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6th Gen In the years from 1996 to 2000 Honda released it's 6th Generation Civic. Chassis codes: EK9, EK4, EK3, EJ6, EJ8, EJ9, EM1


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Old 11-04-2009   #1 (permalink)
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Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Hello all, hoping someone can help me out here. I have just created a wonderful experiance for myself by breaking off the threaded portion of a spark plug in the head of my Civic. I've attempted soaking it in PB Blaster for a day and a half, and using an EZOut to extract the remaining portion of the plug to no avail. I went on to remove the Valve/Cylinder cover to attempt to get closer access to the plug, but I can't see any way of removing the spark plug tube.

I have a Hayes/Service manual, and I can't find anything about those tubes coming out in the engine section or the assemble blowup. Do they come out?

Secondly, based on the fact that even with a 24+ hour soak in PB Blaster, and putting as much torque on the easyout with a breaker bar as I felt it could take without snapping, I am getting to the point where I think the head must come off. Especially since the only thing left that I could do (that I have heard of anyway) is to heat the plug threads up with a torch to try and get them to expand/contract and break loose... which I can't see doing with the tube in the way.

So, how difficult is the head to remove on a small block like this? I've never take one off personally, only helped a friend put a newly machined one onto his 69 Ford truck. I don't have any problem working on my own car, and am plenty mechanically inclined, so I'd much prefer to give up a weekend or two of my time than fork over $1K+ to get a spark plug out.

Thanks for any help!

The part I am talking about is outlined in red:
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Old 11-04-2009   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

its really not something you wanna do, very time consuming and most of the engine bay needs to come apart. if youve done it before, i would say 12 hrs you can have it off and on again just be sure you know how to put everything back and time it properly. you also need new head bolts (10 of em), oil, coolant, and gaskets for head, im, and exhaust. be sure you have a way to get to the auto store when something goes wrong or a bolt doesnt come off. and there is a specific multi-torque sequence for tightening the head bolts. i would see if a shop can remove the plug for you tho before going to that extreme of taking the head off. alot of places will have all sorts of tools and maybe they can get it out.
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Old 11-05-2009   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Thanks Gear, I'm going to call a shop and see if they can will tackle it. I just don't want to drop a bundle on a shop trying to take it out, than telling me to take the head off. Especially when I can get a rebuilt head off ebay or something for $200 shipped~.

Does anyone know if those spark plug tubes come off?
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Old 11-05-2009   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Spark plug tubes are pressed in and if you do manage to get them out - good luck, I've tried on a junk head and couldn't - you'll need to use a hydraulic press to get them back in.

Swapping a head is not difficult if you have a Hayne's manual and some general mechanical knowledge. I would pop the head off if I were you, flip it over and get the plug out yourself.
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Old 11-05-2009   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

If I do take the head off, I have to take it to a machine shop and have it leveled right? In that case, I've found a couple rebuilt heads for this engine on ebay for under $200 shipped... should I just get one of those since it will have been machined as well as had a valve job ect?
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Old 11-05-2009   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

i would have any used head tested to be sure it holds compression, has a flat surface, is clean and prepped, etc.
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Old 11-06-2009   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by getdown View Post
If I do take the head off, I have to take it to a machine shop and have it leveled right? In that case, I've found a couple rebuilt heads for this engine on ebay for under $200 shipped... should I just get one of those since it will have been machined as well as had a valve job ect?
Negative. If the head has never been on a motor that was severely over-heated then its fine. Dress it with some 120-grit sandpaper to clean it off, pop on a new head gasket and you're ready to go. As far as buying a rebuilt head off Ebay for $200, you should be fine, but I would have a machine shop check it anyway to make sure it does not need to be flycut.

You could buy one of those heads, put it on your car, remove the broken plug from your existing head and then either re-sell it or keep it as a spare.
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Old 11-06-2009   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

my machinist says differently. i brought in a good used head with low miles and no overheating, he told me the factory finish was still not straight enough, even tho he saw no signs of overheating damage. he recommended milling it a bit just to get a nice clean bottom. and it looked a ton better when he was done. smoother than babys behind lol. maybe this is why headgaskets blow so easily on these cars. ive read alot of posts just on this forum about headgasket problems with basically stock motors. in fact im trying to find a shop that will mill my dc header where it meets the head cause its so rough now that im getting minor exhaust leaks and the gasket doesnt seal properly.
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Old 11-08-2009   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Yes, not refinishing can definitely lead to a reduced head gasket lifespan. Just think about the extremes of combustion chamber pressures and heat over however many hours of running. All of that expanding and contracting doesn't just happen with no affect.

According to Honda, max warpage is .05MM or .002 inches, and that's the single cam 6G engines. So, 2-10,000 of an inch is EXTREMELY close tolerance for a maximum. Be sure your machine shop can deliver that kind of accuracy.

Tip: Be sure all sharp edges in the combustion chamber (caused by machining) have been made smooth to ensure no preignition takes place.

My $.02: Honda did an amazing job putting out what, 250,000 of these engines a year back then. Their newer engines are much closer tolerances and that, IMO is nothing but awesome when considering the volume of engines they manufacture.


