One of the most important aspects of vehicle maintenance is ensuring your spark plugs are in good working order. There’s a likely chance you will be required to replace your old spark plugs several times over the course of owning a 1997 Nissan Altima. Spark plugs are one of the most vital components inside your engine as they start 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 replaced, 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 Nissan Altima’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 Nissan Altima
For any 1997 Nissan Altima, you can use DENSO 4701 spark plugs. These will be an exact fit and will match the required specifications of your engine. As this 1997 Nissan Altima features a 2.4L L4 engine, ensure you purchase 4 spark plugs. 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 an affordable price.
How often should I change my spark plugs?
Generally, 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 Nissan for the 1997 Altima. Of course, if you drive your vehicle more aggressively or own a Nissan Altima 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 early, such as:
- Engine misfiring
- Rough idle
- Problems starting your engine
As a quick note, keep in mind 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 regular maintenance, and you are definitely doing so with the responsible decision to replace your 1997 Nissan Altima’s spark plugs on a regular basis.
Changing spark plugs on a 1997 Nissan Altima
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 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 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 definitely have in your toolbox if you don’t already.
- A set of spark plug sockets – These come in very handy because many standard sockets are not deep enough for spark plugs. Also, 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 vital tool to have in your toolbox. You will want to check your FSM (factory service manual) to determine the correct torque rating to use when installing the new spark plugs for your 1997 Nissan Altima to be sure they are installed properly.
- 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 this is not the case, 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 quite a few other jobs.
- 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 exact problem.
Tips for changing spark plugs on your 1997 Nissan Altima
Please make sure you reference the video above before you attempt to repair the spark plugs on your 1997 Nissan Altima, as well as review your factory service manual. Be sure to check the tips shown here to help you as you do this repair.
- 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.
- Before starting, disconnect the negative terminal of your battery. You should always disconnect the battery anytime you work on the electrical system of your Nissan Altima or any other vehicle.
- It’s not a bad idea to use dielectric grease when installing new spark plugs. You can apply a a very light coating 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.
- Your engine should be completely cold before you replace your spark plugs. Ensure you wait at least 30 minutes after your engine has been running before attempting to replace the spark plugs on your 1997 Nissan Altima
- 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 tiny amount of anti-seize to the threads of their spark plugs, especially on older vehicles.