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Waterbug

join:2008-03-30

Cost of Changing Plugs on a Dodge Hemi

I bought a used '06 Dodge Ram 1500 with a 5.7 L Hemi about 3 years ago. It had about 36 K miles on it at the time. It has about 74K miles on it now. Thinking that most modern plugs last 60K to 80K miles, I decided that it was probably due. I was surprised to learn that Dodge specifies copper core plugs with a replacement interval of 30K miles. I'm definitely over due, but it still runs great. I took it to the dealer today and got the bad news. Sixteen plugs at $4.60 each, plus THREE hours labor. The labor is the killer but I'm chicken when it comes to aluminum heads and 16 chances to screw up. Anyone tried platinum plugs in a modern Dodge Hemi ? I really don't understand the logic of specifying copper core plugs, with all the advancements that have been made in spark plug technology.



Muscles
Premium
join:2003-08-09
The Gym
kudos:3

It's a Dodge. The engine was made in Mexico. I bet the block is made of cast iron. Shocking news, good luck.



sapo
Cruising Down Memory Lane
Premium
join:2002-09-16
Sacramento, CA
kudos:1

1 recommendation

reply to Waterbug

The problem is that you are going to the dealer to do basic maintenance.


Waterbug

join:2008-03-30
reply to Muscles

said by Muscles:

It's a Dodge. The engine was made in Mexico. I bet the block is made of cast iron. Shocking news, good luck.

Block is cast iron, but the heads are definitely aluminum.

"Don Sherman, writing in Automobile, noted that the cast iron block has a "meaty" deep-skirt design, with a crankshaft supported well by four bolts per main bearing (two vertical, two horizontal). The heads are aluminum, with the usual Chrysler plastic intake manifold. "


hambone42
Peace, through superior firepower
Premium
join:2002-02-02
Manassas, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to Waterbug

The dealer is only charging for three hours? That sounds about right but you might want to comparison shop with an independent garage.

The first time I changed the plugs on my '04 Hemi it was almost an all day affair. Chalk it up to the learning curve, and having to be inventive with the ratchet set to get to the cylinders buried under the brake booster.

A quick search for "Hemi spark plug replacement" should turn up some tips and tricks, along with discussion of copper vs. platinum.
--
Sarcasm is the Body's Natural Defense Against Stupidity


telco_mtl

join:2012-01-06

its true these days some cars are a nightmare to change the plugs, GM W bodies you have to rock the engine forward, GM mini vans you have to go from underneath to get the back 3 plugs out. and dont get me started on 3400 series grand ams, malibus and olds aleros!



MooJohn

join:2005-12-18
Milledgeville, GA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Windstream
reply to Waterbug

It's not tooo much of a PITA but many people do say they'd be willing to pay the dealer ~ $300 for the job. It takes the average person about 3 hours to do. I don't know if the coil-on-plug design of the later Hemis like yours helps or hurts in the tighter spots like near the brake booster. My 03 has plugs and wires which might make it a little easier there.

Copper has the most performance potential while platinum lasts longer. It has been proven that the Hemi does not do well with plats so copper is your best bet.

I'm a "performance" kind of guy so I won't complain if it's something I have to do every 5-6 years. My 03 has 77k so it's not like I'm doing it every year.
--
John M - Cranky network guy


Waterbug

join:2008-03-30

1 recommendation

reply to hambone42

said by hambone42:

The dealer is only charging for three hours ? That sounds about right but you might want to comparison shop with an independent garage.

I'd rather pay the dealer rate for a guy who's done the job 20 times and does it in three hours, than pay an independent for five hours labor, because he says he can do it but never has really done it before. Labor costs the same and you end up having a trainee working on your vehicle. .
Expand your moderator at work


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3
reply to Waterbug

Re: Cost of Changing Plugs on a Dodge Hemi

said by Waterbug:

I'd rather pay the dealer rate for a guy who's done the job 20 times and does it in three hours, than pay an independent for five hours labor, because he says he can do it but never has really done it before. Labor costs the same and you end up having a trainee working on your vehicle. .

You're using an awfully broad brush when you paint that assumption there, don't you think?

Waterbug

join:2008-03-30

said by mattmag:

said by Waterbug:

I'd rather pay the dealer rate for a guy who's done the job 20 times and does it in three hours, than pay an independent for five hours labor, because he says he can do it but never has really done it before. Labor costs the same and you end up having a trainee working on your vehicle. .

You're using an awfully broad brush when you paint that assumption there, don't you think?

