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Hagerty Employee

Wrenchin’ Wednesday: High-clearance spark plug sockets for tight spaces

The game of modifying a car really comes down to making a bunch of ill-fitting puzzle pieces cooperate in any way possible. That reality is expressed nowhere more plainly, perhaps, than in exhaust systems and off-the-shelf headers. Many of us have had a set of headers that fit so questionably they make one wonder if the engineering firm of Keller & Charles designed the part. It’s not uncommon to see folks needing to dent and notch headers to clear sockets for the main flange bolts and especially the spark plugs, which are often branching out of the head in a direction aiming straight for a primary tube.


This isn’t just an issue when it comes to melting plug wires, but simply installing the plug can be a bear too; the brittle ceramic insulator that sticks out can easily be broken by twisting a socket onto the socket flats. That tiny, subtle click of a plug breaking can be the last straw, but with today’s Wrenchin’ Wednesday subject, we’ll modify one to make it much better suited for these tight confines.


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At one time I had a collection of combination wrenches that had been heated/bent/ground on so that I could get at the header bolts. Never had to modify a socket to get the plugs in and out, but I definitely would have dome something like this if I'd needed to!


Accel offers shorty plugs that work well with hard to fit heads and exhaust. No need for odd tools. 

Community Manager

I had no idea those existed. Very cool! 

Pit Crew

Another option is to use a shorter socket. Either look for one or cut down your own.

Advanced Driver

I love the socket modification!  To use an overworked phrase; that's Brilliant!

+ 1 on the Accell shorty spark plugs, they work well.  In certain areas, I use regular box end wrench, for hard to get to plugs.  In other areas I also use offset end wrenches, they work very well also.  I can see that sort of modified socket working on certain spots really well also.  Since I have a couple extra laying about, I'll have to modify one this weekend.  Thank you Sajeev.

Pit Crew

I replace all Header Bolts/Studs with Allen Head Bolts. I then buy a 'GOOD' Allen Wrench that has the "Ball End" on it. Cut it to the required length and use a socket to turn my 'New' Header Wrench. Make sure you buy the correct bolts though. I'm not just talking about length, pitch, and size; I mean material. Some materials begin to react with each other when heated like chrome and aluminum or stainless. Those chrome bolts may look cool until you have to remove them! Read up on "Dissimilar Material Bonding".