Spark plug replacement

Town

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The Continental describes the cylinder bank close to the firewall bulkhead as the Right Hand bank (RH). The cylinder bank close to the front grille is the Left Hand bank (LH). This is because the view is taken from the flywheel looking toward the serpentine belt and timing gear end. The cylinder numbering is 123 (starting from the serpentine belt/timing chain end) on the RH bank (firewall side) and 456 (starting from the serpentine belt/timing chain end) on the LH bank (grille side).

Before starting work on the spark plugs you need to depressurise the fuel system. The service manual describes this in the attached file. There is also a common procedure for dealing with the quick release couplings that are all "tool-less" processes. The battery needs to be disconnected at the neg terminal, see attached procedure since open fuel lines will be a hazard.

The procedure for each engine is different since the components to be removed are engine specific. These procedures will be in separate posts. to this thread.
 

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Town

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The Continental maintenance schedule identifies 3 levels of use: Normal, Severe and Extreme.
Normal is defined as:

"Normal commuting with highway driving
No, or moderate, load or towing
Flat to moderately hilly roads
No extended idling"


Severe is defined as:

"Moderate to heavy load or towing
Mountainous or off-road conditions
Extended idling
Extended hot or cold operation"


Extreme is defined as:

"Maximum load or towing
Extreme hot or cold operation"


The spark plug replacement is required at: 100,000 miles (160,000 kms) under normal driving;
The spark plug replacement is required at: 60,000 miles (96,000 Kms) for severe use;
I don't know the mileage for extreme use. It sounds more like a truck requirement than a car requirement to me.

If you have the 3.0 twin turbo, there is a required oil change when changing the spark plugs due to removal of the engine oil cooler.

I use the severe service schedule which my dealer gave me after discussion of my needs.

In my readings, the problem of deposits on valves were mainly the intake valves and due to the crankcase ventilation system allowing excess oil to be drawn into the cylinder head through some of the intake valves. Those were on the earlier engines 4 cyl turbo and the 3.5 twin turbo. My son has a 2012 F150 (3.5 twin turbo) with over 200,000 kms and no intake valve problems or any other problems. Ford have done a great deal of work on their engines which shows up in their sensors and crankcase ventilation, increased use of valve timing strategy to increase swirl in the cylinder head, and little to no oil usage. I am confident that the valves will stay clean, but I do use premium fuel without ethanol and extra cleaners to help.

Hope this helps.
 

Town

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The 2.7 turbo spark plug replacement procedures are attached. The first file shows location of components and cylinder banks naming convention and the second file shows cylinder numbering convention.

The spark plug procedure is in two parts: the COP removal procedure gets to the spark plugs and the spark plugs procedure removes and replaces the spark plug. The air cleaner outlet pipe RH procedure is required to get to the COPs. Don't forget the common procedures in post #1 that are required as necessary. In the past, the fuel system would lose all its pressure if left over night, but the Continental has dual pumps, low pressure from tank to engine compartment and high pressure into the fuel rails.

Rockauto has 2 spark plugs for the 2.7, a SP542 and SP578. The SP542 is iridium and the Owner manual suggested plug (same as 3.0 owner manual spec plug). I check with my dealer for the suggested replacement plug since Ford may have updated the spec. The gap is 0.028" - 0.031".

Both plugs need a 5/8" socket wrench with an attached extension because you need a tight hold on the plug (rubber insert or magnetic insert) to extract from the deep well. A regular slip fit extension with the socket will separate in the plug well. I drilled my socket and extension and put a roll pin in to make a permanent combination. You can probably buy a single unit plug socket and extension.

Once the engine beauty cover is released it is recommended that the top of the engine be blown with compressed air to generally remove all dust from components and other areas. Once the COPs are visible more compressed air to remove any dust is recommended. After removing the COP the plug well must be blown out with air too. It is surprising how much dust can accumulate and that must not get into the cylinders.

Hope this helps.
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Town

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The 3.0 liter twin turbo has more engine features than the 2.7 so there are more steps, such as changing the engine oil for access to the engine oil cooler and its removal. The engine oil cooler coolant lines need to be crimped before removal of the connectors for coolant lines. The PCM must be removed for access but then just replace it there is no need to save the program in the IDS scanner since that is only required for replacement of the PCM.

Rockauto has 2 spark plugs for the 3.0, a SP542 and SP578. The SP542 is iridium and the Owner manual suggested plug. I check with my dealer for the suggested replacement plug since Ford may have updated the spec. The gap is 0.028" - 0.031". Deep well plug socket with an extension is required as for the 2.7 engine.

Attached are the required procedures.

Otherwise the same remarks for the 2.7 apply to the 3.0 so good luck.
 

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m1nkyb0y

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Westerly, RI
I hope I get the same results as your son.
My use is much less than normal, so I shouldn't have to worry about changing plugs...ever.
Especially since this is an interim car. I'll hopefully trade it for a used e-?? in a few years.
 

Town

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Ottawa Ontario Canada
The 3.7 Duratec spark plug change procedures are attached. Note the post #1 contains the general procedures that may be required for this engine. The owner manual specifies an SP520 spark plug with a gap of 0.049" - 0.053" same as RockAuto.

The remarks on spark plug socket and extension apply to the 3.7 as well as 2.7 and 3.0.
 

