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Old 01-04-2020, 01:15 AM   #1
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Coils and Plugs on V10

Started the job of replacing coils and plugs on my 2001 E350 v10. Spend about 3 hours tonight taking apart all the stuff that's required to access the coil on plugs (COP) and spark plugs.

Started by removing all the air intake from the inlet all the way back to the intake. Covered the intake with a plastic bag and put a rubber band to seal off introducing any debris into the intake. The 2 vacuum hoses attached to the side of the rubber intake pull out and accessing the clamps was a challenge. Removing the engine cover inside the van was necessary to access the rear most clamp attached to the metal intake.

Next was removing the plastic cover on the driver's side that houses the wire harness and covers the COP's. This was a major pain in the butt because the plastic is attached to the wire harness with plastic finned plugs that were impossible to get out especially with the limited access. Removing the bolts holding the plastic in place was easy enough but removing the plastic plugs was very difficult and even more so on the passenger side. I ended up snipping the bottom of the plastic plug and used a screw driver to pry apart with a lot of effort. It's easy to damage wires in this process so I was trying to be gentle, but gentle is not enough to get this apart so you need a big and long screwdriver to pry it apart. Access looks reasonably good on the driver's side with these parts removed.

Next up was the passenger side. This side is much more complicated. Accessing from inside the van on the passenger side, you have to remove the vacuum hose connected to the valve cover (pulls out easily). I plugged the hose and valve cover hole with paper towel to prevent debris getting in. I pulled the hose that is held up with the transmission dip stick tube out of the holding clamp and pushed it over and out of the way. Next I removed the bolt holding the plastic cover and snipped off the plastic plug holding the wire to the plastic cover and pried it apart. Then moved to the engine bay to start removing things to access the bolt and plastic cover at the front of the engine. You have to pull the battery out and then remove the oil fill hose by moving the hose clamp up and unscrewing the attachment at the top near the oil fill cap. Then disconnect the large wiring harness connections. There is 2 smaller ones that come apart by pushing a screwdriver into the tab and pulling apart. Large wire harness connection needs a bolt removed facing the front of the van that holds it together then a screw driver on tab to separate. Next you have to remove the large wire harness from the metal bracket holding it in place. You need to shove a flat head screwdriver into the bottom and pull the harness connector toward the front of the van to remove from the bracket.
Removing these items and pushing them out of the way should give you just enough access to deal with the plastic ribbed plug holding the wire harness to the plastic cover. I used angle snips to grab and pull it down a few times to try to snip as close to the plastic cover as possible. After struggling with this for a long time I was able to snip it then pry apart from the front and then prying apart from the inside of the van finally separated the harness from the plastic cover. With this remove there is access to the COP's and plugs albiet very limited access.

It took me over 3 hours to get to this point and retired for the evening. Tomorrow is time to remove the COP's and blow out the plug holes so that debris does not fall into the cylinder hole when removing and replacing the plugs. Will report back with progress tomorrow. Hopefully the COP and plug replacement goes smooth and everything goes back together. Fingers crossed that all goes well and it starts. I was quoted $1000+ to change to coils and plugs. I used Motorcraft COP's and plugs and the parts cost a bit over $400 (best price was Rock Auto that I trusted would be genuine parts and not knockoffs) I can see why this is such an expensive job because it's a painful process just getting to the point where you start replacing the coils and plugs.

If anyone is tackling this project feel free to PM me if you're stuck. I'm happy to share what I have learned. If you are taking on this project kudos to you as it's definitely not an easy project but if you can do it it'll save you $600 or more and you will get to know your engine.
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Old 01-04-2020, 07:47 AM   #2
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This is a great write-up. Thanks! Did you manage to take any pictures or video along the way? I’m going to be doing a plug change here soon and any extra info is always good. Mine is the 5.4 but I assume everything is sumilar.
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Old 01-04-2020, 08:56 AM   #3
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5.4L is very similar, but on my dad's van I had to lift one of the fuel rails, which I did not need to do on my V10. This is not a big deal, but you'll want to bleed fuel pressure first, and I always smear a thin layer of silicone on the o-ring before sliding it back on the injectors, otherwise an o-ring can un-seat or crack.
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Old 01-04-2020, 10:10 AM   #4
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I would recommend getting a tube of dielectric grease and slathering both ends of the COP before they go back in. On the last V10 I did I just changed and greased the boots along with the plugs and never had a problem with that van again. The COPs were actually fine.

