Maintaining your vehicle is an incredibly rewarding task and learning how to replace your spark plugs is a great place to start. There’s a good chance you will be required to replace your set of spark plugs several times during your ownership of a 1996 Ford Thunderbird. Spark plugs are one of the most critical parts inside your engine as they trigger the entire combustion process that starts and keeps your engine running for many thousands of miles. Like most engine components, spark plugs experience wear over time and eventually need replacement, but fortunately this is a repair you can do yourself. Odds are, if you’ve found yourself here, you have no idea how to do that, or potentially you’d just like to know what kind of spark plugs you need to buy. The complete process of changing your spark plugs should take roughly 20-45 minutes. This article will go over everything you will need to know about your Ford Thunderbird’s spark plugs, whether you need some general information or a full, step-by-step guide to performing a spark plug change.
Correct spark plugs on a 1996 Ford Thunderbird
For any 1996 Ford Thunderbird, you can use DENSO 4713 spark plugs. These will be an exact fit and will match the required specifications of your engine. Ensure you purchase the correct number of spark plugs for your engine corresponding to the number of cylinders. Often, manufacturers will bundle spark plugs in quantities that make it difficult to buy the exact amount you need for your engine. In this case, it can’t hurt to purchase enough for your next two spark plug changes just so you will always have a new set ready to go. We always try to recommend the best possible spark plugs for the money, and these spark plugs are either a factory recomendation or an equivalent replacement available in today’s market at a reasonable price.
How often should I change my spark plugs?
As a general recommendation, it is advised that you replace spark plugs once every 20,000 to 40,000 miles. Of course, please make sure to check your owner’s manual to determine the specific interval determined by Ford for the 1996 Thunderbird. Of course, if you drive your vehicle more aggressively or own a Thunderbird with some modifications, you may want to consider changing your spark plugs closer to the 20,000 miles end of that spectrum.
However, there are also telltale signs of a car that needs a spark plug replacement early, such as:
- Engine misfiring
- Rough idle
- Problems starting your engine
Consider that this list is absolutely not comprehensive, and these problems on their own do not definitively point to the spark plugs being the standalone culprit. However, the best way to prevent any issues with your vehicle is to take care of it with organized maintenance, and you are definitely doing so with the responsible decision to replace your Ford Thunderbird’s spark plugs on a regular basis.
Changing spark plugs on a 1996 Ford Thunderbird
This is a process you should be able to do on your own with some ordinary garage tools. Of course, consult your owner’s manual, as well as a factory service manual or an equivalent Haynes or Chiltons manual. The video shown below does a good job of outlining the process.
As noted before, you should be able to do a spark plug change with some ordinary tools you likely already have. However, there are a few tools that are specific to this job that you may not have, and we also want to recommend some general tools that you should absolutely have in your toolbox if you don’t already.
- A spark plug gap tool. This allows you to check the gap of your spark plugs and change it if necessary. Most plugs will come pregapped, but if not, you should definitely have one of these.
- I also highly recommend you have a feeler gauge as it makes it a bit more straightforward to check the exact gap, and it is useful for countless other jobs.
- A set of spark plug sockets – These come in extremely handy because many standard sockets are not deep enough for spark plugs. In addition, some spark plug holes are a bit smaller, so it requires a thinner wall like the one featured in the product here to fit. The linked product also features a magnet to keep a good hold of the spark plug so you do not drop it into your engine bay!
- A torque wrench is a very important tool to have in your garage. You will want to check your FSM (factory service manual) to determine the correct torque rating to use when putting in the new spark plugs for your 1996 Ford Thunderbird to be sure they are installed properly.
- A spark plug tester – this is definitely a niche tool, but it can save you lots of time. Although we’ve discussed spark plug replacement being a good thing to replace regularly and not just when issues occur, you may also be replacing your spark plugs because of a problem. This tool can help you diagnose the exact problem.
Tips for changing spark plugs on your 1996 Ford Thunderbird
Be sure to watch the video above before you attempt to repair the spark plugs on your 1996 Ford Thunderbird, as well as review your factory service manual. Also, see the tips included below here to help you as you perform this repair.
- One of the most important things to remember is to avoid overtightening the plugs or worse, cracking them due to overtightenting. Use a torque wrench capable of lower, more precise torque ratings to be sure that you don’t make this mistake.
- It isn’t a bad idea to use dielectric grease when installing new spark plugs. You can apply a a tiny amount to the inside of the boot and the ceramic part of your spark plugs. It lessens the chance of voltage leak and helps avoid the misfortune of the boot fusing to the spark plug over time.
- Take this (unofficial advice) lightly as many spark plug manufacturers advise against the use of anti-seize. However, I have heard from numerous old-school mechanics that they always apply a small amount of anti-seize to the threads of their spark plugs, especially on older vehicles.
- Before beginning, remove the negative terminal of your battery. It’s a good idea to disconnect the battery anytime you work on the electrical system of your Ford Thunderbird or any other vehicle.
- You should replace spark plugs on a cold engine. Wait at least 30 minutes after any kind of operation before attempting to replace the spark plugs on your 1996 Ford Thunderbird