9 Spark Plug Removal Tools for Easy At-Home Car Maintenance
Save money on car maintenance by replacing spark plugs yourself—and make the job go smoothly with the right spark plug removal tools
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Changing spark plugs is basic DIY car maintenance that can save you hundreds of dollars in labor. A new set of spark plugs can improve engine performance and fuel economy while lowering emission levels.
“The spark in an engine is produced by spark plugs, which over time wear out or become clogged with carbon soot, causing misfires and engine damage,” says Family Handyman editor and automotive expert Ethan O’Donnell. “Internal combustion engines, no matter how big or small, require fuel, air and spark to function properly.”
“Fortunately, changing your spark plugs is an extremely simple task that any DIYer can do,” O’Donnell says. “If you have the right tools, such as deep-well spark plug sockets and a torque wrench, you can complete this task efficiently and avoid costly repairs in the future.”
But of course you’ll need the right park plug removal tools to make installing new spark plugs easier, especially when the plugs are in hard-to-reach areas. Here are our top recommendations for spark plug removal tools—and you can get them all on Amazon!
Standard Spark Plug Pliers
Your first purchase in assembling your collection of spark plug removal tools: a set of standard spark plug wire pliers. These grab the spark plug wire boot straight on or from the side. They feature cushioned jaws to make the pliers less likely to cause damage when removing spark plug boots that seem to have “welded” themselves onto the spark plugs.
Spark Boot Removal Pliers
These needle-nose spark plug pliers feature serrated jaws and a sturdy non-slip handle to provide a firm grip and good leverage. The slim nose allows access even on vehicles with heat shields that cover just about the entire spark plug wire boot.
Offset Boot Pliers
A set of offset spark plug wire pliers with a 45-degree angle make removing plug wires deep in the engine trouble-free. The insulated jaws firmly grasp the boot to protect it when twisting the spark plug wire. The spring release and angled head of this rugged puller let you reach wires hidden behind other engine parts, making it a must-have for the DIYer.
Spark Plug Gap Gauge
Though its technically not one of the spark plug removal tools, you’ll need a gap gauge to set the spark plug gap on the replacement spark plug to suit your vehicle’s specs. This one-piece measuring tool fills the bill nicely. Its durable zinc alloy has standard measurements on one side and metric on the other.
Spark Plug Socket
If working on one vehicle, you’ll need a single socket to suit your engine—typically in 5/8-inch or 13/16-inch size to use with a 3/8-inch drive socket wrench. The ones from Craftsman are a good choice and a great value; their rubber insert tightly holds and protects the spark plug. The brand’s lifetime warranty sweetens the deal.
Magnetic Spark Plug Sockets
If you plan to work on multiple vehicles or you want to be prepared for a future automotive purchase, this seven-piece socket set is the way to go. It comes with the most common spark plug socket sizes—5/8-inch, 13/16-inch, 9/16-inch and 14-millimeter—all 2.5 inches long, plus the three standard measurements in 6-inch lengths. They’re all 3/8-inch drive and magnetic, and come in a foam organizer so you won’t lose any. A limited lifetime warranty makes these sockets a worthwhile investment.
Swivel Spark Plug Socket
If you can’t get a straight shot at a spark plug, a swiveling flex-head spark plug socket from Gearwrench is the one you need. You can get a single magnetic 5/8-inch socket that’s 3/8-inch drive with a six-inch extension and a handy knurled band to keep you from busting your knuckles. Or get a full set of six, including three 5/8-inch in 4-, 6- and 11-inch lengths and a 9/16-inch in a 6-inch length. All come with a limited lifetime warranty.
Craftsman Drive Ratchet Wrench
Don’t have a wrench for those sockets? This Craftsman Ratchet Wrench can handle most jobs, with its 3/8-inch drive, standard 7-1/2-inch length and quick release lever.
Need a little more reach? The longer 11-1/4-inch handle of the Crescent Flex-Head Ratchet gives you greater leverage. The flex head allows you to reach spark plugs in awkward spaces from different angles.
Tekton Micrometer Torque Wrench
Any home auto mechanic should have a torque wrench at the ready, and it’s an essential tool for tightening spark plugs just the right amount. The medium-duty Tekton Click Torque Wrench should be your go-to, with its 3/8-inch drive, reversing head and dual range.
What to Know About Changing a Spark Plug
Before purchasing spark plug removal tools, check your owner’s manual to learn what size spark plugs and the kind of ignition system your car has. To note: Coil Over Plug ignition systems do not use spark plug wires. On some V-6 engines the intake manifold may have to be removed to replace the spark plugs. Leave that to a pro. However, if you can access the rear cylinder head, with the right tools you can do this job yourself. Here’s what you’ll need—and why.
Spark plug wire pliers
Remove hard-to-reach spark plug wires while providing more protection for the wire boot. These pliers come in two designs, straight or offset (angled). Look for sturdy jaws and handles that are insulated and won’t twist.
Needle-nose spark plug pliers
A needle nose allow you to remove spark plug wire boots in tight places. Pliers with serrated jaws lessen the chance of damaging a spark plug wire.
Spark plug gap gauge
You’ll need this to correctly sets the “gap” between a spark plug’s side and center electrodes to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Spark plug sockets
Sockets specifically for spark plugs feature a rubber boot or magnet to hold a spark plug in place while removing or installing. They also protect the porcelain insulator. Spark plug sockets have thinner walls than a standard socket. They come with a hex head on the back end so you can turn with a wrench if you cannot use a ratchet or swivel extension to reach the plug. Many come with large markings to easily identify the socket size. A knurled non-slip surface machined into the outside of the socket offers a better grip to help you start spark plug threads by hand.
Spark plug sockets usually are 6-point to prevent rounding off spark plugs that are tough to remove. Some newer imports need extra-thin-walled, 12-point sockets to reach spark plugs hidden in tight corners.
Swivel (universal or flex-head) spark plug sockets have a flexible joint to reach around obstacles or get to spark plugs deep in the engine bay. Look for swivel sockets with a built-in extension that helps access difficult-to-reach spark plugs.
This common tool is available in assorted drive sizes and configurations (short, standard, long-handled and flex-head). For removing spark plugs, a longer-handle, flex-head ratchet is the way to go, but a standard ratchet will also work. Ratchets with 72 teeth work better in confined spaces. “Quick release” models make removing sockets easier when your hands are greasy.
This tool should be your go-to for tightening spark plugs, especially in cast-aluminum cylinder heads. Although a flex-head torque wrench is best for installing spark plugs, a fixed-head torque wrench will also do the job. Look for a “click” style torque wrench that can be felt as well as heard when the proper torque is reached. These all-metal, reversible wrenches are also easy to adjust and read standard and metric scales.