Vehicle Maintenance: The Poor Man’s Tune-Up

    January 4, 2016

I love fixing my project cars, but hate doing maintenance on the daily drivers. One is enjoying my hobby, the other feels like work. But, sometimes I can’t avoid it. 

Thankfully, my wife’s 2005 Honda CRV hasn’t needed much outside of oil changes, air filters and drivetrain lubrication service. Recently it hit the 98K mile mark and is still maintenance free. But if it’s going to stay that way, a tune-up couldn’t hurt.  

With the help of my 15 year-old son, the job took about 90 minutes. If you want to perform your own tune-up, here’s how:

1. Make Sure You Have the Tools You Need

For this job, I used an 8 mm socket wrench, a 10 mm socket wrench and a good spark plug socket wrench. I also used a rachet handle and long extension, and a philips head screwdriver. 

2. Expose the Coil/Spark Plug Boots

We started by removing the plastic cover/retainer from the valve cover to expose the coil/spark plug boots. With some cars you have to unplug the connectors at the coils and then remove them one at a time. With the Honda, I was able to carefully lift and move all four coil/plug boots at the same time. 

3. Inspect Spark Plug Tubes and Plugs

When the spark plugs are located in the center of the valve covers, as they were in this case, I always like to inspect the spark plug tubes and plugs carefully. I have seen valve cover gaskets or spark plug tube seals (parts of the valve cover gasket sets) fail, resulting in oil build-up that can short out the plugs. If I see any sign of leaking, this is the time to fix it. Also, when removing the old spark plugs, you should examine them for even wear and coloration. 

4. Check the Gaps in Your New Spark Plugs

After your inspection, it’s time to install the new spark plugs. Be sure to first check the part numbers and gap. Most plugs come pre-gapped, but I like to check them just in case one got dropped somewhere along the way and was damaged. When you do check your spark plug gaps, be very careful as the plugs can be easily damaged.

You should never take a chance with installing a dropped plug, as improperly-sized gaps can cause misfires, loss of power, plug fouling, poor fuel economy and accelerated plug wear.

Here’s how to test and adjust the gap in your plugs:  


5. Apply Anti-Seize to the Spark Plug Threads

Before installing the new plugs, I like to apply LOCTITE® Silver Grade Anti-Seize to the threads. This eases assembly, prevents corrosion and ensures that they will remove easily when I need to change them again at the 200K mark.

6. Apply Dielectric Grease to the Coil/Spark Plug Boot

After the plugs are installed and tightened, I apply a thin layer of LOCTITE® LB 8423™ Dielectric Grease to the coil/spark plug boot. This allows the boot to easily slip into proper position and helps seal out moisture or unwanted debris.

7. Change the Oil and Filters 

With the new spark plugs in place, all that’s left is an oil and filter change. If you need a refresher on how to change the oil, here is a good video to watch: 

8. Check the Cabin Air Filter

During an oil change, I like to check the cabin air filter as well. This is the one filter that is often overlooked, but when you take it out and see how dirty it gets, you realize what it’s keeping out of your vehicle’s interior.

On the CRV, the cabin air filter is located behind the glove compartment. We changed it in about ten minutes with a phillips head screwdriver. If you’re unsure where it’s located in your car, you can check the owner’s manual. The filters are inexpensive and it is a no glove, clean hands job. In fact it was very clean hands for me, as I had my son do it!

Project Complete

And that’s all there is to it! Your car has new spark plugs, freshly changed oil and new filters, all replaced inexpensively in about 90 minutes. This sort of tune up is key to giving your car a long life. Got any questions about how LOCTITE can help in your next tune up? Leave us a comment here, or reach out to us on Twitter (@Loctite_NA) or Facebook.

About the Author, Loren Nauss

Loren Nauss is currently Business Development Manager for maintenance chemicals at Henkel. In his 24 years of experience, Loren brings expertise in everything mechanical to his personal and work-related projects. Loren's built, assembled and fabricated American and foreign cars, trucks, motorcycles, manufacturing, processing, and pumping equipment. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Business from Eastern Connecticut State University.

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3 responses to “Vehicle Maintenance: The Poor Man’s Tune-Up”

  1. Vehicle maintenance is essential as it keeps your car running longer. If your car is not running properly then it may prone to accident and normally accident occur due to faulty brakes, dirty headlights etc. When the car becomes old or some part becomes damage then it emits carbon dioxide that many be harmful for our environment. So if you maintain your properly then it is safe for your environment. Proper maintenance of your car also looks better.

  2. Ethan Barnes says:

    I think maintenance is a key constituent of owning a vehicle. If anyone wants to receive the most out of every mile, then he has to keep up with his vehicle maintenance schedule. For me, there is nothing more forestalling than encountering a vehicle breakdown during a tight spot. But one can keep himself away from these eventualities simply by performing the maintenance task on a regular basis. No matter, whether you are purchasing a new or used vehicle because every time you are making a huge funding. Thus, you need to do checkups with the help of a skilled technician on a regular basis in order to keep your prized-antique safe and make it lasting.

  3. Thanks for going over some maintenance tips for vehicles. You mentioned that it’s important to look for wear and coloration on the spark plugs. It sounds like it could be beneficial to be able to tell the difference between a new one and one that is worn down, especially so that it can be fixed quickly.

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