One of the most important aspects of vehicle maintenance is ensuring your spark plugs are in good working order. There’s a good chance you will be required to replace your old and worn out spark plugs several times over the course of owning a 1997 Ford F-150. Spark plugs are one of the most critical components inside your engine as they begin the entire combustion process that starts and keeps your engine running for many thousands of miles. Similar to most engine components, spark plugs experience wear over time and eventually need to be swapped out for new replacements, 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 maybe 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 about 20-45 minutes. This article will go over everything you will need to know about your Ford F-150’s spark plugs, whether you need some baseline information or a full, step-by-step guide to performing a spark plug change.
Correct spark plugs on a 1997 Ford F-150
For any 1997 Ford F-150, you can use NGK 3403 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. Sometimes 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 is a good idea to purchase enough for your next two spark plug changes just so you will always have a new set ready. 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 now at a reasonable price.
How often should I change my spark plugs?
In general, 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 1997 F-150. Of course, if you drive your vehicle more aggressively or own a F-150 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 may need a spark plug replacement prematurely, such as:
- Engine misfiring
- Rough idle
- Problems starting your engine
Consider that this list is certainly not comprehensive, and these problems on their own do not necessarily 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 routine maintenance, and you are definitely doing so with the responsible decision to replace your Ford F-150’s spark plugs on a regular basis.
Changing spark plugs on a 1997 Ford F-150
This is a process you can do on your own with some standard garage tools. Of course, consult your owner’s manual, as well as a factory service manual (FSM for short) 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 regular tools you probably 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 for sure 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 increase or decrease 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 easier to check the exact gap, and it comes in handy for quite a few other jobs.
- A set of spark plug sockets – These come in extremely handy because many standard sockets are not deep enough for spark plugs. Additionally, 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 essential tool to have in your toolbox. You should check your FSM (factory service manual) or owner’s manual to determine the correct torque rating to use when installing the new spark plugs for your 1997 Ford F-150 to be confident they are installed properly.
- A spark plug tester – this is definitely a niche tool, but it can save you a ton 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 definite problem.
Tips for changing spark plugs on your 1997 Ford F-150
Ensure you watch the video above before you attempt to repair the spark plugs on your 1997 Ford F-150, as well as review your FSM (factory service manual). Be sure to check the tips shown here to help you as you perform this repair.
- Before starting, remove the negative terminal of your battery. It is wise to disconnect the battery anytime you work on the electrical system of your Ford F-150 or any other vehicle.
- Your engine should be completely cold before you replace your spark plugs. Wait at least 30 minutes after any kind of operation before attempting to replace the spark plugs on your 1997 Ford F-150
- During this process, one of the most vital things to ensure you do 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.
- Note that this is not official advice 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 light coating of anti-seize to the threads of their spark plugs, especially on older vehicles.
- It’s not a bad idea to use dielectric grease when installing new spark plugs. You can apply a a small dab to the inside of the boot and the ceramic part of your spark plugs. It prevents voltage leak and helps avoid the misfortune of the boot fusing to the spark plug over time.