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Spark Plugs and Wires
Chrysler Town and Country

How do you replace the spark plugs on a 1996-2000 Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town and Country?

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2015-07-16 19:32:23
2015-07-16 19:32:23

Use a 13/16 plug socket, a 1" or 1.5" extension and a regular 3/8 ratchet. Do Not use anything longer for an extension. Place a light about midways under the car. Follow the exhaust pipe into the doghouse and look directly above the manifold you will see only two plugs, the third (#1)will have to be found by touch. you will need to slide pretty far behind the engine to be able to reach straight up into the exhaust doghouse and you can easily touch the #3 and #5 plug. Remove them using the ratchet and short extension but be sure to have the handle pointed to the drivers side of the van. The #1 plug can be found by crooking your hand around and over the exhaust doughnut. You will need to place the socket and extension onto the plug, and THEN attach the ratchet. You will have only enough swing room to ratchet the plug out one or two "clicks"at a time until it is loose enough to remove the ratchet and then use the extension by hand to turn it all the way out. When replacing, use the socket ONLY to place the plug back into the head until you can no longer turn it, then insert the SHORT, (very short a 2" is too long) extension, then attach the ratchet. Tighten until around 20 ftlbs.

If you have access to an air ratchet it makes things very nice as you only have to hold it and squeeze the trigger in a tight spot like the #1 If you use an air ratchet, you will need to use a 1" extension ONLY, anything longer will cause the ratchet to strike the intake plenum.

I just did this job in about 20 minutes. I removed NOTHING except for the plugs and wires themselves. I used a regular Craftsman 3/8 ratchet, craftsman 13/16 plug socket, and a china made 12" & 1.5" extension.

This guy wrote the method that i used yesterday. It worked very well, as he described. My first attempt was to remove wipers etc. and go to the back 3 plugs from the top. I ran into the glued on drain pipes from that bucket and quit that attempt, and went to the back 3 plugs from the bottom. If you can get the car high enough to use a creeper, you'll be glad you did. Or use an assistant to pass you what you need and feed the new spark plug wires to you. I didn't have either, and my back is pretty sore.... The impact wobble is key. Get one, their about $8.99 for 2 (3/8, & 1/2") at Harbor Freight. You'll still need the 1" and/or 1 1/2 " extensions. I also used a 1/4" rachet when possible, adapting it to fit the 3/8" impact wobble. Works good for wrenching the plugs out after they're broke loose. I did 3 plugs at a time, removing 3 wires at a time. It got the wires out of the way, and was helpful.... If you do this here's the spark plug firing order or how to put the spark plug wires back on information: When standing on the passenger side of the van, where the fan belt is, the pistons on the left side or back of engine, are numbered 1, 3, 5 (1 is closest to you, 3 in middle, 5 is on drivers side). On the right side of the engine, or front of the van they're numbered 2, 4, 6 (2 is on passengers side, 4 is in middle, & 6 is on drivers side). The coil pack on my van is already numbered, just brush the dirt off and put the number 1 piston's spark plug wire to the #1 pin on the coil pack, etc. In case yours isn't numbered, here's the numbering of the coil pack from top left, across to the top right is 3, 1, 5, and then from bottom left, to bottom right is 6,4,2. If you use the fancy new wires with the metal around the spark plug boots, I had trouble with it on the number #1 plug. I kept bending the metal guard around the boot. So i finally took the metal guard off and threw it away. Then that last wire went on very easily.... The spark plug wire guide/holder above the exhaust on the back was easy to use. It was shaped like the letter C and worked like a spring loaded clamp. Just pull the old wire out the opening, and push the new wires in.... I , Good Luck to you on your Tune-Up! P.S. I used Autolite APP646 double platinum - copper core 100,000 mile plugs on the last tune up, and again this time. I recommend changing them at 90,000 miles, before the platinum disks start falling off.... I put 101,000 miles on my last tuneup, and it began running rough at 100,300 miles or so.... Also, these are nickel plated plugs, so, the proper anti-seize to use is "nickel anti-seize." You can get it at Grainger, or online. The local parts store did NOT have it. Reason is, they claim, most anti-seize products contain copper, a 3rd metal between your aluminum head, and nickel spark plug. The THIRD METAL causes the anti-seize to act as a lubricant more so than as an anti-seize, causing your spark plugs to loosen up as you drive..... So, when using autolite plugs, anti-seize is probably good. But, Nickel Anti-Seize is Better....

