How to Tighten Spark Plugs Without a Torque Wrench?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. Learn More

Did you know you can easily tighten a spark plug without a torque wrench? All you need is the spark plug socket and a ratchet to complete the task. Does it sound too good to be true?

Read the full article on how to tighten spark plugs without a torque wrench and you will know how easy it is.

Replacing a spark plug is an unavoidable engine maintenance work you have to do from time to time. It’s also important to make sure you have tightened the spark plug to its correct specification for which you need a torque wrench. But that’s not always the case. 

How to Tighten Spark Plugs Without a Torque Wrench

You might not have the torque wrench right away or you don’t own one. That’s where the hand tightening and ratchet method of tightening spark plugs come into play. Below is our complete walkthrough of how you can tighten your spark plugs without a torque wrench.

What You Will Need Tighten a Spark Plug Without a Torque Wrench

The list of things you will need in this operation is pretty straightforward. Most of the tools here are likely to be in your toolbox without getting to a hardware store. The only exceptions are the spark plug and the spark plug socket. 

If this is your first time changing your spark plug, you might not have it in your toolbox. So it’s a good time as any to get a decent spark plug socket from your local hardware or online store. Apart from that, here are all the things you will need.

Safety gears: Hand gloves, eye protection, and Heavy-duty boots are the basic safety gear you will need in any auto repair. It’s not necessary to have all of those at once but for your own safety, more protection is usually better. 

Ratchet: Ratchet is a one-directional tightening tool that works as a wrench. The satisfying clicking sound and precise operation make it the most popular tightening tool in any repair work.

Spark plug socket: To lift your spark plug, you need a different socket depending on the vehicle model. So it’s a plus if you have the whole spark plug socket set for a wide range of maintenance work.

Replacement spark plug: Choose a brand new spark plug or functional used spark plug to replace the old one. If you are buying a new one, a good tip is to always go for OEM spark plugs for better service.

How to Tighten a Spark Plug Without a Torque Wrench

Now we are going to discuss how to tighten your spark plug if you don’t have a torque wrench in six steps.

Step 1: The first step in any repair and maintenance work is gearing up. Wear safety gloves, glasses, and boots to protect your body parts from any severe injury. No matter how insignificant it looks, never overlook the safety gears.

Step 2: Remove all the spark plug covers from the engine. If your cover comes in separate from the connection, keep those for later. That way you can reinsert the covers according to the original configuration. 

Step 3: Now, it’s time to unscrew all the old spark plugs slowly. If you are not sure which spark plug is bad, check each of them and inspect it manually. You should be looking for cracks, rust, bending, or any kind of deformation. After removing all the bad spark plugs, move on to the next step.

Step 4: Install a new spark plug with the help of a socket and extension bar that comes with the set. One thing to remember, agitating the new spark plug too much while installing is a bad thing. Place each of them as gently as possible so threads don’t go bad in the process.

Step 5: Tighten the first couple of turns with your hand. The goal is to reach the initial resistance while tightening with hands only. From there we will look up in the car manual and find out the exact hand turn you will need to properly tighten a spark plug. 

In our case our Honda civic 99 needed a 2/3rd of a turn to properly tighten the plug. Your manual may say it otherwise as it entirely depends on the size of the spark plug. 

Step 6: Now, the easy way to follow turn measurement is to divide a full turn into a specific portion. Then turn accordingly, for example, We divided a complete turn into 3 parts and followed through until we reached the end of the first two portions. After that, we put back all the covers and tried a test run to see if everything was working fine.

And that’s how you tighten your spark plugs without a torque wrench.


Do You Really Need Torque Wrench for Spark Plugs?

It is always good to tighten your spark plugs to the manufacturer’s specifications (read here in details). Instead, If you don’t have one right now, you can hand tighten and use a ratchet wrench for tightening spark plugs

Should You Lubricate Spark Plug Threads?

It is not necessary to put oil on the threads. This will mess up the natural tightening process. While tightening, the oil may cause threads to slip and over-tighten the plugs. 

How Often Should You Change Spark Plugs?

The changing routine of spark plugs is around 30,000-40,000 miles. Depending on the usage and model of the spark plug it may vary. It’s better to learn your exact value from the owner’s manual.

What are The Symptoms of Bad Spark Plugs?

A few symptoms of bad spark plugs are low mileage, trouble in acceleration, initial hard starts, regular engine misfires, and vibration while idling. If you see any of these in your car, chances are you have bad spark plugs.

Final Thoughts

We hope this detailed walkthrough on how to tighten spark plugs without a torque wrench gives you valuable insights. So the next time you will have to change your spark plugs, you will be ready as ever.

Scroll to Top