Why Do Ford Triton Engines Blow Out Spark Plugs?

Ford’s modular engine platform of the 1990s and 2000s was the catalyst for some of the most powerful and widely used gasoline V8 and V10 engines of the day. One of these engines that came as a result of the modular platform was the 5.4 Triton, a V8 that Ford used primarily in trucks. Variations of it also appeared in legendary cars such as the Ford GT500, Ford Mustang Cobra R, and the Ford GT in a modified form. 

2002 Ford Explorer

One of the common issues of the modular platform was its tendency to blow out spark plugs. This issue happened the most on the 5.4 Triton from 1997 to 2003. During this era, the motor commonly powered the F-Series pickups, E-Series vans, and the Expeditions/Navigators. The engines built past that point were much less susceptible to the problem, but are still known to have the issue in some instances. 

During driving, the spark plugs could eject themselves from the engine. This can cause major damage to the cylinder head and spark plug port threads, and leave the driver stranded with an expensive repair. 

Why Did the Spark Plugs Blow Out?

The problem stems from the threads themselves. The spark plugs Ford used on these engines didn’t have enough threads, and the threads they did have were soft and weak, meaning that the pressure from the combustion was able to blow the plugs out of the engine. Ford later tried to remedy this issue by adding more threads, but there have been instances of post-’03 Tritons blowing out their spark plugs as well.  

Factory worker installing Triton motor

What Can I Do to Prevent It?

While there hasn’t been much evidence one way or another, Ford does recommend sticking with Ford Motorcraft brand spark plugs during replacement, but the issue has still been commonly seen in the trucks that come with OEM Ford plugs from the factory. 

The best way to avoid it is just regular spark plug service and commonly checking the torquing of the plugs, as loose spark plugs accelerate the issue.

Ford recommends a method of repair for the cylinder head that prevents the issue in the future, but this can only be done if the problem has already happened. 

When Should I Service my Triton’s Spark Plugs?

Ford recommends spark plug service for 5.4 Tritons around the 100,000-mile mark, but checking the torque specs of the plugs most frequently can help prevent the ejection issue. 

The spark plugs on Triton motors post ‘03 can be more troublesome than their infamous predecessors during service. The 2-piece design was supposed to alleviate previous issues, but this led to carbon build-up in the gap between the plug and the cylinder head causing the plugs to often break when being removed. These broken plugs would then be stuck in the cylinder head and be extremely difficult to get out.

Because of this, spark plug service for the Tritons from 2004-2008 should be done more frequently. This gives the carbon less time to build up and cause problems. 

Spark Plug Service at Matson Point S

If you’re looking to buy a Triton powered vehicle, we recommend taking it to a professional for a pre-purchase inspection to make sure your new truck doesn’t send a spark plug flying. If you own one already, regular service and torquing of your plugs are essential to keeping it on the road.

Luckily, Matson Point S in Riverton, Utah has you covered! Our ASE-certified technicians have many years of experience working on Ford engines and can service or inspect them to the highest quality.

Call or schedule an appointment online today to meet with our team and keep your vehicle running healthy!

What are the Symptoms of a Leaking Valve Cover Gasket?


The many gaskets we have in our cars are a small but essential piece in keeping the vehicle running safely and smoothly. There are gaskets in nearly every system within the engine, all working to keep essential fluids like oil where they should be.

Keeping oil in the engine is just as important as having oil in the first place, and that wouldn’t be possible without silicone and rubber gaskets. Metal on metal connections do not form a proper seal, and would allow oil to seep out of where it needs to be.


What Does the Valve Cover Gasket Do?


The valve cover protects some of the most vital and carefully calibrated parts of your vehicle, and keeps the high pressure oil there to lubricate it all. The valve cover gasket is exactly what it sounds like, a gasket for the valve cover. It essentially maintains the seal between the valve cover and the cylinder head, and prevents oil from escaping. 

Cylinder head and engine internals without valve cover

The gasket is usually made of silicone, rubber, or cork and provides a cushion for the seal. With use though, the gasket is gradually worn down by the oil and heat and can eventually no longer properly serve its purpose. 


What Happens When the Gasket Goes Bad?


As oil starts to leave the system, there are a host of issues that can come up. As your engine loses oil, the wear on internal components increases.. Low oil levels can lead to catastrophic problems for your engine, and despite a gasket replacement costing a little upfront, it’ll save massive headaches for you and your wallet down the line.


