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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-17-2009, 02:05 PM
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The Truth About Spark Plug Torque and Anti- Seize

Here's the straight dope for a 2003 530 six cylinder.

When replacing your spark plugs with the factory recommended NGK BKR6EQUP, do not apply Anti-Seize compound.

Please note the attached pdf notice from NGK. The important point is that all NGK
Spark Plugs are manufactured with special shell plating on the metal body that does not require Anti-Seize.

Having said that, you can now torque the NGK BKR6EQUP plug to the BMW factory specified 30 NM dry (for this 14mm plug).

I stongly urge anyone replacing plugs on an aluminum cylinderhead to use a torque wrench.

I just replaced my original factory plugs today at 42000 miles, and there is a clear improvement in the smoothness of the engine as you climb through the upper RPM range when shifting gears.
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2009, 02:10 PM
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That clears up any confusion!
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  #3  
Old 10-17-2009, 02:27 PM
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What the heck is "torque angle"?
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  #4  
Old 10-17-2009, 04:24 PM
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It's used for torquing bolts to a yield point, which slightly stretches the bolt, providing an optimum clamping action. The bolt cannot be used again.

The bolt is tightened to a specific torque value, and then tightened further to a specified angle. The wrench has an angle measuring device, almost like a protractor.
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  #5  
Old 10-17-2009, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
It's used for torquing bolts to a yield point, which slightly stretches the bolt, providing an optimum clamping action. The bolt cannot be used again.

The bolt is tightened to a specific torque value, and then tightened further to a specified angle. The wrench has an angle measuring device, almost like a protractor.
Got it.

Problem is the *.pdf file states : "When installing spark plugs without special metal plating (with anti-seize), install based on vehicle manufacturer’s torque angle."

My E46 Bentley manual states plugs are to be torqued to 25 NM (18 ft-lb.)

I've never heard of torque angle being used to torque plugs. It's not like it's a steel bolt. You just put enough juice behind it to compress the crush washer.

So I was just wondering WTH they were on about talking "torque angle" for spark plugs. It doesn't make any sense.
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  #6  
Old 10-17-2009, 05:11 PM
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My E46 Bentley manual states plugs are to be torqued to 25 NM (18 ft-lb.)

Wingspan, does your E46 use a 12mm spark plug?
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  #7  
Old 10-17-2009, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Canada View Post
My E46 Bentley manual states plugs are to be torqued to 25 NM (18 ft-lb.)

Wingspan, does your E46 use a 12mm spark plug?
Hmmm...it's listed as a OEM NGK BKR6 EQUP.

I think I used a 17mm to do the plugs (M54 engine), but I'm not sure.
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  #8  
Old 10-17-2009, 05:52 PM
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Hmmm...it's listed as a OEM NGK BKR6 EQUP.

I think I used a 17mm to do the plugs (M54 engine), but I'm not sure
.



Great, another can of worms.

Here's the PDF for BMW Torque Specs. Go to Page 52 for spark plugs (as posted).
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  #9  
Old 10-17-2009, 07:31 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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A little dab of anti-seize on the threads will not do any harm.
Just reduce the torque a bit.

NGK should have published two separate torque values, one for dry and one for anti-seize installation.

Best is to remove spark plugs every 2yr or 24K or so for examination and apply a dab of anti-seize to prevent bonding.
I have done this for 30 years and always use 25 Nm, never have a single problem with all my cars.

Last edited by cn90; 10-17-2009 at 07:34 PM.
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  #10  
Old 11-16-2010, 08:21 AM
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For those who wonder what torque is necessary to strip the cylinderhead spark plug hole's thread. This fellow from the Ford Forum did this experiment using a junk Ford engine. Read this for fun:

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/10...ml#post9424574

----------
QUOTE:
I used a scrap Ford 2001 MY PI 2V V10 head with good threads to test the breaking point of the plug threads that are so weak according to many people on this forum.

I did four plugs, two with antiseize and two dry.
I started with the correct torque and worked up.

At 55 ft lbs it felt like the threads were just starting to stretch.

From 55 to 85 I got about 1-1/2 turns more out of them, and it did not feel good.

Two of the plugs snaped off flush with the heads just shy of 100 ft lbs, after anouther 3/4 turns from 85 ft lbs. One was dry and one had anti seize.

The third plug broke right at of 100, 5/8s of a turn after 85 ft lbs. This one had anti seize.

The forth made it to 115 ft lbs, 1/8 turn past 100 ft lbs (7/8s of a turn passed 85 ft lbs) and snaped. This was a dry plug.

Every one of them the plug broke, I never striped the threads out of the heads like I though I would.
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  #11  
Old 11-16-2010, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
experiment using a junk Ford engine
I love this type of real-world autopsy information!

The only other way to get this information is to try it on our beloved BMW.