Points to remember.

#5 and #3 can be removed with or without an extension using a 3/8 ratchet.

#1 must be removed using a 1" or 1.5" extension. Anything longer will only frustrate you as it will strike the intake plenum before you can back the plug all the way out. Anything shorter will not allow you to swing the ratchet or even get it onto the plug.

#1 is hard to see and it is much faster doing it by touch.

You must slide far enough under the vehicle. lay on your RIGHT side and even prop your body up on something to allow your LEFT hand to reach all the way up to the #1.

When working in tight spots it is always easier to place the socket onto the nut, plug etc., and then install the extension or whatever else you are using to remove the bolt plug etc.

Keep the ratchet handle pointed to the left at all times.

DO not try to attach the ratchet extension and socket before slipping the socket over the plug. It will not fit, place the socket on the plug, install the extension, and then the ratchet both for removing and installing the plug.

An IMPACT wobble makes this job VERY easy. don't use a regular wobble extension they have to much wobble to be useful. The IMPACT wobble can be picked up at your favorite auto super store for about 15 bucks.

(Autozone didn't have a 3/8" impact wobble, Harbor Freight did [$8.99]).

Josh Carmack Self taught professional mechanic.

THANKS Josh,

I'm glad I found your answer. The 1.5" extension IS the key. This procedure works folks. I didn't have an air ratchet available and the plugs were in pretty tight. The #1 plug is definitely the toughest, and next time, I will do it first. In my case, I did it last and by the time I attempted it, my arms were beginning to cramp from the awkward position required to complete the task. So I cheated...I went ahead and removed the alternator bracket and serpentine belt. It wasn't that much easier to get the # 1 out from the top. This job CAN be done without unbolting anything, but do the #1 first.

BUY THE BEST PLUGS AVAILABLE. Given the age of these vans, you may never have to do it again.

skspoon

The easiest way actually takes a bit longer than trying to get at them from below. Going from below is a great way to tear up your hands.

Go from the top by removing the windshield wiper tub assembly. Disconnect the electrical connector to the wiper motor and lift the whole tub assembly out. This portion of the job will take about 1/2 hour, but it opens up the whole back end of the engine so you can reach the plugs and the wires.

The rear ones are bad but not impossible. If you remove the bracket that stabilizes the alternator (the one that lies horizontal at the top of the engine) you can get to the rear two that are on the passenger side. If you go from underneath the plug on the drivers side is quite accessible (also the middle one is not bad from underneath)

After researching various methods of approach to changing the 3 rear plugs on a 2000 Dodge Caravan 3.3 liter, my brother and I combined three different ways making the job easier but still time consuming. One way said to remove an alternator bolt, so the alternator can be swiveled out of the way, enabling you to reach the plugs from the top side. Another method said to remove the windshield wipers, wiper cowl and wiper motor to access them from the top side. The last was to lift the van, and reach up from the bottom. Upon studying the situation and the amount of room realistically provided by each method, we decided to do the following which worked out well and proved to be simple. First, remove the windshield wipers, wiper cowl and the entire wiper rack. This all comes off as one unit and is very easily done with no hidden bolts or screws. Once that is done, you will see where the alternator is bolted on the top left side of the engine. It is bolted to a large vertical bracket which is also bolted to another horizontal bracket. (these brackets form a 90 degree angle) Remove the smaller horizontal top bracket only (not the alternator itself). Again easily done. Now for the fun.... Jack up the front end of the van and rest it on jack stands. On a creeper from the front roll back about 1/3 of the van length until you can see where the exhaust angles up and connects to the motor. There you will see the catalytic converter, a heat shield above it and beyond those where the plug wire connect to the plugs. Remove the 4 small bolts holding the heat shield on, and then the heat shield itself. One of these small bolt is a pain to get to but this will give you a very valuable couple of extra inches of wiggle room. Now you can reach up along side the exhaust and get to all three plugs. Make no mistake, it is very tight with not much room but is very do able This is done much easier if you have another person top side to slide the new plug wires down to you for you to connect after the old ones are removed. It is highly recommended to change one plug and wire at a time so you can keep track where they were connected as these have to be connected in order or else the van will constantly misfire. I started (from underneath looking up) from left to right on the plugs. On the last one (rear passenger side) I got the plug out ok, but it is a royal pain to relocate the hole with the new plug from that angle. This is where you climb out, and from the top side reach down behind the engine where you removed the top bracket by the alternator. The hole cant be seen, but is easily felt. With plug in hand reach down, find the hole and finger tighten the plug. Then put only the socket onto the plug, not the ratchet. You can put a ratchet on the plug from here, but it will take you about 2 weeks to get it tight. Once this is done, go back underneath with your ratchet and you will now be able to see the top of your socket. You will be able to attach your ratchet and tighten the plug up. Now connect your new wire, the heat shield, bracket and wiper assembly. Again, this is easily done, but very time consuming. Still better than spending $500 plus for a garage to do it.