Also, you may find a pond (yes, seriously) in the channel between the heads behind the intake easily seen by removing the dog house. I had a lot of water there as well as a nest or three on my motorhome but they don't get driven as often.
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by CDACamper View Post
Started the job of replacing coils and plugs on my 2001 E350 v10. Spend about 3 hours tonight taking apart all the stuff that's required to access the coil on plugs (COP) and spark plugs.

Started by removing all the air intake from the inlet all the way back to the intake. Covered the intake with a plastic bag and put a rubber band to seal off introducing any debris into the intake. The 2 vacuum hoses attached to the side of the rubber intake pull out and accessing the clamps was a challenge. Removing the engine cover inside the van was necessary to access the rear most clamp attached to the metal intake.

Next was removing the plastic cover on the driver's side that houses the wire harness and covers the COP's. This was a major pain in the butt because the plastic is attached to the wire harness with plastic finned plugs that were impossible to get out especially with the limited access. Removing the bolts holding the plastic in place was easy enough but removing the plastic plugs was very difficult and even more so on the passenger side. I ended up snipping the bottom of the plastic plug and used a screw driver to pry apart with a lot of effort. It's easy to damage wires in this process so I was trying to be gentle, but gentle is not enough to get this apart so you need a big and long screwdriver to pry it apart. Access looks reasonably good on the driver's side with these parts removed.

Next up was the passenger side. This side is much more complicated. Accessing from inside the van on the passenger side, you have to remove the vacuum hose connected to the valve cover (pulls out easily). I plugged the hose and valve cover hole with paper towel to prevent debris getting in. I pulled the hose that is held up with the transmission dip stick tube out of the holding clamp and pushed it over and out of the way. Next I removed the bolt holding the plastic cover and snipped off the plastic plug holding the wire to the plastic cover and pried it apart. Then moved to the engine bay to start removing things to access the bolt and plastic cover at the front of the engine. You have to pull the battery out and then remove the oil fill hose by moving the hose clamp up and unscrewing the attachment at the top near the oil fill cap. Then disconnect the large wiring harness connections. There is 2 smaller ones that come apart by pushing a screwdriver into the tab and pulling apart. Large wire harness connection needs a bolt removed facing the front of the van that holds it together then a screw driver on tab to separate. Next you have to remove the large wire harness from the metal bracket holding it in place. You need to shove a flat head screwdriver into the bottom and pull the harness connector toward the front of the van to remove from the bracket.
Removing these items and pushing them out of the way should give you just enough access to deal with the plastic ribbed plug holding the wire harness to the plastic cover. I used angle snips to grab and pull it down a few times to try to snip as close to the plastic cover as possible. After struggling with this for a long time I was able to snip it then pry apart from the front and then prying apart from the inside of the van finally separated the harness from the plastic cover. With this remove there is access to the COP's and plugs albiet very limited access.

It took me over 3 hours to get to this point and retired for the evening. Tomorrow is time to remove the COP's and blow out the plug holes so that debris does not fall into the cylinder hole when removing and replacing the plugs. Will report back with progress tomorrow. Hopefully the COP and plug replacement goes smooth and everything goes back together. Fingers crossed that all goes well and it starts. I was quoted $1000+ to change to coils and plugs. I used Motorcraft COP's and plugs and the parts cost a bit over $400 (best price was Rock Auto that I trusted would be genuine parts and not knockoffs) I can see why this is such an expensive job because it's a painful process just getting to the point where you start replacing the coils and plugs.

