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Thread: how hard is it to change spark plugs/wires/rotor/cap?

  1. #1

    Default how hard is it to change spark plugs/wires/rotor/cap?

    So my 98 Wrangler Sport started doing this weird thing where as I would come to a stop, the engine's rpm's would drop and just shut off unless I revved it at about 1000, then it would idle correctly.

    There was also some sputtering during acceleration around 30-40 mph.

    The check engine light came on and I took it in, and it came up as a TPS error, which I'm fixing, but they also suggested changing the spark plugs, wires, rotor and cap - buuuuut, they want 420 bucks for that which seems a little high to me.

    I changed my plugs on my old Bronco, but haven't messed with the Jeep much at all. How hard is it for someone with average car experience to change out the plugs, wires, rotor and cap?

    Is this something I can do, or should I drop the cash?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by nparrot View Post
    So my 98 Wrangler Sport started doing this weird thing where as I would come to a stop, the engine's rpm's would drop and just shut off unless I revved it at about 1000, then it would idle correctly.

    There was also some sputtering during acceleration around 30-40 mph.

    The check engine light came on and I took it in, and it came up as a TPS error, which I'm fixing, but they also suggested changing the spark plugs, wires, rotor and cap - buuuuut, they want 420 bucks for that which seems a little high to me.

    I changed my plugs on my old Bronco, but haven't messed with the Jeep much at all. How hard is it for someone with average car experience to change out the plugs, wires, rotor and cap?

    Is this something I can do, or should I drop the cash?
    Do it yourself and save some serious cash. 4WD.com has (at least they had) a tune up kit. It included new air filter, new plugs, new rotor, new distributor cap and new plug wires. I bought the kit and installed on my 99. It should take no more than an hour. If you have air, then the #1 plug will be tricky to get at, but you can do it, just take your time. Change the plug wires one at a time so you do not cross any of them. This is the hardest part.
    Semper Fi

  3. #3

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    If you have a problem, getting to that plug. Get a wobble adapter for your socket. I have these for 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" drive. I got the set of 3 at autozone for cheap.

    Be sure to put a dab of antiseize on the treads of the new plugs. This will help for the next time. I have changed mine 2 times (on my 3rd set) at 60K miles, after the first time with antiseize, I have no more problems getting the old ones out.
    '02 Black Sahara, AW4, 4" Teraflex, Gen 2 lowers & flex uppers, JKS 1.25" BL, Teraflex trackbars, 35" MTR Tera low 4:1, AA SYE, TW DS, Tera 2 low, AtoZ fab Rockers, Tomkin Gas tank skid, Crane/Rockcrusher Diff Cover, CO2, Warn 8274-50, 4.56's d30 + d44 ARB, superior, Flowmaster, 15lbs CO2, HID's

  4. #4

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    Awesome! Thanks guys.

    Any more tips would be appreciated! This maintenance is LONG over due.

  5. #5
    Geezer Jeeper Jerry Bransford's Avatar
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    When the engine dies at idle, that's normally nothing more than a dirty IAC (idle air controller). The IAC can get dirty and stick and when it does, it doesn't allow enough air into the engine and it is the IAC that provides ALL of the engine's air at idle rpms.

    First, you might get lucky and clean it well enough by simply starting the engine after removing the air intake and spraying the inside of the throttle body with throttle body cleaner. 3M is a good brand to choose if you see it. You'll need to keep the rpms up a tad to prevent the engine from stalling. Make sure you get some of the cleaner into the "Passage Inlet" which is where the IAC gets its air from. Inside the passage inlet is the IAC's solenoid actuated air control plunger that meters the air so when it gets dirty, it sticks and will create idle problems.

    Sometimes you have to remove the IAC to get it clean enough but it's only held to the throttle body with two torx screws, T-25 I think. If you remove it to clean its plunger, clean the oriface in the throttle body it fits into too. Be gentle with the solenoid actuated plunger, don't push/pull/turn it. Use the throttle body cleaner and a toothbrush and/or cloth to clean it.

