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Omfg!!! Help!!! I hate champion plugs!!

10-11-2009, 06:36 PM
Ok ... I never ever use Champion plugs for a few reasons, but this 1996 Neon I bought has shown me yet another reason NOT to use them!! ARGH!!!! So .... I'm doing a normal tune up getting ready to put the car on the streets tomorrow. ... and then the unthinkable happens!! The #3 plug just snaps in a bad way!! I've TRIED to upload some pics so maybe someone can give me an idea how to remove what's left of it. You'll notice that the threaded part and the round part of the plug above the metal crush washer normally on the plug is still in the head!!!!! I'm alittle PO'ED at the moment and I'm about ready to just junk the damn car after I've installed a new windshield, new left front fender and left mirror, fixed numerous little things on the car including the front motor mount and thought I'd be ready to drive this tomorrow .... obviously not now!! I'm thinking the worst case right now of just replacing the engine since, to me, it'd be easier. I'm hoping someone can give me an idea what to do besides swapping engines and transmissions at this point!! :mad:

EDIT: Well it won't let me upload photos, so you'll have to imagine a complete spark plug (inluding the center electrode) MINUS the threads and the crush washer and the round part that is above the crush washer missing!!

Does anyone know where to find an exploded view of the head on this engine? That may help me in deciding how to get at the portion still accessible ... or not!! I'm so PO'ed!! But from the looks of it, that plug hadn't been changed when the others were so obviously there was a problem getting it out or the cover was never removed to change 3 & 4 as 4 came out with alittle effort required as well, but it did come. I didnt' use excessive force on #3 which is why I'm so PO'ed!!! Had I really put some effort into it .... then I would have blamed myself! ... but that still would have left me with the bottom portion of the plug in the head!!! I'm pretty much an old school guy and this is the first newer car I've wanted to do alittle modding to, but I thought I'd at least get to drive it alittle before doing the "neon from hell!!" I've scraped all ideas of doing a SRT4 swap ... it's 440ci and 727 trans and a Ford 9" rear now!! :devil: Well .... before I go to this extreme, can anyone suggest a high quality extractor preferably straight fluted that won't break?? I've had penetrating lube in there for 4 hours now and I'll put more in tomorrow as I won't be able to get a chance to get at it much before 5pm tomorrow evening. After looking at the spark plug again, I can tell you that the Champion spark plug is definitely a 3 pc metal jacket design which I think is horrible!! :( On the upside, there is no need to worry about drilling a hole before using an extractor!! It's definitely straight and the hole provided has about 3 different sizes to choose from but I'd like to get it to work from the top most hole which would be above the threads. Any recommendations on the extractor would be appreciated. Wish my luck on this one!! Did I mention I hate Champion Spark Plugs?? :mad:

10-12-2009, 09:00 AM
I have used Champion spark plugs in all of my neons and have yet to run into a problem. Have you pulled the valve cover off to take a closer look?

10-12-2009, 10:23 AM
I don't think it would help Das .... the tubes are pressed in and can't be removed right? (I'm not sure but I'm seeing brand new and reman'ed heads all coming with the tubes installed) If so, taking the valve cover off wouldn't get me any closer on this thing. I think it's either a very good extraction tool or .... heavy mods.

10-12-2009, 11:22 AM
You can remove the tubes very easily..just use some locking pliers to pull it out.

10-12-2009, 08:22 PM
really?? Ok then .... tomorrow I will take the valve cover off and remove the tube. Thanks for the info Das!!

10-13-2009, 08:20 AM
really?? Ok then .... tomorrow I will take the valve cover off and remove the tube. Thanks for the info Das!!
Yes really, I wouldn't lie to you. I had to remove a tube to get to a plug that was stuck in there.

10-13-2009, 08:47 PM
I would be glad to see a photo of the part of the plug you did get out. I cant imagine the base of the plug separating from the upper part of the base - where the six sided section is for the wrench to turn.
To post pictures, upload the pictures to some site like www.photobucket.com, and just copy the URL of your picture, and paste it into your posting.
I also use Champion spark plugs and havent had any problems with them. I have broken the ceramic on a few, due to poor access in crowded engine compartments, but thats not the fault of the plug.
I have had spark plugs in a Chevy 350 that were hard to loosen, from being left in an engine for too many years. They were so tight I thought they would snap off, but they all came out; taking more than 80 ft-lbs of torque. Normal tightening torque for a spark plug is probably 12 ft-lbs. If the plug snapped off in the middle of its base, I cant imagine it is going to come out easily using an extractor.
On any engine I work on I use a spark plug thread tap to clean up the threads. This ensures the plugs will come out easily the next time. I always use a small amount of anti-sieze compound when putting new spark plugs in.