But I digress. As to the initial question of removal...yes, the spark plug tubes can be removed by carefully (or not and buying/finding a new one) by pulling upward. It's not necessary to 'press' in after removal as you can put it in place and gently tap it into place with a soft blow mallet.

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Old 11-09-2009   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Really? I've "carefully pulled upward" on my plug tubes in they didn't come out. I've grabbed them with a pair of vise grips and not so gently pulled upward and they didn't come out. This is on three different D17 heads.
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Old 11-09-2009   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Well, try less carefully. Use a vise grips and clamp them super tight. Then use a mallet to drive them up and out .
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Old 11-11-2009   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Well, you wouldn't (or probably would) believe the left turn this whole thing took. I decided to call around and see if any shops thought they could take it out, and talked to the owner of a place that seemed like he was reliable on Friday. Told him I would have it towed over on Monday, and over the weekend I decided to clean up any lube and oil that had spilled, and also fired up the engine on 3 cyl to blow out any PB blaster that was sitting in the cyl. Car actually ran great, better idle on 3 cyl than it had on the 4 dirty plugs.

Car gets dropped off on Monday morning, I give the guy a call and tell him to call me if there are any concerns or problems, or if it's going to go beyond $75-100 to fix it. I close my office around 4 and head over there to pick it up. The owner of the shop is leaning over the engine, with it running... yay I think, problem solved.

Nope. Apparently he decided to drill it out, and put in a insert. As I walk up the car stalls, I say hi, he says give me a minute and tries to get it started again without success. Pulls the new plug out of the hole he drilled and it looks like someone smacked it on the head with a hammer 10 times... just destroyed. I kid you not, the guy looks up at me and says "There's something in there... you must have broken off the electrode in there, I didn't see it when I vacuumed it out". I've been staring at that electrode on the end of the plug threads I was trying to get out for 3 days, and the guy tries to tell me that I broke it off in there.

He goes on to tell me that it's the compression in the cyl that is causing the problems, and that the head or gasket was cracked before it came in (no way, car has been driving fine for 2+ years, and ran fine on 3 cyl). Basically he baffles me with BS and in the confusion of the moment I buy it and tell him I'm going to tow it home. He hands me an invoice for $115 acting like he's doing me a favor for not charging extra because "it took a lot longer to get it out". I paid him, and go out to the car to wait for the tow.

While I'm sitting there, I realize just how wrong this all is. I had some of my tools in the trunk, so I pull out all of the plugs. #1 and #4 are mangled just like #3 was. I walk back inside, show the guy the plugs, and for all intent and purpose he tells me that I have a big problem on my hands and he's sorry I have to deal with it.

Tow the car home, and decide to see if I can get whatever it was that went through the cyl's out, and low and behold after about 10 minutes with the shop vac out comes the reminder of the old #3 electrode. I also get a bunch of porcelain off the top of the CAT. Went and got new plugs, figured at this point the engine is screwed but what the hell. New plugs in and it wouldn't fire, so I put some oil in each cyl to see if it would help with compression, cleaned out the excess with the shopvac, cranked it with plugs in but injectors unplugged, than plugged them in and managed to get it to fire.

But it won't hold an idle, just stalls, great. After a little more coaxing and lots of burning oil I was able to get it to start and idle, but if I gave it gas and let go it would stall. Decided to drain the oil, what do you know, looks like chocolate milk. Open up the radiator, oil in the water. Start the car and let it idle for a few minutes, steam and water coming out of the tail pipe. Needless to say, completely FUBAR.

I slept on it, and called a friend of a friend that is a mechanic, explained everything. His opinion is that the guy who drilled the plug didn't get everything out, his choice, his screw up, and he owes me a new engine. Both of us are going over there tomorrow to tell the guy that either he can put in a crated engine for me, or complaints get filed and my attorney gets a phone call.

Sure would have been nice if that plug just came out.

FYI, if you break a plug, and it doesn't come out with little effort, don't waist your time just take the head off.

All I have is my iPhone camera atm.
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Old 11-11-2009   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

what a retard. he shouldve done the right thing and just say he couldnt do anything to it. looks like he went at it without thinking. that spark plug did all sorts of bad things inside so yeah id say he owes you new engine too, or at least a working used one.
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Old 11-12-2009   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

One more reason I will never take one of my vehicles to a mechanic unless I absolutely can not do the job myself.
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Old 11-13-2009   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Civic DX 97 - Spark Plug Tube Removal?

Well this went pretty much as expected. Talked to the guy who drilled the plug and told him that I had another mechanic look at the car, and that the engine needs to be rebuilt and/or replaced due to the damage caused by the spark plug electrode that was left in the cylinder. He blew me off, said that a new engine wasn't in the cards for a car with that many miles (130k) and low compression (was fine before he touched it... not to mention it wasn't spitting steam/coolant).

Fortunately for me, I do have some mechanic friends and I'm going to acquire a rebuilt engine, and stick it in the civic. Probably going to be out a grand or so after the cost of the engine and compensating a friend for the time, but it's a lot better than forking over for a new ride.

I've already filed a complaint with the California BAR ( http://www.bar.ca.gov ) and I do have an attorney that deals with all the legal areas of my business, so I'm going to get his input on this and likely just file small claims for any repair expense.

All for a spark plug.
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Old 11-13-2009
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