Spark Plug Tools
One of the bits of routine maintenance that can cause folks problems is replacing the spark plugs. If you have a Type-1 or Type-3 style motor, the plugs are just inside the cylinder covers and can't really be seen but felt only. for Type-4 engines it can be even more difficult especially on cylinders 2 & 4 since the tin sticks up almost 8 inches away from the plug holes. Many folks who are new to VWs will sometimes use their favorite spark plug socket to remove the plugs and then just stick the new plugs into the same socket and use a ratchet to get them installed. This all sounds well intentioned, but many heads have been ruined by doing just this due to cross-threading the plugs into the soft aluminum head. As a general rule, spark plugs should ALWAYS be started in their holes by hand. Then they can be finished with a ratchet and then torque to spec. For years I accomplished this by using a 6 inch piece of German breather hose. However, I recently discovered a tool specifically made for this from MAC Tools and it works better than breather hose.
It's MAC Tools p/n SPS1 and it's one of the best and cheapest tools on the truck!! You simply slip the end over a spark plug and your ready to hand thread it into the aluminum head with no chance of cross threading. The thing I like about this tool over a piece of breather hose, is that it holds the plug more firmly in the tool than hose ever did and thus makes it easier to thread in. Once the plug is started into the hole, you just pull the tool off the end and use your ratchet to finish off the job. Simple huh??
My next tool is a home-made tool that eliminates dropping the plug socket on Type-4 motors when replacing the plugs on cylinders 2 & 4. I can't tell you just how many engines I've disassembled and found plug sockets resting on the heads. . . This is simply a cheap 13/16" socket and an equally cheap 6" extension. I used a grinder to grind away the chrome around the end of each. Then I remove the rubber cushion inside the plug. I put them together and then I brazed the two together using a torch. Now there is no chance of dropping the socket down the plug hole in the tins on a type-4 motor.
With these two tools, never again will you cross-thread a plug or drop the plug socket down into a plug hole. Enjoy!!
Do you have a cheap but effective tool solution for a VW problem?? Send me your tricks, tips and cool, low-buck solutions and who knows, you may have it featured here in the future.
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Revised: May 04, 2008 .