How do I know if my valve cover gasket is bad?


A bad valve cover gasket has multiple different symptoms, some that are similar to other issues with your engine and some that are unique to the specific gasket. Some of the symptoms that can be signs of a bad gasket include:


Visible Oil Leaks 


When oil is able to escape, it’ll often leak onto different parts of the engine that may be visible when you pop your hood. Other times, it can drip all the way to the ground and you’ll be left with a blackish brown stain on your driveway under the engine bay. Keep an eye out for these leaks, as having an engine soaked in oil is a good indicator that something isn’t right. 


Low Engine Oil


With an oil leak comes the accompanying low oil light. If you have an oil light illuminated on your dash or suspect low oil, shut off your car and check your dipstick, as running with low oil can be harmful for your engine even in short periods of time. If you know you have low oil, top off your engine immediately and bring your car to an expert


Smell of Burning Oil


Often when oil is leaking from the valve cover, it can drip onto extremely hot parts in your engine such as the exhaust pipes or engine block. If you smell burning oil it means your engine is losing oil, and may have or will soon reach dangerously low levels. If you smell this distinct smell, make sure to take it into a service shop to locate and fix the source of the leak. 




With a bad gasket, the oil is able to leak into the spark plug wells and eventually soak the spark plugs. This can result in your engine misfiring, which is the failure of a cylinder to ignite during the engine’s cycle. Misfires will result in reduced performance, and the spark plugs will need to be replaced. In serious cases, misfires can even lead to engine fires. It’s important to look for misfire codes on your dash, and take your car in for service as soon as you see one. In severe instances, you might see your check engine light blinking repeatedly. You should pull over immediately and have your car towed to a professional, as driving with a severe misfire can cause extremely expensive damage to your catalytic converters. 

Valve cover inside engine bay

Valve Cover Gasket Service at Matson Point S


If you suspect a problem with your valve cover gasket, or any other gaskets for that matter, Matson Point S has you covered at our Riverton repair shop. Our experienced and certified technicians will make sure your car is all buttoned up so it can spend more time on the road and not in the shop. Call or schedule an appointment online with us today!

Common Problems with Nissan CVT Transmissions

The CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) is a technological innovation meant to create a smoother and more fuel-efficient experience than a traditional automatic. By eliminating gears, CVTs allow the engine to operate at the most efficient rpm.

While the concept of CVTs are good, in practice they were often plagued with issues. This is particularly true for Nissan, which employed CVT gearboxes across its lineup. These transmissions ran into countless issues and were so poorly designed that a class action lawsuit was filed against Nissan. If you are curious about why Nissan’s CVTs are so unreliable, read on to learn more!

What is a CVT?

CVT, which stands for Continuously Variable Transmission, is a type of automatic transmission that uses a belt and pulleys to create an infinite number of gear ratios. With the ability to adjust the gear ratio on the fly, the engine can operate in the most efficient range, regardless of how fast the vehicle moves.

One pulley receives power directly from the engine, while the other sends power to the wheels. Like a traditional automatic, CVTs use a torque converter between the engine and transmission and also use a shifter to engage and drive/lock the transmission at a specific ratio.

Hydraulic pressure actuates the pulleys, allowing them to move between overdrive and underdrive positions and anywhere between.

Nissan CVT Problems

Any time there’s a transmission issue, you will notice it. Whether it’s a new smell, sound, or change in the way your car drives, it’s generally pretty easy to tell when something is wrong. Nissan CVT issues had several symptoms, which will be highlighted below.

Shuddering Transmission

Often referred to as “the judder”, this issue occurs when the belt or pulleys begin to wear out, which would happen far more quickly than it should have on these transmissions. When the components wear out, the steel belt will slip.

Nissan offered a software update to the Transmission Control Module (TCM) that would help technicians diagnose the juddering issue. Two “judder codes” could be triggered and stored in the TCM:

  • P17F0: Replace the Entire CVT
  • P17F1: The technician should inspect the CVT belt before replacing the unit. Replacing the valve body could fix the issue. 

Grinding or Whining Sounds

Another commonly reported issue with Nissan CVT gearboxes is a whining or grinding sound while driving, which can change depending on how fast you are driving. Typically, these sounds are the result of a worn bearing, but they could also be the result of a problem with the CVT belt.

