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How to Replace Your Volkswagen's Spark Plugs

A lot of serious engine problems can arise from a bad spark plug. The cylinder is “dead” and that causes:

  • Difficulty starting the engine
  • Decrease in engine power
  • Rough idling
  • Excess fuel in the exhaust system, which can damage the catalytic converter

A bad spark plug needs to be replaced right away. Even if all your other spark plugs are in working order, we still strongly recommend replacing all of them at once. Then you won’t have to worry about another spark plug failing for a long time. Spark plugs are inexpensive. Changing them is a simple project, so it’s just easier to knock them all out in one go.

Buying Replacement Spark Plugs

VW replacement plugs

The first thing you need to do is to buy new spark plugs. You might be thinking about saving a few bucks on cheap aftermarket spark plugs. We’re here to tell you that's a bad idea. There are many problems associated with cheap spark plugs, including:

  • Incorrect gaps.
  • Incorrect heat range.
  • Lower quality.

OEM spark plugs, on the other hand, are high quality and designed to fit your exact vehicle. OEM is by far the better choice. If you’re concerned about saving a bit of money, you can purchase OEM spark plugs at wholesale price from an authorized reseller like VW Parts Vortex. Simply do a search on your Volkswagen model and you’ll find the right spark plugs for your car. You can also check out this list of the best selling spark plugs at our shop:

Tools to Grab Beforehand

Before rolling up your sleeves and starting the project, make sure you have all of the following tools on hand:

  • Socket wrench with extension
  • Spark plug socket
  • Anti-seize lubricant
  • Torque wrench

Replacing Your Spark Plugs in 10 Steps

Replace jetta plugs

Image Credit: PaulsTravelPictures

  1. Make sure the engine is cool to the touch.
  2. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery.
  3. Remove the plastic dust cover from the engine.
  4. Locate the spark plug wires running along the side of the engine. If you’re not familiar with where they are, check your owner’s manual or YouTube.
  5. Grab a spark plug wire as close as possible to the spark plug. Carefully pull it up away from the engine. Be sure not to pull it at an angle.
  6. You should be able to see the spark plug at this point. Use the socket wrench to unscrew the old spark plug and remove it from the cylinder.
  7. Apply anti-seize lubricant to the new spark plug’s threads.
  8. Screw the new spark plug into the cylinder by hand. Then use the torque wrench to tighten the plug to 22 ft. lbs.
  9. Repeat with the rest of the spark plugs.
  10. Put the dust cover back on the engine and screw it in place.

Important Tips to Keep in Mind

We’ll close this post with three important tips:

  1. Spark plugs (especially older, rusted ones) are easy to break while removing. If you accidentally break one in the process of removing it from the cylinder, you’ll have a hard time extracting it. Then you’ll likely need to have a VW dealer do it for you. If you are concerned about this:
    1. Spray the base of the spark plugs with a penetrating oil like PB Blaster a day ahead of time.
    2. Make sure the engine is completely cold when you remove the plugs. Metal expands when it's hot. A warm engine has a tighter grip on the plug.
  2. Avoid over-tightening the spark plugs to prevent them from breaking during installation. It also reduces the risk of the threads being stripped.
  3. Use just a thin coat of anti-seize on the new plugs. It helps them go in smoothly, and makes it easier to change them again down the road.