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The Toyota Highlander is available in three different engine sizes: 2.4, 3.0 and 3.3 liter. The basic technique for replacing spark plugs is used for both engine sizes, but depending on the engine size you need to remove different parts from the Toyota Highlander to gain access to the spark plugs.
1 Pull the hood release and raise the hood on the Highlander. Allow the engine plenty of time to cool.
2 Remove some components to reach the spark plugs. On a 3.3 liter engine, unscrew and remove the V-bank cover and intake air tank. On a 2.4 and 3.0 liter engine, remove the number one engine cover.
3 Locate the ignition coils and spark plug wires that connect directly to the spark plugs or directly to the engine in the Toyota Highlander. In 2001 and 2002 models, theses are on the front and back of the engine. On models made after 2002, the spark plugs are along the sides. Grab the ignition coils or spark plug wires by the thick plastic piece at the end of the wire. Squeeze the end and turn it to release it from the spark plug. Pull back to remove the plug from the engine.
4 Slide the spark plug socket over the spark plug. The most common size of spark plug socket used on a Toyota Highlander is 16mm. Turn the socket to the left to unscrew and remove the spark plug from the cylinder well.
5 Apply a thin coat of anti-seize compound to the spark plug thread and into the wire boot to reduce the chance of sticking.
6 Insert the spark plug into the well and manually turn the plug into place. If you cannot reach the plug well manually, insert the plug into the socket and extension and use the extension to turn the plug into place. Do not use a socket wrench or flexible extension for this process because their force damages the spark plug.
7 Connect the ignition coil or spark plug wire to the spark plug. Turn to lock it into place.
8 Continue this process for the rest of the spark plugs. Replace any removed items onto the engine and lower the hood.
When you buy the new spark plugs, take one of the plugs and get a spark plug socket to fit. The size may depend on the brand? Try 5/8 spark plug socket. Hopefully the socket for the new plugs will fit the old plugs?
remove 1 spark plug wire from the plug. Find a socket that fits the spark plug and connect it to the socket wrench. Put the socket on the spark plug and turn counter clock wise until the old spark plug is removed. Check the gap on the new replacement plug ( make sure you have the correct plug first). Put the new spark plug into the hole that the old 1 came out of and turn clockwise by hand making sure it is in straight, then tighten it clockwise until tight.( WARNING: DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE PLUG OR YOU WILL BREAK IT). replace the spark plug wire. repeat the process with the other 3 spark plugs. Start the vehicle. If you are replacing the wires, take off 1 wire at a time, match up the size and replace the old with the new.
What is the correct spark plug and gap for my engine?
Due to the variety of engine and equipment configurations, your best source for spark plug information is your engine or equipment Operator's Manual. However, the following general guidelines will get you pointed in the right direction.
This guide provides the common spark plug part numbers used in our L-Head and Overhead Valve engines. For information regarding the service/replacement of spark plugs, please visit our Servicing the spark plug FAQ. Please be aware that the size/shape of the spark plug varies depending on engine design.
Briggs & Stratton L-Head Engines
(also referred to as Flat Head or Side Valve Engines)
pull off plug grabbing it as close to spark plug as you can. Using socket rotate counterclockwise and remove plug. Be careful putting plugs back in and thread by hand first. Then torque as plug box says as it depends on if you have a washer or not.
Remove one spark plug wire / using correct size spark plug wrench with / rubber boot designed for spark plugs (deep well socket with rubber boot) remove (1) spark plug / gap new replacement spark plug to specs / install replacement spark plug by hand into head of engine /finger tight /using spark plug socket and rachet finish tighting spark plug / tighten just beyond snug being careful to not over tighten and breaking spark plug ..if in doubt about the proper tighting consult motor manual for torque specs. use torque specs in conjunction with appropiate torque wrench . Re-install removed spark plug wire ...proceed to remaining spark plugs doing one at a time until completed.
I recently did a tuneup on my 88 sable, and the back spark plugs were a pain to get to. However, it didn't require any special procedures. You may want to try getting a SMALL ratchet extension to avoid jamming your wrench into the firewall, because without one you won't be able to get far enough into the spark plug seat and a normal sized extension will prevent you from getting in at all. You could also try an appropriately sized deep socket (sorry I can't remember what size the plugs are) and use that instead of a spark plug socket. Just try to use the spark plug socket to put the new ones in, or you may damage the connectors using a normal socket.