How to Replace the Spark Plug Wires on a 1987 Ford Escort

Driving an older economy car practically necessitates doing one's own maintenance -- the low purchase price of these cars can be quickly offset by routine maintenance. If you're dedicated to keeping a subcompact running well into its 20s, learning to fix it yourself is a must. Basic maintenance tasks such as oil changes, air filters changes, distributor cap and rotor replacement and spark plug and wire replacement are simple fixes that can be done by an owner rather than paying elevated shop labor rates.

Tools Used: Dielectric silicone grease, Spark plug boot pliers (optional)

Replace Spark Plug Wires

Inspect all four spark plug wires, starting with the plug wire for the number 1 cylinder (on the right side of the engine compartment). Follow each wire from the spark plug to the distributor, and make note of the way they are routed.

Grasp the boot (which connects the spark plug wire to the spark plug itself) of the number 1 wire with spark plug boot pliers or your fingers, and work it gently back and forth until it comes free of the plug. Be sure to pull only on the boot, but not on the wire itself.

Remove the wire from the distributor, using a similar procedure.

Smear a small amount of dielectric grease inside each end of the new wire and install, matching the position of the old wire. Press each end until you feel a slight click, to be sure the wire is properly seated on the distributor and on the plug itself.

Repeat the process for the remaining three wires. Replace the wires one at a time, to avoid mix-up, which will cause the engine to run poorly.

Tips & Warnings

Except in cases of catastrophic failure, the spark plug wires are usually replaced at the same time as the plugs themselves.

If the new wire does not seat snugly on the plug or distributor, crimp the connector slightly with pliers, so that it clicks properly into place.

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