If anyone is tackling this project feel free to PM me if you're stuck. I'm happy to share what I have learned. If you are taking on this project kudos to you as it's definitely not an easy project but if you can do it it'll save you $600 or more and you will get to know your engine.
Hello CDACamper
Hey would you happen know the recommended mileage change for spark
plugs on a V10. I've got 57K on mine. Changed the plugs on my Escape
at 62K. Ya got more courage than I do I just let my Ford dealer do it
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Old 01-05-2020, 12:22 AM   #6
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Plugs and coils Day 2. List of tools, parts and photos at the end of this post.

Regarding the question about when to change plugs. The interval for changing plugs can be 100k miles according to Ford, but I would definitely not recommend that based on the condition of my plugs. They were definitely well worn and needed replacement (the van was not abused or run hard). The engine ran fine and idled smooth, but I am preparing for a 6 week trip to Alaska this summer and wanted to replace the coils and plugs as preventative maintenance. I wouldn't replace plugs before 50k miles. I would say 65k-75k miles is the sweet spot. I would lean toward 65k if your rig is run hard.

Finished up the job today. All in all, it was not too bad of a job. It's time consuming so if you have the time it's a worthwhile endeavor because you will get to know your engine. After getting everything prepped the night before (about 3 hours to strip everything down) I spent close to 7 hours removing the old coils and plugs and installing them. A big part of the job that is time consuming and part of why I wanted to do this job myself is that you need to clean out the plug holes. There are deep holes about 6" deep that the plugs go into and the boot goes on top of the plug. The boot is supposed to prevent debris and water falling down in the hole but all of the holes had debris, some much more so than others. A couple of the holes had evidence of water because a few of the plugs were fairly rusty on the outside (see pictures below). My method for was to vacuum the top of the engine with a brush attachment to remove as much of the surface dust and debris. The I used a blow gun with a compressor to thoroughly blow off sand, dust, small pebbles and dirt from all around the coils and fuel rail while everything was still in place. Now it’s ready to start replacing the coils and plugs.

I started on the passenger side as this looked like it would be the more challenging side which ended up being true. I spent 80% of the time doing the passenger side and the driver side went very quickly. I started with one that was easily accessible on the passenger side which is the plug closest to the rear of the van. I wanted to start with an easy one so I could understand exactly how the coil and plug removal and install process worked. I zip tied the thick wire harness up and out of the way by attaching it to the transmission dip stick tube that runs above. I put a zip tie at the front and rear of the engine and this was a huge help to access the coils and plugs. Next, I removed all of the wire connections to the coils and the injectors. You don't have to worry about mixing up which wire goes to which plug because the wire length is exact and you can't confuse a coil connector with an injector connector because they are a different shape and color. Now that all of the connectors and wire harness is out of the way you have better access. Not good access, but just better access. Without doing this I don't think you can get the job done.

To remove the first coil, you need to remove a small bolt that secures the coil in place. Once removed, you can pull the coil/rubber boot. It will literally pop off with a good tug. Next, I attached a bendable straw to my blow gun. It was a large plastic straw that has ribs that make it bendable without restricting air flow. Having 2 blog guns was handy. One with the straw attached and one without. I did this because there is not nearly as much power as with the blow gun with straw than the regular blow gun and I use the more powerful option as much as access allowed. I put the blow gun in the plug hole and blew out all the sand, dust, pebbles, etc. I did a thorough job of this making sure to blow off the engine then blow in the hole, blow off the engine blow out the hole as many times as it took to get all debris out of the hole and completely off the engine so it can't fall back in. Then I loosened the spark plug and backed it out a few turns and then re-blew out the plug hole. Loosening the plug a few turns will loosen up debris that is packed in the bottom of the hole. Every plug hole has more debris blow out after loosening the spark plug. Some were much worse that others and I had to loosen a little the blow out then loosen a little more then blow out until no more debris blows out. This probably sounds overkill but getting sand and dirt in your cylinder is not good and I doubt that a mechanic shop would do as good of a job as I did taking care not to get crap in the cylinder.