You're right it is a broad brush and that is the problem. The experience level of the mechanics in independent garages can go from expert to shade tree mechanic and everything in between. At least with a dealership, you know that they have worked on the same make/model before. If a dealership screws up, you have recourse through the manufacturer. With an independent, your next level of recourse is a lawyer. If there was a local independent garage that specialized in Chrysler products, I'd probably give them a shot. Independent around here work on anything with a motor.


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3

1 recommendation



There is no correlation in experience nor ability that is based on where a person works. Nothing in a dealership guarantees the ability or experience of a particular tech. Same holds true for the independent.

The manufacturers offer *zero* recourse for a screw-up on the part of a technician. The techs are employees of the dealership, not the manufacturer, and they will immediately refer all such problems right back to the dealer.

I've spent extensive time in both of those environments, and I understand your apprehension about independents, but the concerns you express are common to both shops. And that is one of the main reasons I always strongly suggest recommendations from friends on where they have received good service.


Waterbug

join:2008-03-30

said by mattmag:

There is no correlation in experience nor ability that is based on where a person works. Nothing in a dealership guarantees the ability or experience of a particular tech.

That statement may apply to overall experience but not to specific experience. A technician that works for a Dodge dealer is going to have some level of experience working on Dodge vehicles. A technician that works for an independent garage may have never worked on a Dodge in his life. As a general rule, a technician that works for a Dodge dealer and works on Dodges every day, has more experience working on Dodges than a technician that works for an independent garage who works on a different make of vehicle every day.

I agree that the technician works for the dealership and not the manufacturer, but the dealership is a manufacturer's franchise and as such has some level of answerability to the manufacturer. Dealership screw-ups reflect on the manufacturers reputation. For that reason there is a level of pressure on the dealership to resolve an issue that has been brought to the attention of the manufacturer. An independent garage has no answerability to anyone but it's owner.

rody_44
Premium
join:2004-02-20
Quakertown, PA
Reviews:
·Comcast

2 edits

When i take my vehicle to my independent garage i use. I know who i get to work on it. At the dealer its anyone and yes that can include the guy fresh out of school first day on the job. Ive been generally satisified with warranty work at the dealer. Not so much the repair end of non warranty work. Bottom line is its better to find a GOOD independent and stick with him. Saves you money and some are every bit as good and some even better than at a dealer. Dont even get me started on dealer body shops. Avoid them at all costs. Some of my worse experiences have involved dealer repair shops. Some times it made me sick to get a brand new car back with extra bolts laying on the floor. I never get that with my mechanic i go to. Bottom line avoid dealers unless its warranty work.



MooJohn

join:2005-12-18
Milledgeville, GA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Windstream
reply to Waterbug

If they were installing a cam or something I'd want a Mopar guy. These are just spark plugs, no different than any other vehicle on the road except there are 2 per cylinder.

Dealer shops are luck of the draw. You might get the ASE Master with 20+ years of experience or your job might get assigned to the oil change kid who just finished high school. Every shop works to different standards whether dealership or independent. Luckily I know independents who were once dealer guys and have done Mopar work forever. That's who I trust for the work I don't do myself.

These engines aren't known for launching plugs through the hood like Ford's 5.4 liter so you'd have to work very hard to screw it up.
--
John M - Cranky network guy



Snakeoil
Ignore Button. The coward's feature.
Premium
join:2000-08-05
Mentor, OH
kudos:1
reply to Waterbug

I have an '05 Dodge ram 4.7 litre engine. I was told the plugs are good for at least 100k miles.

When I worked at a repair shop, I remember the discussions about why certain things cost so much. Part of it is what has to be moved out of the way, so the tech has access to the plugs. I was also told Dodge uses a "coil on the plug" type of thing. So each plug has it's own coil. Thus making the plugs expensive to replace.
--
Is a person a failure for doing nothing? Or is he a failure for trying, and not succeeding at what he is attempting to do? What did you fail at today?.



Snakeoil
Ignore Button. The coward's feature.
Premium
join:2000-08-05
Mentor, OH
kudos:1
reply to rody_44

Which I do. I only use a dealer while the vehicle is under warranty. after it expires I switch to an independent shop. The shop I currently use seems to be pretty good. They have given us breaks on the bill before.
--
Is a person a failure for doing nothing? Or is he a failure for trying, and not succeeding at what he is attempting to do? What did you fail at today?.


