Tuning an Engine by the Spark Plug. The Basics of Reading a Spark Plug.

When tuning a performance engine the spark plug is a important tuning tool.  Being that there are many
different tuning techniques, I will keep this article about the basics of spark plug reading on a
Quarter-Mile Drag Strip (or wide-open-throttle tuning).

When tuning by the spark plug, you must always use a NEW plug to get an accurate reading.  To get a
clean plug reading the engine should be shut down after the run and towed back to the pits. Any running
of the engine after that will skew the plug reading.

When tuning by the spark plug, you must always remember there are two major variables at
play (air fuel ratio and ignition timing). To make it easier to determine your on the right track when
tuning, make small incremental changes and only 1 or 2 changes at a time.   Engine tuning is a learned
skill or art, with many different outcomes of getting a good plug reading. These tips are to identifying
a safe engine tune, horsepower or torque numbers may not be peak.  For example, if I was looking
a spark plug showing to much heat. I could pull some timing out or add more fuel, both changes
would result in less heat. As I have already stated, air fuel ratios and ignition timing play a huge
part in the outcome of a good engine tune.

The following tips are just a base line of what to inspect on the spark plug. When reading a spark
plug there are four different places to look.  The first place I inspect is the plug strap, this is
the ignition timing. The strap will show a color change in two spots on the 90 degree bend.   The first
mark shows the base timing and the second indicates total timing.   IF THE SECOND MARK IS
An ideal ‘Safe’ Timing range is when the total timing discoloring is located just passed the bend.

Next I’ll inspect the threaded area for the heat range. The threads will show dull burnt looking
color change, 2-3 threads is ideal. To increase the number of burnt threads, increase the heat range
of the plug. If you have 4-5-6 threads burnt you need to get a colder plug.


Inspecting for Air/Fuel can be found in two spots, one spot known as the Fuel Ring. On the Fuel Ring,
your look for a complete ‘Full Turn’ of discoloring. Ideally this should be lightly colored soot. As the
Fuel Ring colored soot darkens, this indicates a richer Air/Fuel ratio. If your tuning the engine for
maximum horsepower, the ring should be very light and not make a full circle around the ring. BUT,

The second place to inspect for the air/fuel ratio is the the porcelain.  Excessive fuel leaves light
to dark color rings on the porcelain. Ideal conditions show the porcelain as new to shinny
white. But, beware of a grayish specials as it is most-likely piston material.

NGK V-Power Racing Spart Plug Kits for Racers has put together Racer Kits of 48 count NGK Spark Plugs

R5671A-7 (Stock #4091)
R5671A-8 (Stock # 4554)
R5671A-9 (Stock # 5238)
R5671A-10 (Stock # 5820)
R5671A-11 (Stock # 6596)

*TIP for selecting a Heat Range using  NGK Spark Plugs,  #11 is the coldest and #7 will be the hottest.

Common Spark Plug Readings and Common Causes



Dodge Grand Caravan Key Sticking in Ignition? Replacing a Ignition Lock Cylinder on Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep Vehicles.

How to replacing a Ignition Lock Cylinder on a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan. These procedures are very common on other year/make/models.

On this repair, I will be using a Dorman product part# 924-703, which comes completely set-up with  new keys and extra tumblers. Having the extra tumblers makes it possible to code the new part to use the original key. Here is a link for instruction on coding the ignition lock cylinder from Dorman.

1.) Disconnect the negitive battery cable.  Remove steering column cover retaining screws.

If you are also replacing the Ignition Switch also, you will need to remove the steering column shroud.
1a.) Remove cable from parking brake release handle. Remove screws holding steering shroud.
Then remove the lower steering column shroud.

1b.) Removing the Ignition Switch, use a No. 10 Torx bit, remove the ignition switch mounting screw.
Depress the retaining tab, and gently pry switch from steering column.

2. With ignition switch in RUN position, depress retaining tab. Remove lock cylinder.

To install, reverse removal procedure. Ensure ignition switch and actuator shaft in lock housing are
in the run position. lock cylinder tab will depress only in RUN position. Check for proper operation of
ignition switch in all positions.

This Lock Cylinder was very sticky, so I decided to inspect why. After taking this one apart I found excessive wear well above the normal. After talking to the vehicle owner, he has had this problem for quite a while.

Cummins Diesel engine block heater cord for 2003-2007 Dodge Trucks .

