Home > Automotive, Cars, Philosophy > How We Helped the Tallest Man I Have Ever Met with his Broken Spark Plug

How We Helped the Tallest Man I Have Ever Met with his Broken Spark Plug


Seven foot two inch customer brought in his wife’s Ford Expedition with a seriously bad problem.

He had a broken spark plug in his motor.  How did this happen, you ask?

Another shop was performing a standard tune-up and broke plug number four in the back where it’s hard to reach.  It was an accident, of course, but the bad thing was they couldn’t figure out how to get it out of there. So, customer had it towed to us.  Did I say he was 7’2″?

The sure fire cure would be to dismantle the head and knock out the plug.  However, that it is very costly because of the 15 hours of labor involved. The challenge was could we find a cure that was far less expensive?

We said we would give it a try.

Upon first inspection, we made another sad discovery.  The customer hadn’t even needed the plugs.  He had a bad coil, not bad spark plugs.  His vehicle had 60,000 miles and his plugs were rated for 100,000.  So why had the previous shop changed the plugs?

At the customer’s request.

If it had been us, we would like to think we would have advised the customer to hold his horses on the plugs and  let’s find the real problem.  I am trying to be humble here.  Of course, I really think we would have found the problem which brings me to a concern about some auto repair shops.

Many shops will do exactly what the customer requests.  Sometimes it’s a way to make money; sometimes it’s out of ignorance.  But, whatever the case, this is a bad policy.  People pay us for our expertise.  That shop should have paid attention to the car and unfortunately for them, when they didn’t, the Ford  went from being a pain to a nightmare.

It wasn’t easy for us either.

It took us three different experiments to finally extract the plug.

Ford makes a special spark plug extracting tool kit.  Part of the process involves using an adhesive on a pin and attaching the pin to the broken plug.  Then when the adhesive has dried, using a tool that slips over the pin which has a square head and twisting it until it pulls out.  The adhesive that came with the kit, called Loctite, dried in about two hours.  We tried to remove it.  No luck.  The pin broke away from the plug like snapping a stick in two.

We needed a better adhesive.  So attempt number two was to use JB Quick.  It dries in about four hours.  That didn’t work either.   Hmm… Now we’re in day 2.  The customer wants his car.  We’re talking to each other, talking to other shop owners, dancing, fuming and cussing a bit around the vehicle, but we did not give up.  If we failed, the customer was going to have to spend over $1200.00….

Finally, we resorted to some old-fashioned Texan ingenuity.  We used regular JB Weld which takes 13 hours to cure and is messy to work with. This meant the customer had to wait another full day–and so did we.  But, it worked!

Sometimes you have to be smarter than the average bear or the average expert. You have to have faith in yourself.

At Adolf Hoepfl Garage, we take pride in being able to solve super-tough problems.  Needless to say, our customer was happy.  Thank goodness!  He is, after all, the tallest customer I have ever had the pleasure to help.

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  1. February 6, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I take my car to the dealership just because that’s where I have my extended warranty. They do good work, but they would never go to this much effort.
    A good, local shop is always best. I heard great things about you on the Car Counselor Show on the radio too.
    I enjoy your stories…Rich

    • February 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks, Rich, for your comment. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. It’s good to hear from you. If we can ever be of service, let us know. We can handle most extended warranties, including Toyotas.

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