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Old 10/27/2010, 03:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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V6 tune up additional details

I used the V6 spark plug/plenum removal how-to which is linked from a thread here in the garage. There were gaps in the information presented there, some of which I figured out on my own, a lot of which I received help from the members here, and some other random bits I garnered from friends/family/internet/experience. Iím going to try to collect this information in one place to provide its benefit to other members who attempt this job in the future. This is my way of paying it forward after everyone helped me. This is a supplement to the referenced directions, not a replacement.

The basic instructions are here:
TJC's Plenum Removal Guide for V6 8G Galant's & 3G Eclipse's

Hereís everything else you need to know:

First: wear gloves. My hands looked like they had been put through a lawnmower because I didnít wear the mechanicís gloves I already had. If you donít have a pair, get some.

Second, consider anything else you might want to do while you have access to whatís behind the plenum. If the plugs have been in for a very long time, itís time to replace the valve cover gaskets, and while doing that, you should do the spark plug tubes also. Also, because youíve removed the plenum, you should replace the gasket between it and the intake manifold. Has your SES light come on and reported any problems with your Bank 1 Sensor 1 oxygen sensor? Has it been there more than 100,000 miles? Replace it while youíre in there and itís easy to access. Most of these tasks require the plenum to be removed, rather than lifted out of the way. Be ready to do this. Itís not that much more work. If the plenum is all the way off, why not take the opportunity to clean your EGR?

Parts you need:
  • Spark plugs (duh). Donít go cheap unless you want to repeat this. Get NGK double platinum or NGK Iridium IX plugs.
  • Spark plug wires. If youíre replacing the plugs, you should replace the wires. Again, donít go cheap. The OEM wires are as good as you need, fit better, and will last longer than aftermarkets.
  • Upper intake manifold gasket.
  • Rocker (valve) cover gaskets and spark plug tube seals (if youíve made the smart decision to do this).
  • EGR valve gasket (if you are removing the plenum and want to clean out the EGR). You can re-use the EGR tube gasket, but odds are, you wonít be able to remove the Valve gasket without ruining it.
  • Distributor cap (just do it. Itís not that expensive)
  • Distributor rotor (same as above. Cheap and easy)
  • Upstream oxygen sensor (if youíre doing it while youíre in there)

Supplies you will need:
  • Rags.
  • Brake-kleen (use eye protection and gloves while using this nasty stuff)
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Shop towels
  • Some kind of degreasing/abrasive hand soap.
  • Spark plug boot grease
  • Carb-choke cleaner
  • Permatex silicone gasket (if youíre doing the rocker cover gaskets)
  • Sharpie pen (red shows up well on most color connectors)
  • Masking tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Anti-sieze. Donít forget this. Seriously. If you donít already have this in your garage, you probably shouldnít be attempting this.
  • A moving blanket (use it to cover your fenders/bumper/engine when you are doing the ridiculous gymnastics required to reach some bolts)
  • PB blaster, especially if you are replacing the oxygen sensor

Tools you will need:
  • Good six point metric socket set. Donít even mess with 12-point sockets.
  • ľĒ drive socket set. The 3/8Ē drive sockets wonít get into the tight places
  • 6Ē ľĒ drive socket extension if your ľĒ drive socket set doesnít have one. The narrower, the better.
  • 6Ē ľĒ drive ratchet if your ľĒ drive socket setís ratchet is bigger than that.
  • 5/8Ē spark plug socket.
  • 9-12Ē extension which fits your spark plug socket
  • Inch-pound clicker torque wrench. You can get one cheaply. Do it.
  • Flathead jewelerís screwdriver
  • A hooked tool which resembles a dental-pick (if youíre replacing gaskets)
  • Another car to get you to autozone to replace anything your forgot/broke

If youíre replacing the oxygen sensor, you will also need:
  • 7/8Ē or 22mm very deep well six point socket. Sears is the only place I found one deep enough
  • Breaker bar
  • Oxygen sensor socket

The instructions donít say to, but you will need to remove the strut tower brace. Itís only six bolts and takes less than a minute. Just do it at the start rather than wait until you canít reach something and have already hit/scraped your hands on it a dozen times.

The instructions say to disconnect your battery. Go ahead and remove it altogether. Itís easy to do and will give you more room.

The instructions say to loosen your air intake from the throttle body. Again, I counter that itís easier just to remove it, especially if your intake is aftermarket. Youíll need the access.

Unbolt the wiring loom from the plenum at the start of the job. You will end up leaning on it and it will break where it bolts down.

Now to the doing:

Use the sharpie to write a number on both sides of any electrical connector you disconnect.

Use the masking tape to put a tag on both sides of any hose you disconnect, and use the sharpie to give the tag a letter/number.