5.9L Cummins Diesel engine block heater cord. What does a block heater do? The Block Heater warms the engine coolant and oil, providing easier starting in low temperatures. On 2003-2007 Dodge trucks the heater element is already installed in the block, you just need to remove the cap and plug in the extension cord.

TechSmart Engine Block Heater L25001

 The plug is located on the passenger side, by the turbocharger. The most common way of routing the cord, would be from the element leading out through the vehicle’s grille. When routing cord be sure not to place cord by any moving or hot parts, using zip-ties to fasten securely.

EGR Problem? What does the EGR System do? How to fix, repair the most common failures of the EGR System. Replacing the EGR Solenoid and Transducer on Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Eagle, Jeep, GMC and Mitsubishi vehicles.

What does the EGR system do?  The function of the EGR system is to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOX) in exhaust emissions, reduces cylinder combustion temperatures and helps prevent spark knock. The EGR system allows a predetermind amount of exhaust gas to recirculate and dilute the incoming air/fuel mixture to reduce peak temperatures during combustion.

When is the EGR system needed? The amount of emissions NOx produced at low engine speeds is very small, and is not needed at idle. It is also not needed during wide-open throttle driving, to achieve efficient acceleration. Recirculation is required during cruising and non-wide-open acceleration at speeds between 30 to 70 mph, when NOx formation is highest.

The EGR system consist of a EGR Valve, EGR solenoid, EGR backpressure transducer, signal tube and hoses. The solenoid operation is controlled by Powertrain Control Module (PCM) and the EGR backpressure transducer operation is controlled by the exhaust system backpressure.

Most faluires of the EGR systems are due to the transducer and solenoid. TechSmart™  manufactured by SMP, now offers a quicker and more cost effective solution for replacing just the fualty transducer and solenoid, perfectly matching the OEM EGR valve specifications.

EGR System- Solenoid,Valve and Transducer

G28001 — 2000 Chrysler Voyager / Grand Voyager | 2000-1996 Chrysler Town & Country | 2000-1996 Dodge Light Truck Caravan / Grand Caravan | 2000-1996 Plymouth Voyager / Grand Voyager

G28002 — 1993-1990 Chrysler Imperial | 1993-1990 Chrysler New Yorker | 1993-1990 Dodge Dynasty | 1993-1991 Chrysler Dynasty | 1994 Chrysler Intrepid | 1995-1990 Chrysler Town & Country | 1995-1990 Dodge Light Truck Caravan / Grand Caravan | 1995-1990 Plymouth Voyager / Grand Voyager | 1995,1993 Chrysler Intrepid | 1995-1993 Chrysler Concorde | 1995-1993 Dodge Intrepid | 1995-1993 Eagle Vision | 1999-1996 Dodge Neon | 1999-1996 Plymouth Neon

G28003 — 1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer | 1996-1992 Dodge Light Truck Dakota | 1996-1992 Dodge Light Truck Pickup – Fullsize / Ramcharger | 1996-1992 Dodge Light Truck Van – Fullsize | 1996-1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee

G28004 — 2000-1995 Chrysler Cirrus | 2000-1995 Dodge Stratus | 2000-1996 Chrysler Sebring

G28005 — 2002-2001 Chrysler Town & Country | 2002-2001 Chrysler Voyager / Grand Voyager | 2002-2001 Dodge Light Truck Caravan / Grand Caravan

G28006 — 1996-1995 Chrysler New Yorker | 1997-1995 Chrysler Concorde | 1997-1995 Chrysler Intrepid | 1997-1995 Chrysler LHS | 1997-1995 Dodge Intrepid | 1997-1995 Eagle Vision

G28007 — 2000 Chrysler Voyager / Grand Voyager | 2000-1996 Dodge Light Truck Caravan / Grand Caravan | 2000-1996 Plymouth Voyager / Grand Voyager

G28008 — 2000,1997 Chrysler Cirrus | 2000-1997 Dodge Stratus | 2000-1997 Plymouth Breeze | 1998-1997 Chrysler Sebring

G28009 — 1986 GMC Light Truck G Series Fullsize Van / Savana | 1996-1992 Dodge Light Truck Dakota | 1996-1992 Dodge Light Truck Pickup – Fullsize / Ramcharger | 1996-1992 Dodge Light Truck Van – Fullsize

