How to Change the Spark Plugs on Nissan Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Nissan car is a luxury sedan with a lot of horsepower. Proper maintenance on your Nissan car is essential for the vehicle to remain at an optimal performance level. As with any vehicle, the spark plugs on a Nissan car should be changed periodically, every couple of years or so, to ensure that the engine responds efficiently. Changing the spark plugs on a Nissan car is just like changing spark plugs in many other makes and models of vehicles, and can be done with little difficulty.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Spark Plugs on a 1997 Nissan Maxima

Accessing the Spark Plugs

Unhook the ground cable from the negative battery post by loosening the retaining bolt with a socket then pulling the clamp off the post.

Check the gap on the new spark plugs using a feeler gauge. It should measure 0.043 inch. Adjust if necessary.

Remove the four screws that secure the coil cover to the cylinder head using a Phillips head screwdriver. Then pull the coil cover off the head.

Replacing the Spark Plugs

Disconnect the electrical connector from the first coil (located near the oil drain fill plug) by pulling it off by hand.

Remove the two screws that secure the coil to the head using a Phillips head screwdriver. Lift the coil away from the head.

Remove the old spark plug from the head using a spark plug socket and extension. Remove the spark plug from the Maxima.

Apply a thin coat of anti-seize compound to the threads on the new spark plug.

Install the new spark plug into the head using a spark plug socket and extension.

Insert the coil onto the new spark plug. Reinstall the two screws that secure it using a Phillips head screwdriver.

Press the electrical connector onto the coil by hand.

Repeat this process to replace the other spark plugs on the engine.

Reinstalling the Coil Cover

Set the coil cover in place over the cylinder. Reinstall the four screws that secure the cover to the cylinder head.

Slide the ground cable onto the negative battery post. Tighten the retaining bolt with a socket.

Run the engine to test the spark plugs.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Replacement spark plugs

  • Feeler gauge

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Spark plug socket

  • Anti-seize compound

 How Do I Change Spark Plugs in a 2005 Nissan Maxima?

Remove the engine block cover. This is a plastic cover that can be removed by unscrewing four bolts located on top of the cover. Disconnect the battery as well.

Locate the distributor cap wiring that connects to the spark plugs. The spark plugs are seated in recessed cylinders on the engine block, connected to the six wires. The wires protrude outward from the engine block.

Twist and remove all the wires connected to the spark plugs. Twist the wires counterclockwise then pull them out of the cylinders.

Use a spark plug removal wrench to remove the spark plugs. Insert the hex-shaped tool into the cylinder then twist counterclockwise to loosen and remove the spark plugs.

Insert the new spark plugs into the cylinder by placing them on the end of the spark plug wrench then inserting them. Twist clockwise to tighten the spark plugs into position. Do not overtighten the plugs.

Replace the distributor cap wires on the spark plugs by pushing them on and twisting clockwise. Replace the engine block cover then reconnect the battery.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Spark plug wrench

 How to Replace Spark Plugs on a Murano

Pop the hood and locate the valve covers on the sides of the engine. Lift off the engine cover to expose the ignition coils that run across the middle of the hood.

Unbolt the ignition coil that's closest to you using a 3/8-inch ratchet and socket, then pull the ignition coil off of the head by pulling with a slight twisting motion. Install the spark plug socket onto the ratchet and extension, then remove the spark plug from the head.

Use the spark plug gapping tool to ensure that the gap between the end of the spark plug and the electrode is to the specifications that the Nissan recommends in the manufacturer's handbook included with the vehicle. Then install the spark plug into the socket, using the 3/8-inch ratchet, extension and spark plug socket.

Push the ignition coil into the spark plug socket until it makes a popping sound, then bolt the ignition coil back onto the head.

Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each spark plug in the line, working one at a time so the wiring doesn't get confused.

Items you will need

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

  • Spark plug socket

  • Replacement spark plugs

  • Spark plug gapping tool

 How to Replace the Spark Plugs on a 2005 Altima 3.5 SE

Locate the engine compartment and raise the hood. Secure the hood with the prop-rod.

