GM Malibu/Cutlass 1997-2000

Spark Plug Wires



The 2.4L engine does not have spark plug wires, instead it has an integrated direct ignition system often referred to as "coil over plug".

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Fig. Instead of spark plugs, the 2.4L engine has an integrated direct ignition system that is often referred to as "coil over plug"

The spark plug wires designed for the 3.1L engine ignition system are a carbon impregnated cord conductor encased in a 7mm diameter silicone rubber jacket. The silicone wiring will withstand very high temperatures and also provides an excellent insulator for the high voltage of the system. The silicone spark plug boots form a tight seal on the plugs. Twist the boot 1 / 2 turn while removing. Exercise care when connecting a timing light or any other inductive pick-up equipment. Do not force anything between the boot and the wiring, or through the silicone jacket. Do not pull on the wire in order to remove a plug. Pull on the boot, or use a tool designed for this purpose.

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Fig. Checking individual plug wire resistance with a digital ohmmeter

At every tune-up/inspection, visually check the spark plug cables for burns cuts, or breaks in the insulation. Check the boots and the nipples on the distributor cap and/or coil. Replace any damaged wiring.

Every 50,000 miles (80,000 km) or 60 months, the resistance of the wires should be checked with an ohmmeter. Wires with excessive resistance will cause misfiring, and may make the engine difficult to start in damp weather.

To check resistance, an ohmmeter should be used on each wire to test resistance between the end connectors. Remove and install/replace the wires in order, one-by-one.

Resistance on these wires should be 4,000-6,000 ohms per foot. To properly measure this, remove the wires from the plugs, coil, or the distributor cap. Do not pierce any ignition wire for any reason. Measure only from the two ends. Take the length and multiply it by 6,000 to achieve the maximum resistance allowable in each wire, resistance should not exceed this value. If resistance does exceed this value, replace the wire.

Whenever the high tension wires are removed from the plugs, coil, or distributor, silicone grease must be applied to the boot before reconnection. Coat the entire interior surface with silicone grease.


When spark plug wires are being installed, make sure they are routed properly. Plug wires should be replaced one at a time to reduce the chances of mis-firing and improper firing sequence.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  3. Remove the spark plug wire from the plug by grasping the boot tightly and twisting 1 / 2 turn while pulling away from the plug. There are also tools made specifically for that purpose.
  5. Remove spark plug wire from the coil by following the same procedure. Grasp the boot tightly and twist 1 / 2 turn while pulling away from the coil.

To install:

  1. Apply a suitable dielectric grease to inside of spark plug boot.
  3. Holding spark plug boot, firmly seat boot onto top of spark plug. Squeeze boot to expel any trapped air.
  5. Install other end to coil following same procedure. However, dielectric grease is not necessary.
  7. Grasp coil boot firmly and apply with a slight twisting motion to top of coil nipple.
  9. Connect the negative battery cable.