How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

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How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:36 am

I want to replace my wires, but it looks like a pain in the butt with the way they are routed.

I know that I would need to jack it up to get the rear ones, but how bad are they to do even with it jacked up?

Would it be something somebody (like me) who doesnt have a ton of skill, but knows how to work on cars a little could do?

Thanks!



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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby GT_Indy » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:26 pm

No need to lift the car.
There is enough space to reach behind and change the wires.
Removing the alternator also helps make space to reach.


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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Rettax3 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:51 pm

Give the plug-wire boots a little twist when trying to pull them, that often helps. If they are cheaper wires or deteriorated much, they may leave the end on the plug -pretty common and a PITA to get them back off, so don't just pull the wire itself. When installing new ones, put a little dielectric grease (silicone grease) in the end of the boot -this seals out moisture preventing corrosion and helps to free the boot-end next time. Sometimes, it is beneficial to have a set of the plug-wire removal pliers or long-reach angled needle-nose pliers to get better leverage to pull the boots, especially for the rear ones. Replace the wires one at a time to make sure you don't mix them up. On the 60-degree engines, the front bank are 'even', the rear bank are 'odd'. On the coils, it doesn't matter which of the two posts the wires go on -they fire them simultaneously. Each coil fires one front bank cylinder and one rear bank cylinder. The 3100s really aren't that bad.

Are you doing the plugs at the same time? Remember that the plugs go into the heads at an angle, two of them point one direction and the third angles in the opposite way -both front and rear heads are the same, just rotated around, so when trying to figure out the rear bank if doing them by 'feel', just look at the front and picture in your mind turning it around. If doing a full-on tune-up, I also recommend inspecting the air filter, replacing the fuel filter and the PCV valve in the rear valve-cover. GT_Indy is correct about accessing the plugs/wires from the top, but I've never pulled the alternator to do them, I have long skinny hands though.

Good luck, have fun getting to know your car, it is a good place to start! :good:


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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby GT_Indy » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:12 pm

Yah I never remove the alternator either.
Only once because the car was hot from running. lol.

I second the dielectric grease. Just a small amount. To much will cause the wires to not go on easily.

Might be good to do plugs too if the wires need done.
Extensions and a universal will reach the back 3 plugs. That way the rachet doesnt have to be worked behind the engine.


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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:58 pm

GT_Indy wrote:No need to lift the car.
There is enough space to reach behind and change the wires.
Removing the alternator also helps make space to reach.


The haynes manual says it's best to as it's very easy. It was the same thing with my deville.



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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:02 pm

Rettax3 wrote:Give the plug-wire boots a little twist when trying to pull them, that often helps. If they are cheaper wires or deteriorated much, they may leave the end on the plug -pretty common and a PITA to get them back off, so don't just pull the wire itself. When installing new ones, put a little dielectric grease (silicone grease) in the end of the boot -this seals out moisture preventing corrosion and helps to free the boot-end next time. Sometimes, it is beneficial to have a set of the plug-wire removal pliers or long-reach angled needle-nose pliers to get better leverage to pull the boots, especially for the rear ones. Replace the wires one at a time to make sure you don't mix them up. On the 60-degree engines, the front bank are 'even', the rear bank are 'odd'. On the coils, it doesn't matter which of the two posts the wires go on -they fire them simultaneously. Each coil fires one front bank cylinder and one rear bank cylinder. The 3100s really aren't that bad.

Are you doing the plugs at the same time? Remember that the plugs go into the heads at an angle, two of them point one direction and the third angles in the opposite way -both front and rear heads are the same, just rotated around, so when trying to figure out the rear bank if doing them by 'feel', just look at the front and picture in your mind turning it around. If doing a full-on tune-up, I also recommend inspecting the air filter, replacing the fuel filter and the PCV valve in the rear valve-cover. GT_Indy is correct about accessing the plugs/wires from the top, but I've never pulled the alternator to do them, I have long skinny hands though.

