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Ford "Triton" 5.4 L. break-off-in-the-head spark plugs soon need replacing. What penetrating oil?

I’m told that carbon builds up around their long sparkplug shaft and needs to be softened. Otherwise the spark plugs get stuck in the head and can easily be broken off.
What is the best solvent/lubricant? I plan to soak the spark plugs for 24 hours beforemoval.

Thank you.

Soak in PB blaster (spray while engine is still warm).

Then use an IMPACT wrench to get them out.

Robert, no offense, but with level of automotive acumen you displayed in the past. You might want to consider having a real mechanic do this job. But if you insist make sure you use the one-piece plugs for replacements. Champion makes one for the 3 valve 5.4L.

What’s a one-piece plug?
I have rebuilt engines, replaced water pumps, distributors, radiators, alternators, timing chains.
No power tools. My concern is applying too much torque and breaking the old spark plugs. Was planning to rapidly tap the wrench both ways with a hammer to work the plugs loose.

The 3 valve Ford modular engines use an unusually long two-piece spark plug. The stories you hear about them breaking when you go to remove them is mainly because of the two piece design. Champion has a one piece spark plug for the 3 valve Fords. It doesn’t have the problem of breaking in two when you try to remove it.

You want to use Seafoam Deep Creep

This is specially formulated to desolve carbon deposits.

Whatever you do, don’t break off the spark plugs, Or you’ll be in a real world of hurt.

Here’s what the spark plugs look like.


The Ford bulletin recommends Motorcraft carburator tune-up cleaner.

Scary. Just found this:

Thank you Robert. I found the video highly educational.
I have to say that I’m not impressed by the engineering team that produced this abomination. They should all go without supper for a week. I cannot believe that they couldn’t have come up with something better.

After seeing the scoop with it, I would probably do some carb or throttle body cleaner and drive it some - at least a full heat up /cool down. Then I’d hit it with PB or Deep Creep and do the same. Then go back to carb clear…for maybe about a week. Or maybe better, soak it overnight with carb cleaner and then a second overnight with deep creep. I wouldn’t want an impact. I’d do it by hand, but would be happy to give the ratchet some firm hammer whacks. As soon as the pressure I was putting on started to make me queasy, I’d drive it to a dealer service dept.

I use Deep Creep instead of carb cleaner to remove these plugs. Carb cleaner has no lubricant to help remove the plugs. Deep Creep not only has a stoddard solvent to desolve the carbon, but it also contains a highly refined oil to lubricate the threads and the shank of the spark plug.


Yes. Idiotgineering.
Apparently their three-valve design allows no room for a conventional spark plug. So they have to design and manufacture a whole new type of plug.

Called Ford dealer. When they break the plugs, the charge goes up each additional plug.
Will have to take the emergencyehicle out of service for a day. Fortunately another will be available.
Now at 90K. Wanted to see it change but hospital ordered emergent transport and missed it.

You want to use Seafoam Deep Creep
Which one? None say they have a carbon solvent - unless they call carbon "engine varnish".

Thank you, Nevada 545:

Ford’s TSB calls for:
PM-3 Motorcraft Carburetor Tune-Up Cleaner
XL-2 Motorcraft High Temperature Nickel Anti-Seize Lubricant
PM-4-A Motorcraft Metal Brake Parts Cleaner
382444-S Protective Cap

That’s what carb cleaner does. Cleans gum and varnish and softens carbon. But without oil.


Returning from an all night bloodelivery to a distant mountain hospital, I had to stop and sleep in a rest area.
Parked next to another Expedition!
Did not know it was broken down until a tow truck arrived.
Woman’s engine had blown a sparkplug out of its cylinder head.
A thousand miles from her CA home, what a predicament.

@robert gift

There is a late 90’s expedition here in town that we have nick named it chitty chitty bang bang. It apparently had the plug blow out of it, when you see it driving thru town you hear a comical popping sound as it drives. It has been that way for at least 3 months, I wonder how long you can drive one like that for. I wonder if they bothered to disconnected the fuel injector?

Last time I seen it driving was on new years, It sits near a crummy apartment building and had a busted out left rear side glass that has been patched with trash bags, I doubt the spark plug will ever get fixed, this expedition is very rough.

I can imagine you running the Expedition up to 110mph on 7 cylinders, foot to the floor, poppety poppety be damned. Theres blood to deliver!

I can imagine you running the Expedition up to 110mph on 7 cylinders, foot to the floor, poppety poppety be damned. Theres blood to deliver!
Down a mountain pass, it's no problem. And the siren wouldn't be needed!

My only remedy for the woman was to disconnect that cylinder’s fuel injector and cover the area with a bat of fiberglass insulation and limp home.

When I got home, I wanted to torque the spark plugs.

Search a little farther on YouTube. You will find several who will remove the plugs, on camera, with an impact wrench. They claim it is foolproof. I’ve read about guys who did the Ford TSB method of 1/8 turn and carb cleaner and still broke off plugs. The tool to get the plug bits out runs about $130 online. I have one of these engines in my Mustang and I’ve been too chicken to try it. The car has 47K, and its been Seafoamed, it is time. Make sure you have a backup vehicle to drive while waiting for the tool.

I’ve never had a problem removing plugs for some reason – knock on wood – but what I’ve heard say is to use some penetrating oil, let it soak in a couple hours prior, then when the time comes to give it a go, turn the plug in the tightening direction slightly first, then hopefully it will back out. Pretty much everyone agrees some kind of impacting air wrench with a socket that won’t deform is the best tool combo. Knocking on a ratchet with a hammer seem like it would be better than nothing anyway. Sort of a poor man’s impact wrench. I think it might work better if you used a 1/2 inch drive, and not a ratchet but just a breaker bar for that. But still probably not as good as an impacting wrench, even if you manage to not hit your thumb. Or the fuel pressure regulator! If I had a problem where a plug wouldn’t back out with the engine cold, I’d probably run the engine a while and let it heat up then try it again.

I think one reason why I’ve never had the plug removal problem is I always put a little dab of moly-lube on the threads during the install. Most folks here seem to prefer a product called “anti-seize” rather than using moly-lube. Since the folks here are mostly pros, and I’m just a driveway diy’er, theirs is the advice I’d go with.

BTW, one of the most recent issues of Popular Mechanics magazine has an article on ideas how to remove stuck fasteners, including spark plugs.

The car has 47K, and its been Seafoamed, it is time.
Ford says to replace the spark plugs at 100K.