G28010 — 2002-2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser

G28011 — 1997-1995 Chrysler Sebring | 1997-1995 Dodge Avenger

G28012 — 1989 Dodge Lancer | 1990 Dodge Light Truck Caravan / Grand Caravan | 1990 Plymouth Voyager / Grand Voyager | 1991-1989 Chrysler Daytona | 1991-1989 Chrysler LeBaron | 1991-1989 Dodge Daytona | 1991-1989 Dodge Shadow | 1991-1989 Dodge Spirit | 1991-1989 Plymouth Acclaim | 1991-1989 Plymouth Sundance

G28013 — 1998-1995 Eagle Talon | 1999-1995 Chrysler Sebring | 1999-1995 Dodge Avenger | 1999-1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse

G28014 — 1989-1988 Dodge Light Truck Pickup – Fullsize / Ramcharger | 1989-1988 Dodge Light Truck Van – Fullsize

G28015 — 2000-1998 Chrysler Sebring | 2000-1998 Dodge Avenger

G28016 — 1997-1996 Dodge Stratus | 1997-1996 Plymouth Breeze

G28017 — 2000-1999 Plymouth Voyager / Grand Voyager | 2002-2000 Chrysler Voyager / Grand Voyager | 2002-1999 Dodge Light Truck Caravan / Grand Caravan

G28018— 1992 Chrysler Dynasty | 1993-1992 Chrysler Daytona | 1993-1992 Chrysler LeBaron | 1993-1992 Dodge Daytona | 1993-1992 Dodge Dynasty | 1994-1992 Dodge Shadow | 1994-1992 Plymouth Sundance | 1995-1992 Dodge Spirit | 1995-1992 Dodge Light Truck Caravan / Grand Caravan | 1995-1992 Plymouth Acclaim | 1995-1992 Plymouth Voyager / Grand Voyager

G28019 — 1995 Dodge Neon | 1995 Plymouth Neon

G28020 — 2000 Chrysler Cirrus | 2000-1997 Dodge Stratus | 2000-1997 Plymouth Breeze

G28021 — 1996 Chrysler Sebring | 1996-1995 Chrysler Cirrus | 1996-1995 Dodge Stratus

G28022 — 1995,1993 Chrysler Intrepid | 1995-1993 Chrysler Concorde | 1995-1993 Dodge Intrepid | 1995-1993 Eagle Vision

G28023 — 1996 Chrysler Concorde | 1997-1996 Chrysler Intrepid | 1997-1996 Dodge Intrepid | 1997-1996 Eagle Vision

G28024 — 1994 Chrysler LHS | 1994 Chrysler New Yorker | 1994-1993 Chrysler Concorde | 1994-1993 Chrysler Intrepid | 1994-1993 Dodge Intrepid | 1994-1993 Eagle Vision

G28025 — 1996-1994 Dodge Light Truck Pickup – Fullsize / Ramcharger

Dodge Ram Pickup Wiper Transmission/Linkage/Motor Broken, Un-attached, Came Apart, Pulled Apart, How To Replace

The mechanical linkage between the wiper motor and wiper arms is typically called a wiper transmission or wiper linkage assembly. Dodge also calls this a wiper module. The wiper transmission assembly allows the mechanical rotary output of the wiper motor to transfer that power to 2 wiper arms/blades. This mechanical linkage provides millions of cycles of operation over the years and therefor is prone to failure. Also using the wiper in heavy weather conditions like ice & snow put much more strain on the wiper transmission. Many times the wiper transmission will come apart and this will cause the wiper to move separately from each other, not work at all, or work sporadically.

Tools Required: Basic hand tools including screw drivers, wrenches, ratchets & sockets is all that is needed for this repair.

Parts Needed:

1995-2001 Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500 Wiper Transmission Assembly

2003-2005 Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500 Wiper Transmission Assembly

2006-2008 Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500 Wiper Transmission Assembly

1997-2002 Dodge Ram 1500/2500/3500 Wiper Arms

The following instructions are specifically for a 2003-2005 Dodge Ram Pickup, however they are very similar for many vehicles:

Step 1. Remove the wiper arms from the vehicle. Lift the wiper blades away from the windshield. Once you lift them to about 90 degrees from the windshield, they will stay in place. Next search around the bottom of the wiper arm where it attaches to the wiper transmission. Once you find the base of the wiper arm, their is a little lever to lift up or pull out, This lever is what locks the wiper arms to the wiper transmission. Once you lift that lever, gently rock the wiper arms up and off of the wiper transmission pivots.