Overheating, Burning Smell, and Limp Mode

The third main issue that plagued Nissan CVTs is overheating. This problem normally occurs when traveling long distances at highway speed or when putting the transmission under a lot of load, such as going up a steep hill.

When the transmission overheats, it can produce a noticeable burning smell while you drive. A bigger problem though is high transmission temperatures sending the vehicle into limp mode. The cooling system on the CVT cannot handle the amount of heat generated by the belts and pulleys.

As a solution, Nissan offered an external transmission cooler upgrade, but even that did not always help. The entire unit may need to be replaced.

How to Prevent Nissan CVT Issues

Due to the underlining design flaws of this transmission, there is no surefire way to prevent problems. With that said, following a strict, routine service schedule can reduce the likelihood of running into issues. Regular inspection and transmission fluid flushes make a big difference in the longevity of any transmission, CVTs included.

CVT Service at Matson Point S

If you need help with your problematic Nissan CVT transmission, come on into Matson Point S! Our Riverton auto repair shop is staffed with skilled and experienced technicians that know the ins and outs of CVTs and can help you figure out the best path to getting your car running as it should again. Call or schedule an appointment online today!


How Often Should I Service Boat Trailer Bearings?

It can be easy to overlook servicing your boat trailer. Other than the lights, brakes, and tires you may not give it much thought. One of the most important components on your boat trailer, the wheel bearings, should be on your list of regular maintenance items. Bearing failure can prevent you from trailering your boat or leave you stranded on the side of the road. 

Boat trailer bearings require more frequent maintenance than those found on a regular trailer due to water exposure. 

In this article, you will learn about the importance of proper boat trailer bearing maintenance, and how to perform the service at home!

How Often Should I Grease Boat Trailer Bearings?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule on how often you should service the bearings. The way you use your trailer impacts how frequently you should service the bearings.

If you trailer your boat to and from the water every time you go out, the bearings are exposed to water a lot more frequently. If you don’t keep your boat at a marina all summer, you should service your bearings a minimum of once a year.

If you go out infrequently or keep you boat at a marina, you can probably get away with servicing them every two years. 

How to Grease Boat Trailer Bearings

It’s easy to service the bearings on your boat trailer at home. With a bit of mechanical knowledge and a willingness to get a little greasy, you can perform this service in your driveway in an afternoon!

Secure the Trailer

Before beginning the project, make sure to secure the trailer. The safest way to do this in your driveway is to hook the trailer up to your truck, put it in park, and chock the wheels with a cinderblock, block of wood, or wheel chock. Be sure you are working on the flattest surface possible.

Jack Up the Trailer and Remove the Wheels

Break the lugs loose on the wheel while it’s still on the ground. Using a floor jack, jack the trailer up enough to get the wheel off the ground. If you have a dual-axle trailer, do one wheel at a time per side.

Remove the Dust Cap

Dust caps prevent contaminants from entering the bearing. To service the bearings themselves, the dust caps need to come off. Using a flathead screwdriver, gently pry the cap off. You can use a hammer or mallet to lightly tap the screwdriver if needed.

If your trailer has Bearing Buddy’s or bearing protectors, a screwdriver will not work for removing them. Instead, gently tap the bearing protector while rotating the hub, and they should come off.

Remove Cotter Pin and Spindle Nut

With the dust cap off, you will see a spindle nut with a cotter pin going through it. remove the cotter pin with plyers. Once the nut is off, you can remove the hub -and the bearings contained within it- from the spindle.

Remove the Bearings 

With the hub off, you can remove the bearing components. They shouldn’t require much force to remove as long as they are not severely rusted or corroded. The front bearing seal can be removed with a seal puller or a screwdriver (the seal will be replaced, so you don’t need to worry about damaging it). With the seal removed, the bearing components will come out easily. To remove the rear bearings, a block of wood can be placed through the hub and tapped, pushing both the bearing and seal out.

The bearings themselves are contained in a metal ring called a race, which will come out of the hub with it

Clean and Inspect the Bearings 

Now that the bearings are out of the hub, it’s time to clean them up. Using a rag, wipe off any excess grease. Using a solvent like kerosene, wash the components clean and inspect them for any rust, corrosion, or damage.