Good luck, have fun getting to know your car, it is a good place to start! :good:


Thanks for the advice! And i wasnt going to do the plug as the car only has 65k, but do you think I should do it while I'm there? As for the pcv and air/fuel filter I'll do those too eventually. It sucks because the car is almost empty but I won't have time to do it now. I'm also pretty young so my hands aren't super huge, but when I looked it was pretty tight.

Also I think the wires are original, so I shouldn't have any problems. I'm only replacing them as one is missing some of the insulation and I dont want it damaging anything



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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:04 pm

GT_Indy wrote:Yah I never remove the alternator either.
Only once because the car was hot from running. lol.

I second the dielectric grease. Just a small amount. To much will cause the wires to not go on easily.

Might be good to do plugs too if the wires need done.
Extensions and a universal will reach the back 3 plugs. That way the rachet doesnt have to be worked behind the engine.


Thanks! I'm only going the wires as one is damaged, or do you think it would be best to just replace the damaged one? The plugs I think are fine as the car has 65k but what do you think would be best?



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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby GT_Indy » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:00 pm

Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:No need to lift the car.
There is enough space to reach behind and change the wires.
Removing the alternator also helps make space to reach.


The haynes manual says it's best to as it's very easy. It was the same thing with my deville.


I don't see why anyone would want to go from under the car on a DeVille, Northstar or the PFI engine that came before it.
The plug wires are right there when the hood is open. lol. :unknown:

If you want to go under the car is up to you, I just think its easier not to have to jack the car up if my hand can reach it.

Just remember to be safe and use jack stands! :good:

Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:Yah I never remove the alternator either.
Only once because the car was hot from running. lol.

I second the dielectric grease. Just a small amount. To much will cause the wires to not go on easily.

Might be good to do plugs too if the wires need done.
Extensions and a universal will reach the back 3 plugs. That way the rachet doesnt have to be worked behind the engine.


Thanks! I'm only going the wires as one is damaged, or do you think it would be best to just replace the damaged one? The plugs I think are fine as the car has 65k but what do you think would be best?


If you plan to do 1, might as well do them all, then you know you have a good set.

Cam2363 wrote:
Rettax3 wrote:Give the plug-wire boots a little twist when trying to pull them, that often helps. If they are cheaper wires or deteriorated much, they may leave the end on the plug -pretty common and a PITA to get them back off, so don't just pull the wire itself. When installing new ones, put a little dielectric grease (silicone grease) in the end of the boot -this seals out moisture preventing corrosion and helps to free the boot-end next time. Sometimes, it is beneficial to have a set of the plug-wire removal pliers or long-reach angled needle-nose pliers to get better leverage to pull the boots, especially for the rear ones. Replace the wires one at a time to make sure you don't mix them up. On the 60-degree engines, the front bank are 'even', the rear bank are 'odd'. On the coils, it doesn't matter which of the two posts the wires go on -they fire them simultaneously. Each coil fires one front bank cylinder and one rear bank cylinder. The 3100s really aren't that bad.

Are you doing the plugs at the same time? Remember that the plugs go into the heads at an angle, two of them point one direction and the third angles in the opposite way -both front and rear heads are the same, just rotated around, so when trying to figure out the rear bank if doing them by 'feel', just look at the front and picture in your mind turning it around. If doing a full-on tune-up, I also recommend inspecting the air filter, replacing the fuel filter and the PCV valve in the rear valve-cover. GT_Indy is correct about accessing the plugs/wires from the top, but I've never pulled the alternator to do them, I have long skinny hands though.

Good luck, have fun getting to know your car, it is a good place to start! :good:


Thanks for the advice! And i wasnt going to do the plug as the car only has 65k, but do you think I should do it while I'm there? As for the pcv and air/fuel filter I'll do those too eventually. It sucks because the car is almost empty but I won't have time to do it now. I'm also pretty young so my hands aren't super huge, but when I looked it was pretty tight.