Locate the battery in the engine compartment.

Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery terminal.

Remove the engine cover. Be careful not to damage the engine cover.

Locate the ignition coil packs. There are six ignition coil packs on the 3.5 engine, one for each spark plug. They can be located on the top of the spark plug and spark plug boot.

Locate the wiring harness connector that is connected to each ignition coil pack.

Pry upward with a flat head screwdriver on the connector tab to release the wiring harness.

Pull outward on the wiring harness connector by hand until the wiring harness is removed.

Remove the ignition coil pack bolt with a socket and socket-wrench by turning the bolt counterclockwise.

Remove the ignition coil pack and spark-plug boot by pulling upward until it releases.

Remove the spark plug by placing a spark-plug socket down on the spark plug and turning counterclockwise with a socket wrench until removed. Be careful not to damage the ceramic spark-plug insulator.

Place the new spark plug down into the spark plug compartment and turn clockwise by hand until the spark plug is hand tightened.

Turn the spark-plug clockwise with the spark-plug socket and wrench until the manufactures recommended torque is reached. Be careful not to damage the spark-plug ceramic insulator during this procedure.

Place the ignition coil pack and spark-plug boot assembly on top of the new spark plug and push downward by hand until you hear a snap.

Insert the ignition coil pack bolt into the ignition coil pack and turn clockwise with a socket and socket wrench until the manufactures recommended torque is reached.

Push the wiring harness connector onto the ignition coil pack by hand until you hear the connector tab snap.

Install the engine cover.

Connect the negative battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • Spark-plug socket

  • Socket wrench

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Spark Plugs on a 2002 Nissan Altima 3.5

Remove the engine cover. This is a large, plastic cover that protects the engine components from dust and debris. There are a few plastic locking nuts that hold the cover in place. Turn them counterclockwise and remove the cover.

Remove the ignition coils one at a time. The ignition coils are located on top of each spark plug. Unplug the wiring harness from the back of the ignition coil and then un-bolt the ignition coil from the spark plug with a 10 mm socket.

Remove the spark plug from the engine block. Using the 16 mm spark plug socket, carefully remove the spark plug from the engine block. Remove and change only one spark plug at a time.

Replace the spark plug. Using the 16 mm spark plug socket, install the new spark plug into the engine block. Replace the ignition coil with a 10 mm socket and replace the plastic engine cover.

Repeat the preceding steps for the other spark plugs.

Items you will need

  • 10 mm socket

  • 16 mm spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench

  • Spark plugs

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Nissan Sentra

Release the hood and allow the engine to cool.

Remove one of the spark plug wires. Grab the wire by the boot at the end of the wire and twist the wire slightly until the wire pops off the plug. Pull the wire off the plug. If you have a CA16DE or CA18DE engine, unscrew the eight screws holding the cover to the engine. This cover is located across the back of the engine, below the intake manifold.

Place the socket on the extender and the extender on the wrench. Slide the socket over the spark plug and twist it counter-clockwise to loosen the plug. Remove the socket and pull the plug out of the well. Some Sentra models have deep spark plug wells that require you to pull the plug out with the socket.

Clean the spark plug well and wire boot with a wire brush.

Apply a light coat of silicone dielectric compound to the threads of the new spark plug and to the inside of the boot.

Insert the plug into the well and tighten the spark plug by hand. Turn the plug 1/4 turn with the socket. Tighten any tapered plugs between 14 and 22 foot pounds.

Replace the spark plug wire, if used. Turn the wire until it clicks in place.

Repeat Steps 2 through 7 for the rest of the spark plugs. Do not remove all the wires at once. If wires are placed on the wrong plug, engine damage may occur. Replace the cover for a CA16DE or CA18DE engine and screw it back into place.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extender

  • Wire brush

  • Silicone dielectric compound

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Nissan Pathfinder

Allow the Pathfinder engine to cool completely. Do not work on a warm engine, especially if it is made of aluminum.

