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Broken spark plugs....:(

Nuts N' Bolts's Avatar
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01-04-04, 04:20 PM   #1  
Nuts N' Bolts
Broken spark plugs....:(

I finally talked my son into replacing the spark plugs in his 93' Ford Festiva. It had been sputtering on startup , and refusing to run when damp. Long story short, two plugs came out fine, the other two broke off in the engine, and despite many efforts over the past two weeks to get them out, one still remains lodged in its hole.
My husband has broken off four easy-outs, and tried numerous other ideas, all to no avail. Is pulling the head the only hope we have of completing this supposedly simple task?
Needless to say, I am now the "bad guy" for suggesting a tune up in the first place. Can someone please help me regain my family standing?

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toivo's Avatar
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01-04-04, 04:36 PM   #2  

nut's an bolts, i f your husband is really good with a drillmotor and the guts of the plug are gone. he may be able to drill out the plug remenants but he will need size the drill bit by the size of the plug threads. if he can do this than he may be able to run a thread chaser doen and clean the threads up. he will have to blow the cylinder out with compressed air when he is done. if you coat the drill bit and tap with grease you will keep a lot of the shavings out. if the easyouts are broken off in the plug you will probably have to pull the head. you are not at fault for poor maintenace of the automobile. one young fellow deserves a kick in the pants for not taking care of the car properly. good luck, toivo

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01-04-04, 04:57 PM   #3  
You DO have a bit of a problem. Once aluminum fuses to the plug, it won't let go. Part of the head will come with the plug when it eventually comes out. Whether or not the head can be saved is the question. The only way of repairing it is, once the plug finally comes out, the head will have to be drilled oversize, tapped and an heli-coil installed. This will work provided that too much metal doesn't come out with the plug. The moral of the story is to change the plugs MUCH sooner and coat the threads with anti-sieze.

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01-04-04, 05:02 PM   #4  
your local autoparts store should have a kit to make this repair. I have done it twice before without taking the head off and both cars are still running years later.

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01-04-04, 08:10 PM   #5  
Nuts N' Bolts
Good heavens....at least there is good news with the bad. Thanks to all of you for your imparted knowledge.
Lack of maintenance is an inherited trait you know...from his fathers side of the family. *grin* Hubby is now afraid to do his own Festivas tune up...it's been waiting even longer than my sons. I'll let you know what happens in both cases.

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01-04-04, 08:15 PM   #6  
You may want to check out the spark plug wires, the no start when damp points to them. But I think you have a job in front of you before the wires
Good luck, at least you have a couple options

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01-04-04, 11:11 PM   #7  
mike from nj
i wouldn't recommend drilling out the parts of a broken spark plug with the head still on. the chance of not going straight with the drill is great and then you will have a ruined cyl head for sure.

if all the parts came out, but the threads in the head were messed up, it's an easy 'heli-coil insert' job.

if any part is left in there, and the plug broke, you can be sure there is some ceramic parts down in the cylinder as well as the fresh iron shavings from the drilling process.

aluminum shavings won't do any harm to the cylinder, ceramic and iron (and broken chips from an easy out) will cause damage.

what we do, is take the head off and send it to the machine shop. they install a thick, permanent insert shell, and have never had a problem yet with one.

three things cause this to happen to a plug
1- overtightend or cross threaded when initially installed
2- left in for way, way too long
3- headgasket leak or even a small crack in the cylinder head. when the antifreeze burns in the cylinder for any amount of time, that plug isn't coming out (in one piece)

if you had a small headgasket leak, and didn't know it, you would have to take off the head anyway, now's your chance.

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