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 decent chance you will need to replace your old spark plugs several times during your ownership of a 2003 Ford Escape. Spark plugs are one of the most critical parts 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 parts and components, spark plugs experience wear over time and eventually need to be replaced, but fortunately this is a repair you can do yourself. Chances are, if you’ve found yourself here, you have no idea how to do that, or perhaps 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 approximately 20-45 minutes. This article will go over everything you should need to know about your Ford Escape’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 Escape
Recommended 2.0L L4 2003 Ford Escape Spark Plugs
Recommended 3.0L V6 2003 Ford Escape Spark Plugs
These spark plugs are an exact fit for their respective engines and will match the required specifications. Ensure you purchase the correct quantity of spark plugs for your engine corresponding to the number of cylinders. Occasionally 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 not a bad idea 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 now at a reasonable price.
How often should I change my spark plugs?
Very 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 exact interval determined by Ford for the 2003 Escape. Of course, if you drive your vehicle more aggressively or own a Escape 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:
- Rough idle
- Problems starting your engine
- Engine misfiring
Consider that this list is absolutely 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 Ford Escape’s spark plugs on a regular basis.
Changing spark plugs on a 2003 Ford Escape
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 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 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 do not 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 easier to check the exact gap, and it is helpful for a decent number of other jobs.
- 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 exact problem.
- A torque wrench is a very important tool to have in your arsenal. You should check your FSM (factory service manual) to determine the correct torque rating to use when inserting the new spark plugs for your 2003 Ford Escape to be certain they are installed properly.
- 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!
Tips for changing spark plugs on your 2003 Ford Escape
Ensure you review the video above before you attempt to repair the spark plugs on your 2003 Ford Escape, as well as review your factory service manual. Be sure to check the tips shown here to help you as you do this repair.
- You might consider using dielectric grease when installing new spark plugs. You can apply a small 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 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 Escape or any other vehicle.
- 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.
- Your engine should be completely COLD before you replace your spark plugs. Wait at least 30 minutes after your engine has been running before attempting to replace the spark plugs on your 2003 Ford Escape