There’s a good probability you will need to replace your set of spark plugs several times over the course of owning a 1997 Ford Ranger. Spark plugs are one of the most critical components 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 parts, spark plugs experience wear over time and eventually need to be replaced, but fortunately this is a repair you can do on your own. Chances 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 roughly 20-45 minutes. This article will go over everything you should need to know about your Ford Ranger’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 Ranger
For any 1997 Ford Ranger, you can use BOSCH 8103 spark plugs. These will be an exact fit and will match the required specifications of your engine. Ensure you purchase the correct amount of spark plugs for your engine corresponding to the number of cylinders. Sometimes manufacturers will bundle spark plugs in quantities that make it impossible 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 exact interval determined by Ford for the 1997 Ranger. Of course, if you drive your vehicle more aggressively or own a Ford Ranger 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 classic signs of a car that may need a spark plug replacement early, such as:
- Engine misfiring
- Problems starting your engine
- Rough idle
Note that this list is certainly not comprehensive, and these problems on their own do not definitively point to the spark plugs being the solitary 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 1997 Ford Ranger’s spark plugs on a regular basis.
Changing spark plugs on a 1997 Ford Ranger
This is a process you can do on your own with some commonplace garage tools. Of course, consult your owner’s manual, as well as a factory service manual (FSM) 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 complete a spark plug change with some ordinary 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 commonplace tools that you should absolutely have in your toolbox if you do not already.
- 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 an issue. This tool can help you diagnose the definite problem.
- 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 this is not the case, you should absolutely 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 is useful for quite a few other jobs.
- A set of spark plug sockets – These come in very 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 essential tool to have in your collection. You will want to check your factory service manual to determine the correct torque rating to use when inserting the new spark plugs for your 1997 Ford Ranger to be sure they are installed properly.
Tips for changing spark plugs on your 1997 Ford Ranger
Ensure you reference the video above before you attempt to repair the spark plugs on your 1997 Ford Ranger, 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.
- 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 tiny amount of anti-seize to the threads of their spark plugs, especially on older vehicles.
- Your engine should be completely cold before you replace your spark plugs. You should wait at least 30 minutes after your engine has been running before attempting to replace the spark plugs on your 1997 Ford Ranger
- The most important thing 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’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.
- Before you begin, remove the negative terminal of your battery. It is wise to disconnect the battery anytime you work on the electrical system of your Ford Ranger or any other vehicle.