Keep a list of all numbers/letters you use so that you can check them off when you reinstall.

The 12mm sockets on the back of the plenum near the firewall are a pain. The first two (including the pass. side of the EGR tube) closest to the passenger side arenít that bad. The others are a pain. The only way I could find to get the one on the driverís side of the EGR tube was to get my tiny 12mm ľĒ drive socket on there with a really short ratchet and push like hell towards the driverís side (with the ratchet handle facing up). Note the tab location on the EGR gasket and donít lose the gasket. The way I got to the bolt in between the EGR valve and the throttle body was to put my moving blanket over the engine, and climb into the engine compartment. I used my left hand to reach down from above and guide the socket onto the bolt. I used the right to feed the ratchet in from the driver side, using the space where the intake and battery used to be. I used a 9Ē ratchet and pushed the hoses out of the way to get the extra room. I had the ratchet horizontal, and pushed down as had as I could to break it free.

There are two electrical connectors which have a metal clip which must be pried free with the jewelerís screwdriver. One is the manifold differential pressure sensor on the top of the intake plenum. The other is the ignition harness right by the distributor. Remove these clips, donít lose them, then disconnect the connectors.

Whether youíre going to remove the plenum all the way, or just lift it up, youíll have to remove the coolant hoses to the throttle body before you try to lift the plenum and realize they are there. This is another reason itís good to have the battery and intake out of the way. You access them from this space. The one underneath is a pain. I ended up cutting it and replacing it later. The replacement hose didnít fit as well. If you can avoid this, so much the better. Once you free the plenum and start removing it, you can get the throttle cable off the throttle body.

Once the plenum is off, note the location of the tab on the gasket where it meets the intake manifold. Remove the gasket (since youíll be replacing it anyway), and cover the intake manifold with a clean rag, or, alternatively, clean the surface with a rag dampened with thinner and use some Glad Press-and-seal to cover this up. You donít want anything getting in there.

If you take my advice and replace that oxygen sensor, youíll discover that the heat shield makes it impossible to get a crow-foot wrench on the hex part. If you have an oxygen sensor socket, donít use it to try to remove the sensor Ė youíll just round it off. Cut the wires, and put your deep well 7/8Ē or 22mm deep well socket on it, and use your breaker bar to break it free. Putting PB blaster on it a few hours before you do it helps a lot too. Use the oxygen sensor socket to put the new sensor in, and donít forget to use the high-temp anti-size that it comes with.

Donít worry about marking spark plug wires unless you canít read, in which case this thread is useless to you, or have unmarked aftermarket wires. The stock wires are marked. Spark plugs are as follows
<-Front of engine (belts)
1 3 5
2 4 6

If youíre replacing the valve cover gaskets, remove the valve cover. Getting the bolts out is easy, especially if the gasket is old and has compressed down to nothing. Mine were actually loose. Getting the cover off is another story. You can try using a wood block and a hammer. I tried and tried and tried and it didnít work. I ended up making careful application of a pry bar. I hope you donít have to. I did. I got lucky and didnít damage any mating surfaces. Again, Iíll reiterate. WEAR GLOVES. Once the cover is off, use a combination of brake cleaner and carb cleaner (always follow with the carb cleaner Ė brake cleaner is nasty stuff) to clean it out. Iíve been using synthetic oils for most of my carís life. The cover was already pretty clean. The one I bought off another member was not. Still think oil doesnít make a difference? To get the gasket out, I used the hooked pic to get under the gasket, pulled up until it broke, and then in the gap, I started digging underneath it with the hook. This worked better than anything else. Every how and then, I got under where I was working with brake cleaner to help dissolve the gasket. When I got most of it out, I went back with the brake cleaner and a brass-bristle brush. Also, cover your exposed valves with something clean. I just used plastic shopping bags.

Getting the spark plugs out is a no brainer. ONLY DO THIS WITH A COLD ENGINE. Itís an aluminum head. Donít screw it up. You put the 12Ē extension on your ratchet and put the 5/8Ē spark plug socket on the extension. Gently work the socket onto the spark plug and wiggle until you feel the hex part of the socket mate up with the hex part of the plug. If you meet more than a little resistance, something is wrong. Mine were in there for over 164k miles and still came out no problem. Check each plug. Oil in your spark plug tubes? Guess what? Youíre doing the gaskets whether you wanted to or not. Lay your plugs out in a row so that you can tell which is which as you remove them. There are photo guides on the web and in car repair manuals which indicate potential problems by how removed plugs appear. Observe. Compare. Act accordingly.

Putting it all back together

Put anti-seize on every bolt before reinstalling. Do it.

