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Q: I have a spark plug stuck in the motor

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I have a 2006 Ford F-150 FX4 5.4L, automatic transmission, with 62,000 miles on it. I was having the routine maintenance done for the 60k service at the dealer and decided to have the spark plugs changed. I figured they would come out easier, boy was I wrong. The service center told me one plug won't come out and they will have to remove the head, and this little repair will cost $2500. How could this be so expensive and is there anything I can do to avoid these costs?

As a certified master technician for many years this has been one of the most publicized problems seen by me and my colleagues in the field. There are a multitude of suggestions, comments, lawsuits, fixes, complaints and none will help recoup your loss in time and money spent. There have not been any recalls for this issue from Ford, but they did put out one technical bulletin (08-7-6) to address spark plug removal procedures. This still does not address the two piece spark plugs that may break and fall into the engine causing even more expensive removal of the cylinder head to clean out pieces of the spark plug. This problem happens from carbon buildup in the cylinder head around the special extended spark plug design. Because of this, removing the spark plug for service can bind it in the cylinder head and break the two piece plug, with only the top piece coming out. The broken off piece in the head has to be extracted with special tools. There are different tools made that may extract the broken pieces. There is no guarantee they will work or if pieces end up falling into the engine during the extraction process. One of the replacement design spark plugs available is a one piece housing design made by Champion spark plugs (part number 7989). This new plug design does not address the carbon build-up around the plugs, but may help in future removals of the plugs sine the one piece design will not come apart when removing. While there are plenty of class-action lawsuits found on the web, none disclosed any information regarding a recall. You can contact Ford at 1-800-392-3673 or NHTSA 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) for the latest information on the issue.

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