plugs and plug wires to ensure that all of the plug wires are securely attached to each spark plug. Crank the vehicle for about thirty seconds to test the operation of the new spark plugs. The engine should be running smoothly with the new spark plugs in place.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2-inch drive 6-inch extension

  • 1/2-inch drive deep-well spark plug socket