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Spark Plugs and Wires
Ford Windstar
Ford Windstar GL

How do you change 3 rear spark plugs on a Ford Windstar?

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2015-07-15 20:50:54
2015-07-15 20:50:54
What's the gap?

The Owner's Manual says the gap is noted on a decal in the engine compartment.

The gap is also cited in the Owners Manual as .052-.056 (around page #261 for 2001)

Taking the Cowl off is the only way to go...

If you have have large hands or arms there is only one way to get'r done. The three plugs in the front are self explanatory. They are just tight. Three in the back, now that's the whole problem isn't it.

The section that has the wipers on it has to come off. Take the wipers off. They unbolt and pull off. Next the black piece there are plastic screws. unscrew them and pull them out along with the little plastic sleeve they are in. pull off the washer fluid line. Using a small pry bar or clip tool carefully pry this piece off from around the windshield.

Pull this piece off. Next the metal part. This has your wipers bolted to the underneath side. Undo the electrical connection from the the wiper motor. There are several screws holding this piece on. Several on the sides and middle. Remove them all. DO NOT UNBOLT THE WIPER ASSEMBLY. The whole metal piece will come out with the motor attached still. (good time to replace the wiper motor if it is bad)

After this piece is removed you will see two box type things the one in the middle is the cabin filter the other toward the firewall goes inside the vehicle. Remove the one on the firewall to have complete access. Only two nuts holding this on.

Now you should be able to reach the plugs in the back. Replace the spark plug wire at this time also because it is the only way to see the coil that they all attach to. Assemble in reverse. Have fun. I did this just two weeks ago.

See "Related Questions" below for another write-up on removing the cowl

Not too easily. I managed it by removing as much of the clutter (such as air filter assembly, etc.) as I could and just reached around the back of the engine. I have long arms, so this might not work for everyone. It was difficult as well as a major knuckle skinning exercise - when I was finished it looked like I had knitted a sweater with barbed wire. I would classify this job as one that is worth paying someone to do if you can afford it.

I changed my spark plugs on my 1999 Windstar 3.8L , the easiest way I could find was to remove the wipers and the cover in front of the windshield then they're is another one underneath I remove this one as well , took me about 30 minutes to change them and put everything back the way it was .Hope it can help !

On my 95, I raised the car on ramps to change the # 3 plug, the one that is closest to the drivers side then I was able to reach around from above and get the #1 and # 2 plugs.

I pulled loose the wires from the coil for more room to reach behind the engine but didn't have to remove anything else. it is a long reach and my arm was kind of sore from the scrapping it took but I din't get ay broken skin doing it.

I have a 1996 Windstar and I put the front end on jack stands, so I could get underneath. Then from below, you can see the three plugs.

Changed it on my 99 Windstar today and it was not that bad. Raise the van up (preferably on the passenger side) and come from underneath. The one on the passenger side requires you to reach from the side, behind the wheel. The other two require you to reach through an area just above the transmission pan (yes there is enough room there).

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I had this issue the other day. I evaluated the situation "too" much as usual, but was happy with my choice. Coming from the top by removing the panels on the cowl area was not that hard and there was adequate access to the plugs. Also you do not have to jack-up or crawl and work under the van (biggest bonus!).

The front ones are pretty obvious and straight forward. It's the back 3 of course that are the 'pain'...

Because I have long arms, I was able to reach around the backside and more or less do the plugs by feel.

Many others here have suggested coming in from underneath the vehicle to get at the back 3. If I hadn't already done mine, I would try it for sure!

There are 6 plugs. Three will be on the front of the engine and three toward the rear of the engine. (If you are standing at the frnt of the van) Look between the radiator and the engine block. It is a ways down. You will see three plug wires. One for each plug. The rear plugs will be in the same place except in the rear part of the engine.

You need to raise the vehicle, then access the plugs from beneath, working around the exhaust. Not an easy task, but can be done. Or, you can take it to a reputable mechanic, and have them do the job.

General instructions for replacing spark plug wires

To Remove:

  1. Label each spark plug wire and make a note of its routing.
  2. Starting with the longest wire, disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug and then from the coil pack.
  3. Disconnect the ignition wire from the coil pack by squeezing the locking tabs and twisting while pulling upward.

To install:

  1. If replacing the spark plug wires, match the old wire with an appropriately sized wire in the new set.
  2. Lubricate the boots and terminals with dielectric grease and install the wire on the coil pack. Make sure the wire snaps into place.
  3. Route the wire in the exact path as the original and connect the wire to the spark plug.
  4. Repeat the process for each remaining wire, working from the longest wire to the shortest.

