This is a review of common problems with Ford Triton spark plug replacement. We will also discuss a technical service bulletin that was issued about identifying issues and removal of broken spark plugs in Ford V8 engines.
I will also include some best practices I learned over the years for removing these platinum plugs without breaking them off in the cylinder head. Different kinds of plug problems can effect vehicles as far back as 1997 that where experiencing spark plug blow out.
This is where the plug would physically leave the cylinder head with the engine running and take the threads with it. The technical service bulletin I will be discussing refers to the more modern three valves per cylinder 5.4 L Ford V-8 engine. This applies to model years 2004 through 2007.
The problem is when you try to replace the spark plugs they can break or be difficult to remove. The worst case scenario is that pieces of the broken spark-plug such as the platinum electrode and ceramic fragments can fall down into the cylinder.
If you can not get the ford Triton spark plugs out in one piece you may have to remove the cylinder head in order to remove the porcelain and metal debris that will prevent engine damage.
Many people have taken their vehicles in for what they thought would be a routine spark plug replacement. Only to find out that they were now faced with a large repair bill in average over $1500 for removing the cylinder heads.
Some tips I'm going to share with you are from the factory technical service bulletin I read specifically for 3 Valve per cylinder V8 engines that covered replacement and the removal of broken plugs.
Some of these other tips will just be common sense items I have
learned from the school of hard knocks (experience) while working on
many different 5.4 liter Triton V8 engines as the Government fleet I worked for had around 100 of these trucks. I happen to have a picture of me performing this operation on a County owned F250.
The first step to me is very important. Before I start to replace the spark plugs on any Ford V8 engine with aluminum cylinder heads I soak the plugs down with penetrating oil. I allow them to sit for several hours in penetrating oil before I start removal.
This trick works even better if you let it soak then try and gently move it about a quarter turn counter clockwise. If successful give it another soak with the Kano Aerokroil fluid or equivalent. In almost everyone of these I've done I have been able to get that quarter turn. This helps allow the liquid loosen oil to get down to the problem area and work on the corrosion and carbon deposits that are causing the problem.
Some people prefer to use carburetor cleaner instead of penetrating oil because what is stopping removal is mainly the carbon build up. I have tried both types of fluid and they seem to work equally for me.
The soaking time is critical. I set things up and find something else to work on. Another couple of points on this step would be to go back and re-wet the area so it doesn't dry up. The head has a raised portion around the plug threads that holds the fluid nicely for a continuous soak.
Step two is probably more important then the first. Get the right tool for the job. They make a special tool to replace plugs on a Triton V-8 engine. It looks like a standard spark plug socket but is slightly different.
The special socket is designed to apply more pressure on the flats of the plug then on the corners. This greatly increases the chances that the plug will come out in one piece. Note: It does not guarantee successful removal.
If the spark-plug does break it will leave the electrode and a piece of the porcelain in the cylinder head. The best chance at removing this is again with a special tool made for Triton spark-plugs.
The tool I have is made by Lyle (available above) I also put a broken spark plug remover from Cal Van (Below) that is a little cheaper. Both of these special tools work like an easy out with a left-handed thread. Detailed instructions are included with the remover tools.
The Triton V-8 is an all aluminum modular engine. Modular meaning that many parts are interchangeable with other size engines in the product line. Also in general modular means larger sized or cast together components using larger sealing surfaces with fewer fasteners.
The Triton V-8's which include the popular 5.4 L used in many F series pickups and SUVs has a new style plug with a dual electrode tip. The spark plug has a platinum tip electrode that extends the life of the plug to about 100,000 miles. Now to put this all together what is going wrong is the plug has extended life and screws into an aluminum head.
No anti-seize was applied at the factory to my knowledge. The dissimilar metals of the spark plug and the cylinder head coupled with a long service life just about welds the plug into place. To make matters worse carbon develops on the plugs where it sticks into the combustion chamber again making it harder to remove without breaking.
The Ford Triton spark plug is extremely difficult to replace for regular maintenance. In my opinion it needs to be done properly by someone who has done the procedure multiple times successfully. It's a good idea if you plan this maintenance service, to interview technicians performing the repairs.
Make sure he owns a broken spark plug remover! Otherwise be prepared for what can go wrong and the large expenses involved with removing the cylinder heads to extract the broken pieces. Or you could always trade the vehicle in before replacement is needed.
Bookmark this Ford Triton spark plug page or share with a ford truck owner.
For more technical service bulletins about specific models and common problems visit my auto repair news page for links to helpful articles.
Here is a link to the auto-facts.org website where a visitor posted a story about his 2004 f150 and problems with ford Triton spark plug replacement.
Up next is a link to the homepage where you can find out what else is covered on this Diy car repair website.