How to Change the Spark Plugs on Saturn Cars

by Contributing Writer

Spark plugs ignite the fuel within the cylinder of internal combustion engines. The Saturn car has four spark plugs, one for each cylinder. Unlike other vehicles, however, the Saturn car uses a coil-on-plug setup instead of spark plug wires, where each spark plug has a separate ignition coil that amps up the battery voltage to the necessary power required to fire the spark plug. You can replace the spark plugs in your Saturn car with a few tools in about half an hour.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Spark Plugs on a 2004 Saturn Ion

Park the Saturn Ion on a flat level surface and shut off the engine.

Wear a pair of safety glasses and disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery with a wrench. Move it aside so there is no chance it can contact the battery terminal while you work.

Locate the black plastic centerpiece with the words "Ecotec" on the center of the engine head. This is the ignition module.

Remove all six bolts around the outer edges of the ignition module using a ratchet.

Pull the ignition module directly up to remove it from the engine. The spark plug boots connect to the bottom of the ignition module and extend into the four spark plug recesses beneath the ignition module. Set the ignition module aside.

Insert a spark plug socket, connected to a six inch socket wrench extension and ratchet, into the left spark plug recess. Turn counterclockwise to unscrew the spark plug Remove and discard the old spark plug.

Adjust the gap of the new spark plugs to 1.0 mm using a spark plug gap tool.

Apply dielectric grease generously to the terminal end of the spark plug and insert it into the spark plug socket.

Insert the spark plug into the spark plug recess using the spark plug socket and turn clockwise. Ensure the spark plug turns smoothly at first; if not pull the spark plug out, realign and insert back into the engine.

Connect a torque wrench to the socket and extension assembly and tighten the spark plug to 15 foot pounds of torque.

Repeat on each of the other three spark plugs (four total). Reconnect the ignition module, following the removal procedure in reverse.

Items you will need

  • Safety glasses

  • Wrench set

  • Ratchet

  • 6 inch ratchet extension

  • Spark plug socket

  • 4 Replacement spark plugs

  • Spark plug gap tool

  • Dielectric grease

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Spark Plugs in a Saturn L-Series

Grab one of the spark plug wires on top of the engine at the end of the wire. There's a small cap that seals tightly to the engine's valve cover. Wiggle the cap back and forth and pull up on it to remove the plug wire.

Attach the socket extension to the spark plug socket and lower it into the plug well. Orient the socket until it slides down over the end of the spark plug. The inside of the socket is rubberized, so that it will grab onto the end of the spark plug.

Unbolt the spark plug with a socket wrench and pull the plug out of the engine.

Insert the new plug into the well and hand tighten with the spark plug socket and socket extension. Once the first few threads are started, tighten the plug the rest of the way with the socket wrench. The rest of the installation is the reverse of removal.

Items you will need

  • Spark plugs

  • Socket wrench

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket extension

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Saturn Ion

Turn off the engine and allow it to cool. Changing spark plugs in warm aluminum engines causes damage to the cylinders.

Grab the boot of one spark plug wire and twist it to the right and left 180 degrees. Pull up on the boot to remove it. The spark plug wires are located across the top of the engine. Always grab a spark plug wire by the boot so you don't damage the wire. Change each spark plug and return the wire before removing the next wire. If a spark plug wire is placed on the wrong plug, it damages the engine.

Lock the socket, extension and wrench together and drop it into the cylinder well, sliding the socket over the spark plug. Turn the wrench counter clockwise to unscrew the spark plug and pull it out of the well.

Clean the well with canned air to remove any debris. Apply a few drops of anti-seize compound to the threads of the new spark plug to keep it from adhering to the well.

Thread the new spark plug into the well. Use the socket and extension to thread the plug. Do not use the wrench. The force of the wrench may cause the plug to cross-thread or break off in the well.

Tighten the spark plug 90 degrees if the spark plug has a crush washer on it. When installing a tapered spark plug, use a tension tester to check the tension and tighten or loosen according to the information provided by the plug manufacturer.

Place the wire on top of the spark plug and lock it into position on the engine.

Repeat Steps 1 through 7 for the remaining plugs.

Items you will need

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extension

  • Canned air

  • Anti-seize compound

  • New spark plug

  • Tension tester

 How to Replace Spark Plugs in a Saturn VUE

Gain access to the VUE model's spark plugs after the engine is cool. Disconnect the intake air temperature sensor wire and unscrew the air cleaner assembly clamp. Remove the push-pin attachment from the outlet resonator. Loosen the throttle body assembly clamp. Remove the outlet resonator and duct assembly and disconnect the ignition module electrical connector. Unscrew the bolts around the ignition module and lift off the ignition module housing that holds the spark plugs.

Slide the spark plug socket over the old plug. Unscrew and remove the old spark plug from the cylinder well.

Brush out the cylinder well with the wire brush. Be careful not to scrape the cylinder well. Instead, lightly clean the compartment.

Lubricate the threads of the new spark plug with a thin coat of anti-seize lubricant.

Insert the new plug into the cylinder well and screw in place.

Test the tension of the spark plug. It needs to be 15 ft-lbs. Tighten or loosen the spark plug in place until you reach the required 15 ft-lbs.

Repeat Steps 2 through 6 for the remaining spark plugs.

Replace everything that was removed from the VUE in Step 1. Work in reverse when replacing the parts.

Items you will need

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench and extension

  • Wire brush

  • Anti-seize lubricant

  • New spark plugs

  • Tension tester tool