10-13-2009, 09:20 PM
I have had this happen too,Only part left in head was the threads and tang.The ceramic and all else came out in one piece.What dilema I was in or so I thought.

What i did was,and had the room to do it thank the lord,use a small air powered hacksaw and put the blade in the hole and cut a slit in the remaining plug threads right up to the head threads in two places and folded a piece of the remaining plug and pulled it out,making sure not to drop the other piece in the head hole,then I removed the rest and chased/rethreaded the head.

I really wish u the best of luck and hope the forum can help you with this Situation.

10-13-2009, 11:50 PM
Well .... I just started to get to it tonight .... the remaining part of the plug has destroyed the first (el cheapo) extractor, so tomorrow I'll buy the best quality extractor I can get my hands on. Here's the strange thing about the plug that broke. I didn't put that much force to it to even come close to breaking it. After working on vehicles for over 28 years, I know when to let off and try some penetrating oil or heat. This plug never made it that far. As to why I refuse to use Champion plugs .... I've built many street/strip cars and I would use Champion plugs on a regular basis. I bought 8 for a 340 I had and 6 out of 8 wouldn't fire brand new. I wrote it off as a bad batch. I bought another set from a different store for a 440 and had 5 out of 8 plugs, bad right out of the box. I also started noticing that the plugs were fouling quicker. (as in one run at the strip and they were wiped!) I had another set that were actually marked and boxed wrong and damn near lost a $20,000 engine!! So ... that's reason enough for me to not like this particular plug manufacturer. LOL I know they work in most applications and some they just aren't the ticket for even if OEM. What I experienced was not the norm, I know this, but the QC from Champion plugs is what will keep me away. I've seen many cars and trucks using them and have no problems and yet others have problems constantly until the plugs were changed to another brand ... like Bosch. I'm not saying that the Champion plugs won't work, but just to give you alittle history as to why I personally dislike them ... there ya go. :)

Ok ... Das ... I removed the intake rockers (followers) and found that one of the valve spring locks was nearly out ... coincidentally, on the same cylinder!! It's been riding like that for awhile based on the the wear on it. So .... it looks like new locks are in order on that valve! Surprisingly the car ran great up until the spark plug incident. on a good note, the tube is out and it's alittle easier to get at the problem.

Here's a link to the photobucket thing


I may be looking for a head for this thing!!


10-15-2009, 04:32 PM
OK .... I'm gonna give oxy/acetylene a quick shot at heating it. If that doesn't work without damaging the head, it's time for an engine swap. Any ideas on what works well and is fairly quick such as a 2.4 swap or Turbo engines???? You guys know these cars better than I do so any input would be greatly appreciated. I have an adjustable NOS system 50,75,100 shot. So ... if this were your car, what engine would you use in it and why? Just how much modding is needed to install a MTX other than a new computer for which I can get a Mopar Performance computer for $25 from a local guy, and the mount and of course the pedals and linkages? From what I gather, there are kits out there to do the ATX to MTX conversion?? Has anyone used it and is a good product? Problems? Concerns?? Would I be further ahead making my own mounts? What company did you go through? The lowering and body kits are on hold until the car is back up and running. Hell ... if any of you might have some performance parts that you know will work or maybe something I can use for sale, let me know. I think this Neon has entered the project stage already ... well ahead of schedule unfortunately. I would just scrap the car, but given the fact this thing doesn't look like it's 13 years old, and there's no rust on it anywhere, it's too solid to just scrap.

10-17-2009, 07:47 PM
I'm so aggravated right now I may just scrap the damn car!! You already know what I'm about to type ... THE EXTRACTOR BROKE OFF IN THE PORTION OF PLUG LEFT IN THE CYLINDER!!!! :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: As careful as I was and 6 days of working on this POS and now this!!! So ... I ask you all this, is changing the head on this SOHC engine as easy as it looks?? I mean, I've built many street rods and strip cars and know what it's like to replace heads on even newer (POS) GM and Ford vehicles. Since I'm not working in a garage anymore and I'll be doing this without the "perks" of a true garage, is it really as simple as pulling the power steering reservoir and leaving the manifolds on and pretty much it's off?? Is that really all there is? ( I know a few other things will have to be unplugged and moved outta the way, but you get the idea) If it's really that simple, I may just replace the head OR have the piece removed at a machine shop. Is it true that all SOHC engines up to 2004 are the same so I could technically get a low mileage engine for this from say a 2003 or 2004?? Thanks again all for the help and suggestions.