Waterbug

join:2008-03-30
reply to Waterbug

I didn't really expect this to end up being a discussion on the competence of mechanics. I was expecting a discussion on copper vs platinum plugs and a 30K vs 60K mile replacement interval. I've got at least 44K miles on the plugs that are in it. It had 30K miles on the truck, when I bought it from a dealer, and it has 74K miles now. It could have 74K miles on the original plugs, I just don't know. I'm going to request the plugs be returned to me and have the same brand plugs put back into it. There is an Action Auto parts store across from the dealer and the dealer has told me in the past that he doesn't have any issue with customers specifying different brands of replacement parts, if they are readily available.



mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3
reply to Waterbug

said by Waterbug:

A technician that works for a Dodge dealer is going to have some level of experience working on Dodge vehicles. A technician that works for an independent garage may have never worked on a Dodge in his life.

Both assumptions, and both are unable to be supported as factual statements. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I know this to be true. Dealerships are not some panacea of expertise, and there is no guarantee that your observation is correct. Dealership techs are just like everywhere else, and yes, they may be inexperienced. It can go either way at either choice, which is my point.

said by Waterbug:

Dealership screw-ups reflect on the manufacturers reputation. For that reason there is a level of pressure on the dealership to resolve an issue that has been brought to the attention of the manufacturer.

This however is patently incorrect. I promise you the manufacturer will *NEVER* get involved with a technician error. Those are all right smack on the dealer-owner's lap, and they don't involve themselves with resolution. Can you imagine the cost to a manufacturer if they did this all the time? Doesn't happen, never will.


Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2
reply to Waterbug

said by Waterbug:

It could have 74K miles on the original plugs, I just don't know. I'm going to request the plugs be returned to me and have the same brand plugs put back into it.

If I were you, I would pull a back plug, and a middle-bank plug and see what they look like. Check the colour of the burn, and the gap. You'll know pretty quick whether the plugs need to be replaced or not.

Waterbug

join:2008-03-30

said by Juggernaut:

said by Waterbug:

It could have 74K miles on the original plugs, I just don't know. I'm going to request the plugs be returned to me and have the same brand plugs put back into it.

If I were you, I would pull a back plug, and a middle-bank plug and see what they look like. Check the colour of the burn, and the gap. You'll know pretty quick whether the plugs need to be replaced or not.

Manufacturer recommends a 30K change interval. The plugs have at least 44K on them, maybe 74K. If I were into pulling plugs to look at them, I would be changing them myself. By the way, the drivers side rear plug coil is tightly sandwiched under the power brake unit.


Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2

Well, then check the passenger-side bank...

But, you seem set on having a dealer do it, so... just do it then. Stay with the stock plug recommendation from Dodge.


Waterbug

join:2008-03-30

1 recommendation

reply to mattmag

said by mattmag:

said by Waterbug:

A technician that works for a Dodge dealer is going to have some level of experience working on Dodge vehicles. A technician that works for an independent garage may have never worked on a Dodge in his life.

Both assumptions, and both are unable to be supported as factual statements. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I know this to be true. Dealerships are not some panacea of expertise, and there is no guarantee that your observation is correct. Dealership techs are just like everywhere else, and yes, they may be inexperienced. It can go either way at either choice, which is my point.

said by Waterbug:

Dealership screw-ups reflect on the manufacturers reputation. For that reason there is a level of pressure on the dealership to resolve an issue that has been brought to the attention of the manufacturer.

This however is patently incorrect. I promise you the manufacturer will *NEVER* get involved with a technician error. Those are all right smack on the dealer-owner's lap, and they don't involve themselves with resolution. Can you imagine the cost to a manufacturer if they did this all the time? Doesn't happen, never will.

As stated several posts ago, I really didn't intend for this thread to be about the abilities of technicians. I respect your opinion, but don't agree with it. Lets leave it at that.


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3

said by Waterbug:

As stated several posts ago, I really didn't intend for this thread to be about the abilities of technicians. I respect your opinion, but don't agree with it. Lets leave it at that.

Agreed---and thanks.


TheHarvester
Premium
join:2006-08-25
Dana Point, CA
kudos:3
reply to Waterbug

I work at an independent shop and diagnosed an intermittent stalling/no start Jeep as a bad computer. Order a computer from the dealer and it still does the same thing. Boss sends it to the dealer and they (claim to) diagnose , sell us and install a crank sensor. I tell the boss "no way, it can't be" I hate when I am wrong but I was sure my testing was done right...oh well.

A couple days later, the Jeep is back for me to try a second time to figure out why it is STILL stalling. Again, I diagnose it as a bad computer. The boss sends it to the dealer again. This time they (claim to) diagnose it as a computer, we tow it back, order ANOTHER computer and over a year later, the vehicle is stall free.
--
mbsastronomy.com