Best Spark Plug Sockets: The Gappening

Vivek Nayyar
by Vivek Nayyar

Top 8 Best Spark Plug Sockets

Continuing the recent trend of DIY tools, we’ve selected spark plug sockets as today’s list of choices. While not all of us set gaps and fiddle with old fashioned points systems, there’s a solid chance most of our readers have had cause to throw a new set of plugs in their beater at some point or another.

Digging through a pile of random tools for the correct spark plug socket can be a trial (rumors say this will actually become a 24 Hours of Lemons penalty soon). If you do spring for one of these things, make sure it lives in a good spot of your toolbox.

Speaking of, many socket sets include one or two of these tools but it never hurts to have an extra on hand. Some of these stand-alones are also more robustly constructed or include special extensions that may not appear in an all-encompassing socket set. Also, don’t forget that not all spark plugs are sized equally, so check your application before hitting the ‘buy’ button.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: Gearwrench 6-Point Magnetic Swivel Spark Plug Socket

This socket is for 5/8-inch plugs and a 3/8-inch ratchet drive. An entry angle is said to guide it home more easily and has serrations the depth of the fastener. Large hard-stamped, not etched, sizing identification marks should be visible even to us old guys with failing eyesight.

A knurled grip on the extension shaft provides workers with a non-slip surface for low torque applications. The interior magnet inside of the socket retains and protects the spark plug for easier installation and is said to not wear out over time like a traditional rubber gasket.

Pros

  • Basic, effective, affordable

Cons

  • Some cars will need another extension

Bottom Line

  • Great to have on hand

2. ARES 5-Piece High Visibility Spark Plug Socket Set

Unsure of your whip's spark plug sizing or simply work on a variety of different cars? Picking up a five-piece set might be a good idea. This unit has a couple of metric sockets along with three in Freedom units. The sizes are both etched and hammered into the socket walls.

This spark plug socket set includes 5/8-inch, 3/4-inch, 13/16-inch, 14mm, and 18mm sizes plus a handy storage rail. The rubber retaining ring ensures plugs stay on the socket and the tapered 6-point socket ends grip the flat sides of the fastener head, not corners, to prevent round-off.

Pros

  • Sizes for nearly every engine

Cons

  • Your moron buddies will borrow them

Bottom Line

  • Be prepared

3. OTC Spark Plug Remover Kit

Here's a pro-grade tool whose unique design helps prevent breakage by locking the plug porcelain core to the plug hex. This permits it to turn as one complete unit rather than exerting torque on the plug itself and risking snapping the thing off.

This specific item is designed to help mechanics finding themselves working on Blue Oval products, particularly those equipped with a three-valve 4.6L or 5.4L V8 engine. It's also compatible with the jumbo 6.8L V10 found in mid-2000's Ford trucks.

Pros

  • Engineered in response to plugs breaking off in these particular engines

Cons

  • Bloody expensive

Bottom Line

  • We weep for people replacing plugs on these motors

4. ARES 5-Piece Magnetic Swivel Spark Plug Socket Set

Building on the set listed two entries above, this five-piece set has a series of extensions to assist mechanics and DIYers intending to tackle multiple jobs on multiple cars. Note there are fewer socket sizes in this kit - three, not five - but the varying extension lengths are very handy.

Each spark plug socket has 360-degree swivel action for maximum flexibility, while the five sizes give you the extra reach you need for tight spots on a wide variety of applications. The sockets' interior magnets retain and protect the spark plug for easier installation.

Pros

  • Plenty of lengths, a trio of sizes, dandy case

Cons

  • Not everyone likes swivels

Bottom Line

  • This kit should cover most eventualities

5. Craftsman 5/8" Spark Plug Socket

No extensions, no swivels, no problem. This is just a basic spark plug socket which is all a person needs in some instances. After all, most of us probably have enough extensions kicking around the garage already without adding more by way of an all-inclusive set.

We've waxed about the Craftsman brand before but, for those still wary thanks to the disappearance of Sears department stores, be assured the tool brand stands on its own without interference from a meddling bricks-and-mortar overlord.

Pros

  • No extra parts

Cons

  • Useless for jobs with 3/4-inch plugs

Bottom Line

  • Nothing's wasted here

6. Lexivon Swivel Magnetic Spark Plug Socket

This is a 5/8-inch spark plug socket sitting on the end of an extension making for ten inches of total stretch. A smooth 360-degree ball swivel means one should be able to reach into wretchedly tight engine bays like that of a 1995 Aerostar.

A fully polished and chrome plated mirror finish is said to resist corrosion and is easy to clean (you do wipe your sockets off before firing them back in the toolbox, right?). A knurled shaft prevents slipping, though it doesn't run the length, and its size is laser etched into the socket.

Pros

  • Useful knurling and swiveling

Cons

  • Way too much temptation to double entendre while writing that description

Bottom Line

  • Good choice for a specific application

7. Sunex 3/8-Inch Drive Spark Plug Socket Set

On occasion, an off-brand delivers a good surprise. Sunex is hardly a household name in the vein of Snap-On or Matco, but this item has earned a 4.8 out of 5-star rating from over 100 customers, with an impressive 96 percent giving these things 4 or 5 stars.

This seven-piece set includes a trio of impressively tall sockets, all of which are common spark plug measures. They are for use with 3/8-inch ratchets and include a blow-molded case that you'll likely bin immediately after opening the Amazon box.

