DIY Chevy Owners Guide To Changing The Sparkplugs In Your 5.3 Vortec Engine


The Chevy 5.3 Vortec is a popular motor for many reasons. For starters, it is a reliable engine that can handle high torque loads and still produce good horsepower. It also has a strong camshaft, which means it’s more power than most engines of similar size and displacement.

These engines produce a lot of power, but they also have some drawbacks. For example, one of the common myths is that you can’t get to and replace their spark plugs without taking off the entire intake manifold or cylinder head, but that isn’t true. The good news is that this is a simple DIY task, so let’s get started!

Tools Required

  • Sparkplug wrenches – One wrench with a 17mm socket and an extension bar for the other.
  • Sparkplug socket – An 11/16″ socket that fits over an 18mm sparkplug socket.
  • Sparkplug pliers – A pair of pliers with a 21mm wrench on one end and a small flat blade screwdriver on the other.
  • Sparkplug wire grommet tool- A tool with multiple small sockets that fit into the gaps between cylinders in order to remove old grommets and install new ones. 
  • Chevy engine-compatible gasket

Changing The Sparkplugs

Removing the Engine Cover

Remove the engine cover from the engine. The engine cover is held in place by two bolts; one above and one below the radiator.

To reach out to the sparkplug, you first need to remove the air filter housing from your Chevrolet engine compartment. This can be done by removing a few screws from the bottom of your vehicle’s dash and prying off the housing with a screwdriver or small pry bar.

Once you have removed the air filter housing, you’ll see a hose sticking out of it that leads to your engine’s intake manifold. Remove this hose using a wrench or socket wrench, then remove its connection to your engine’s intake manifold using another wrench or socket wrench.

You can now reach out to your sparkplug easily by removing this plenum cover piece (which has two hoses attached) and pulling it straight up towards you while holding on to its base with both hands so that it doesn’t fall or get lost inside your vehicle’s engine compartment!

Removing the Coil Packs

The coil packs in the 5.3 Chevrolet engine are located near the valve cover. This means that any damage to the valve cover can equally cause engine misfiring and running rough, just like when the spark plug is damaged. To remove the coil parks safely:

  • Make sure you have a good grounding point with a bolt or screwdriver before beginning any of these steps.
  • Disconnect your negative battery cable. 
  • Open your hood, remove your oil filter cap and filter, but leave it loose enough so you can see it from outside the engine compartment if you need to add more oil or get something out of it later on (like a new filter). 
  • Finally, remove the coil pack cover bolts using an 8mm socket wrench or hex wrench; this will expose two spark plugs depending on which one you have (either side of the cylinder head). Note that some engines have only one coil pack and others have two separate ones per cylinder head; keep this in mind when removing them!
  • Now remove both wires from each plug. They are connected by crimp connectors. 

Removing the Spark Plugs From The Coil Pack

With the coil packs gone, simply press on a tab in each plug and pull them out of their holder. You may need to use pliers or something else with some type of grip on it to help pull it free if it gets stuck.

Place each plug into a small container with some sort of cleaning mixture (I used carburetor cleaner).

The carburetor cleaning solution should be able to clean all the carbon deposits off the inside of your carburetor and any rust. Ensure you use only genuine Chevy 5.3 engine parts when cleaning the plugs. 

Replace the Spark Plugs

To install your new spark plug, push it into place and tighten it with a socket wrench or ratchet. Ensure you do not over-tighten this part of your engine or damage it beyond repair. A safer alternative is to use a new gasket and torque them to 25 ft-lbs (34 Nm.) You don’t want to end up having to purchase an expensive remanufactured Chevy engine,

Changing your spark plugs is reasonably straightforward and can save you a lot of money if you choose to do it yourself rather than pay a shop. Up to this point, you know the steps involved in changing one. 


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