Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

Acura high cost to replace spark plugs

Why is it so expensive to replace spark plugs in an Acura TL? A few years ago I got a quote from Acura for $260. I'm assuming they'll do the spark plug wires as well.
<br/> Do I have to replace them with platinum plugs? This is a 1999 car in great shape with only 45,000 miles.


  • edited December 2010
    You should check your owner's manual for how often you need to replace things like plugs. Being a 1999 car, if I had spark plugs (I have a diesel) I would replace them, even though strictly on miles I doubt if they are do.

    More important I would replace the plug wires, no matter what the manual says. I would use whatever is listed in the owner;s manual and I would expect it to be platinum.

    I got a quote from Acura Well I suspect that had a lot to do with the price. Dealers are seldom any better than independent mechanics but they almost always more expensive.

    Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

    A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.

    There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee. During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

    I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.

    Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

  • edited December 2010
    The car uses a transversely mounted V6 engine. The front plugs are easy to get to, but the rear plugs are not. It varies from model to model, but the engine may have to be detached from its mounts and rotated or lowered to get at the rear plugs. A lot of disassembly can add to the cost. Call your dealer and ask what it costs and what exactly they do. As Joseph mentioned, the plug wires should be replaced and maybe that is part of the cost. You also should get another estimate or two at independent garages to see if the cost is less for exactly the same work.
  • edited December 2010
    If you don't specifically ask, usually spark plug wire replacement isn't included in the cost. It is always a good idea to be specific in what you want and ask if the answer isn't clear.

    This would be a good time to establish a relationship with a good independent mechanic which will probably lower your overall ownership costs, compared to getting dealer service.
  • edited December 2010
    Even some of the basics can get pricy. Complaints should be addressed to the people who build the cars. :-)

    The shop has a certain hourly flat rate charge. This is multiplied X the labor time given in the flat rate manual and that's where the labor charge comes from.
    Some parts of the country are much higher on their labor rates than others and it doesn't take long to start adding up.

    At that age and mileage the car is due for spark plugs, platinum or not. Platinums do not help the car to run any better. Their only advantage is a bit more longevity as compared to copper core plugs. Considering you're having to pay a bit to have this done using platinums would be the preferred option.

    If a basic maintenance item like spark plugs have been put off because of the cost then I wonder about the air/fuel filters, PCV, service, etc. along with that timing belt issue, the latter requiring tensioners and a water pump also.
    If the timing belt has never been done then it's a time bomb at 12 years of age. This job will cost far more than 260 dollars and way more than that if it breaks.
  • edited December 2010
    I put the wires through an inspetion process before replacement, no reason to replace perfectly good wire set, some can get real pricey. Worst I ever saw was $300.00 a side for certain model BMW V-12's. I bet that 260.00 does not include a wire set.
  • edited December 2010
    I agree with oldschool and plug wires have gotten decidely high tech. Back when I was in high school we use to just buy the stuff from the parts house and make our own. They sold wire by the foot in various colors, wire ends, and wire nipples on the cheap.

    Back in the 70s we had a 28 cylinder aircraft engine in the airplane shop and consider the plug cost replacement on that in today's dollars.
    14 bucks apiece at the time X 28 cylinders X 2 plugs per cylinder = Ouch.

    And that's not including any labor or magneto tune-up parts.
  • edited December 2010
    Why go to an Acura dealer for anything once it's out of warranty?
  • edited December 2010
    Ok guys -- I do go to an independant shop and I have a good mechanic that takes care of my car. I was looking for opinions on why it cost so much to do the work since the owners manual shows how simple a job it is. Of course they don't show s picture of the back plugs, which might be difficult to get at. I've also heard that this car doesn't have wires it has ignition coils which shouldn't have to be replaced unless you pull the coil or break the connector while removing the connector to the plug.

    I usually get a verbal estimate from the dealer so I have an idea of what to expect my mechanic to charge. I haven't put off getting new plugs because the car has been running just fine except I sensed a very slight 'missing' a week ago and thought it was time to get new plugs. My mechanic will check it out.

    Thanks for all the imput.
  • edited December 2010
    Absolutely! My step-father goes to the Honda dealer even to replace a burnt tail-light bulb. I bet he pays 40 bucks! I wouldn't write off a shop just because it's a chain, however. I used to go to the local K-Mart, where there was a very crusty but knowledgeable guy who dissed me severely for owning a foreign car, but often didn't charge me anything for tightening a belt and such.

    With this car, the question is what is involved in changing out the plugs. I find it hard to believe that on a modern car accessing the plugs would require major dissasembly or unmounting the motor. Ask your local independant (or at least non-dealer) shop. Also, plugs and wires last a good long time. No reason to replace them if the car is running fine.
  • edited December 2010
    The price is mostly for labor, though they may be charging you full retail for the plugs. And unless they specifically mentioned it, the price probably does not include wires. As someone mentioned, the engine is transverse-mounted, so the plugs are situated on the front and back. The front plugs are easy to get to. The rears are tougher, but not nightmarish. It just requires the removal of the strut tower brace to reach them. That should be three nuts on each end, sitting right on top of the inner fenders. I don't think that extra step justifies the high price. You can get a set of platinum or iridium plugs at rock auto for $20-50, depending on brand and preference, which is probably about half of what the mechanic will charge you for parts. With the money you save, you can also get a new set of wires, a spark plug socket with universal joint, new ratchet handle, and still save over a hundred bucks. Good luck.
This discussion has been closed.