The spark plugs on your 3.3L V6 Dodge Grand Caravan or 3.3L Plymouth Grand Voyager are going to wear out sooner or later and will need to be replaced.
But wear and tear is not the only factor that influences the replacement of the spark plugs.
Unfortunately, and especially as the engine ages and accumulates miles, other things can cause the spark plugs to fail. In this tutorial I'm going offer you a few suggestions on when to replace them.
Contents of this tutorial:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Causas Comunes De Falla De La Bujía (3.3L V6 Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth Mini-Van) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 3.3L V6 Chrysler Town & Country: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.
- 3.3L V6 Chrysler Voyager: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
- 3.3L V6 Dodge Caravan: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.
- 3.3L V6 Dodge Grand Caravan: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.
- 3.3L V6 Plymouth Voyager: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.
- 3.3L V6 Plymouth Grand Voyager: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.
What Causes Spark Plugs To Wear Out?
In a nutshell, the spark plug will wear out because of the spark that jumps between its center and side electrode. This spark will wear out even the toughest of materials.
This specific type of wear and tear doesn't wear out the spark plug overnight, but given enough time and miles, it will cause the spark to plug to fail.
On mini-van's equipped with original equipment copper spark plugs, you'll usually see the spark plugs wear out at around a 50,000 to 60,000 miles of service.
On mini-van's equipped with platinum tipped spark plugs you'll usually see the spark plugs wear out at around a 100,000 miles of service.
What usually causes a spark plug to fail before it wears out, are carbon deposits that accumulate between its electrodes. These carbon deposits are usually the result of the engine burning oil.
Once these carbon deposits block the air gap between the electrodes, the spark will no longer jump between them.
The end result of this carbon build up between the electrodes is a dead cylinder that will cause the engine to misfire (or idle rough).
If your 3.3L Dodge Grand Caravan (or Plymouth Grand Voyager) is OBD II equipped, you'll see the check engine light illuminate with a misfire trouble code (P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P0305, P0306).
When Should I Replace The Spark Plugs?
So when you should replace the spark plugs? -It all depends on if your mini-van's engine is burning oil. Here are my recommendations:
If the engine is burning oil: You'll need to check and replace them as soon as the engine starts to idle rough when you come to a stop (like at a traffic light) or the check engine light illuminates with a misfire trouble code.
Depending on how fast the spark plugs get blocked with carbon deposits, you could be replacing the spark plugs every few months.
How can you find out if the engine is burning oil? You'll know because:
- You have to add oil on a weekly basis to the engine.
- You see blue smoke coming out of the tail pipe when you accelerate the engine under load.
- You see blue smoke coming out of the tail pipe when you first start up the engine.
If the engine IS NOT burning oil: You'll be able to enjoy the full service life of the spark plugs before its time to change them in your min-van.
If you're using the original equipment copper spark plugs, on your 3.3L Dodge Grand Caravan (or Plymouth Grand Voyager), you'll be replacing them around 50,000 miles.
If you're using platinum or iridium tipped spark plugs, you'll usually see a service life of around 100,000 miles.
Which Spark Plugs Should I Buy: Champion Or Brand X?
The spark plug that your 3.3L Dodge Grand Caravan (or Plymouth Grand Voyager) comes with from the factory is the Champion brand copper spark plug.
Generally, this is the spark plug that you should buy and install on your 3.3L Dodge Grand Caravan (or Plymouth Grand Voyager) when it's time to replace them.
Now having said that, any spark plug from any other brand that is specifically designed to work on your particular 3.3L Dodge Grand Caravan (or Plymouth Grand Voyager) will work.
Of course, some spark plugs are cheaper than others. Here are my recommendations:
If your engine is burning oil: I would suggest buying the cheapest copper spark plugs (even if it's Brand X spark plugs).
Using the most expensive spark plugs will not make a lick of difference, since the engine is burning oil and they're gonna' get fouled up with oil/carbon pretty soon and cause a misfire.
If your engine IS NOT burning oil: Then I would suggest buying platinum tipped spark plugs. Brand X platinum tipped spark plugs will work fine.
Using platinum tipped spark plugs are your best bet to have the best engine performance possible.
Other Causes Of Spark Plug Failure
Spark plugs that are not firing spark will cause a misfire condition and if your mini-van is OBD II equipped, you'll see a misfire code (P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P0305, P0306) illuminating the check engine light.
There are two specific reasons that can cause this problem:
Internal mechanical problems are causing the spark plugs to get fouled up with gasoline or carbon.
The most likely causes are:
- The misfiring cylinder is burning oil because its piston oil control rings are severely worn or its cylinder head valves have bad valve stem seals.
- Fuel injection problems causing the spark plugs to get fuel fouled.
- Bad spark plug wire not transmitting spark from the ignition coil pack to the spark plug.
- Bad ignition coil pack.
- Low compression problems in a specific cylinder and causing its spark plug to become fuel fouled or carbon clogged.
Human error causing the spark plug to malfunction.
This is usually caused by spark plug installation problems such as:
- Breaking the spark plug's insulator (the porcelain part) when tightening the spark plug.
- Dropping the spark plug and breaking its insulator.
- Dropping the spark plug and closing the air gap between the center electrode and the side (ground) electrode.
- The spark plug's air gap is not within the specified range.
- Power washing the engine while it's hot (which causes the spark plug's porcelain insulator to crack).
More 3.3L V6 Dodge Grand Caravan And Plymouth Grand Voyager Tutorials
You can find a complete list of tutorials in this index: Chrysler 3.3L Index Of Articles.
- How To Test The MAP Sensor (2001-2004 3.3L V6 Chrysler And Dodge Mini-Van).
- How To Test The Alternator (2001-2007 3.3L Chrysler).
- How To Test Engine Compression (1991-2007 3.3L V6 Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth Mini-Van).
- How To Test The Coil Pack 3.3L, 3.8L Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
If this info saved the day, buy me a beer!