How to Gap Spark Plugs Without Tool

Gapping a spark plug is an essential part of maintaining your vehicle. However, the gap size needs to be changed as the engine wears, and it is not always easy to do without a tool. Luckily, if you have a few household items, you can gap a spark plug yourself at home! 

How to Gap Spark Plugs Without Tool

This DIY will work for any plug (heated or non-heated). To gape your spark plugs, you need inexpensive materials like sandpaper and a screwdriver that most people already have around their house! This blog will share the techniques to gap spark plugs without tools. So be sure to check this out!

Why Should You Gap Spark Plug?

Spark plugs wear out over time and must be replaced after a certain period depending on your driving habits. You should check your vehicle’s owner manual for the suggested interval. If you have driven the vehicle according to the stipulated procedure, you might find that there is hardly any gap between the electrodes as they need to be replaced. Therefore, it is important to check the gap between the spark plug electrodes before replacing them.

A worn-out spark plug restricts fuel/air flow and causes poor combustion, bad engine starting, misfiring, and rough idling. To keep your vehicle running smoothly, you must regularly replace or clean its ignition system components. In addition, you can find out how to gap the spark plugs using a feeler gauge or measuring with a spark plug gap tool.

Of course, you can also learn how to gap spark plugs without tools, but if you think it is not recommended for an amateur like yourself, you can always trust an expert mechanic and get the work done.

10 Household Items You Can Use on How to Gap Spark Plugs Without Tool:

With the development of technology, people have begun to use more and more complex tools. Gapping spark plug seems easy without any special tool before, but now you have to buy a specific gapping spark plug tool to do this. Here we will introduce ten ways how to gap spark plugs without tools; with these ways, you can gap your plugs with simple household items. All ten methods are tested by us and work, I hope they can help you!

1. Gapping Spark Plugs With Toothpick:

This is easy to do, but you’d better not use this method when the gap is too small. This article also tells you some other important information about gapping spark plugs.

2. Gapping Spark Plugs With Sand Paper:

This method is easy to do, but it’s not recommended for small gaps. If you still want to try it, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to gap spark plugs with sandpaper.

3. Using Hair Dryer:

This method is perfect for more significant gaps and can be done in just a few seconds. This method is very fast and simple, and no tool is needed for this method.

4. Using Pliers:

This way may be hard to do at first if you lack experience, but it’s easy to learn with practice and more accurate than other methods. You can also try if you are looking for a faster way to gap your plugs without using the above methods.

5. Using Razor Blade:

This way is straightforward, and no particular skill is required; however, this method may cause some damage to your plugs if not done correctly. If you want a professional and clean gapping on your spark plug, using a razor blade is maybe not your best choice.

6. Using Key:

This way is trendy among some mechanics, and it doesn’t need any tools as well. The principle of this method is to work with the blisters on the side of your key, which will make a clean gapping for you.

This way is trendy among some mechanics, and it doesn't need any tools as well. The principle of this method is to work

7. Using Ballpoint Pen:

This one is another classic way to do this with a ballpoint pen. Although this method needs your practice and patience, it will work perfectly if done correctly.

8. Using Rubber Band:

This way is widespread and easy to do; just stretch the rubber band until its ends meet, and it will give you a perfect gapping. If your gap is too big for this method, try using two or more bands.

9. Using Nails:

This method is standard and can be done quickly but is limited to smaller gaps. You’d better not use this method if your target gap is too large because you need a unique technique to do it right.

10. Using Plunger:

This method is not that popular but will give you a clear gap every time. You can also use this to gap your spark plug when the gap is too small for other methods. The main disadvantage of using this method is that you need extra practice to do it right.

Tools Required:

  • Spark Plug Gap Tool
  • Socket Wrench Set
  • Ratchet
  • Extension Pole
  • A flat head screwdriver

Steps on How to Gap Spark Plugs Without Tool:

Step 1:

First, turn off your vehicle’s engine and then use the socket wrench set to loosen the spark plug. A worn-out spark plug has a gap that is almost zero. You can use a feeler gauge to measure the gap between the electrodes, but if you do not have one, you can always use your ear and listen for a ‘tick’ sound as you pull out the old spark plugs.

Step 2:

Please take out the new plug and bend its tip to touch the cylinder block, and hold it in place with your hand. You need to do this to use the plug as a feeler gauge for measuring the gap between the new spark plug and the head surface.

Next, unwrap about 0.025 inches off your feeler gauge and insert it into the gap. If it does not slip in, then your hole is too small. On the contrary, if you exert a lot of force to put the feeler gauge into the gap, your opening is too broad or big.

Step 3:

After measuring the gaps, return the electrode to its original position and tighten it using your socket wrench.

Step 4:

Repeat all of the above steps for your other spark plugs. Alternatively, you can buy a new set of plug-and-play (PnP) style coils if they are available in the market. This way, you will not have to remove and reinstall them. Replacement PnP-style coils are made to fit your vehicle’s original engine design and come pre-gapped.

If you do not have any issues starting your car after replacing the spark plugs, then you do not need to gap your new spark plugs in the future. Instead, you can just install them in their original positions without adjusting the gap between the electrodes. However, you should consider gapping your new plugs if the engine struggles to start.

Tips and Suggestions:

Make sure that when your gapping, that you don't wear out the center electrode right away by going too thin, as this will induce misfires
  1. If you prefer a tool, you could use a pair of pliers with flat-edged jaws on end.
  2. Make sure that when you gapping, you don’t wear out the center electrode right away by going too thin, as this will induce misfires on one plug and can lead to damage to related plug holes in the engine, causing it to have too small of a gap and not maintain proper compression.
  3. Even though the spark plug may look gapped properly, you can still double-check it by using a simpler method that just skips measuring with a tool. Instead, simply take your wire brush-type screwdriver and put the tip on top of the metal electrode.
  4. Use a tool like long-nosed pliers, bent hanger wire (flush with the side of the engine), coat hanger, etc., to hold the screwdriver tip and pull away from the engine.
  5. If there is a gap, then the screwdriver should produce a high-pitched whistle. This high-pitched whine will not be heard if it touches one of the electrodes, so you should remove your hand from the screwdriver while using this method.
  6. If there isn’t a gap or no noise, something needs to be done either to clean the electrode or replace it.
  7. Make sure that when you remove the spark plugs, put them back in their holes very carefully and don’t cross-thread them as this will cause leaks which may reduce compression.


There is a way to gap spark plugs without the tool. You need two screwdrivers, one long and flathead, and one short Phillips head. First, identify which side of the plug has an extended center electrode by looking for tabs on either end of the ceramic insulator. Then use your Phillips head screwdriver to loosen or tighten screws to move them closer or farther away from the other tab until they align.

Once aligned, turn them both clockwise at least three times before loosening again. If there isn’t enough space between electrodes, turn counterclockwise instead. This will push them further apart to be tightened again more quickly than if they were to be loosened while already too close together. We hope this blog post on how to gap spark plugs without tools has been helpful. Let us know your thoughts in the comment below!

Louis Wein

Louis Wein

Louis has always been fascinated by cars. He loves the way they look, the sound of the engine, and how they make him feel when he's driving. He is always keen to learn more about different mechanics of cars and how the engine contributes to other aspects of the car. As an automotive technician with over 10 years of experience, he knew how they worked and loved taking them apart to see how they went back together. He was especially interested in the mechanics of combustion engines and loved finding ways to make them more efficient. He loves to work on cars and help people keep their vehicles running smoothly. As a senior editor, he enjoys contributing to Diy quickly because it allows him to share his knowledge and expertise with others.

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