spark plug on 99 caravan

very carefully you have to go up from under the van with a stubby ratchet and put something around your arms. I just did one the other day and my arms are torn to shreds

This is a very difficult job. I did it by taking the windshield wiper assembly out and then took the intake manifold and everything attached to it loose and pulled it forward. This is also how I gained access to the upper oxygen sensor. This gives you enough room to get at the plugs fairly easily. I put in the best plugs I could find so I won't have to change them again for a long time if ever.

Easiest on a lift, but you can get to them if you pull the upper plenum off. If you can get under the van, you can reach up past the exhaust and do them.

From underneath, reach over exhaust system to access rear plugs. You will need a stubby swivel handle ratchet head and a few wobble extensions to get the job done from underneath. It is not an easy task and you will come out after a 2-hour journey with scratched up hands and wrist but it can be done from underneath. I have done it 3 times, the first time took 4 hours, now it only takes about an hour and a half. I have long arms so that may benefit me as it is a stretch. Good Luck

Use an extension for the two on your right. The one on your left is difficult, but if you use a wobble extension or swivel you should do fine. The best way to install the new plugs is to use a short piece of hose maybe eight inches that will fit over the spark plug end an inch or so. Then thread the plug three or four turns and finish with the socket. Plug in the wires. Don't forget using anti-seize on the plug threads for easy out the next time. Put the air filter box on in reverse that it came off and your done.

I changed mine when I purchased our '97 Caravan used ... I was going to try the 'reach up from below in the dark' approach but finally decided to remove the intake manifold and do it from above. Seemed like a long approach but made all three rear plugs very accessible from above and allowed me to easily clean out the plug well with air prior to removing the plugs.

Extra cost is only a manifold gasket (<$10).

Couple of hints ... remove the coil from the RH end of the manifold, the bracket at the LH end below the throttle body may be hard to remove ... be prepared.

the best way i have found to change the rear plugs is to remove the upper plenum on the intake manifold.

You can reach the ones closest to the driver's side and remove with a flex link on the socket drive. For the last one you only need to unbolt the alternator bracket to get enough room to reach in from that side. Do use platinum plugs for long life, and a tapered gap checker so you don't ruin them. It isn't really that hard, but it is enough extra work that you don't want to do it again any sooner than absolutely necessary. This is also the time to change the wires. These engines will misbehave for bad plugs, bad wires, and for poor wire placement - unexplained hesitations, misfires, poor mileage. Use good parts and use extra care with the wire routing.

ANSWER

The front 3 plugs are removed in minutes naturally. It is the back three that are difficult. By driving the front tires on blocks you can slide underneath the minivan and reach the drivers side rear plug as well as the middle plug next to it. You may scratch your hands and arms a bit, but it can be done. The rear plug on the passengers side was the tough one for me. I moved the Alternator bracket, which you don't actually have to remove completely, but you can remove three bolts, then loosen the one directly to the alternator and push the bracket upwards out of the way. Even with this opening the difficulty I had was having enough room to move a socket wrench enough to loosen the plug. What finally worked was a compressed air spark plug removal tool. If you can buy or rent one if these, it will make the job much simpler.

From underneath. Safety 1st, do not support the vehicle in such a way that it can possibly fall on you.

For a 1999 Grand Caravan, I change the aft 3 plugs from behind and underneath. Seems like 2 are fairly easy, maybe 30 minutes, but the last one is tough, maybe took an hour or so of fiddling around and figuring out the right tool combination (extensions/swivel joints). Put the front wheels up on ramps so you can maneuver from underneath.

I have a '98 Caravan, 3.3. What I did was remove the intake because I also needed to change the valve cover gaskets. This was the easiets way to do it all. Also removed the wiper pan...had tons of room to do everything.

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