Image showing how to remove replace a wiper arm

Step 2. Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery terminal

Step 3.  Remove the Cowl, which is the cover located below the windshield and where the wiper pivots stick out. The wiper transmission or wiper module as Dodge calls it, is located under this cowl. Their will be a rubber hood seal at the front edge of the cowl to remove, This simply pulls off. Their will be 6 push pin fasteners located around the front perimeter of the cowl. Remove these, then their is 2 bolts holding the cowl in place. These bolts are located at each corner of the cowl.Remove these bolts and now you can lift the cowl up and out of the way.

Step 4. Unplug the wiring harness for the wiper motor, This is a snap together connector located at the back of the wiper motor. Some models may have a little lock tab that should be released.

Step 5. Remove the 2 bolts attaching the wiper module in place. See image below:

Component location of dodge ram wiper transmission

Step 6. Remove the remaining screw that is securing the wiper module to the bottom of the cowl plenum.

Step 7. Lift out and remove the wiper module/wiper transmission assembly

Installation is the same steps in reverse order.

TIPS: The number one cause of wiper transmission failure besides normal wear and tear is running the wipers during any condition that stresses the wiper system as a whole. This is typically snow or ice. It is strongly recommended to remove any snow, ice, or other debris from the windshield before running the wipers. The wiper system was never designed to remove anything from the windshield besides normal rain.

Thanks for viewing this post. We purchase all of our parts from

How To Diagnose/Fix/Remove/Replace/Repair An Intermediate Steering Column Shaft On A Dodge Dakota Or Dodge Durango 2WD & 4WD

The Dodge Durango and Dakota are both durable and popular trucks, however, like any vehicle these days, they are prone to their own common failure points. One of the more common issues popping up on the 1997-2004 Dakota and Durango is the failure of the intermediate steering shaft. The original steering shafts had a weak point in the universal joints which are built into the shaft.

If any of the above points on the shaft have failed, then the entire shaft must be replaced. For the longest time they were only available through the dealership, now has them available for a much better price than going through the Dodge dealer. They have the following shafts available:

1997 – 2000 Dodge Dakota/Durango 4×2 2WD

1997 – 1999 Dodge Dakota/Durango 4×4 4WD

2001-2004 Dodge Dakota/Durango 4×4/4WD

Their steering shaft has been redesigned with upgraded u-joints to prevent future failure. Their kits also replace the entire assembly, both upper and lower intermediate shafts, not just the lower intermediate shaft. This new shaft was designed to last the life of your truck, so you will never have an issue with the steering shaft again once replaced. The factory part numbers it replaces are 52078808AC and 52078808AD for the 1997-2000 2WD.

When the shaft fails, it can cause a few different symptoms. The most common is a popping, or clunking noise when turning the steering wheel. If the vehicle continues to be driven in this condition, the symptoms will only get worse, eventually the steering wheel will develop a lot of slop, or play when turning the wheel. And after that, the steering wheel may begin to bind in your Dakota or Durango. A binding steering wheel can be a serious and dangerous situation, that is why you do not want to let your vehicle get to that stage if it is beginning to show any symptoms of the intermediate steering shaft going bad.

Written by Joe Stepnicka

Article may not be reproduced without without author’s written permission. �

Dodge Ram 4×4 Wheel Hub Bearing Replacement

We found these instructions online and posted them for the use of our customers.

Cost of Replacement-



Discount Auto Parts-280.00

I had to replace passenger side front Dana 44 axle hub (unit bearing) and the axle u-joints after 100,000 miles on my non-ABS 97 Dodge Ram 1500. To check for hub failure prior to the wheel falling off, you can jack up the wheel, grab the top and bottom and try to wiggle it . If it moves, then you need hubs or ball joints. Watch the ball joints for movement. If they stay put, then the hubs are bad. Although they can be pricey, I recommend replacing both driver and passenger side hubs at the same time.

To start, block the rear wheel and jack the front end up. Support with jack stands. Remove the wheels. Remove the cotter pin from the hub nut.

In order to remove the hub nut, you will need to either have someone apply the brakes or do as I did and jam a socket extension into the rotor vents and let it jam against the caliper frame to keep the axle from turning while you remove the hub nut. This 1-11/16″  nut is torqued on at 175 lb-ft so it will take a bit to get it off. I had to buy a 3/4″ drive socket set ($42 from Harbor Freight… hey I only need it a few times) in order to remove it.

Remove the caliper and hang it from the frame with some wire or bungee cord. Do NOT let it hang from the brake line. Remove the rotor.

