Introduction: Super Slick Spark Plug Boot Puller

Picture of Super Slick Spark Plug Boot Puller

With 147K miles on my 2003 Pontiac Montana I finally got "check engine" light which indicated occasional spark miss. So...I decided to attempt a long overdue tune-up. I knew it would not be an easy task, so I was mentally prepared for difficulties. I started with the basics of studying the procedures in my manual and on line. YIKES!!! Soooo much preparation for what used to be such a simple job. I used to be an auto mechanic so am quite familiar with things not going according to plan. Any ways, did all the prep work of disconnecting this and that, and rolling engine forward, and got access to spark plugs and boots. Started yanking on boots and they wouldn't budge. Over the years I got the sneaky suspicion that the rubber boots act much like the "Chinese Finger Trap" that was popular when I was a kid. You know...the harder you pull, the tighter it grips. Soooo...you want to get under the boot to kind of push it off. Again, not easy with spark plugs buried deep in a well in the head. Especially with the pliers type pullers commonly available. Hmmmm, thinks I, how to pull this off? Something tubular with ears on the end to catch under the lip of the boot? Steel pipe is too thick. Didn't have any EMT conduit, though it would most likely work. Then I just happened to notice an extra hydraulic jack handle...aha. After pondering and visualizing how the finished tool might look, I proceeded to hack away at the jack handle.The finished tool performed beyond my expectations...not one scraped knuckle.

As I didn't take photos of the procedure, I will attempt to define my process after the fact. As I used power tools, I feel obliged to mention: use caution and proper protective equipment when working with them. Let's begin.

Step 1: Before and After

Picture of Before and After

The handle I used is the bigger of the two piece handle. About 7-1/4" long by 11/16" ID by 13/16" OD. This gives us a 1/16" wall thickness, acceptable for clearance in spark plug well. As I have tools to make my job easier, I used a die grinder with a cut-off wheel to shape the tool. Some handles may have a pin sticking out of one side for locking into jack for maneuvering the jack, this is not needed so you can leave it or cut it off.

Step 2: Start Cutting

Picture of Start Cutting

I started by cutting length wise down the sides about halfway down the tube for about 4 inches. I would consider that the minimum distance for today's long boots. As you may guess, I don't think measurements are that critical, if it does the job, it's good. I used a die grinder with cut-off wheel, but if you have the patience and fortitude, it may be accomplished with a hacksaw or other suitable cutting tool. Next is to cut at a slight angle connecting the previous cuts and remove the section of pipe that allows the tool to slide over boot.

Step 3: More Cutting

Picture of More Cutting

Next we need to cut small tab out of the end of the tube to create two tabs that will become the "ears" that catch the end of the boot. I cut two slots about 5/16" into the end of tube about 1/4" apart and removed center tab.

Step 4: Shaping and Trimming the "ears"

Picture of Shaping and Trimming the "ears"

Now we need to bend the tabs that will become the "ears" of the tool that grab the end of the boot. Find a suitable steel rod, mine was 5/8" diameter, that will fit inside of the tube and allow you to hammer the tabs over towards the center of the tube. Most likely, the tabs will meet or overlap each other, they will need to be trimmed after bending to allow relief for the spark plug and let tabs grab boot.I happened to have a spare spark plug and wire to test fit with. After pounding tabs over, grind the opening enough to clear spark plug insulator and let the tabs slip over the boot end enough to engage the boot.

Step 5: Using Your New Tool

Picture of Using Your New Tool

If you've followed me this far, this should be pretty straightforward. You are going to slide the tool along the boot and into the spark plug well. You may meet some resistance as you progress down the well but it will go and you will feel when the tabs clear the end of the boot. When you feel the tabs clear the boot end, grip the boot top and hold it against the puller and tug. A slight tug is all it took for me, no busted knuckles...not even a scratch.

I hope you find this instructable helpful and the tool a pleasure to use. I sure like the tool, but I may be a bit partial.

Comments or questions will be welcome.

Comments

Duster (author)2015-04-08

Great tool! I made one and pulled the boot right off the plug, but leaving the metal connector attached to the top of the plug! Still have two plugs (firewall side of a V6) that I can't get the boot off. I can spin the boot, but it's stuck at the connector.

Slezridr (author)Duster2015-04-09

Thanks! So, you made one of my tools? Awesome. Hadn't considered the prospect of leaving behind the connector, but it didn't happen to me...not since the early 70's anyway. But, on a delayed tune up, would most likely replace wires anyways. Yep, transverse V-6's can inspire colorful utterances to pass one's lips. :D I don't know what you're working on but I had to unbolt a couple engine mounts and rock engine forward to provide more room to access rear plugs. Was a little extra work but it made the job sooooo much easier...and FAR fewer busted knuckles. I believe "work smarter, not harder".

Fission Chips (author)2014-11-27

Wow! This looks awesome and really handy. I'll bet it's great to be able to pull spark plugs slickly! Nice job.

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