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The main problem with the 3.8L plugs are the back 2 plugs on the passenger side.
It can be done without moving the engine, but extremely difficult.
The best thing to do is tilt the motor a little. It's easier than it sounds. Most people use a tiedown strap to roll the engine forward, after you remove the top motor mounts (just behind the radiator).
I prefer to use a floor jack and a piece of wood under the oil pan. Remove the upper motor mounts and jack the engine up a little to roll it forward towards the radiator. The rear plugs should be accessible.
I have a 3.8L 2002 Impala.
The easiest way is to remove the front motor mounts and rock the engine forward.
It can be done with a combination of extensions and swivels, but don't bother.
The way I did it was to use a floor jack and some wood under the engine and transmission.
Jack up the engine a little, remove the cross bolt from the two top engine mounts. As you jack it up, the engine will roll forward. Jack the engine up very slowly and only as much as you need to get those back plugs. You would be wise to somehow brace the engine when your arms are back there.
Most people do not recommend jacking under the engine as there is a risk of bending or breaking the engine pan. They use a racheting come-along over the top of the engine and pull it forward.
There are two ways to replacing the 3 rear spark plugs.
1. You can remove the two dog bone engine mount in front of the engine bay and tilt the engine forward, so you can reach the spark plugs over the top of the engine with extension and swivel with the ratchet.
2. You can jack up the front end up and go from the bottom of the van. Your going to also need to use extension and a swivel with the ratchet and have to work by feeling your way around.
Careful not to damage the spark plug wires if your not going to replace them.
Good luck and be safe, the easiest way for you to tilt the engine forward is to place the transmission in park and place the parking brakes on with a block in front and behind the back wheels. Disconnect the dog bone engine mount, remove the block from the front of the back wheels. Take the parking brakes off and push the Montana forward and this will tilt the engine forward. Once tilted, place the parking brakes back on and relocate the block to the back wheels.
Follow the instructions in revers to connect the bog bone once again and be safe, better that you have someone help you tilt the engine if your going to do the #1 method.
remove the front engine mount that is at the top of the engine attached to the top of the radiator support. it looks like a dog bone. after removal, rock the engine forward or use ratchet typoe tie down strap to move the engine forward to access the rear plugs and wires.
If you got small hands and long arms, you can change the rear spark plugs with the right extensions and swivel spark plug socket. You can get to all three from the top and leaned over the passenger side of the car.
If you need more room, your going to have to tilt the engine forward. Here is how it's done, with the transmission in park and parking brakes on with a block at the BACK wheels. Undo the two dog bone motor mount at the front of the engine, once disconnected with a friend.
Push the car forward once your release the parking brakes, push it just far enough that you tilt the engine forward and not in to the radiator. Once that is done, put on parking brakes and place block at the BACK wheels again, so we don't lose an arm.
This should give you more room to get to the rear spark plugs and yes everything is done by touch to get the plugs out and most likely your going to have to replace the spark plug wires. The old ones will be harder to remove then the front ones and a spark plug wire pliers will works best to removing them.
Thank you for using fixy and be safe, after spark plugs replaced, just reinstall everything the revers.
You can remove the engine struts(dog bones) mounted over the top of the radiator. Use a ratchet strap, attach one end to the engine hook on the driver's side dog bone mount and the other to the radiator support. Pull the engine forward, you can then access the rear spark plugs. You have to make sure your spark plug wires and ignition coils are not corroded also.
The front three spark plugs are easy to replace, it's the rear ones that is tricky and there are a few ways to get to them.
1 way is you need to remove the "dog bones" or top mounts on the engine. then pry the engine forward about 4" There is a special tool for tilting the engine made by Lisle corp. called a GM engine tilt tool about $40. This will give you room to get the the rear spark plugs with extensions and a spark plug socket with a swivel attached to it. 2 you can have a friend help you buy, placing the emergency brakes on and removing the "dog bone" again, and the transmission in park. Both of you would then push the car forward after taking the emergency brakes off. This will tilt the engine forward but take caution not to tilt the engine to far forward in to the radiator and place the emergency brakes on. 3rd If you remover the horizontal crossbar inside the engine right in front of the windshield you can reach behind the engine and change the plugs without dismounting the engine. I recommend putting a piece of carpet or a pad over the top of the engine to protect it while you change the plugs. Good luck and hope this helps and be careful not to drop the new plugs.
To access you rear plugs, you need to disconnect the front top engine mount, then put the vehicle in neutral and pull the engine forward (with a large pry bar) and lock the engine to the mount base using the engine mount bolt. Don't forget to chock your wheels so the vehicle doesn't roll away. And really, the job isn't difficult at all.
yes i have done this myself many of times on all transverse mounted motors. also another approach you can use is to put the vehicle on jack stands and remove the plugs from underneath. then you don't have to remove the dog bone mounts. hope this helps