Putting the new ones in is pretty easy too. One twist is that you have to use electrical tape to tape the spark plug tube socket to the extension. Otherwise, you will find that, after the plug is tightened up, the extension will come out of the hole, but the socket will remain. The only way to get your socket back is to remove the plug, tape up, and try again. Put anti-sieze on the threads of each plug before installing, but DO NOT GET ANY ON OR NEAR THE ELECTRODES. Remove your socket/extension from the ratchet. Put the plug in the socket. Carefully reach the extension plug first (duh) into the hole as straight and level as possible. When the threads engage, tighten with your fingers only. This way, if youíve cross-threaded it, youíll meet too much resistance to continue before you do much harm. Once itís in there as far as you can go with just your fingers, use your ratchet with your hand up high away from the handle end to get it in to where it stops. Only then tighten an additional 1/3 turn using the end of the ratchet handle. If youíre spending some time getting those valve covers clean, go ahead and put the plugs in to keep any debris from getting in the cylinders. Use boot grease on the spark plug boots before reinstalling the wires. I used a long, wooden handled qtip to put boot grease inside the boots.

Before re-installing the valve covers, take a rag dampened with lacquer thinner and clean the mating surface on the head. Mine was pretty clean already. Most of the mess stuck to the cover.

Put thin bead of permatex inside the groove on the valve cover (donít forget to go around the bolt holes), and press the new gasket into it. Put a thin bead on the head too, taking care to ensure that you keep it as far as possible to the outside. You donít want any squeezing in. Again, go around the bolt holes. Gently lower the valve cover onto the head, taking care to line up the holes. When installing the bolts, work each one in with your fingers until the head just reaches the top of the valve cover. The easiest way is with a 10mm ľĒ drive socket on a 6Ē extension or using the hand-driver in your socket set that looks like a screw driver. The bolt in the back closest to the passenger side, itís a serious pain. The way I discovered which works best is to direct my extension with the socket on it in at about a 45 degree angle towards the driver side from vertical. I get in near where gap in the plenum is, get the socket to the top of the bolt, and then rotate my extension up to vertical. Tighten in three stages in this order:

6 2 3
4 1 5

If you donít have an inch-pound torque wrench, donít go much beyond Ĺ turn past finger tight. You want to see a little permatex squeeze out. Use a knife to cut away any extra permatex.

If youíre replacing the distributor cap, itís pretty easy. Remove the spark plug wires from the cap (the locations on the cap are marked, so you canít mess it up). Youíll need a rather short screw driver to remove the screws because of the clearance. The screws will not come all the way out, but the cap will come free when they are out of the distributor. Now take a picture of the rotor. Donít draw a picture. Donít count on your memory. Take a picture. Now remove the rotor. It just pulls off. Go get your new rotor, and using your picture as reference, put it back on. Put the new cap on. Tighten screws. Reinstall wires.

If your plenum is out of the car, now is the time to clean out the EGR. Remove the EGR valve (two bolts) and use round wire brushes (I put one on my drill) and clean out both the passage from the EGR tube and the passages going into the plenum. Blow them out with compressed air. Use some brake cleaner and carb cleaner if you have to. Clean the valve as well. If youíve taken it off, youíll need to replace the gasket when reinstalling the valve. Reinstall the valve before reinstalling the plenum. Spray some carb cleaner in the throttle body also, and wipe as far as you can inside by opening the butterfly valve manually a little bit.

Before installing the plenum, make sure you havenít forgotten anything. Put the spark plug wires back on? Correct order? Boots tight? Then use a rag dampened with lacquer thinner to clean the mating surfaces of the plenum and intake manifold. Put your new gasket on, aligning the tab like you found it. Now go get your plenum. Before putting it in the car, put the throttle cable back on. Thread it in to the throttle body from the passenger side and put the little plastic tab into the well on the butterfly valve actuator. Now gently lower the plenum down onto the engine. Before putting it all the way down, support it on a block of wood and reconnect the coolant hoses. Now lower it onto the engine. It will fit over the two studs on the outside where the nuts go. Put the bolts back in, starting by putting each in the right whole, and putting the nuts on the outboard studs. Tighten in three stages, starting from the inside, and working your way to the outside in a zig zag pattern, ending with the outboard nuts. Contact, finger tight, torqued to spec.

Put all your connectors back on and any vacuum hoses you disconnected, using the letters and numbers you marked with which you marked each one, and crossing off your list as you go.

Putting your intake and battery are the last two steps. Count on the car running a little rough for a few days as the computer relearns. Then it will run better than ever.

Itís a daunting, and, at times intimidating/humbling, but this is possible for anyone with a little time, patience, and some basic mechanical skills.
Who is John Galt?
Mein GasfuŖ der wird mšchtig schwer.

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