Once no more debris comes out, I removed the plug the rest of the way. Next is prep the new spark plug. I checked the gap (should be .054) first. Some were right on and some were gapped too big. I closed the gap by putting the plug in a vice and gently tapping to close the gap. Next, I put Permatex Anti-seize #80078 on the threads leaving the 4 threads closest to the electrode dry. I did quite a bit of research about anti-seize and despite spark plug manufacturers recommendations, I used it anyway. The consensus I found is that people were stripping out plugs because the anti-seize makes it easier to over torque and the plug manufacturers were being sued.
Now that the plug is ready, I inserted it into a magnetic 7/8" plug remover and extension with flexible joint and then inserted the plug and extension in the hole. I hand tightened the plug to make sure I didn't cross thread it and then torqued to 22 ft/lbs. This is 20% less than the recommended 24-28 ft/lbs. because I am using anti-seize. Once torqued, I blew out the hole one last time.

Now its time to prepare the boot. I put a dab of dielectric grease on the coil end and added some on the seal area of the boot to help keep out debris and water and also make it easier to push in the boot. Now that the boot is ready, push it in, twist and push, then twist and push some more to make sure you get it all the way down and connected to the spark plug. Then align the bolt hole and hand tighten the bolt that secures the boot to the engine. Again, I hand tighten to keep from cross threading.

The next 2 plugs I did were the hardest. After understanding how the process was going to work with the first easy one, I wanted to get the hardest plugs out of the way. Still working from inside the van on the passenger side, I removed the second, third and fourth coils. This gave a little better access to the third and fourth plugs which were the hardest. After going through the blow out process (see above) on all three plug holes I removed the fourth plug (counting from the back to the front of the engine, I'm not referencing cylinder numbers here for simplicity). To remove the fourth plug, I had to use the magnetic plug socket/extension, an 8" extension, a 6" extension, then a universal socket joint to make nearly an 90 degree bend and another 8" extension. This brought the end of the extensions to where the ratchet could connect all the way on the outside of the dash. This made loosening the plug actually easy. Without this set up, I can't imagine how you could get it out (and back in). There is so much crap in the way (vacuum hose, transmission dip stick tube wires, fuel rail, more wires, etc.) that access is impossible without an extension set up like this. Get yourself a set of 3 extensions 3", 6" and 8" that are 1/4 and 3/8 with adapters (6 total extensions) and get adaptors 3/8 to 1/4 and 1/4 to 3/8. This will give you lots of options for getting the correct length of extensions. I use all kinds of combinations and just about every cylinder was different. After going through the plug removal and insert of plug four, I moved on to the third plug which required a similar extension set up as the fourth plug. After inserting the third plug I went back and installed the coil/boot for plug three and four. Doing it this way just offered better access. Next was the second plug and this one had easy access. The fifth and final plug on the driver’s side was accessed from the front of the van under the hood. Again, a combination of extensions were required.

Once finished with the passenger side I put everything back together before moving on to the driver’s side. I triple checked that everything I moved, disconnected, etc. was put back together and in its rightful place. The battery is the only thing I didn’t install on the passenger side. This was the very last thing that went back in.
Now on to the driver’s side. This side went quickly. There is much better access, but I still zip tied the bundle of wires up and out of the way at both the front and back of the engine. All of these plugs had pretty good access. Still had to use different combinations of extensions but all when out and back in with relative ease. A couple of plug holes on this side were really dirty and I had to blow out repeatedly to get everything out and much more so than any others on the passenger side.

Here is a list of tools and parts for this job, some I had some I bought on Amazon.

-Magnetic swivel spark plug socket with 6” extension (this is a must): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
-Universal Joints (another must): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
-Permatex anti-seize #80078 (silver tube/bottle)
-Dielectric grease
-Long flat head screwdriver 12” is helpful for getting off hard to reach clamps for the air intake and removing the plastic anchor plugs that hold the plastic coil cover to the wire harness on both sides.

Parts: I got both coils and plugs at Rock Auto. They had a good price and delivery was prompt and parts were genuine Motorcraft. I was reluctant to buy on Amazon or ebay based research.

