How to Extract a Broken Spark Plug

Disclaimer: I’m not a mechanic and a mechanic might be horrified at learning how I did this. Most will suggest removing your engine head but I’m too cheap. If you’re cheap too, and you don’t mind the risk, read on.

Prologue: I was replacing plugs on a 2001 Buick Century and things were going well. The spark plugs were quite stiff to remove, but nothing was too crazy. Then I got to one that wouldn’t budge. I kept the socket square, put in a bit of elbow grease, and..

Broken spark plug I snapped that bugger right in half.

The broken spark plug

Mine snapped at the metal part. Left inside the motor were the threads and porcelain middle. To get an easy out in, I would have to drill out the center, and potentially get chunks of porcelain stuck down in the cylinder, where they’d make a real mess. Here’s the trick on how to punch that porcelain center out without getting porcelain everywhere: turn over the motor and let the cylinder compression do the work for you. I turned the key over and within 3 rotations, I head the porcelain center POP out of the body. This left the metal threads and base of the plug inside the cylinder. I used a #5 easy out, 6″ 3/8 extension, 1/2″ male to 3/8″ female adapter, 16mm 1/2 drive socket, 1/2 drive, plus a 2 foot iron pipe, in combination to get enough torque. I tried many unsuccessful combinations, but this one gave me enough torque to break that plug free. Remember to center the #5 easy out and the drive line or else you might slip or put torque on the wrong angle to the plugs.

Tools to extract broken spark plug

I also sprayed the plug threads several times with liquid wrench penetrant to free up the threads.

Extracted spark plug details The #5 easy out was the perfect size to use in combination with the spark plug. It gave me plenty of torque with absolutely no slipping. So, if you’ve snapped that spark plug in half how I did, you might want to look into this method of getting it out.

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19 thoughts on “How to Extract a Broken Spark Plug

  1. Thanks for the tip with the compression trick my friend. The exact same thing happened to me today and I was absolutley bricking it, sure I was going to get a shed load of porcelain in my engine. I tried your tip and out it popped within a few rotations. God forbid this happens again but if it does I will repeat it and shall be telling anyone I know also. Once again many thanks.

    Darill.

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  2. fantastic idea sir. i had the same problem in my 95 sunfire 2.2l. broke a plug and was left with the hole and threads that were stuck. used this way and i got the threads out in 5 mins. awesome!!!!

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  3. I was changing the plugs and wires in my 2003 Chevrolet Venture 3.4 Liter
    V6, Monday they needed change because they has over 140 thousand miles on them / 5 years and everything was going great, until we started to take the back #1
    plug out, so I noticed it was a little tough, and we sprayed some Parts Blaster on
    it, and we kept turning it and all of a sudden the worst thing could have happened,
    the plug and hex nut broke off, leaving me with the same half of the plug as
    your pick indicates, and the other half still in the engine block 😦 So I got online and did some research and came across your
    post and after a little time and a lot of prayer, we were able to pop out the
    center ceramic piece of the plug by cranking the engine, yes I had to crank my
    engine and what we did was we placed an old spark plug in the boot of the #1
    plug and place it in on top of the broken plug and turned it over and it cranked
    and run and thank the lord it blew the center ceramic part of the plug out of the engine block and
    then we were able to take a #5 extractor tool like you are showing in your picture
    above and back the old remaining part of the plug out and so we replaced it with a
    new plug and the van is now running fine, 🙂 So I wanted to tell you, thank you for
    sharing this info online, because it was very helpful to me, in my time of
    distress and need,so I am so thankful that we did not have to remove the engine head to
    remove the plug, God bless you for your help :).

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  4. hey i am a mechanic and theres nothing crazy at all about this method. i think its quite genius. we dont always follow the rules either. my co workers have thanked you as well for this method.

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  5. when turning the engine in hopes of the center porcelain piece to come out, should I reassemble the other 3 (I have a 4 cylinder) rubber boot plug and reattach the circuits? Also, should I leave the broken spark plug cylinder exposed in order for it to shoot out?

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  6. Will this method wrk if it broke off w the but still attached.. Its the number 3 plug in the back of Pontiac Bonneville ..been trying for 3-4 hrs to get ths off

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  7. I would like to thank the author of this forum for this genius idea. I broke one of my plugs in my 1999 Pontiac Bonneville and this method worked perfectly. Thank you for saving me time and money with this quick and efficient solution.

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  8. This did not work for us (my fiancé, dad and myself). It actually broke the easy out in half stuck in the cylinder head. Now we are facing an extremely expensive fix by a shop. The first 3 plugs in out 2.2L sunfire came out hard, but came out. We got to the forth and it turned 4 times then snap! Now we have the threads and easy out stuck in the cylinder head. My advice is DO NOT DO THIS YOURSELF, WILL COST YOU TONS OF MONEY TO GET IT FIXED! We have to tow it to the shop and face the fact that it is going to be way more than $200 to get repaired, which the car is only worth $1K and the plugs HAD NEVER BEEN CHANGED (car had 200K on it). If you do decide to do this on your own my only hope is that you don’t run into the same problem we just have, good luck!

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  9. Tried this method and will add my $0.02:
    When I tried this it didn’t pop out. I started the engine and could feel air blowing around the ceramic center if I held my hand next to it, which was letting out all the compression instead of popping it out. I figured if air could get by it must be a little cracked, so I got my smallest hammer and a regular size flathead screwdriver and gently tapped on the ceramic center. Within 20 very light taps, it popped right out. Shut engine off and used easy out. Worked perfectly. Only other advice is don’t go insane on the easy out with a giant breaker bar or anything. Breaking one of those off in the head is a much bigger problem. I used a 1/2 inch ratchet that was about a foot long, and with some patience, I got it out.

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  10. Worked great for me. At first the ceramic would not pop out when I cranked the engine over. There apparently was enough metal left around the ceramic to prevent it from popping out under compression. I used a Dremnel tool to carefully grind down the metal holding the ceramic center in. Cranked it over again and POP out it flew!

    After installing the easy out I still couldn’t budge the threaded part of the plug. It just would not break loose! Over about an hour I continually oiled (with Pentrating oil – PB) and heated the threaded part and gradually worked the extractor into the broken plug. Finally it broke free, but it took A LOT of force to extract it. So much so that I was afraid I was going to snap the extractor off. Go slow and it should work. Thanks!!

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  11. While researching how to get out of this same jam (broke spark plug flush with the head) I found your blog. Read all the comments on the successes everyone had using your technique and decided to give it a try. I pulled the fuse on both the fuel pump and ignition coils so that I could use just the starter motor to turn the engine through it’s rotation for this attempt. I decided to video tape this in case something went wrong that I didn’t catch with my naked eye..I could play it back for clues if needed….sure enough it worked!!! Here is the link to the link to the short video of the ceramic center of the plug being blown out of the head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2j69777xd4

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