Last post on May 05, 2013 at 7:47 AM
You are in the Ford Explorer
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Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer
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#1767 of 6385 Making Spark Plug Wires Last....
Jan 30, 2003 (8:57 pm)
I've posted about this before, but it's been a while.
I drove a 1991 Explorer for 4 years, it was six years old when I bought it, it had old wires on it then, and had the SAME old wires on it when I sold it. It always ran perfect.
I currently drive a 1993 Explorer, it was six years old when I bought it, it had old wires on it then, and has the same old wires on it now, almost 4 years later. It always runs perfect.
I also have a 1997 Explorer with a 5.0L V8, I've been driving it for a year. It had old wires on it then, and has the same old wires on it now, a year later. It always runs perfect.
So, why don't my wires burn out? I'll let you in on a little secret. The car companies want to sell PARTS and SERVICE, that's about the only way the dealers can survive. All the car parts companies also want to sell parts too. Lot's of money in the Parts business. So FORD, in their almighty wisdom, concieve, conive, and scheme to come up with ways to SELL PARTS AND LABOR. One nice easy way is to sell parts that must be replaced due to their short "lifespan", like wires and belts and such. One of FORDS "BRILLIANT IDEAS" was to figure out a way to make the spark plug wires burn out sooner, requiring replacement more often. Back in the old days of "regular ignition", the wires were cheap, you could get a new set for 10 or 15 bucks in the 60's. Suddenly, in the 70's they brillantly invented and put in production the "SUPER" high voltage ignition, more powerful, better, faster!! Really nice - No More POINTS and CONDENSER!!! Well, that WAS good....but the trick was that this HIGH VOLTAGE would not stay in the old wires because it was so powerful! So they invented better wires (silicone), thicker wires (8mm), and more EXPENSIVE wires, that got even MORE EXPENSIVE as time went on. So the great GURU's said, here is our chance to make a ton of money. Technology is able to make the voltage SO HIGH that it can burn the wires. Remember your old 55 Chevy, or 60 Ford, or that 66 GOAT, or even that old 52 Desoto?! They always set the spark plug gap to around .035". When the New ELECTRONIC High Voltage Ignition came out, they said, "Oh, this new powerful spark can jump a BIGGER GAP, so lets make the gap LARGER, because a bigger spark MUST mean better ignition"! AND SO they DID! The Spark PLug Gaps got bigger and bigger. Then they noticed that when they made the gap bigger, the voltage in the wires went HIGHER and HIGHER!!! This was because it takes more voltage to jump across a bigger gap, especially under compression. Then to their GLEE that saw that as the voltage in the wires increased, the wire insulation would be stressed, eventually deteriorate and burn!!! They REJOICED in their great discovery, and said "GOSH, WHAT AN EASY WAY TO MAKE MONEY!!! ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS SPECIFY LARGE GAPS ON OUR SPARK PLUGS AND THE WIRES WILL BURN OUT SOONER!!!! WE WILL BE SELLING LOTS OF WIRES ALL THE TIME!!!! BUY LOTS OF STOCK IN THE WIRE COMPANIES!!! BETTER YET, LETS BE A WIRE COMPANY TOO, TO RAKE IN EVEN MORE PROFITS!!!"
So it is, now, when you look in the FORD manual at the Spark Plug Gap specification, it says .054"!!!
SO what do I Set MY SPARK PLUG GAPS TO? .040", and they always run perfect, AND the wires DON'T BURN OUT!!!! Gas milage still the same. No negative effects, only positive effects.
I just don't understand why people don't catch onto this simple scam by the car companies, especially after all the endless talk of the hassle and expense of the new spark plug wires.
Be smart. Set your spark plug gaps down and save your wires, and your wallet!
Please save this message to your hard drive (copy and paste), and spread the word!
You'all have a nice day now!
#1768 of 6385 More on Wires
Jan 30, 2003 (9:49 pm)
Swschrad-Thanks for your concern. I just want to make sure I have this one nailed. I don't want to be replacing and good parts. Unfortunately I let myself get a little too confident with my trouble shooting and replaced many good parts on my son's Thunderbird before I finally found a TSB stating that the reason the Check Engine Light would come on was not because of bad oxygen sensors (replaced all four at 70$ a pop), but because water and salt had contaminated the Mass Air Flow sensor. So I am doing a little more research this time
On the spark plug gap...Wont that effect the combustion? I like the idea of longer lasting plug wires, but I don't like the idea of Check Engine Light or decreased gas mileage. Now I am not saying you have a bad idea, I just don't know enough about spark plug gap to justify doing that. Maybe you can explain it a little more? I don't know if my wires are fried or just rubbing against something or what. I haven't had a chance to look at it. My wife has been driving it lately because of the snow up here. Tomorrow she is leaving the Explorer home so I can fix it when I get home. Thanks again for the tips. You have been a huge help. I'll report back what happens if you are interested.