Remove the three 14mm 12pt bolts from the back of the steering knuckle. You will need to turn the knuckle all the way both left and right in order to get all three bolts out. These are torqued at 125 lb-ft so they will be a bit difficult as well to break loose. (BTW, like my custom tie rod?)

Now you will need to work the outer hub bearing race out of the knuckle. I had to tab on the hub mounting flange with a hammer back and forth to get the outer race to break loose from the rust and start turning. Tap parallel to the knuckle face near the hub bolt holes. You may also need to pry a bit with a crowbar. Another method is to get some spare bolts that fit the hub and thread those into the hub (replace the knuckle bolts) and use a hammer to tap on them from behind to force the hub out of the knuckle. Remove the bolts and pull the hub/bearing out. Take note of how the two sheet-metal pieces go on. In order to prevent damage to the axle shaft seals, remove the hub and leave the axle shaft in place (push the stub shaft back through the hub). Then remove the axle shaft. Be sure to keep the shaft centered in the axle tube to avoid damaging the seal. During the hub removal, be sure to check for ABS connections if you have any.

Here is the driver side hub-axle assembly.

Here is a comparison of both side assemblies. Note the larger splined end of the passenger outer shaft.

This the is the stub shaft and outer axle shaft for my non-ABS truck. An ABS equipped truck will have a tone ring fitted to the stub shaft between the flange and the u-joint.

Here is a comparison of both side assemblies. Note the larger splined end of the passenger outer shaft (CAD end). You can also see the necked down area of the inner shafts that is the weak point of the factory setup.

In order to replace the axle u-joints, you need to remove the c-clips from the underside of the caps using a screwdriver. They should come off easily.

Using a u-joint press (or sockets and a hammer or vise) remove the caps from the u-joint and remove the cross.

I replaced the stock/standard Spicer 5-297x u-joints with the new Spicer 5-760x joints. They are supposedly 20% stronger than the old style. The main body is thicker with even thicker sections near the cross shafts. Also the cross shafts have more metal inthem (notice the smaller hole)

Here is the new hub I picked up from Napa. It has Timken bearings and is made by Chicago Rawhide. It comes with new wheel studs already pressed in. You can see the splined area where the stub shaft fits and turns the wheels.

This is the back side of the new hub. Notice the bearings and hub flange setup. When I reassembled the hub, I tried to force as much bearing grease into the back o fthe bearing as possible since I drive through mud and water a lot and I am hoping to minimize thespace it can get into. The new units I bought came prelubed.

Reassembly is the reverse of removal. I recommend that you try to clean out any dirt/mud built up in the axle tube as to minimze the oil contamination and damage to seals. I used a carpenters framing square since it is fairly rigid and fits the tube and let me scrape out 90% of the gunk. Also, when reinstalling the axle shaft, try to keep the splined end from touching the remaining dirt in the tube and go slowly. You do not want to damage the seals by nicking them. When reinstalling the hubs, put some anti-seize on the outer bearing race that fits into knuckle. This will make it easier to reassemble as well as disassemble if needed later. Once the hub is back in place and bolted up, be sure to get the bake cooling plate and space back on in the correct way. The spacer should go on first, then the big airflow plate. The plate should be open in the rear and the “bent” portion should be forward and to the inside of the truck (so the air is pushed in from the front and directed towards the caliper/rotor). Torque the hub-to-knuckle bolts to 125 lb-ft. Install the hub nut. Assemble the rotor and caliper. In order to tighten the hub nut, have someone apply the brakes or use a socket extension to jam into the rotor vents. Torque to 175 lb-ft. and secure with a new cotter pin. Reinstall wheels and lower vehicle. Test drive and check for axle seal leaks and recheck bolts/nuts.

Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde/LHS, Eagle Vision Front Wheel Hub Bearing Replacement

Here is a set of instructions we found online explaining in great detail, the steps required to change a front wheel hub bearing assembly on the following vehicles:

1993-2004 Some makes may differ per vehicle year

Dodge Intrepid

Chrysler Concorde & LHS

Eagle Vision

(continue reading…)

Dodge Caravan, Grand Caravan, Voyager Front Wheel Hub Bearing Replacement

Here is another great set of instructions for the do-it-yourselfers out their. These instructions came from a 1992 Dodge Caravan, however they will work on Caravan, Voyager, Grand voyager, Grand caravan, and many other Chrysler products. (continue reading…)

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