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Despite my best effort to clean up a corroded spark plug and blowing the area with compressed air before removing would it be bad news if dirt or grime falls into the engine in the process of removing it?

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It can be, depending on what you get in there. If it is a metal shaving or something hard enough to survive the temperature you could damage a seal, or cause valve damage, but if it is just a piece of lint or dust I wouldn't worry.

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What do you think about trying to Shop vac those shavings out? – BigHomie Apr 28 '13 at 23:43
Had to Google Shop vac as I had only ever heard of it in the context of a Jonathan Coulton song. Yes, vacuuming can work well. – Rory Alsop Apr 29 '13 at 6:28
I've done the magnet on a stick and shop vac thing myself before after suspecting something may have fallen into the engine. – Brian Knoblauch Apr 29 '13 at 14:53

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