I understand that one can lift the vehicle on ramps, crawl underneath and gain access to the spark plugs, you might have to feel for the plugs use your rachet to loosen and place back the new plugs (NGK plugs have a 0.054 inch gap for 1998 Windstar models) . Or if you prefer you can come from the top after removing the air filter housing and some additional components such as the black cowl cover for the windshield wipers. Hope this can get you started. Thanks

1 at a time!

Simply remove each end of the old wire, and disconnect from the holders between the ignition coil pack and the spark plug.

Re-install the new wire following the same path, and insert into the wire holders.

NOTE: Do this 1 wire at a time to ensure the firing order is not changed!!

If you reach around on the left side you can feel the plugs. You can take some of the cowl off but it is of little help. Not easy but you can do it with a little time...

Added 01/02/09:

I just finished the job earlier in the week. If you have access to a hoist, I am told you can feel for them from underneath. I looked at doing that from under the van and decided I would rather go from above.

If you wish to remove them from above, as quoted above, remove the windshield wipers, the plastic cowl skirt, and then the plastic cowl itself. This will allow you to "hug" the engine to feel the three plugs, but it is not a pleasant job, nor a speedy one. In hindsight, I think it would have been worth paying someone with a hoist to change them from underneath. It took me almost 1-1/2 hours start-to-finish, including multiple scratches, one minor burn, and a few choice words for the engineers who decided this was "OK".

U have to take of the cowl cover under the windshield, wipers off. I think the coil pack is to right of the engine on that model. I found it easier to change the them from the top of the van. I jacked it up and found less room to work with from under the car. Even from the top its a tight squeeze.

You pay someone to do it! LOL seriously unless you are mr gadget it is not worth it to do it yourself. there are two ways. take off the cowl ans use a spark plug wrench with a flexible attachment and get really frustrated or put it up on a lift and then it becomes a little less difficult. I did this once. (and I am very mechanically inclined) i have paid the 200 bucks to have it done since then

Take the panel that holds the windsield wiper motor, just below the windshield off. It only has about four bolts and once removed there is room to get to the back three plugs fairly easy.

Actually the rear spark plugs are not that bad to get to once you know how. I have a 98 3.8L and replaced the plugs myself. It will take about an hour and a half to to though. It should be the same for the 96 as well. First you have to remove the antenna and the wiper blades. Then remove the screws holding down the plastic panel covering the back part of the engine compartment. Under that you will find more screws holding down the panel that holds the wiper motor. Unplug the wiper motor and remove that panel. Once removed you have lots of room to access the plugs at the back. I used an old blanket and placed it over the intake plenum to make it a little softer for my knees and had no problem to replace the plugs. If you are handy with tools I am sure you can save yourself lots of money this way rather than over an hour of shop wages in a garage.

you can either jack your van up, supporting it on jack stands & blocking the rear wheels,and using some extentions, universals & socket & socketwrench. you can get to them from the bottom. Or you could remove the wiper arms & cowl and get to the spark plugs from the top. brewski

Put your car up on ramps and then you can get them from under. Make sure the car is cool and then you have no problem. I just did mine on a 1997 windstar.

Another way -which is what I had to do with my 98windstar gl.--is to remove the front cowl where the wipers are. This was a whole lot easier for me than messing with jacks and the sort..

Good Luck!

I have a 2000 SE with the 3.8 Liter engine. It is a real pain getting to the rear plugs, but I found that I had to remove the throttle body and air bellows to get your right hand around back on the right (as you are looking at it from the front bumper) side. There is already barely enough room on the other side for your left arm. First thing to do is use compressed air to clean out the plug wells. You will have to lay over the front hood latch area and you can get each arm around the engine to work blind. You can fit a mirror there to help locate things, but you will be working blind for the most part. Getting the boots off is a little painfull, but feel with one hand to locate each boot and twist and pull with the other. For the plugs, I used a 3/8" breaker bar for best control and a short extension to the plug socket. There is room back there to swing the handle as needed and the breaker bar provides a little more torque with less effort. It is handy to have either a little handle on the extension or a stubby ratchet to get the plug out by hand once you have broken the torque. The first time, it took me a couple of hours to get to them for inspection, but the next day, I was able to replace them in about 1/2 hour. It ain't pretty, but you basically have to lay over the hood latch and engine to reach around there to work. Fortunately, the plugs are platinum and can last 100K miles so you should only have to do them once or twice.

Good luck with it. Chuck the driveway mechanic.

A better alternative is to remove the two-piece cowl below the windshield. You will have to remove the wiper arms, but you will have much more room to work.

