April 12, 2012, 5:04 pm
The car is a 03-plate 1.8TDCi 115ps estate with 86K on the clock. It went in for it's service yesterday and I asked them to check out a problem with starting on cold mornings. They reckon several glow plugs are u/s and have quoted £189 to replace the set. I Googled glow plugs and found several traders offering them at around £9 each, so -
Is £189 a reasonable price for the job, assuming they'd be fitting OEM items?
I've considered trying to do the job myself but the Haynes manual says access is poor and recommends removing the injector pipework but I don't fancy doing that so how difficult would it be to do it without disturbing the pipework?
How likely is it that they're siezed in and I'll break one or more trying to get them out?
Is there a downside to using after-market items?
All opinions welcomed.
April 12, 2012, 10:34 pm
To be honest, I would have thought its much like changing a set of plugs. Access wouldnt be too different on the Mk2 focus, as I think the 1.8 is essentially the same engine, and according to haynes, all you have to do, is remove the dipstick tube, but on looking at mine, I think you could get away with not doing that. in my personal view, I feel £189 is a bit steep. You can probably get 4 plugs for around 30-50 quid.
April 12, 2012, 11:28 pm
£189 is an absolute freakin' rip off!
Genuine Ford OEM glow plugs for a 1.8 TDCi will cost around £40 for a set of 4.
See here :
(link was on the homepage of my local Ford main dealer btw, so we can be confident that these are genuine)
So if the parts cost £40, what is the extra £150-odd for in that quote?
Any decent garage can do the job in about 30 minutes, it's just whacking on a socket, unscrewing & removing the old plug. And screwing in the new plug. Just like changing spark plugs, as has been mentioned.
Even if it takes an hour, that's still only £40 at an independent garage, plus £40 for the plugs themselves. Total cost £80 all in.
That'll save you more than £100 over what you've been quoted.
April 13, 2012, 12:15 am
Ford OEM glow plug @ £7.87 incl VAT
April 13, 2012, 9:59 am
Thanks for the link Dave. I've bookmarked that. As soon as I can prise the missus away from the car I'll whip the engine cover off and take a look. I did try to look at them a couple of years back when I was going to try to disconnect the leads and do resistance checks on them but I seem to remember that I found it too difficult to get to the terminals. Maybe I'll just tout around a few independants to find one who'll do it at a more reasonable price.
One of the websites I was looking at suggested that the thread and shaft of the plug should be coated with a special grease before fitting. Anyone know if this is correct?
April 13, 2012, 10:26 am
Most likely copper grease, a little smear on the threads.
It's very heat-resistant and is used to ensure that you are able to remove something later on, after it's been subjected to great heat (i.e. it prevents seizing, rather than lubricates moving parts).
Commonly used on the rear face of a brake disc (the parts that mates with the hub) or the rear of brake pads (not the friction surface itself).
Available from Halfords or good motor factors, but if you are getting a garage to do the job for you they'll have some.
April 13, 2012, 10:45 am
The glow plug on these are easy to change. Remove the engine cover and the air deflector (above the intercooler). You could also remove the intercooler and turbo pipes to give you more room.
Yes it is a good idea to give the threads a small coating of copper slip grease.
April 13, 2012, 11:09 am
Thanks again. I wondered if copper grease would do. I already have some of that for use, as you say, between disc and hub and on the backs of pads.
Thanks also for the access tip James. I might be able to take a look this afternoon, though I first need to look at the N/S/F suspension strut as they said the bracket supporting the brake hose is "insecure".
April 14, 2012, 9:55 am
I found that the brake hose bracket had come adrift from the strut. Typically it had only been attached by three small spot welds. Corrosion had built up between the bracket and strut and the welds failed. I was going to reattach it using a jubilee clip but hadn't got one the right size so I ended up using a couple of heavy-duty cable ties. That's saved about £130 quoted for changing the strut!
After I'd finished that job I took off the intercooler which turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. I could then see three of the glow plugs but to get at the fourth I'd need to also remove the dipstick tube. Still, it looks as if it shouldn't be too difficult so I'm going to order a set and give it a go.
The intercooler was badly clogged up with dirt and fluff and even a few very small stones! When I started to clean it I quickly discovered that the fins are [i][b]very[/b][/i] fragile. I could have done with a compressed air line but, not having access to one, I managed to flush most of it out with a suitable nozzle on my garden hose. That must have improved its efficiency somewhat. You'd think the service schedules would include periodic cleaning since the air passages are very small and easily blocked.