    If this doesn't do it, it's likely that your TPS (throttle position sensor) is dirty inside and giving the computer erroneous data on the throttle position. The bad news is the TPS can't be cleaned but the good news is that it's only $40 or so to buy and it can be easily swapped in 5 minutes.

    From your symptoms, I doubt that new plugs/rotor/distributor/ignition wiring will help.

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    Last edited by Jerry Bransford; 08-25-2009 at 05:43 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Buy an extra plug or two. They are easy to crack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TJ Rat View Post
    Do it yourself and save some serious cash. 4WD.com has (at least they had) a tune up kit. It included new air filter, new plugs, new rotor, new distributor cap and new plug wires. I bought the kit and installed on my 99. It should take no more than an hour. If you have air, then the #1 plug will be tricky to get at, but you can do it, just take your time. Change the plug wires one at a time so you do not cross any of them. This is the hardest part.
    x2

    When I first bought my jeep in college, all I had ever done on cars before was change oil and brakes. First thing I did on the jeep was plugs, wires, rotor and cap. All just with a couple screw drivers and a Craftsman travel socket set. You can do it man! We have faith!

    I also double the tip of getting a wobble attachment for that last plug if you have A/C. Makes it 1000% easier.
    '98 TJ Sahara, 4.0L, 2.5" Skyjacker Lift, 33x12.5 Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ's, disco's, rear limited slip locker, some lights, 4 wheels that turn at the same time, many scratches...

  8. #8

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    any recommendations as to specific brands of plugs, wires, rotor or cap?

  9. #9
    Geezer Jeeper Jerry Bransford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nparrot View Post
    any recommendations as to specific brands of plugs, wires, rotor or cap?
    Did you see post #5 above?
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  10. #10
    Oh Great! Now What? Hyper Buzzin''s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nparrot View Post
    Awesome! Thanks guys.

    Any more tips would be appreciated! This maintenance is LONG over due.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
    Did you see post #5 above?
    Seems like he's in need of new plugs anyhow.
    Hyper... ... or, just call me Tim
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  11. #11

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    Do you plan on just changing the rotor button or the entire rotor? I would only do the rotor button because the rotor itself should be fine.
    Toy: 01 TJ 4.0L, Auto, Currie HP 9 w/ detroit, 4.56's, 36" TSL radials, RE 3.5 SF, Fenders cut to chit, RE Hack n Tap w/ a Woody



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    DO NOT pay 420 bucks for them to change rotor/cap/plugs. It is an hour job and more then easy to do even if your a backyard mechanic. You can buy all the parts for about $100 and learn a bit about maintaining your jeep while your at it. Listen to the tips given above about the #1 spark plug since it can be a hastle. Personally ive never had any trouble with it, long needle nose pliers to pull the wire and a normal 3/8 ratchet with spark plug socket for the plug. I put the socket on the plug before i put it on the ratchet and it works every time. Goodluck!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
    Did you see post #5 above?
    I did! thanks for the info.

    I've gotten the idle problem taken care of - needed a new TPS. But I DO need to change the wires, plugs etc... haven't done that ever, so it's about time.

  14. #14
    Monkey Wrench! JWebber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nparrot View Post
    I did! thanks for the info.

    I've gotten the idle problem taken care of - needed a new TPS. But I DO need to change the wires, plugs etc... haven't done that ever, so it's about time.
    I've been using these tri-pack kits from 4wd.com and love them for the price a quality. Also their add says 7mm wires but they are 8mm wires. The rotor tip is brass and contact point on cap are brass.

    http://www.4wd.com/productdetails.aspx?partID=5082

  15. #15
    www.stu-offroad.com Stu Olson's Avatar
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    These links should help you with your spark plug change project.

    http://www.stu-offroad.com/engine/tune/spark-1.htm

    http://www.stu-offroad.com/misc/maint.htm
    Stu's '98TJ Sahara
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