Jan 30, 2003 (10:10 pm)
With the larger gap, do you find that you're experiencing more RF interference?
As far as damage to the insulation is concerned, I am not challenging your claims but it would seem to me that a larger gap would cause current to flow for a shorter period of time offsetting the (heating) effects of higher voltage.
I am, however, skeptical of the "planned obsolescence" theory!
#1770 of 6385 .040 instead of .054 is a smaller gap, tidester
Jan 30, 2003 (10:37 pm)
and that's a most clever observation bigalds made. if the spark front is wide enough to light up the mixture, that is one sure way to increase the chance that you can quench the spark (i.e. sink the current at high voltage) and it really should help prevent insulation breakdown.
if it does anything to change the RF interference issue, it should reduce it, but the note would be higher and more pure (as any ham adjusting their spark gap transmitter would clearly state.) put another way, this would generate a hotter, shorter spark for each ignition pulse... but see below...
I'm not sure if it would stress the coil more or not at this point. you would not rise to a higher voltage before spark discharge, which should be good for interwinding insulation. but you would be able to conduct power to ground through the plug for more of a spark pulse, depending on whether the computer put a single pulse into the coil, or a burst of pulses. if it was a burst, you would sink more current across the same command impulse, so this would heat the coil up more, and that is bad for the insulation.
Jan 30, 2003 (10:47 pm)
Thanks for catching that! Yes, of course, I meant smaller!
#1772 of 6385 if it was a dual-plug engine, you'd save even more on tune-ups
Jan 30, 2003 (10:53 pm)
hee hee hee. yeah, right, only on miles between tune-ups. but at least you'd stress each plug/wire less, and with a pair, you'd likely avoid blowing the spark out when under load. that's my major question about .040. but if it's been working for big al, maybe worth a shot to see if it works for us.
Jan 30, 2003 (11:32 pm)
Ok...Well maybe he (bigalds)has a point? I am not changing the plugs just yet. When I do I will defiantly consider trying this. I want to ask around more though.
#1774 of 6385 Another reason for the higher voltage...
Jan 31, 2003 (2:07 am)
Is that the plugs are in series. You now have a coil that has to produce double the voltage. I'm another one who can't remember ever replacing a wire set for at least 20 years. One Explorer with over 200K and another at 130K. I check them for resistance, defects in the coating and then just put them in the dishwasher. New wires are fine if you don't want to do the diagnostics.
#1775 of 6385 re: Exploder noise...??
Jan 31, 2003 (10:42 am)
It sounds to me like the bearings, although you can narrow it down if the sound changes as you turn the car. I have 112k on my '96 EB, and just had to have the front bearings replaced for the first time. Sound gone.
#1776 of 6385 More on the Spark Plug Wires...
Feb 03, 2003 (8:41 pm)
It seems that the Spark Plug Wire comments drew some quick responses, so I will give a little more information and answer some questions.
On setting the Spark plug gap smaller, will it affect combustion? In my experience, NO. I've been doing this for many years from the early eighties till now, and the many vehicles I've driven have all run very well. The smaller gap of .040" does NOT affect performance or gas milage or RF interference or anything else. Every thing is the SAME as far as I can tell, the only difference is that the spark plug wires last a very long time. The advantage is the same even if the coil fires two gaps instead of one, because decreasing the gap or gaps, reduces the voltage in the wire, because the spark does not have to jump as far. The way the coil works is that energy builds up, it rises, it is not instant. The voltage rises from ZERO to a voltage high enough for it to jump the gap. The instant it does that, the voltage goes back down, because the spark energy is dissipated to ground, the circuit was completed. You can see this on an oscilliscope very easily. Draw a large arc with the spark plug wire and the oscilliscope goes skyhigh. Shorten the arc and the voltage goes down. Far as I can tell, a 040" arc is plenty good enough to light the combustion fire just fine. At least it lites my Fire OK! I've been doing this for many years with Chevies and Fords, and it always worked good.
So, in a few years, post back here and let me know how it did for you.
As for the Wheel bearings, I don't remember replacing any, I just grease them with good quality high temp grease every time I take the rotors off. I've got some good Kendall Blue High Temp Grease out in the garage I've been using for years. Now I switched over to that Synthetic grease. They say it's the best now.
You all take care now, and please remember to say a prayer for our Astronauts.
I gotta get me some shut eye....