I changed the plugs on my 2017 RTL-E (111,000 miles) a few days ago and wanted to share a couple of observations on the process.
- First, thanks to everything I have read here, the job wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. That said, I am happy that I will likely never have to do it again.
- You definitely need at least two small extensions. Unfortunately for me, my 3/8 plug socket has a swivel extension on it (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MUBQFFD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1), so it is just a bit longer than most. That would be fine, but the standard recommendation of two 3” extensions was too long with my socket. I was able to make it work using other extensions and adaptors, but if I ever did have to change them again, I will either get a shorter socket or try to find a 1 ½” extension.
- As others have noted, the hardest part for me was getting the coil connectors off. I followed @silkiechicken’s advice (Changed the spark plugs and it wasn't so bad! ) but still couldn’t get them off. Fortunately, one of the rubber boots pulled away from the connector and I could see exactly how they worked. A photo is below. For me, rather than pushing on the “US” in “PUSH”, I found it best to feel for the end of the release (noted with the arrow) and push there. As @silkiechicken noted, it is also important to push down on the connector while pushing the release. Even the one with the boot removed was difficult until I managed to push down and release at the same time.
- The second hardest part for me was removing the fan shroud. This should have been a breeze, but the screws were seized and made of a very soft metal that easily deformed. The first one came out but the second head stripped without budging. I hope I never need to get that shroud out, because it is nearly impossible to get any kind of vice grip or striped screw remover on it. Fortunately…
- It isn’t necessary to remove the shroud. The fan has enough play that you can gently push it towards the front of the car and remove and refit the boot. The above step was completely unnecessary.
- Torquing the rear plugs (at least the two on the left side) is nearly impossible without a small torque wrench, something I don’t have. Fortunately, I do have an electronic torque calibrator (https://smile.amazon.com/ACDelco-AR...50068568&sprefix=torque+wrench,aps,76&sr=8-11) on loan from a friend and I was able to use this in place of one of the extensions. It was still a PITA and I’d try to find a small torque wrench if I ever have to do it again.
- One last thing, which is probably unnecessary to state, but: do not plan on doing this with a hot or even warm engine! Plan on spending quite a bit of time laying across the engine.