A Toyota Camry Hybrid spark plug change needs to be performed every 120,000 miles. Despite being a hybrid, it still has a gas engine, and that gas engine still has spark plugs that foul up and wear out over time. Fortunately, this is easy maintenance to do yourself.
Tools / Parts Required
You need a few tools to do this job properly:
- 1/4″ or 3/8″ Torque Wrench – I have a Craftsman, but the linked Tekton or a Harbor Freight 3/8″ will do fine. Rednecks will tell you you don’t need one, but they are wrong – overtorquing OR undertorquing spark plugs is very bad!
- Long Extension – Need to reach down into the plug well
- Spark Plug Socket – These are special sockets that will somehow grip the spark plugs. Some have a rubber o-ring, but these are magnetic, which I find fantastic. Toyota uses 5/8″ spark plug sockets, but this set of three will cover all cars.
- 10mm Socket and Socket Wrench – You only need the 10mm socket, but if you don’t have a decent socket wrench set, it’s a really great item to have.
Besides tools, you also need a few parts:
- Spark Plugs – New spark plugs (of course)
- Copper Antiseize – Antiseize, to make sure your newly installed plugs can be removed later on. You can get larger bottles of this stuff, but I find them messier. Unless you’re a mechanic, a small tube lasts forever, and I find more convenient to deal with.
I prefer copper-based (such as the one linked) to aluminum-based.
Removing the Stupid Plastic Cover
Like many cars, Toyota covers this one’s engine in plastic. Just… in case. I have no idea why. It needs to come off. Simply grip it as shown and pull.
Here it is after removal. If your valve cover is dirty, this is a good time to wipe it down. You don’t want to accidentally shove a bunch of dirt and grime into your engine.
Removing the Coils
Again like most modern cars, the Camry Hybrid has coil-on-plug, so the coils themselves need to be removed to get to the plugs. To start, the wire to each coil must be removed. Pinch the tab and pull them out. Do this for all four.
Grab the 10mm socket wrench and undo the bolt holding each coil in. With the bolt and wire undone, the coil will pull straight out. Again, do this for all four.
And here is one of them after being totally removed.
For perspective, here are all four coils that need to be removed.
Removing the Spark Plugs
It’s now time to remove the spark plugs. Use the big extension, socket wrench, and 5/8″ spark plug socket. Stick it down the well, break it loose, and pull it out. It may take a bit of force to break free, but it should not require you to be the Hulk. If you’re having major problems removing a plug, STOP and get it to a mechanic before you break it off in the plug well. As far as I’m aware, this motor generally doesn’t have problems with this though.
Here is the old plug compared to a new one. You can compare your old spark plugs against the chart in the back of a Haynes manual to get an idea of the health of your engine. To me, this plug looks normal but worn and in need of replacement.
Installing the New Plugs
Before installing the new plug, put on a bit of antiseize. A little dab’ll do, don’t go too nuts with it. Antiseize ensures that the plugs don’t corrode in the plug wells, so you can remove them later without damage to the engine.
Now, WITHOUT using a wrench, you’re ready to reinstall the plug. I didn’t have the antiseize on here yet, because I took these pictures in the wrong order. Anyway, the magnetic socket will hold the spark plug. Insert the plug into the well.
Thread the plugs in by hand to start. The goal here is to make sure they go in a few turns and aren’t cross-threaded. Once you get them snug by hand, move on to the wrench.
There is a certain class of individual who will get spark plugs to German spec (gud-n-tight). Meaning just cranking down with a wrench. Don’t be that person, use a torque wrench. Undertorqued plugs can shoot out while overtorqued plugs can crack or be impossible to remove later. This Camry’s plugs should be torqued to about 13 lb-ft. (If you have an inch-pound torque wrench, it would be about 150 INCH pounds.)
Reinstall the Coils
When you pulled out the coils, some of them may have taken this gasket with them. That’s fine, you just need to be sure that they go back in place.
For any that came out, just put them back on the relevant coil in the orientation shown. For any still in the plug well, they should “reinstall themselves” when you insert the coil.
If any are damaged or the plugs you removed are oily, these seals are included as part of a valve cover gasket set for this car. If you do notice oil leaking, you may want to do a full valve cover gasket job, which is not hard but outside the scope of this article.
Finally, don’t forget to reinstall all of the bolts holding the coils down. The torque spec is 7 or 8 lb-ft, but I just snugged them up with a wrench. No need to go crazy tightening these. And with that, your Toyota Camry Hybrid spark plug change is complete.