Also I think the wires are original, so I shouldn't have any problems. I'm only replacing them as one is missing some of the insulation and I dont want it damaging anything


I usually do them both at the same time, but that is me.
No need to replace what isn't bad. My engine has 56k on its plugs and wires, I plan to replace them at the 75k mark depending on how it is running.
Last edited by GT_Indy on Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:04 pm

GT_Indy wrote:
Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:No need to lift the car.
There is enough space to reach behind and change the wires.
Removing the alternator also helps make space to reach.


The haynes manual says it's best to as it's very easy. It was the same thing with my deville.


I don't see why anyone would want to go from under the car on a DeVille, Northstar or the PFI engine that came before it.
The plug wires are right there when the hood is open. lol. :unknown:

If you want to go under the car is up to you, I just think its easier not to have to jack the car up if my hand can reach it.

Just remember to be safe and use jack stands! :good:

Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:Yah I never remove the alternator either.
Only once because the car was hot from running. lol.

I second the dielectric grease. Just a small amount. To much will cause the wires to not go on easily.

Might be good to do plugs too if the wires need done.
Extensions and a universal will reach the back 3 plugs. That way the rachet doesnt have to be worked behind the engine.


Thanks! I'm only going the wires as one is damaged, or do you think it would be best to just replace the damaged one? The plugs I think are fine as the car has 65k but what do you think would be best?


If you plan to do 1, might as well do them all, then you know you have a good set.


Ok! And The caddy I was was a TBI not PFI, its just what the manual said. Its easier if you went under.

And I have ramps anyways so doing things like this is easier and safer



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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby GT_Indy » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:07 pm

Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:No need to lift the car.
There is enough space to reach behind and change the wires.
Removing the alternator also helps make space to reach.


The haynes manual says it's best to as it's very easy. It was the same thing with my deville.


I don't see why anyone would want to go from under the car on a DeVille, Northstar or the PFI engine that came before it.
The plug wires are right there when the hood is open. lol. :unknown:

If you want to go under the car is up to you, I just think its easier not to have to jack the car up if my hand can reach it.

Just remember to be safe and use jack stands! :good:

Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:Yah I never remove the alternator either.
Only once because the car was hot from running. lol.

I second the dielectric grease. Just a small amount. To much will cause the wires to not go on easily.

Might be good to do plugs too if the wires need done.
Extensions and a universal will reach the back 3 plugs. That way the rachet doesnt have to be worked behind the engine.


Thanks! I'm only going the wires as one is damaged, or do you think it would be best to just replace the damaged one? The plugs I think are fine as the car has 65k but what do you think would be best?


If you plan to do 1, might as well do them all, then you know you have a good set.

Cam2363 wrote:
Rettax3 wrote:Give the plug-wire boots a little twist when trying to pull them, that often helps. If they are cheaper wires or deteriorated much, they may leave the end on the plug -pretty common and a PITA to get them back off, so don't just pull the wire itself. When installing new ones, put a little dielectric grease (silicone grease) in the end of the boot -this seals out moisture preventing corrosion and helps to free the boot-end next time. Sometimes, it is beneficial to have a set of the plug-wire removal pliers or long-reach angled needle-nose pliers to get better leverage to pull the boots, especially for the rear ones. Replace the wires one at a time to make sure you don't mix them up. On the 60-degree engines, the front bank are 'even', the rear bank are 'odd'. On the coils, it doesn't matter which of the two posts the wires go on -they fire them simultaneously. Each coil fires one front bank cylinder and one rear bank cylinder. The 3100s really aren't that bad.

Are you doing the plugs at the same time? Remember that the plugs go into the heads at an angle, two of them point one direction and the third angles in the opposite way -both front and rear heads are the same, just rotated around, so when trying to figure out the rear bank if doing them by 'feel', just look at the front and picture in your mind turning it around. If doing a full-on tune-up, I also recommend inspecting the air filter, replacing the fuel filter and the PCV valve in the rear valve-cover. GT_Indy is correct about accessing the plugs/wires from the top, but I've never pulled the alternator to do them, I have long skinny hands though.