This thread (which I hadn't known about prior) belongs in the bestlinks (so, I just added it).

- Selecting and changing your spark plugs (1) (2) (3) (4) & the truth about torque (1)
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  #12  
Old 11-16-2010, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
A little dab of anti-seize on the threads will not do any harm.
Just reduce the torque a bit.

NGK should have published two separate torque values, one for dry and one for anti-seize installation.

Best is to remove spark plugs every 2yr or 24K or so for examination and apply a dab of anti-seize to prevent bonding.
I have done this for 30 years and always use 25 Nm, never have a single problem with all my cars.
Hello Cam.
Actually this would force you to change the VCG and the grommets too. I just go with the 4 -5 years / 80,000 Km interval. So far so good.
Back in the day, me and my dad used to change them plugs every year. And service the goddam' carburator once or twice a year. One must love todays cars.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llando88 View Post

I think I used a 17mm to do the plugs (M54 engine), but I'm not sure.

Great help .... "I think".

You have a plug in your hand, fit a socket to it.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:38 AM
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Hello Cam.
Actually this would force you to change the VCG and the grommets too.
???? You don't need to remove the valve cover to change plugs.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I used a scrap Ford 2001 MY PI 2V V10 head with good threads to test the breaking point of the plug threads that are so weak according to many people on this forum.

I did four plugs, two with antiseize and two dry.
I started with the correct torque and worked up.

At 55 ft lbs it felt like the threads were just starting to stretch.

From 55 to 85 I got about 1-1/2 turns more out of them, and it did not feel good.

Two of the plugs snaped off flush with the heads just shy of 100 ft lbs, after anouther 3/4 turns from 85 ft lbs. One was dry and one had anti seize.

The third plug broke right at of 100, 5/8s of a turn after 85 ft lbs. This one had anti seize.

The forth made it to 115 ft lbs, 1/8 turn past 100 ft lbs (7/8s of a turn passed 85 ft lbs) and snaped. This was a dry plug.

Every one of them the plug broke, I never striped the threads out of the heads like I though I would.[/i]

Different motor, different head does not make a specification for a BMW head.

It's not stated if cast iron, compacted iron or aluminum head.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
???? You don't need to remove the valve cover to change plugs.
Yup. Brain fart.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franka View Post
Different motor, different head does not make a specification for a BMW head.

It's not stated if cast iron, compacted iron or aluminum head.
A quick google search shows that this is aluminum head.
99.999% of cars out there use Aluminum head.

I understand that this is Ford and not BMW but when it comes to cyl head spark plug hole aluminum threads, they are very similar in principles.

The bottom line is: there is some margin for safety when torquing sp plugs according to BMW guidelines.

Most damage done by amateurs (when changing sp plugs) is from cross-threading, and not so much from over-torque.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Most damage done by amateurs (when changing sp plugs) is from cross-threading, and not so much from over-torque.
+1. AND, you really cannot trust the accuracy of a torque wrench at that low of a setting unless it is rated in in/lbs. Most torque wrenches are rated for accuracy in the upper 80% of their adjustment range. So use at the bottom of setting....at your own risk! So do not use the typical 15lb to 150lb wrench for spark plugs.

Use an in/lb wrench with a range of 2lb to 20lb or there about.

I just tighten until I seat the plug, then turn it until I feel the gasket yields and stop. Never had one come loose....yet.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:43 PM
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1+,

Torque wrench is a must when Installing Spark Plugs:
http://www.ngk-sparkplugs.jp/english...q18/index.html





--------------------
--------------------
However, when you don't have the Torque Wrench, you can follow NGK procedure here.
NOTE: "new" and re-used". Also one turn is defined as 360 degrees.


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  #20  
Old 11-16-2010, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
A quick google search shows that this is aluminum head.
99.999% of cars out there use Aluminum head.

I understand that this is Ford and not BMW but when it comes to cyl head spark plug hole aluminum threads, they are very similar in principles.

The bottom line is: there is some margin for safety when torquing sp plugs according to BMW guidelines.

Most damage done by amateurs (when changing sp plugs) is from cross-threading, and not so much from over-torque.

I'll bet you, even guarantee you that the design of the plug holes in each head are different and therefore the results do not apply to BMW head.

I agree on cross threading being the biggest problem by far.
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  #21  
Old 11-17-2010, 05:23 AM
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My point about this thread spark plug vs anti-seize (I always use anti-seize) is that: there is room for error ---> Let's say the book says 30 Nm, if one goes to 25Nm or 35 Nm, no big deal (some people panic over this little change in torque).
The sp plug will break at 100 lb-ft or roughly 130 Nm (see experiment above).

FYI, my 2007 Honda Odyssey calls for 13 lb-ft (same plug design and dimension as my E39, same aluminum head thread number). I think 13lb-ft is a tad low.....so I use 18-20 lb-ft.

