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Kia Sportage Engine Spark Plugs Replacement Guide
How to check or change the Theta II 2.4L I4 engine spark plugs in a 3rd generation 2011-2016 Kia Sportage SUV.

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Paul B. Michaels
Author & Photographer
Auto Mechanic Since 1989

2014 Sportage 2.4L GDI
Pull Off Plastic Cover
Engine Cover Removed
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the third generation (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016) Kia Sportage SUV in checking or changing the engine spark plugs in the Theta II 2.4 liter inline four cylinder motor.

Owners of other Kia and Hyundai vehicles such as the Optima, Forte, Cadenza, K900, Rio, Sorento, Sedona, Soul, Elantra, Veloster, Sonata, Azera, Tucson, Santa Fe, Genesis and Equus may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

The tools needed to complete this procedure include a small flathead screwdriver, a 10mm socket with a 1/4" drive ratchet, a 5/8" spark plug socket, a 6" extension bar, a 3/8" drive ratchet and a tube of dielectric grease.

The OEM iridium tipped spark plugs in this 2014 Sportage are Denso part number FXU16HR11 (also known as # 3478).

A few other compatible replacement spark plugs with their part numbers are as follows: NGK Iridium (4469) LFR5AIX-11, Autolite APP5325, Autolite XP5325, Champion REC12WMPB5 (9055) and Bosch # 9622.

Theta II 2.4L GDI I4
Pry Back Grey Lock Tab
Locking Tab Released
The first two steps are to open the hood and then gently pull off the plastic engine cover.

Set the engine cover aside in a safe place.

If you have access to compressed air or a wet/dry shop vacuum, thoroughly clean off the top of the engine to reduce the risk of having debris falling down in to the spark plug well.

I'd recommend checking or changing one spark plug at a time to help prevent from having debris fall in to the cylinder.

Gently pry back the grey plastic locking tab on the ignition coil's electrical connector with a small flathead screwdriver.

Press Release Button
Disconnect Power Plug
10mm Ignition Coil Bolt
Press down the release tab on the black plastic power plug before sliding it straight off the ignition coil.

The ignition coil is held in place to the engine by a single 10mm bolt.

Loosen Counterclockwise
10mm Bolt Removed
Pull Out Ignition Coil
Loosen the ignition coil bolt by turning it counterclockwise with a 10mm socket and a ratcheting wrench.

Set the bolt aside in a safe place.

Rotate the ignition coil back and forth a few times to make sure that the rubber dust boot at the end is not stuck to the tip of the old spark plug.

Lift the ignition coil straight out of the spark plug well and set it aside in a safe place.

Spark Plug Well
Spin Out Old Plug
Old Spark Plug Removed
Attach the 5/8" spark plug socket to a six inch extension bar and the 3/8" drive ratcheting wrench.

Lower the socket down over the old spark plug.

Loosen the old spark plug by turning it counterclockwise.

Try to avoid using excessive force to loosen the old spark plug to prevent from cracking the ceramic portion of the plug.

If you have trouble loosening the old spark plug, try spraying a small amount of penetrating oil such as PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench or Kano Kroil and wait at least 15 minutes or more before attempting to loosen it again. If you don't have any penetrating oil, try spraying some WD-40 and/or warm up the engine for a few minutes to help expand the metal engine block.

Once the spark plug has been loosened, detach the ratcheting wrench from the extension bar and spin it out the rest of the way by hand.

Carefully lift the old spark plug out of the well and remove it from the socket.


Inspect Old Spark Plug
Lower In New Spark Plug
Spin In Clockwise
If the rubber insert from the spark plug socket is attached to the old plug, remove it and push it back in to the socket.

If the electrode at the end of the old spark plug looks ashy white, the plugs may have been exposed to high temperatures such as overheating or they may be the incorrect heat range for your driving conditions or environment.

On the other hand, if the old spark plugs are grey or covered in dark black soot, the engine may be burning oil and should be examined by a professional mechanic.

I recommend buying the Kia OEM iridium spark plugs which are Denso FXU16HR11 (also known as Denso 3478).

(An optional step is to apply some anti-seize grease to the threads on the spark plug. Most spark plug manufacturers recommend that you do not use anti-seize grease since it can lead to over tightening.)

Some mechanics believe that using anti-seize grease on the spark plugs will help prevent them from becoming stuck or "frozen" in to the cylinder head if they are not removed again for another 100,000 miles.

If you have a spark plug gap gauge, check that the new spark plugs are gapped to the manufacturer's specification listed on the box. They should be pre-set from the factory, so don't worry if you don't have a gap gauge. The OEM plugs should be pre-gapped to .044".

Push the new spark plug in to the 5/8" socket. Your spark plug socket should have a rubber insert or a strong magnet to securely hold the plug in place.

Lower the spark plug down in to the well and spin it in by hand in the clockwise direction with the extension bar until it makes contact with the cylinder head.

Tighten With Wrench
Apply Dielectric Grease
Lower In Ignition Coil
Attach the 3/8" drive ratcheting wrench to the extension bar and tighten the spark plug in the clockwise direction to just past the point when you feel the new crush washer collapse.

If you are re-installing the old spark plug, tighten it to just barely past hand tight.

Do not over tighten the spark plugs to prevent from cracking the ceramic body or stripping the aluminum threads.

Double check that the new spark plug is tight before moving on to the next steps.

Apply a small amount of dielectric grease to the opening in the rubber dust boot at the bottom of the ignition coil.

The dielectric grease will help keep out any moisture or debris which will allow a good electrical connection between the spark plug and the ignition coil.

Lower the ignition coil down in to the spark plug well and rotate it back and forth several times to help spread the dielectric grease.

Spin In 10mm Bolt
Tighten Clockwise
Push On Power Plug
Re-insert the 10mm bolt in to the ignition coil and tighten it in the clockwise direction until it is snug.

Try to avoid over tightening the 10mm bolt to prevent from cracking the plastic ignition coil housing.

Push the power plug straight on to the ignition coil until it clicks securely in place.

Push In Grey Locking Tab
Push On Plastic Engine Cover
Spark Plugs Replaced
Slide in the grey plastic lock tab to secure the electrical connector.

Line up the rubber friction fasteners on the underside of the plastic engine cover with the metal pegs on the top of the engine.

Push the engine cover back in to place.

Start the engine and listen for any strange noises that may indicate a problem such as a loose spark plug or a loose electrical connector.

Be sure to record the spark plug change in your vehicle's service records.

Check out my other 2011-2015 Kia Sportage DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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