Good luck, have fun getting to know your car, it is a good place to start! :good:


Thanks for the advice! And i wasnt going to do the plug as the car only has 65k, but do you think I should do it while I'm there? As for the pcv and air/fuel filter I'll do those too eventually. It sucks because the car is almost empty but I won't have time to do it now. I'm also pretty young so my hands aren't super huge, but when I looked it was pretty tight.

Also I think the wires are original, so I shouldn't have any problems. I'm only replacing them as one is missing some of the insulation and I dont want it damaging anything


I usually do them both at the same time, but that is me.
No need to replace what isn't bad. My engine has 56k on its plugs and wires, I plan to replace them at the 75k mark.


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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:11 pm

GT_Indy wrote:
Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:No need to lift the car.
There is enough space to reach behind and change the wires.
Removing the alternator also helps make space to reach.


The haynes manual says it's best to as it's very easy. It was the same thing with my deville.


I don't see why anyone would want to go from under the car on a DeVille, Northstar or the PFI engine that came before it.
The plug wires are right there when the hood is open. lol. :unknown:

If you want to go under the car is up to you, I just think its easier not to have to jack the car up if my hand can reach it.

Just remember to be safe and use jack stands! :good:

Cam2363 wrote:
GT_Indy wrote:Yah I never remove the alternator either.
Only once because the car was hot from running. lol.

I second the dielectric grease. Just a small amount. To much will cause the wires to not go on easily.

Might be good to do plugs too if the wires need done.
Extensions and a universal will reach the back 3 plugs. That way the rachet doesnt have to be worked behind the engine.


Thanks! I'm only going the wires as one is damaged, or do you think it would be best to just replace the damaged one? The plugs I think are fine as the car has 65k but what do you think would be best?


If you plan to do 1, might as well do them all, then you know you have a good set.

Cam2363 wrote:
Rettax3 wrote:Give the plug-wire boots a little twist when trying to pull them, that often helps. If they are cheaper wires or deteriorated much, they may leave the end on the plug -pretty common and a PITA to get them back off, so don't just pull the wire itself. When installing new ones, put a little dielectric grease (silicone grease) in the end of the boot -this seals out moisture preventing corrosion and helps to free the boot-end next time. Sometimes, it is beneficial to have a set of the plug-wire removal pliers or long-reach angled needle-nose pliers to get better leverage to pull the boots, especially for the rear ones. Replace the wires one at a time to make sure you don't mix them up. On the 60-degree engines, the front bank are 'even', the rear bank are 'odd'. On the coils, it doesn't matter which of the two posts the wires go on -they fire them simultaneously. Each coil fires one front bank cylinder and one rear bank cylinder. The 3100s really aren't that bad.

Are you doing the plugs at the same time? Remember that the plugs go into the heads at an angle, two of them point one direction and the third angles in the opposite way -both front and rear heads are the same, just rotated around, so when trying to figure out the rear bank if doing them by 'feel', just look at the front and picture in your mind turning it around. If doing a full-on tune-up, I also recommend inspecting the air filter, replacing the fuel filter and the PCV valve in the rear valve-cover. GT_Indy is correct about accessing the plugs/wires from the top, but I've never pulled the alternator to do them, I have long skinny hands though.

Good luck, have fun getting to know your car, it is a good place to start! :good:


Thanks for the advice! And i wasnt going to do the plug as the car only has 65k, but do you think I should do it while I'm there? As for the pcv and air/fuel filter I'll do those too eventually. It sucks because the car is almost empty but I won't have time to do it now. I'm also pretty young so my hands aren't super huge, but when I looked it was pretty tight.

Also I think the wires are original, so I shouldn't have any problems. I'm only replacing them as one is missing some of the insulation and I dont want it damaging anything


I usually do them both at the same time, but that is me.
No need to replace what isn't bad. My engine has 56k on its plugs and wires, I plan to replace them at the 75k mark.


