Thursday, June 9, 2011

Changing Spark Plugs on a Nissan Xterra

I had 95,000 miles on my 2007 Nissan Xterra, so I decided to change the spark plugs. I'm unemployed, money is tight, so I decided to do it myself. I always start with the easy stuff (personal motto: Make a Showin'!), so first I changed the three plugs on the driver side of the motor. These first three easy guys took about an hour. Hey, I'm a carpenter, not a mechanic, and I tread VERY cautiously into the unknown.

Clicking on any of these pics will make them bigger.

This side is the reason that the spark plugs I bought last December($59.94 for 6 NGK platinum plugs) didn't get put in until last week. Look at all this air-intake stuff in the way! My first thought was to remove this stuff so I could get to the plugs. Nope, ain't gonna happen! I never did figure out how to get all this stuff out of the way. I spent an hour scratching my head and undoing a few bolts, hoses and wires. Finally, I put everything back like I found it and steeled myself to the task of being a contortionist. Two hours later, I had this side done, with a minimum of bleeding and a lot of cussing.

Here's the minimum tools you'll need:

3/8" socket wrench and extensions of various lengths. (I used all of these.)
3/8" universal. (I bought this afterwards. It would have saved me an hour.)
Long, skinny screwdriver. You'll need this to disassemble extensions in places you can't reach with your fingers.
Flexi-grabber. (The orange-handled thingy in the pic.) You'll need this to pull the plug out after you unscrew it. If the rubber gripper inside the spark plug socket had worked, I wouldn't have needed it. I use this tool daily to pick scorpions up off the floor. Here in the Mohave Desert, scorpions are the most common insect.
5/8 spark plug wrench. Make sure it has the rubber gripper inside.
10mm socket for undoing the caps over the spark plugs.

Don't forget to put connector grease on the plugs. $1.29.

Here's the old plugs. No oil or carbon fouling, so the motor is probably OK. You can see that a deposit stalactite(stalagmite?) was starting to form and eventually would have shorted out the plug.


  1. Good job. Maybe now that you've got that experience under your belt, I could drop by with my Nissan Titan. Like you, I bought the plugs a while back but still haven't got to it yet for several reasons.

  2. Hi Muddome,

    Sure, bring it on by! I'm drunk with power after a successful install.

    I've always done my own oil changes, but any other wrenching fills me with dread or terror. Even though I'm fairly tooled-up, there's alway one more damn tool I have to buy to get something done. And can you believe how much auto parts cost now?! $10 each for spark plugs! That's insane!


  3. Dave,
    That's a great offer! Only problem is, that with the price of fuel, I could slmost buy a new truck for the cost of the trip there. I got soaked for about $100 for my plugs. Your right, It's totally insane.

  4. Hi Muddome,

    I have a buddy from Las Vegas that is working at an RV park in Haines, Alaska for the summer. He pulled a fifth-wheel travel trailer with his big Ford truck. Must have cost him a fortune in gas.

    When I was a teen, gas was 25 cents/gallon and I was earning $1.60/hour. I did lots of aimless joyriding. Nowadays I plan multiple stops and combine shopping to save on gas.


  5. Underground carpenter, how did you get the coil out from underneath the intake?

  6. Anon,

    I didn't take the top manifold off. I just used universals and long extensions. My Nissan dealer's service department would have taken the manifold off to get to the spark plugs, but I couldn't figure out how to do that.


    1. how did you take the coil out of the spark well? the intake is in the way. what route did you pull it out? I can get the coil like 95% out but the last 1" is trapped behind the intake.

    2. Dave,
      What route did you take getting the front coil out from underneath the intake. I can get the coil out about 95% of the way but it is trapped under the intake. can you post a pic?

    3. Sean,
      My local Nissan dealer says it's best to take the manifold off to get to the spark plugs. When you say the coil, do you mean the rubber boot that attaches to the spark plug? I think I remember cussing it out. I gotta say the next time I change plugs, I'm going to spend whatever time it takes to pull that manifold off.


    4. Sean Fagan I just finish replacement of my 2007 nissan xterra spark plug. You have to Ben the coil a little and out to the front.

    5. Hey underground carpenter,

      Hey man I have an 07 xterra offeoad that I need to change the ignition coil and spark plug for the first cylinder (right under the intake) do you think that would be possible without removing intake?? Thanks

    6. Aggieland,

      Spark plugs are one thing. Ignition coil? You're on your own there. I haven't had to change mine yet. I'm at 214,000 miles now on my Xterra.



All comments are welcome.