newbie to E-150 van maintenance wants to change spark plugs and PCV valve

Actually, I own a 1998 Ford Chateau, which must be the same as an E-150, for tune-up purposes. It has a 5.4L V8 engine. This is a "half-ton" rated
vehicle. It has operated wonderfully.
The engine sputters a bit now, noticeably when starting up from a standing stop. It isn't a "flat spot," but almost. The sputter has no rhythm to it. Engine temperature seems to have no relevance. I visited New Mexico one month ago with this vehicle, and the "service engine soon" light still shows on the dashboard. Years ago, when visiting Flagstaff, AZ, the same thing happened. I stayed an extra night in Flagstaff, just so I could visit the Ford Agency the next day, and was told the light was a red herring, caused by high altitude, and of no consequence. Several weeks later, back at sea level, the light finally went out. The car never sputtered in those days.
So I'm still waiting for the light to go out, since my recent drive at 7000-foot altitude in New Mexico.
Anyway, the car sputtered as soon as I returned to sea level, and it does so occasionally ever since. (It might have sputtered on the drive back from NM, but I wasn't paying attention.) I changed the air filter, to no avail. I thought I'd change the spark plugs, which have never been changed. The car has about 75K miles on it. The service guide that came with the vehicle calls for a plug change at 100K miles.
I bought a CD that containing a maintenance manual for this vehicle. I found the specs for the plugs. The cylinder heads must be aluminum, because the torque specification is only 9-20 Nm; i.e., 7-14 lb ft. Can anyone corroborate this...is it aluminum?
I have never worked on a van's engine before. I've worked on many other types of vehicles, and I own tools. I have seen the van go up on a rack several times for tires, lube, etc. There is a doghouse inside the cab, which I've never removed. Can anyone advise how I'm supposed to access the spark plugs? This ain't no flat-top 4!!
I should change the PCV valve. The service guide said to do that at 60K miles, and I didn't do that. I wonder where that thing is?
Geez. How does anyone work on this thing?
I'm sure someone who reads this petition has changed the spark plugs and PCV valve in a Club Wagon! Your help is most appreciated.
John B
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I had one with the inline six years back that had the original Motorcraft plugs at 140+ thousand miles. I had to crank those suckers out. It took hours, back & forth with Blaster and then chasing the threads ot with a die. The gaps were way to big and had lots of grunge on then. You have to pull the cover. Do plug wires too. I'm doing my 89 E-150 coversion with 5.0 this weekend. It has 76,000 ,one- owner original miles and appears to never have been touched. I'm replacing all vacume hoses too I think. Bob
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Hey, thanks for the astute reply. Yes, it would make sense to replace vacuum lines, and perhaps fuel hoses, too. Why wait for a disaster? I guess I should remove the two captain's seats, in front, to allow for "unhindered" access to the engine. I wonder if those seats come out?
Would you mind if I waited until next week, after you've done yours? If I do mine, however, I'll post here as to the difficulties I may have faced.
Thanks again, John

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His 89 and your 98 are two totally different models. Ford changed the bodystyle of their full size van in 1992. the previous model ran from the early 70's to 1991.
As to the question of having to remove the seats, I've had or worked on 5 vans and haven't had to remove the seats on any of them.
CJB

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Thanks for the reply. Can you tell me if I can get the spark plugs out by removing the doghouse? Or do I have to jack the car up and get underneath it? Thanks, John

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Unfortunately, I haven't worked on any of the OHC engines (4.6, 5.4) My experience with those vans is limited to 351W, 351M, I300.
Having said that, changing sparkplugs in those is a horrible job. You have to use every advantage. I've even had to take the front tires off to access plugs through the wheelwell. If your 4.6 is that bad or not, I don't know.
CJB

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Thanks for the ominous warning...Mine is a 5.4L, if that makes any difference.
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Bob opined in

1. I disagree STRONGLY with changing those "plug wires", given age and mileage, unless you're going to do it with OEM IF you have starting problems in wet/high humidity conditions, or other problems, THEN do it... too often aftermarket sets cause more problems than the original old ones.
2. If plugs seem to tighten as you remove, run them back in and back out.. spray LIGHTLY w WD 40 or penetrant - dont overdo it.
3. LIGHTLY coat threads with appropriate anti-seize before install
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I won't be chaging plug wires. Any idea if my cylinder heads are aluminum? Why else would the tightening spec be so low (about 10 lb ft)?
Do you know if I have go get under the van to get the plugs out? Thanks

than
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I only buy Good quality plug wires, not the bargain basement ones. I've never had a problem with good quality wires. I can see mine arcing at night from the front but it runs fine. They are original 15 year old wires. Out they go along with the cap and rotor. This van was garage kept and babied until I got it. It even looks new under it. My old E-150 conversion had to have one captain seat removed to pull the cover. No biggie there, four nuts and off they come. I beleive your newer van will be much the same for access. I looked at several newer ones but this one was much better condition. It does look to be 3-4 years old. I use it for my pest control business. The owner before me put cheap ass Pep boys regular car tires on it and they are wearing fast. I replaced two with 6 ply truck tires a few weeks ago and the other two next week. Other than the rear springs being to soft I love it. An extra leaf fixed that. Its a very good dependable ride and is sharp to boot.
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Bob opined in

That's probably corona... not exactly the same as arcing but it's what eventually wears out the wires... you can see the corona points by looking closely in daytime for the powdery coating near metal parts or other wires.
- - - - -SEE BELOW- - - - - -

- - - -- - SEE ABOVE- - - - -- - - -
My point exactly... though they MAY be OEM half that age, unless you know the van's history for a fact.
I've never had problems with OE wires until they flat out perforate.
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