Pros

  • Excellent depth on three of the sockets

Cons

  • Blow-molded case are generally trash

Bottom Line

  • Store them neatly in your toolbox

8. OEM Tools 14 mm Thin Wall Spark Plug Socket

Twelve point sockets are usually looked upon with great suspicion but real-world customers of this item give it good reviews, praising its usefulness. A foot-long extension will help you reach pesky spark plugs and also confirm that Subway is giving you a correctly measured sub.

With the extension attached right to the socket, there's no worry about needing to fish a socket out of the well because it decided to divorce itself from the extension. Thin walls help ease access but, as with most things in life, go easy if you don't know what you're doing.

Pros

  • Reaches waaaayyy back there

Cons

  • Some reports of socket breakage

Bottom Line

  • Use carefully

Are there special sockets for spark plugs?

A short answer would be, yes. To elaborate, the purpose of a spark plug socket is to make it easier for you to install or remove spark plugs from your vehicle.

If you are a DIY person and prefer maintaining your cars yourself, you would need merely one or two sockets, i.e., typically those that are compatible with the spark plugs that your vehicles have. Here, the size matters. If you choose a socket that is of a smaller or larger size than the spark plug, you might not be able to clean or replace it as the removal and installation process wouldn’t be easy.

On the other hand, if you are a professional technician who deals with several vehicles a day, you would want to get a complete spark plug socket set (typically the one recommended by the service station that you work with). Such a set comprises sockets of almost every size, and therefore, you wouldn’t have to look any further while dealing with the plugs of any car that is assigned to you.

Are magnetic spark plug sockets any good?

Before answering this question, it is imperative to understand that two types of spark plug sockets are available in the market, namely:

Rubber Boot Spark Plug Socket – These are not much in trend nowadays as they are considered less durable and eventually wear off with regular use

Magnetic Spark Plug Socket – These types of sockets are mostly used today as they offer a good grip over the plug, are long-lasting, and are easily available in any automobile spare parts store

Coming back to the main question, yes, they are good and are specifically designed for the purpose. The fact is, they are even better when compared to rubber boot spark plug sockets. In the latter case, while the socket may do the job, the rubber boot that it has is prone to wear and tear. Furthermore, some people have also complained about the rubber being fallen off and getting lost.

On the other hand, a magnetic spark plug socket, as the name suggests, is made of a magnet that snaps on the spark plug when placed upon it. In addition, even a magnetic socket has a rubber washer inside it. Because of this, while the magnet forms a firm grip over the spark plug while removing and installing, the rubber makes sure that the plug remains protected against damages that may be caused to its material otherwise.

Are all spark plug sockets the same?

No, they are different. Depending on the type of spark plug your vehicle has, its size may vary and so does the size of the socket. As mentioned earlier, if you have a socket that doesn’t fit well on the spark plug, removing and installing it would be cumbersome.

Therefore, it is recommended that you, being a professional, get a complete OEM set that comprises sockets of almost every size to deal with all types of plugs that you come across in your day-to-day work.

Additional Information

Although you can replace a spark plug without using a socket, the process would be tedious and time-consuming. With the help of a good quality socket, the process that could otherwise take several hours to complete can be done merely within a few minutes.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: sima/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

Vivek Nayyar
Vivek Nayyar

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2 of 7 comments
  • 55_wrench 55_wrench on May 05, 2022

    I just finished doing the second timing belt service on my 121K LS 430, and changed the plugs while I was in there. most of these tools shown will not work in that application due to the long extension colliding with either the battery box or the master cylinder booster. Maybe other longitudinally mounted DOHC V8 applications would be the same. What did work was, plug socket with no insert, 3" extension, separate universal joint, then a 6" extension, then the ratchet. Once the plug unscrewed free from the head, I went back in with 8" of 3/8 ID fuel line to fish it out. Also, I like the fuel line for starting the plugs too. I never use a socket to start a plug in an aluminum head..always 3 or 4 turns by hand so I know the threads are engaged before I lay a wrench on it. I cut my teeth on Corvairs, that's where I learned how important all this trivia really was.

  • Yosemit3 Yosemit3 on May 05, 2022

    there is no "best" Many cars require a SPECIFIC socket or socket/extension combination to access one of the plugs, or even several different combinations on the same car. (did that for 40+ years)

    • RHD RHD on May 05, 2022

      I would bet a complete socket set that nearly all of these "best" tools come from China. Sending our dollars there is not really the best thing to do with them.

  • Grg I am not sure that this would hold up in snow country. It used to be that people in snow country would not be caught dead in a white car. Now that white cars have become popular in the north, I can't tell you how many times I have seen white cars driving in the snow without lights. Almost all cars are less visible in a snow storm, or for that matter, rain storm, without lights. White ones become nearly invisible.
  • Douglas I have a 2018 BMW 740e PHEV, and love it. It has a modest electric only range compared to newer PHEV's (about 18 miles), but that gets me to the office and back each day. It has a small gas tank to make room for the battery, so only holds about 11 gallons. I easily go 600 or more miles per tank. I love it, and being able to take long road trips without having to plug in (it just operates like a regular Hybrid if you never plug it in). It charges in 75 minutes in my garage from a Level 2 charger I bought on Amazon for $350. Had an electrician add a dryer outlet beside the breaker box. It's the best of both worlds and I would definitely want a PHEV for my next car. 104,000 miles and ZERO problems with the powertrain components (so far).
  • Panther Platform I had a 98 Lincoln Mark VIII so I have a soft spot for this. The Mark VIII styling was not appreciated by all.
  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
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