There’s a decent probability you will need to replace your worn out spark plugs several times during your ownership of a 2003 Ford E-550. Spark plugs are one of the most important components inside your engine as they trigger the entire combustion process that starts and keeps your engine running for many thousands of miles. Similar to most engine parts, spark plugs experience wear over time and eventually need replacement, 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 potentially you’d just like to know what kind of spark plugs you need to buy. The entire 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 E-550’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 2003 Ford E-550
For any 2003 Ford E-550, you can use AUTOLITE AP103 spark plugs. These will be an exact fit and will match the required specifications of your engine. As this 2003 Ford E-550 features a 6.8L V10 engine, ensure you purchase 10 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 in today’s market 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 exact interval determined by Ford for the 2003 E-550. Of course, if you drive your vehicle more aggressively or own a Ford E-550 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 needs a spark plug replacement early, such as:
- Rough idle
- Problems starting your engine
- Engine misfiring
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 2003 Ford E-550’s spark plugs on a regular basis.
Changing spark plugs on a 2003 Ford E-550
This is a process you should be able to 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 complete a spark plug change with some ordinary tools you most 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 for sure have in your toolbox if you don’t already.
- 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.
- A set of spark plug sockets – These come in very 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 collection. You will want to check your factory service manual to determine the correct torque rating to use when putting in the new spark plugs for your 2003 Ford E-550 to be certain they are installed properly.
- 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 for sure 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 comes in handy for countless other jobs.
Tips for changing spark plugs on your 2003 Ford E-550
Be sure to review the video above before you attempt to repair the spark plugs on your 2003 Ford E-550, as well as review your FSM (factory service manual). Also, see the tips included below here to help you as you perform this repair.
- It isn’t a bad idea to use dielectric grease when installing new spark plugs. You can apply a a little bit 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.
- 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.
- 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 E-550 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 2003 Ford E-550
- The most important thing is to avoid is 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.