Motorcraft coils: DG508
Motorcraft plugs: SP479

Photos:

Photos of old spark plugs with 87k miles. The electrodes were very eroded and the was build up on the metal arm. https://photos.app.goo.gl/TdbHfNwFB4as9aRV7

General photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JiHqGSYbBFoESvmNA
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:38 AM   #7
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Thanks for posting this! I've got plugs and boots to tackle this job soon.There is surprisingly little info on this job for the V10 vans…so this is much appreciated. I've read several people mention that they saved a lot of time by pulling both front seats. Did you do this?
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:55 AM   #8
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Concerning the question of what mileage to change plugs and Ford V10 spark plugs issues:

V10's in the past have had a nasty habit in the early years (99-03) of blowing plugs out of the cylinder head. Lot's of cylinder heads replaced by Ford under warranty. A change was made in the spark plugs threads depth and spark plug seat area sometime after 2003 to help resolve this problem. There are several TSB's on this issue.

One of the apparent causes of blown out spark plugs is improper spark plug torque. Over tightening or under tight spark plugs can be a problem in both instances. Make sure you use the proper updated spark plug torque setting when installing new spark plugs in your early production V10 engines.

The new thread depth and spark plug seat configuration after 2003 Ford V10 heads may have caused another problem listed below:

Ford also had issues on 5.4 and V10's with broken/stuck plugs in the heads when removing the original Motorcraft 2 piece plugs. For that reason Ford now recommends spark plug replacement at much lower mileage levels than stated in your owner's manual.

See the article below for more information:

https://www.aa1car.com/library/ford_...ug_problem.htm

Changing spark plugs earlier than recommended may also help avoid the issue of broken spark plugs as less carbon will be built up on the lower spark plug threads over shorter mileage change intervals making plug removal much easier with less chance of spark plug breakage.

Another recommendation is to change to the 1 piece Champion spark plug specified for your application to help solve the broken spark plug problem upon plug removal.
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:28 PM   #9
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I thought broken 2 piece plugs were an issue with 3 valve heads, and that all econolines (at least V10 econolines) have 2 valve heads?

I have no idea if this is really true, but have read that one theory on the cause of 2-valve head plug-blowout is that a few of the plug threads stick out into the combustion chamber, allowing carbon to build up on them. When you remove the plug, you drag that carbon through the head threads and gall them up.

Again, I'm not sure if this is true, but does anyone here have any experiences that could support or refute this? Did the OP (or anyone else) feel any resistance when they were unthreading their plugs or did they seem to spin freely out of the head?
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
I thought broken 2 piece plugs were an issue with 3 valve heads, and that all econolines (at least V10 econolines) have 2 valve heads?

I have no idea if this is really true, but have read that one theory on the cause of 2-valve head plug-blowout is that a few of the plug threads stick out into the combustion chamber, allowing carbon to build up on them. When you remove the plug, you drag that carbon through the head threads and gall them up.

Again, I'm not sure if this is true, but does anyone here have any experiences that could support or refute this? Did the OP (or anyone else) feel any resistance when they were unthreading their plugs or did they seem to spin freely out of the head?

There is a lot of discussion on this at ford-trucks.com, and E350s that I know of do not have the 3valve long plugs....
The earlier 5.4s had less threads than the newer, as stated earlier. I don't remember any thread carbon issues with the 2 valve motors....
Lots of discussion on torques and antiseize, and one very good experiment overtorquing plugs on a trashed older 5.4 head, and it took a LOT of torque to strip the plugs. Don't remember the numbers but it was north of 25#.....
I used minimal antiseize designed for aluminum on the threads, and silicone grease sparingly on the boot bottoms and spring top...(I had spring rust on a couple plugs with aftermarket COPs)..YMMV but it worked for my 100K R&R. Now at 140K all Motorcraft parts....
Cleaning the holes is super important and becomes more challenging after using anitseize and silicone....

Also later model 5.4s do not require fuel rail lifting...I think 2000 we had to lift the rails. 2006 did not and that part of the job was easier.
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