September 15, 2012, 6:46 pm
Well, I finally got round to changing the glow plugs. The job wasn't as difficult as I'd feared. I did have to buy a set of long sockets as I hadn't any long enough to go over the terminal. I discovered the dipstick tube is flexible so after removing one bolt I was able to tie it out of the way. I had no problems getting the old ones out, the fiddliest part was dealing with the wire and tags. Then I found I hadn't got a 1/4" to 1/2" adaptor to allow me to use my torque wrench so I had to nip the new ones up by hand.
I tested the old ones and found all four were mullered, three were open-circuit and the fourth was high-resistance. I eventually bought a set of non-OEM ones for £37 inc vat and carriage. Hopefully starting will be a bit easier this winter. The engine's only just coming up to 90,000. It would be interesting to know what the life expectancy of a set of glow plugs is.
September 15, 2012, 7:01 pm
they tend to be around the 70k mark from diesels ive had but it varies the price qouted was a rip off its a fairly easy job as u found out
September 16, 2012, 11:00 am
This set should last me out then
That particular company's prices have been getting steeper in recent years, Up to now I've used them because they were, until recently, a Ford franchise so had Ford-trained fitters but I'll be using a small independant from now on for the annual service and MOT.
The thing I was most worried about was one or more of the old plugs breaking off in the head but they all came out easily and cleanly (whew!). The other worry was dropping something which would lodge on the undertray. At my age I really don't want to be lying underneath the ruddy thing!
September 16, 2012, 11:53 am
i always lagered the plugs in wd40 and let it do its job while i had a cuppa then went out that way i knew they would come out easy a dab of copper grease on the threads and youre sure they wont stick its amazing how many garages dont do that one simple thing
September 16, 2012, 12:01 pm
I was more worried a tip might break off. I've never seen a diesel head so I have no idea what the hole for the glow plug looks like or how much of the tip is visible in the combustion chamber. I applied copper grease to the thread and all the way down the body and the element to within about 1/2" of the tip so I hope that is ok. Hopefully they won't need to come out again whilst I've got the car anyway.
December 15, 2012, 10:03 pm
just changed my glow plugs.
A lot easier than i thought
Job done within an hour, remove the intercooler and dripstick holder and away you go.
total cost £41
Reluctant Ford owner
January 9, 2013, 3:15 pm
I changed my glow plugs yesterday and it was fiddly, but not too hard. The only problem turned out to be the dip stick tube. You do need some needle nose pliers, a long 10mm socket and some 6,7 and 8 mm sockets.
I took off the engine cover, then the intercooler cover. I then removed the intercooler by undoing the 4 bolts holding it on and undoing the 2 jubille clips on the hoses. You might want to clean this before putting it back as the cooling fins are often blocked with crap.
I then started with the plug on the left hand side of the engine, use a 6 mm socket to loosen the terminal nut on the plug. be VERY careful not to drop the nut as it comes off, or you will never find it again. I used needle nose pliers to pull off the nut once it is loose enough. Use a 10 mm socket to undo the plug and remove it. Put some copper grease on the threads of the new plug (mine were Bosch, £30 for 4 on eBay) and insert it into the head. Tighten it up carefully making sure it is lined up properly so you don't mis-thread it. Clean the top of the plug terminal and the plug supply tag and put the tag on the terminal of the plug. The tricky bit is getting the 6 mm nut back on without losing it. I put a small piece of tissue paper inside the socket and pushed the nut into it, so that it would not fall out of the socket when turned upside down. Then as the nut gets tightened on the thread of the terminal it will come free from the socket. Repeat the procedure on the next two plugs. For the righthandmost plug you will need to move the dip stick out of the way. Undo the bolt holding it onto the block with an 8 mm socket. Use a 7 mm socket to unscrew the glow plug power cable from the dip stick tube.
Some people have opted for just pushing the tube out of the way, I did this and then wished I hadn't. The tube came away from the block at the bottom and it had fallen to bits at the joint. I didn't use much force and I suspect the last person to replace the plugs did the damage. I had to use needle nose pliers to get the remains of the tube tip and seal out of the hole on the engine block. So I recommend once the tube is unbolted, pull it upwards carefully to release it from the block and unclip the cable clip that is attached to it. This should reduce the risk of damage to the tube.
Once the last plug is in, re-assemble everything in reverse order. You might want to loosely connect the intercooler and turn the engine over, remove the intercooler again and check for oil leaks from the dip stick tube joint.
The job should take less than an hour, even doing it for the first time.
Hope that is of some use to people...
Certainly DO NOT pay the best part of £200 to get someone else to do it (and probably snap your dip stick tube in the process!!!)
