Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Just replaced spark plugs and wires in my car and now it sputters at an idle in park.

asked by on

Smells like it's burning rich, when I press the gas it sounds healthy, the rough idle I had before with the old plugs is gone, it seems to try and sputter, try and sputter, kind of like a Harley, but it doesn't give any check engine lights. The car is a 98 that was using a 97 distributor and spark plug wire set up. I called my dad and he told me to check the gaps, what else could it be if that's not it? How do I know the spark plugs are working properly?

My car has 220000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hello and thank you for your question. To check the spark plugs, simply remove one spark plug at a time and place it on the ground somewhere away from the engine’s belts and away from the spark plug hole.

Start the engine and see the color of the spark. If there is a strong spark and it is blue, then the spark plug is good. Check all the plugs for the same symptoms. Then, get a spark plug tester and put it into the spark plug wire without the plug. Put it to ground with about 60 thousands (0.060 on the gauge) and see if there is a spark.

If no spark, then adjust the tool with rubber pliers and see when the spark will apply. If the spark starts to show up less than 30 thousands (0.030 on the gauge) then the coil is not producing enough power for the spark plugs and wires. I recommend having a professional, such as one from YourMechanic, check out the engine management system and determine why the engine is sputtering.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Just replaced spark plugs and wires in my car and now it sputters at an idle in park.

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Timing belt stripped teeth,I changed the belt, pullyes and water pump now it doesn't fire

Since the timing belt stripped off the teeth of the belt then the camshaft and crankshaft got out of time and this is an interference engine. This means that you most likely bent the valves when the timing belt teeth...

Q: Car starts then sputters off

This may likely be a fuel supply issue such as low fuel pressure or a faulty throttle position sensor. The throttle position sensor is a unit used to monitor the throttle position of a vehicle. This sensor relays the position...

Q: Tahoe keeps stalling, bucking, and I smell gas by the engine.

Hi and thanks for contacting YourMechanic. With having the intake manifold bolts broken, yes you can smell gas, but the vehicle will have a vacuum leak. The O2 sensor is on for the broken bolt due to the vacuum leak....

Related articles

What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.