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Removal of Ford 5.4 Broken Spark Plugs

Ford Poor Design Spark Plugs

The fortunate guy that removed the spark plugs in the photo above was impelled to post the picture of them still intact, MANY others aren't so lucky. This article are for those of you that haven't heard about the problem of broken spark plugs, that break upon removal on some 5.4's. Many unsuspecting shops and truck owners are finding out the hard way, that the spark plugs can break upon removal on some 2004 or newer Ford 5.4 engines. I thought I would mention what we have found to be the best method for removal. First a little history. A couple of years ago, all we had to offer our customers was a Rotunda 303-1203 specialty tool designed by Ford to remove broken spark plugs. The problem (besides the expense of a couple of hundred dollars) was that the tool did nothing about the issue of removing the broken section of porcelain, so that the tool could be used to remove the electrode shield. I would get calls from our customers after they received the Rotunda 303-1203 to ask how to remove the porcelain. At the time the best method seemed to be chipping away at it for half the day until all of the small pieces could be removed with a shop vac. Not a very efficient method. Then Ford introduced a new tool that had "one time use pins" that were loc-tited into the center of the porcelain (where the electrode normally is) and then pulled out. Then and only then, the tool could be used to remove the stuck electrode shield. The Rotunda porcelain remover was so expensive when it was first introduced (around $600) that we refused to sell it!

A Better Solution

Since then Calvan thankfully came out with a couple of copies of those Rotunda specialty tools. We have sold a ton of those, saving our customers a lot of money. Both Calvan tools can be purchased for around $75. The Calvan tools use the same method of removing the porcelain and electrode sleeve as the Rotunda tools do. After-all they are copies of those tools. More recently though, Lisle has developed a tool for around the same cost (around $75) that has quickly became our best seller for removing broken spark plugs. I've used this tool myself and took pictures of it in use. This tool uses a different method than removing the porcelain, instead it pushes the porcelain down further (without the porcelain going into the cylinder) so that the second part of the tool can be used to self tap into the spark plug's electrode shield for removal. I was first hesitant to recommend this tool, but it has had all positive feedback from our customers. including some Ford dealerships that prefer this method over the use of the Rotunda tools.

Ford Spark Plug After RemovedSee pictures of the specialty tool in use


  • Yes, the threads on the pullers sometimes wear quickly. We sell the puller screws, part number LIS 65620 DLT separately for that reason. Sometimes they last well and sometimes not so long. I think it matters if enough force is applied to "bite in" rather than just allowing it to "spin" and eat threads. Also if Lisle made the metal compound harder it would be more prone to breaking. Then you'd have a broken spark plug and a broken puller screw stuck in the hole. Still though, the Lisle 65600 DLT remains the best seller we have for removing broken 3V Ford spark plugs and it definitely beats removing the cylinder head and sending to a machine shop.

    DennisBandy, 4 months ago | Flag

  • The only problem I have with the Lisle tool is that the cutting threads on the extractor are almost destroyed after only extracting two shells.  It should be tougher than that.

    Junius, 5 months ago | Flag
  • Just an update on the broken spark plug issue in some Ford 3V engines. DenLors still sells 15 or 20 Lisle 65600's a week as the best over-all solution for removing these broken spark plugs. We also have posted a Ford TSB (Changing Ford Spark Plugs 4.6, 5.4, 6.8 – Ford TSB 08-7-6) for technicians to follow that many times keeps the plugs from breaking to start with. However, with so many technicians using the TSB's method, which involves turning the plugs back and forth to get them out without breaking them; there's been a lot of cases reported of damaged threads. If the aluminum threads are stripped after the TSB method is used "all is not lost" we have a spark plug thread insert kit that can save the cylinder head - Stripped Spark Plug Repair Kit for Ford 3V Engine with 16×1.5. Hope this helps.

    DennisBandy, 4 years ago | Flag
  • Thanks for the comments. Nspctrguy, the Lisle tool that applies to this application is the Lisle 65600, it's the one linked under the picture in this article (pictures of it in use). The Lisle tool you mentioned is for Ford's other spark plug problem of "blow outs." DenLors recommends the Calvan 38900 for that issue. We have no reported failures and it can be used when Lisle, TimeSert and Heli-Coils fail and there is a repeated blowout in the repaired cylinder (we have Ford Dealers that buy this from us).

    DennisBandy, 5 years ago | Flag
  • A little misinformation in the comments below. Only Motocraft, Autolite and Champion and Brisk make spark plugs for this application. There are 4 possible heat range configurations for Ford three valve engines using these plugs, Champion only offers one heat range! Take your chances with that.

    Autolite and Ford have all four heat ranges. Autolite has released a high strength shell for this application and a small gap racing plug as well.

    The Ford TSB has been changed alot from its original release-

    It now says you must start with a cold engine, meaning the vehicle must sit for at least 8 hours. They ask that you loosen the plugs 1/8 of a turn and then put several teaspoons of Motocraft Carb and carbon cleaner down the hole and wait at least 45 minutes for the carb cleaner to wick down the threads and loosen the carbon. You should use a torque wrench and not exceed 37 ft lbs break away torque. If it exceeds 37 ft lbs, they ask that you put more carb cleaner down the hole and wait for the carbon to dissolve.Cool

    On the install, they recommend using anti sieze on the motor seat area of the plug. I have done 15 vehicles so far using this method and have not broken any plugs.

    motorking, 5 years ago | Flag

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