Tune-Up Nissan Sentra

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In our previous page Tune-up we explained the importance of performing a tune-up on your vehicle to reduce emissions and improve fuel mileage.

In this page we will illustrate how to replace the spark plugs, spark plug wires and distributor cap and rotor in a 1999 Nissan sentra with a 1.6 L DOHC engine, the same steps apply to all Nissan Sentras equipped with a 1.6 L DOHC engine from 1995-1999, these  steps also apply to all Sentras equipped with a 2.0 L DOHC engines from 1991-1999.

A complete tune-up also includes the replacement of the air filter, fuel filter, pcv valve, check all fluid levels, oil change etc, ( all of these steps are described in our previous page Tune-up ). We will show you how to perform the remaining steps in this particular model  in future pages.










 The first step is the replacement of the number one spark plug, pull gently on the spark plug wire and set it aside.

 -Next, using a 5/8 spark plug socket, a long extension and a 3/8 ratchet, loosen the spark plug, once you break it loose, you should be able to turn the extension with your hand.

IMPORTANT: Before the spark plug removal, make sure that the cavity is free of dirt or any other contaminants, otherwise these particles will fall inside the cylinder as you remove the spark plug, creating a potential engine damage!. If dirt is trapped in between the valves and the valve seats, there is a chance that the valve (s) may lose their tight seal causing the cylinder involved to lose  compression , turning a simple tune-up in to a major engine repair!.

 - To avoid this potential problem, blow each spark plug cavity with compressed air prior to spark plug removal.

 - f the spark plug socket doesn't have the rubber insert inside, use a tool like the one in the picture to extract the spark plug from its cavity, if you don't have access to this tool, use a small piece of hose that fits tight over the spark plug, it will work as well as the tool in this picture.

 - If you are using non-platinum spark plugs, you can use a standard spark plug gauge like the one in the picture to set the correct spark plug gap listed under specifications in the hood of the car, if you are using platinum spark plugs, read the box carefully, some platinum spark plugs discourage the use of gap adjusters to avoid damage to the spark plug.

 _ It is recommended to apply a thin coat of anti-seize compound to the spark plug threads to allow easy removal during the next tune-up, eliminating the potential of damaging the threads in the aluminum cylinder head if the spark plug is stuck to the cylinder head due to corrosion, or even normal expansion and contraction as the engine gets hot and cold during normal operation.

To replace the distributor cap, loosen the screws that secure the distributor cap to the distributor. Most distributor caps have the cylinder numbers stamped to them to avoid mixing the spark plug wires, it is recommended to leave each spark plug wire in its respective spark plug at this time to avoid installing the spark plug wires in the wrong cylinder.
 Pull gently on the distributor cap and set it aside ( with the spark plug wires still attached to it )

 - The distributor rotor in this particular engine is held by a screw, loosen and remove the screw, notice the position of the rotor, pull on it gently, it should slide out without excessive force.
 Most new rotors come with a new screw coated with a thin coat of thread locker to make sure that the screw will remain in place during normal operating conditions, if the new distributor rotor didn't come with a new screw, apply a thin coat of thread locker to the old screw and re use it.

 - Next, install the new distributor cap and remove the number one spark plug wire from the old distributor cap and remove it from the vehicle.

 - If the new spark plug wires are not labeled, extend the old spark plug wire and find a new spark plug wire that matches its length, repeat the same procedure with the remaining spark plug wires.

 - Once you are done, start the vehicle and make sure that it is working properly, if you performed all the steps correctly, it should run as good as new.