January 9, 2013, 5:01 pm
That pretty much describes how I did it except I stuck some small pieces of vinyl insulating tape round the inside of the 6mm socket to grip the terminal nuts both when removing and refitting. I also used a releasable cable tie to temporarily hold the dipstick tube out of the way.
One word of caution - I found the fins of the intercooler to be very fragile and easily bent and broken. I would think the best way to clean it, if you have the facility, would be to 'reverse flush' it using an air line. I didn't have that option and tried to do it with a spray from a hose (NOT a pressure washer!!) but it wasn't wholly successful.
January 24, 2013, 3:24 pm
Hi all. I'm finally sick of paying garages for tasks like this that sound like they really shouldn't be so difficult, so I'm going to change my glow plugs to try and combat a cold start problem.
The comments from "Reluctant Ford Owner" are brilliant sounding (thanks!) so I'm aiming to use it as a guide, though being of sub-amateur level when it comes to car mechanics I could use a little assist.
Since lifting the engine lid reveals (to me) a maze of mechanical wonder, would anyone be able to supply a quick photograph of the engine bay where the glow plugs are located just to give me a starter for ten?
I will likely have a mate on standby to help, but I'd really prefer to learn this sort of thing myself, you know.
Any help is very much appreciated
January 25, 2013, 1:22 pm
Lithium007, as you look at the engine with the cover removed, behind the maze of diesel injector pipes you will see a red cable linking all the glow plugs...
January 26, 2013, 10:31 am
Cheers Stef. I'm going to give it a go this morning. Fingers crossed
January 26, 2013, 11:03 am
Good luck! Let us know how you get on.
January 30, 2013, 12:01 pm
Hi folks. Quick status report.
So, I initially took a look at the engine and being a total engine noob, I bailed and then enlisted some assistance from my uncle who had every single ratchet piece on the planet. I tell you, he's got parts big enough to spin the planet itself, and parts small enough to perform microsurgery. In Metric and Imperial!
Anyway, in the end the job was indeed fairly simple although quite fiddly. We didn't have to remove anything except the plugs themselves. We found even the rightmost plug was easy enough to remove if you have the right angular ratchet bits to get in behind the dipstick holder. Catching the small 6mm screws that hold the plate to the plug was harder than removing the plugs themselves. It just took some dexterity of the fingers to catch them as they reached the end of the thread.
One tip I can offer is that I had in my toolkit an extendable magnetic pickup tool. This was ideal for getting the screws back on again as I could pop them on the end of the tool and get them started on the thread before switching to fingers and ratchet.
But now the important result. Replacing the glow plugs did indeed cure my starting problem. Admittedly I haven't had a [i]very[/i] cold day since they were replaced - it's cold, but not freezing - but starting has been smooth as a smooth thing so far. I'm happy with the result.
What annoys me is I had the car serviced and told them of the specific issues. No fix. In fact, the garage claimed there was a rattle from near the fuel pump or water pump and I should see a diesel specialist. So I did, who changed the fuel filter, but still no fix.
So in the end, a quick Google, a hit on this site, this post, and this advice cures my ails. Thanks to y'all for your tips and info.
January 30, 2013, 12:19 pm
Good job, and thanks for the tip
Will look at doing my own soon
Reluctant Ford owner
February 1, 2013, 11:50 am
Well done Lithium! What make plugs did you fit?
February 2, 2013, 1:58 pm
I went for Beru ones from Euro Car Parts. Kinda just went with the 'pick the middle one' way of shopping
By the way, I used the discount code [b]ALL20[/b] to get 20% off. Not sure if it's still available though
January 10, 2014, 10:46 pm
So I did my glow plugs back in December 2012 hoping that it would short out my cold starting problem but it didn't.
So now in December 2013 my battery started to fail. After much hunting and research I changed the old 72amp battery to a 76amp model which has now completely fix the problem. I got the battery from Ebay for I think £46 delivered
January 11, 2014, 9:31 am
Diesels do need to be spun over fairly briskly to generate enough heat to fire up so batteries and starters, together with good clean tight electrical connections, are critical areas. These obviously become more so as the diesel gets older and more leaky.
March 4, 2014, 11:37 pm
I tried to remove my glow plug but I can find the hole.
Could you help me to find it on my ford focus mk2.
See a photo of my motor car:
Tks for help.
March 5, 2014, 8:17 pm
Different engine bay to mine. I think you will find your glow plugs under the oil filler plastic. I can see the injectors so your plugs are near by, there is one per cylinder 4 linked together with 1 red wire which bolts down to each glow plug.
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