Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Spark plugs 1998 Regal

It has 128,000 miles. I took off a front plug, and they definitely need to be replaced. Should I try this at home? It looks like I need to disconnect the motor mounts on the top, front of the engine and rotate the engine forward to get at the back plugs. What equipment do I need to pull the engine forward and hold it? What equipment do I need to push the engine back into the motor mounts? What other suggestions do you have for getting at the rear plugs?

Bonus question: My oil pan gasket has leaked for quite a while. Fortunately, it is a very slow leak. As I understand it, the engine needs to be rotated forward to clear brackets under the engine so that the oil pan can be freed to remove it. Can I do this job at the same time that I replace the rear plugs?

Thanks for your suggestions, guys.

Removing the through bolts from one end of the two motor mounts (some may have had one) on top of the engine and rotating it forward may give you more room to work. The last one I did (3.8L) I did not do this as there was enough room in the back to work. If you think it will help, disconnect them and use a ratchet strap to haul it forward as much as you can. Be careful where you hook the other end of the strap to prevent damaging the body of the car. The hood latch hole may look tempting but is not a good place to hook on to. As for the oil pan, I haven’t seen one of these cars in a while and can’t get a mental image of what complications there may be to doing this job, so I can’t really help you there.

Sometimes you can get to the rear plugs by removing the alternator and accessing the back of the engine through that space.

If you have short stumpy arms this may not work well.

“Sometimes you can get to the rear plugs by removing the alternator…”

I’d rather pull the engine forward or pay someone to do it. Where can I get a ratchet strap, and does anyone have a suggestion what I could attach it to?

When I refer to a ratchet strap, I’m referring to those nylon cargo tie down straps with the ratcheting binding mechanism. You can get them at Harbor Freight, or if you don’t have one of those nearby, Wal-Mart or any auto parts store sells them. Put the hook on the shorter strap (the one with the ratchet on it) through the motor mount attaching point attached to the engine or to a lifting ring if your motor has those (3.1 and 3.4 do, don’t remember if 3.8 does). Throw a blanket, towel, or something like that over the front of your car to protect the paint, then take the other end of the strap under the front of the car and attach it to the strongest thing you can find under there, like a crossmember or something like that. These straps are useful for all sorts of things, so they are good to have around. I try to keep half a dozen or so of them around the house.

There is actually a tool to hook into the engine lift plate to pull the engine forward. It is a threaded rod with hooks and a ratchet. I’m a retired truck driver so I just use a chain binder. You could use a stout chain or tow strap around an immovable object and carefully back up to tilt the engine forward and set the brake,

I put my big boy pants on and replaced the plugs. I bought a heavy duty cargo strap and attached it to a bracket on the back of the engine and then hooked the other end over the bottom left side of the radiator mount. It turned out I was far too concerned about what would happen if I removed the front engine mounts. The engine didn’t move at all. The worst part turned out to be the getting the plug wires off the plugs. The oxygen sensor was in the way of the rear right plug, but I was able to work around it with a universal adapter on one of my spark plug sockets. After doing the back 3 plugs, the front 3 seemed like a piece of cake. The car sounds great now. Thanks mark and oldtimer. Your suggestions got me thinking and helped me figure out what to do.