A little trick was taught to me by the pro many years back: during install, I always a tiny dab of anti-seize on spark plug threads. Then turn the sp plug socket by hand in Counter-clockwise direction a few times to avoid cross-threading. Then turn it Clockwise to tighten it, again by hand only. Use the ratchet only when you cannot turn it by hand any more.

NOTE: Sometimes, the sp plug SOCKET's rubber insert broke with time/use ---> sp plug installed at wrong angle (see last picture above)!
If the rubber insert is broken, get a new socket or use the appropriate hose as a fix.
The hose I use has I.D. = 8mm and O.D. = 17mm; just cut a small donut and insert it in the socket (remove the old rubber insert 1st).
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
My point about this thread spark plug vs anti-seize (I always use anti-seize) is that: there is room for error ---> Let's say the book says 30 Nm, if one goes to 25Nm or 35 Nm, no big deal (some people panic over this little change in torque).
The sp plug will break at 100 lb-ft or roughly 130 Nm (see experiment above).

FYI, my 2007 Honda Odyssey calls for 13 lb-ft (same plug design and dimension as my E39, same aluminum head thread number). I think 13lb-ft is a tad low.....so I use 18-20 lb-ft.

A little trick was taught to me by the pro many years back: during install, I always a tiny dab of anti-seize on spark plug threads. Then turn the sp plug socket by hand in Counter-clockwise direction a few times to avoid cross-threading. Then turn it Clockwise to tighten it, again by hand only. Use the ratchet only when you cannot turn it by hand any more.

NOTE: Sometimes, the sp plug SOCKET's rubber insert broke with time/use ---> sp plug installed at wrong angle (see last picture above)!
If the rubber insert is broken, get a new socket or use the appropriate hose as a fix.
The hose I use has I.D. = 8mm and O.D. = 17mm; just cut a small donut and insert it in the socket (remove the old rubber insert 1st).


Using 20 lb-ft intead of 13 lb-ft is ~ a 53 % increase in torque, a gross disregard of the spec and the work that went into designing the spec.

Most folk think they know better than the Engrs that spent 1000s of man hours designing and testing the threads and plug designs. I suppose it it easy to take this approach if one does not have a real Engr education and experience in an auto mfgrs design office with very extensive testing laboratories.

The design engrs are responsible for 100s of 1000s of vehicles with 4, 6 or 8 plug holes each and want and need to get it correct. Generations of engrs in the auto companies and also in the plug companies have worked on plug threads and know better than the man on the street or any one mechanic with 20 or 30 yrs experience. Think about it.

Regarding the anti-seize, I use it on most threads but not plugs as its not required. If you do use it it must be very high temperature rated. If not it will bake into the threads in the head and some will remain there after the old plug is removed interfering with the installation of the new plug.

Regarding the reverse turning before starting the thread to help align it, I agree. Most of us do this every day with milk cartons, bottles of water, etc. We turn the cap backwards and when feeling the click and the cap dropping down we know to stop and then begin tightening the cap as well as the spark plug and many other items with threads that we encounter daily.
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Last edited by franka; 11-17-2010 at 07:09 AM.
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  #23  
Old 11-17-2010, 02:29 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Originally Posted by franka View Post
Using 20 lb-ft intead of 13 lb-ft is ~ a 53 % increase in torque, a gross disregard of the spec and the work that went into designing the spec...
For the most parts, the engineers do a decent job in terms of engine specifications.
I am not challenging the engineers brain but I want to improve things for myself.

Honda listed the sp plug torque as 13 lb-ft.
Then NGK lists the very same sp plug torque as 20 lb-ft.
Go figure!
I checked with NGK carefully before I did it. And I am happy I did it.

There are quite a few Honda Odyssey with spark plug blowing out of the hole. This is why I increased the sp plug torque for my Honda as mentioned above.

Just google "Honda odyssey spark plug blew out", you will hundreds of threads on that!

http://www.odyclub.com/forums/showth...ight=plug+blew

http://answers.edmunds.com/question-...his-55699.aspx

http://www.odysseyownersclub.com/for...read.php?t=511

Anyway, that is another story. We need to get back on track of E39...

Last edited by cn90; 11-17-2010 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by cn90 View Post

Anyway, that is another story. We need to get back on track of E39...


Yes, agreed, stick to BMW and the plug mfgrs specs. They know more than you or I.
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  #25  
Old 11-17-2010, 02:52 PM
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One way of preventing cross-threading and other thread-starting problems is to use a length of rubber fuel line or any other hose that fits snugly over the porcelain jacket of the plug....insert the plug into the hose, gently insert the plug into the plug hole, and turn the hose to start the threads and run it down into the head. This method gives more sensitivity than using a socket & extension.

(BTW, I`m Old School.... I believe in anti-sieze on plugs, and I`ve learned to trust my hands for the proper torque value....sorry, doubters)
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