Ok thanks!



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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby GT_Indy » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:26 pm

lol I don't know why it double posted.

I might have hit the submit button when trying to quote again.


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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:29 pm

GT_Indy wrote:lol I don't know why it double posted.

I might have hit the submit button when trying to quote again.


That would probably help



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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Rettax3 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:29 pm

At 65k, the plugs are near or past their lifespan. At 22 years, hey, everything deteriorates with age. Corrosion can effect even the electrodes inside the engine. They are due. As for the wires, if they are original, they are as likely to come off in pieces as in one piece. They are good quality, but if you are doing one, do 'em all, it is worth a little more time.

If you do the plugs, NGKs are great, I've been using the G-Power platinums a lot lately, I used to use the V-Power nickle too. AC Delco (OE) are also a great choice. I've heard a few bad things about Bosch lately, but I still have a few engines with them and they run fine. I don't like Denso, and I don't trust Autolite anymore.

PCV valves don't actually wear out, but they only cost a few dollars, when are you going to replace them? I just do them with the plugs to be sure they are replaced before they plug-up with carbon, at least inspect it while you are under the hood, with that few miles it is likely okay.

I don't recall hearing anyone prefer to do the 3100 plugs from underneath, I'm sure a lot of people do, maybe you could let us know if it is actually easier? Ramps make short work of getting under there, for sure. My '89 GTU with the 3800 SC swap has to be done from underneath (on the rear three at least, the front bank is actually easier to access than the original 2.8 from the top), and it is a PITA to get up in there, even with the manual transmission -the autos restrict the space a lot more too.

It doesn't matter for the fuel filter if the tank is empty or not, so don't let that concern you. You only have to drop the tank to replace the pump or the strainer, the filter is outside the tank, just behind it I believe.


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1990 4.0L 4-Cam 32-Valve V-8 5-Speed Indy GTi (Project)
1990 Stock(!) 3.1 MPFI Auto Indy
1995 LA1/L82 4T60E Z-26
1995 3.4 DOHC Turbo 5-Speed Z-26

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Re: How bad is replacing the plug wires on a 96 z26?

Postby Cam2363 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:48 pm

Rettax3 wrote:At 65k, the plugs are near or past their lifespan. At 22 years, hey, everything deteriorates with age. Corrosion can effect even the electrodes inside the engine. They are due. As for the wires, if they are original, they are as likely to come off in pieces as in one piece. They are good quality, but if you are doing one, do 'em all, it is worth a little more time.

If you do the plugs, NGKs are great, I've been using the G-Power platinums a lot lately, I used to use the V-Power nickle too. AC Delco (OE) are also a great choice. I've heard a few bad things about Bosch lately, but I still have a few engines with them and they run fine. I don't like Denso, and I don't trust Autolite anymore.

PCV valves don't actually wear out, but they only cost a few dollars, when are you going to replace them? I just do them with the plugs to be sure they are replaced before they plug-up with carbon, at least inspect it while you are under the hood, with that few miles it is likely okay.

I don't recall hearing anyone prefer to do the 3100 plugs from underneath, I'm sure a lot of people do, maybe you could let us know if it is actually easier? Ramps make short work of getting under there, for sure. My '89 GTU with the 3800 SC swap has to be done from underneath (on the rear three at least, the front bank is actually easier to access than the original 2.8 from the top), and it is a PITA to get up in there, even with the manual transmission -the autos restrict the space a lot more too.

It doesn't matter for the fuel filter if the tank is empty or not, so don't let that concern you. You only have to drop the tank to replace the pump or the strainer, the filter is outside the tank, just behind it I believe.


Thanks for all the help! Do you think I should run iridium plugs or would platinum be fine.

I was going to do the pcv valve before as it was like 2 bucks, but it was coming from somewhere else, so shipping was like an extra 6 bucks so I didnt do it.

And I only mentioned the empty tank to avoid making a mess, but I dont think it would be a problem as long as I dont have the pump on.




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