Pack the Bearings with Grease

You can pack bearings by hand or with a packing tool. A bearing packer makes the job far less messy but isn’t required. To do it by hand, take a palm full of high-temperature grease and begin working it into the bearing. Keep doing this until the cage and rollers are filled. Be sure to grease the inside of the hub as well as the bearing races.

Install the Bearings in the Hub

With the bearings packed, you can install them back into the hub. Place the rear bearing into the race and insert it into the back of the hub, followed by the seal.

Take the hub and slide it back over the spindle, with the bearing you just installed going on first. Next, insert the front bearing and race, followed by the washer and nut. If you are having trouble, using a large socket and a hammer can help get the rear bearing flush with the hub. 

Secure, Tighten, and Finish

Using a wrench, tighten the spindle nut to seat the bearings. Next, loosen the nut with the wrench and tighten it again with your fingers – it should only be finger-tight so the hub can rotate freely. Install a new cotter pin and lock the nut in place. Replace the dust cap and that’s it, you’re done!

Boat Trailer Bearing Service at Matson Point S

If you’d rather a professional service your boat trailer, make an appointment at Matson Point S! Our marine specialists will ensure your trailer is ready to go, and won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road on the way to the lake. 

How Do Boat Engines Stay Cool?

Cooling systems in car and truck engines are all the same. Coolant is cycled through the engine block, heater core, water pump, and radiator, removing excess heat from the engine and preventing overheating.   

On the other hand, boats utilize two distinct types of cooling systems. In this article, we will go over how boat engines stay cool when you are out on the water!  

What Does the Cooling System Do?  

Internal combustion engines generate power with thousands of tiny explosions per minute, and all that combustion puts off lots of heat.   

With no place to go, all that heat would quickly lead to lots of issues, from a blown head gasket to catastrophic engine damage. Cooling systems solve this problem by cycling a liquid (antifreeze or water) through the engine block with a pump. The coolant absorbs heat from the motor, and then passes through a heat exchanger, allowing it to dissipate.  

While variations of this system are used across all internal combustion engines, there are some differences in the way boat motors are cooled.   

Raw Water Cooling  

Most small boats use a cooling system called raw water cooling. Unlike cars and trucks, boats operate in an unlimited supply of cold liquid, a lake or river! Raw water systems take advantage of this by continuously drawing water from the lake, pumping it through the engine, and expelling the hot water back out.   

A big advantage of raw water systems is simplicity. A rubber impeller pulls water from the lake or river, and expels it out through the exhaust. Raw water cooling is used on all outboard motors and many inboard/sterndrive systems.  

Without coolant on board, there is no risk of antifreeze leaking into the body of water a boat is on. This added benefit is a significant reduction in environmental risk, as coolant is extremely toxic to wildlife.  

Enclosed Cooling System  

In marine applications, an enclosed cooling system uses a combination of internally circulating coolant and raw water to keep the engine cool. Much like a car or truck, an engine with enclosed cooling has a reservoir of antifreeze that circulates through the engine. Unlike a car or truck, however, the coolant passes through a heat exchanger which is cooled by a separate raw water system instead of a radiator cooled by air.   

Enclosed cooling systems are more complicated than raw water but offer performance advantages. Enclosed cooling systems are more effective at cooling the engine, allowing it to operate at higher temperatures safely.   

Additionally, enclosed cooling is beneficial for boats operating in salt water. Keeping saltwater separate from the engine prevents corrosion and extends the life of the motor.   

Marine Engine Cooling Maintenance  

No matter what cooling system your boat has, regular maintenance is essential. If something goes wrong and your engine overheats, the repair bill can get expensive quickly. Raw water systems will require periodic impeller replacements and proper winterization every year to prevent cold weather damage.   

For boats with enclosed cooling, it is important to check and replace the raw water impeller if needed and make sure there is no buildup or corrosion preventing water flow in the heat exchangers. This is especially important for boats that operate in salt water, whether it is the ocean or the Great Salt Lake.   

Marine Service and Repair at Matson Point S  

Matson Point S is your go-to boat repair shop in the Salt Lake Valley. Our facility in Riverton is staffed with some of the most skilled marine technicians in Utah. You can trust our team to handle all your marine services, from general maintenance to diagnoses and parts replacement. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today! 


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