10-18-2009, 10:30 AM
You have to disconnect the manifolds in order to get the head off. It isn't a very difficult job and be done in a matter of hours. You will want to use a 95-01 head as the 02+ heads are a little different and start to require more modding to make them work.

This link shows you the process of a timing belt change, which in part will be necessary for the head swap...

10-18-2009, 12:43 PM
Thanks again Das! So up to 01 I'll be looking for. I've done alot of timing belts and a few on this style engine so I'm familiar with that part. What's the reason for removing the intake and exhaust manifolds if there's enough room to get it out with them still attached? I mean, I'm gonna undo them since you say it needs to be done, but I'm just curious why? Thanks for the link too Das. I'm alittle more relaxed today so I'm gonna at this car full steam ahead!! I have a guy that will sell me a complete engine and transmission for $150 ... from another 96. He owns a scrap yard nearby and I know him well, so he gave me a deal on that I think.

10-18-2009, 09:02 PM
Well if you don't remove the exhaust manifold, where would you disconnect it at? Manifold connects to the cat, which connects to exhaust piping and so on...

10-18-2009, 11:49 PM
Well if you don't remove the exhaust manifold, where would you disconnect it at? Manifold connects to the cat, which connects to exhaust piping and so on...

I would remove the 2 bolts where the exhaust manifold meets the first pipe leading down to the converter. It's a "donut" type connection. I take it that's not a good idea? What is the downfall to it if someone were to disconnect the manifold from the pipe other than a new gasket and new bolts being installed? The thing that was making me think to do it this way is .... I don't want an exhaust manifold bolt breaking if the head is to be reused. (I may send it to a machine shop.) I was thinking it would be easier to get the manifold bolts after the head was out and apply heat as needed to try and save all the threads I can on this head.

Here's the plan thus far. I don't want to do a complete project right now, so I was thinking I'd purchase a new header (along with a "less expensive" performance exhaust) and install that along with the head that's going on it. (of course the used head will be sent to the machine shop to be checked for cracks and to make sure the mating surface is within spec and resurfaced and have a valve job if need be.) The other engine will be torn down and rebuilt but I'm still learning what seems to work with the SOHC blocks as far as pistons and possibly buying a DOHC head as well and maybe a turbo for it. Like I said, I'm still learning the in's and out's of these Neon mod's and I may build just a nice semi modded engine and be happy with that for awhile until I find the ACR or R/T model to really go to town on. This forum has been a great source of info and I'll be reading alot of threads here as I'm seeing what does and doesn't work and it's helping me with ideas. :)

10-19-2009, 07:39 AM
You could do that with the exhaust manifold and still keep it intact. I haven't tried that yet, but it is possible and I see you point about the bolts being broke off.

If you are swapping a "new" head I would suggest looking for a 95 cam or a cam from an 01+ Magnum engine cam (from the R/T or ACR). They are slightly more aggressive an offer up some cheap HP. The Pacesetter header has proven the most HP for the SOHC neon. The stock neon exhaust piping in 2.25" and flows really nice, so you may wanna spend the extra money somewhere else. If you are still wanting to upgrade, the Dynomax 2.5" piping is great and you can pick your choice of muffler.

10-19-2009, 12:09 PM
Very cool Das thanks for the info again! I was looking at the Pacesetter Header. Maybe I'll just buy an aftermarket muffler if the stock pipe flows good enough for now. There is a 95 Neon right next to the 96 I'm getting the engine and trans from. I can easily pull that cam and I'm sure he'll give me that for free. (he actually is gonna give me the entire cradle and drivetrain plus $100 for a beat up 93 Dodge pickup I have here that I don't use anymore, so I'm not really spending anything to get this stuff. :) Everything is working out for the better right now. I'll start a new thread and ask for opinions on performance parts for the engine I'll be rebuilding.

10-19-2009, 12:11 PM
Nice. Good deal!

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