Gain access to the spark plug wires. For a 3.5 L engine, remove the engine cover and take off the air duct with air cleaner assembly. Disconnect the harness connectors and harness brackets around the ignition coil. Remove the electric throttle control actuator and disconnect ignition the coil harness connectors. Once these are disconnected, unscrew ignition coil bolts and remove the coil. On a 4.0 L engine, simply remove the ignition coil.

Grasp the boot of one spark plug wire. Twist it gently from right to left and pull it outward.

Unscrew and remove the old Pathfinder spark plug. Remove and replace each wire before moving on to the next wire.

Apply anti-seize lubricant to the threads of the spark plug and the wire boot. Insert the spark plug into the cylinder well and tighten it in place by hand.

Use a tension tester tool to find the exact tension of the spark plug. Adjust the tension to the specifications of the spark plug manufacturer, which is located on the spark plug's packaging.

Reconnect the wire and turn it until you hear it click and lock into place.

Repeat Steps 3 through 7 with the remainder of the spark plugs.

Replace all the items that were removed in Step 2 for access to the spark plugs. Start with the last thing removed and work your way back to the first thing removed.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Metric socket set with 16 mm spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extension

  • Anti-seize lubricant

  • New spark plugs

  • Tension tester tool

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Nissan Altima

Park the car and allow the engine to cool. Pop the hood and locate the spark plugs. They sit along the sides of the engine. The number of cylinders a vehicle has is equal to its number of spark plugs.

Wrap a small piece of masking tape around each spark plug wire and number the wire to help match the spark plug back to its original spot. Grab the spark plug wire by the cap, or boot, that covers the spark plug. Twist the wire and pull back to remove it from the spark plug.

Place the socket over the spark plug and unscrew the plug from the cylinder well. Some models require an extension to reach the spark plug.

Apply a coat of silicon spray around the threads of the new spark plug. Spray a tiny bit into the boot of the wire as well.

Thread the new spark plug into the well by hand. If you can't reach the spark plug, use the socket and extension with the wrench to remove it.

Loosen and tighten the plug to adjust the torque of the spark plug. Use the torque or tension tester to check the amount of torque. Normally, an Altima spark plug requires between 14 and 22 foot pounds. The proper torque is listed on the spark plug's packaging.

Place the wires on the new spark plugs and gently turn then to lock the plugs back in place.

Items you will need

  • Masking tape

  • Marker

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extension

  • Silicon spray

  • New spark plug

  • Torque or tension tester

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a 2000 Nissan Xterra

Inspect the new spark plugs to ensure that the porcelain insulators are free from cracks.

Place the correct side of the feeler gauge into the gap at the end of each plug. Move the gauge in and out a few times to create the proper gap. If the gap is too wide, gently bend the metal tip inward towards the electrode, and re-insert the gauge to check. The correct gap for single platinum tip plugs is 0.039 in., and the gap for double-platinum tip plugs is 0.043 in.

Follow one of the spark plug wires to the space where it enters the engine. There you will see a rubber boot that slips over the end of the spark plug. Grasp the boot and pull it straight off the plug, but do not pull on the wire itself.

Place the spark-plug socket over the plug and turn it counterclockwise to unscrew it from the socket. If it is too hard to loosen, gently tap the wrench to free it. Do not use excessive force to remove the plug, which can cause the plug to break off in the cylinder, leading to costly repairs.

Insert the new plug into the socket and gently tighten it. To avoid cross-threading the plug, slip a piece of 1/4-in. rubber hose to start threading the plug. Slip the hose over the end of the plug and use it to turn the plug. Once the plug is seated in the threads, you can continue with the socket wrench. Use a torque wrench to tighten the plug to 15 ft-lbs. of torque.

Place the boot over the newly installed plug and use a twisting motion to seat it. Mark the wire with a small piece of tape to indicate that you have changed it.

Continue in this manner until you have changed the remaining 3 or 5 plugs (depending on engine type.) Remove the tape from the wires when finished.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Spark plug socket

  • Spark plug feeler gauge

  • 6 in. piece of 1/4-inch rubber tubing

  • Torque wrench

  • Tape