++ added info ++

Removing the cowling and wiper mechanism is a must. The wiper is attached to the cowl, the washer hose has to be disconnected. A small puller gets the arms off the mechanism posts. Also some of the vacuum hosing can be removed, instead of damaging it as you yank and pull on wires. If replacing the plugs at 100,000+ miles, why not do the wires at the same time. For all the trouble, its good preventative maintenance. Take care to note the order they assemble on the coils and match their lengths. Use silicon on boots at the plugs and at the coils too.

you will have to remove the piece that goes from fender to fender with the wipers on it. it's not as hard as it looks. also a good time to add brake fluid.

First of all, the engine HAS to be COLD (overnight) so park it where you'll be working on it. Then, either remove the cowl (plastic part just below the windshield), then the entire windshield wiper assembly (again, whole plastic piece now visible once the plastic cowl piece has been removed). Now you can gain access to the rear plugs/wires, etc. If you want to go further, remove the upper intake, but unless you really know what you're doing, don't attempt this. Get ready to get really dirty and you have to use the "feel" method and plenty of time and patience; it's a b!t@h...The reason the enigne HAS to be cold overnight is due to the aluminum cylinder heads which will strip if the engine is hot (besides burning yourself). The best thing to do is first spray penetrating lubricant around each spark plug, then blow out the holes; then break loose each plug, more penetrating fluid and more blowing out, then remove the plugs. Prior to installation and after gapping each plug, put a light coating of oil on the threads and DON'T OVER-TIGHTEN them. Hand install first, making sure they go in easily; if not, clean the head threads and start again. The plugs should "bottom" out by hand, then just give them a firm tightening with the spark plug socket (using a 3/8" drive ratchet). You shouldn't have to give it more than 1/4 turn MAXIMUM after plug bottoms against the head. That should do it! Good luck!

-Andrew (Ford mechanic for 35 years)

The front spark plugs are fairly easy to get to, just be careful in pulling the boots off of them if you are not replacing them, because you could pull the metal snap end off. Make sure the engine is cool and grab as low as you can on the end of the plug wire attached to the plug. The back ones are fairly easy to get to also providing that you get them from underneath the van. There is a section between the block and the firewall that allows you to get to them. The best thing to use here is a 6" extension with a universal joint (wobbler) on the end of it, as to allow you to get into some tuff spots. Good luck!

I have a 2000 SE with the 3.8 Liter engine. It is a real pain getting to the rear plugs, but I found that I had to remove the throttle body and air bellows to get your right hand around back on the right (as you are looking at it from the front bumper) side. There is already barely enough room on the other side for your left arm. First thing to do is use compressed air to clean out the plug wells. You will have to lay over the front hood latch area and you can get each arm around the engine to work blind. You can fit a mirror there to help locate things, but you will be working blind for the most part. Getting the boots off is a little painfull, but feel with one hand to locate each boot and twist and pull with the other. For the plugs, I used a 3/8" breaker bar for best control and a short extension to the plug socket. There is room back there to swing the handle as needed and the breaker bar provides a little more torque with less effort. It is handy to have either a little handle on the extension or a stubby ratchet to get the plug out by hand once you have broken the torque. The first time, it took me a couple of hours to get to them for inspection, but the next day, I was able to replace them in about 1/2 hour. It ain't pretty, but you basically have to lay over the hood latch and engine to reach around there to work. Fortunately, the plugs are platinum and can last 100K miles so you should only have to do them once or twice. Good luck with it. Chuck the driveway mechanic. A better alternative is to remove the two-piece cowl below the windshield. You will have to remove the wiper arms, but you will have much more room to work. ++ added info ++ Removing the cowling and wiper mechanism is a must. The wiper is attached to the cowl, the washer hose has to be disconnected. A small puller gets the arms off the mechanism posts. Also some of the vacuum hosing can be removed, instead of damaging it as you yank and pull on wires. If replacing the plugs at 100,000+ miles, why not do the wires at the same time. For all the trouble, its good preventative maintenance. Take care to note the order they assemble on the coils and match their lengths. Use silicon on boots at the plugs and at the coils too.

1996 Ford Wind star 3.0 Motor

Changing 3 Rear plugs best way and same way i do mine. Is from the top of the engine carefully reach around intake from passenger side you can reach all 3 plugs in this position, carefully break loose plug may have to put extension in there first and then carefully bring your ratchet down in there, break loose take ratchet off and Finnish unscrewing the plug do this one by one and it makes everything allot quicker that's non-sense taking off the Cowl panel that is a pain in the butt.. took me a total of 30 minutes to change all plugs, gap, wires etc.. easy..

I've changed these on my Moms van, because the dealership wanted to charge her $450.00. I can understand its a good bit of work but really $450 that's ridiculous.

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Is this a trick question ( as far as I know the last model year of the Ford Windstar was 2003 )

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