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Todor

New member
Hi,
I recently changed the plugs on mine at 37k km/23k mi. I did it just because of the NGK Ruthenium HX plugs available for the 3.0 and couldn't wait to test them.
Already clocked 2-3k miles on the new plugs. Maybe better, maybe better idle. Can't decide. There is some difference, but can't swear on it. Anyway, peace of mind and joy of exploiting newest technology.
I follow the principle to read all family cars manuals and use the shortest interval of any car on all cars. Jetta 1.4tsi states 4 years or 40k km on plugs, fuel process and plugs technology being similar...
Also, a plug can be responsible for many interweaved failures, such as: COP internal discharge, catalists, cylinder bore wash, oil dilution and etc. At 7.50$ per plug and an hour job...

Did it with no special tools, no oil cooler or ECU removal. Just removed the cover, all air and vacuum hoses by hand and rear turbo intake just moved front or back a little after freeing it up from its bolt.
Special tools (lol): 16mm magnetic plug tool and extension allowing +/- 25-30° when partially inserted (didn't need it really) - helper pliers for hose clamps.
Everything is easily accessible. Spark wells were clinically clean.
Used torque wrench at ~35 NM or so (same as Mustang 4.6-3V) and that's it. On my responsibility I torqued additionally by feel just a tad (had a loose plug on the stang that sounded like a punctured exhaust, no consequences). NGK recommends tightening by hand by the extension only until it stops + 1/16 turn for washerless plugs, that's like 22.5°. But double check by degree tool (or eye-meter) and torque wrench to be sure that it reached at least 30-35 NM.
That's it.
It was so unremarkable and easy that I didn't document it.

Here are some photos for reference and plug diagnostics. All plugs are 100% equal, differences due to shades and lights.
IMG_20200604_154433_copy_1200x900.jpg IMG_20200604_154457_copy_1200x1600.jpg IMG_20200604_153627_copy_1200x900.jpg IMG_20200604_154347_copy_1200x900.jpg IMG_20200604_142557_copy_1200x1600.jpg IMG_20200604_142606_copy_1200x900.jpg IMG_20200604_153606_copy_1200x900.jpg IMG_20200603_183517_copy_1200x900.jpg IMG_20200603_184130_copy_1200x1600.jpg IMG_20200603_184544_copy_1200x1600.jpg
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Town

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Ottawa Ontario Canada
@Todor thanks for your practical information on changing the spark plugs on your 3.0 twin turbo. How did you deal with the fuel pressure rails? Did the high pressure rails leak down to 0 psi overnight like the old low pressure lines?
 

Todor

New member
@Todor thanks for your practical information on changing the spark plugs on your 3.0 twin turbo. How did you deal with the fuel pressure rails? Did the high pressure rails leak down to 0 psi overnight like the old low pressure lines?
Hi, sorry for the delayed reply. I didn't do anything to fuel lines, whatsoever. It was a breese of a job. Just remove the engine cover, several air hoses with fast clamps, the bolts of the coils and the bolt of the rear turbo intake. I navigated the plug bit and extension gently and easy through underhood inhabitants.
Oh, forgot about something, several installation branches had to be freed from their supports (the bits that hold wires to sticking out bolts), just gently free them with some feel not to snap anything plastic.
I saw some fuel lines on the right of the engine and avoided going anywhere near them. Maybe I'll make a short video with explanations next time I service something. Oil change approaching.

BTW, I cleaned the throttle body. The engine had a little vibration or uneven operation from time to time at hot idle in gear. Plugs replacement had some positive influence, maybe 20-30% (maybe none), but it persisted. I remember I had the same issue on the 4.6-3V Mustang at 25-30k miles, 30 minutes later and 1/4 can of carb cleaner made the difference. Throttle valve clinically clean on the outside. Thought to myself, well, that can't be true. Pushed it with finger and found a thin black soft layer of oil deposits right behind the throttle valve. Some cloth and the cleaner did the job for as far as I could reach on the whole perimeter and on the back of the valve.

-> Pointing out that, because that hot idle irregularity additionally made my mind into changing the plugs.
-> Also, low mileage owners should consider some kind of non invasive intake cleanup procedure before the black gunk oxidises to the state that it is not easily soluble. Once a year I spray two cans of cleaner in the intake of my 4.2td 1hd-fte Land Cruiser at steady 2.000 rpm. (though I hadn't made up my mind on the method of cleaning the 3.0Ecoboost as it's quite different from rudimentary truck diesel, will wait for a youtuber to do it first)
-> Motorcraft oil is pretty suspicious for being a group III hydrocracked "synthetic", so mileage beyond 5-6k miles is highly improbable without evaporation and getting dirty. I foung German brand oil with 258 degrees C flash point, 100% group IV and V base and modern really high tec additive pack that's still transparent at 4.350 miles, like completely transparent on the dip stick and through the oil cap.
+ I like to drive my cars as much and as long as possible, that's my driver's satisfaction, so a torn driver's seat is the first major failure I like to see, thus my preference for 5-6k oci with the best oil I can get... BTW, a 100-150$ oil change and quality air filter buys itself about half way through the OCI through better mileage. I've seen 1 to 3 liters/100 km difference between cheap/dirty air filter and used up or weak engine oil persistently for 20 years on tens of cars.
-> Oil is important for spark plug life as well, also for combustion chamber cleanliness and intake free of gunk. I got the car at 20k miles with at least 5-6 oil changes with Motorcraft and it still gunked the throttle body.

Note: don't tighten the charge hose too much or you will cut with the hose clamp through it. The hose receiver has apretty big rib, so that hose is not going anywhere.
 
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