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Calvan 38900 VS Time Sert 5553 – What’s the difference?

Calvan 38900 VS Time Sert 5553 – What’s the difference?

DennisB © Summary: In this article we cover a common question that we receive on the phone and in email inquiries. What’s the difference between the Calvan 38900 and the Time Sert 5553? The Short Answer – Calvan and Time Sert are completely different brands. The Calvan spark plug thread repair kit has a more limited application coverage. The Calvan 38900 primarily works on Ford 4.6, 5.4 and 6.8 SOHC engines 96-2003, on some models up to 2017 excluding 3V and DOHC engines. Time Sert has a huge coverage that makes it more logical for a repair shop to own, since it can be used on a wider range of vehicles. Many shops purchase the 5553 and the 5588 add-on kit for the option to do 1st, 2nd or 3rd time repairs. Both are oversize kits for doing repairs when a Helicoil or other competitive brand has failed making the hole larger. Time Sert does have the largest OD in their stand alone 5600 kit. Since Time Sert and Calvan are different brands, each manufacturer does things differently. Calvan uses a guide piece to align the reamer, which is like a drill bit, into the spark plug well/hole. Time Sert uses stepped tooling (smaller on lead end) to guide their reamer in straight, so their kit can be used in many more applications. More information below.

Calvan 38900 and Time Sert 5553 Facts - M14x1.25

1. Both the Time Sert 5553 thread repair kit and the Calvan 38900 are a permanent type repair as opposed to parts store temporary patch kits. For many years we had no failures reported. In recent years, we know of a few failed Calvan repairs most likely due to not using thread locker or the purchase and use of inferior look-alikes on eBay or Amazon. Tip: Authentic Calvan inserts are now all black, so all those inserts seen on eBay and Amazon that are stainless steel in appearance are all cheap China copies. Inferior knock-offs can fail and cause damage to the reputation of the Calvan brand. We also quality check our kits before shipping, because even the original Calvan kits can have problems with inserts or tooling from time to time. We spare our customers issues like that because we know what to look for. In a case where a Calvan type insert fails for whatever reason, the Time Sert 5600 stand alone kit has been used successfully to repair those rather large holes. The Time Sert 5600 has the largest OD making it the "last chance" repair. After a repair with the 5600 the original size spark plug can be used. We’ve been selling these kits since 2005. If used properly either of these spark plug repair kits will last the lifetime of the engine, unlike many parts store brands.

2. Both are easy to use and can be used on the vehicle without removing the head. We have many professional shops and do it yourselfers that are successful using both the Calvan and the Time Sert brands.

3. Both brands are held in without the need to whack with a hammer! Some competitive brands like Lisle and Sav-A- Thread require a cone/wedge shaped tool to be struck with a hammer to wedge the top of the insert and stake it in place. I know we’re not the only ones that think this is a flawed approach! Holding an insert in from the top by hitting it with a hammer to expand it, seems crazy, especially when you consider the heat and compression that the insert must withstand. Talk about a ticking time bomb! Time Sert and Calvan have better methods. Calvan inserts use high temperature thread locker/JB Weld and have a head (or lip) on the top of the insert that tightens down like a bolt head. Time Sert’s inserts are held in with high temperature/oil resistant thread locker and the bottom of their inserts are expanded with a threaded installation driver, locking them in from the bottom of the insert.

4. Both Time Sert and Calvan have an engineered method of reaming/drilling and tapping straight. This is important, especially when working in a spark plug well that is not visible once the tooling is in place. As mentioned before, the Calvan kit uses a guide piece. Time Sert has a smaller end on the beginning of their tooling used as a pilot. This stepped tooling helps insure that every hole is perfectly straight, no matter what the application is. Calvan’s kit only works on certain vehicles, primarily 4.6, 5.4 and 6.8 Ford SOHC engines while the Time Sert kits can work on just about any application where an M14x1.25 taper or washer seat is required. *Note the 5553 comes with taper seat inserts and washer seat inserts are available separately.

5. More on the inserts. Both brands use steel alloy inserts that share enough of the same characteristics as aluminum so there’s no heat expansion and contracting issues. I know many forums are caught up in this as a potential problem of different heat expansion and cooling contraction rates, however in the many years we’ve been selling these kits that has never been an issue. The good news is that if this is something that is important to you, we do have aluminum inserts available to be used with the Time Sert 5553 kit, part number Time Sert 51457A. Calvan does not have an aluminum insert option. Both Calvan and Time Sert come with tapered seat steel alloy inserts in the kits. Calvan only offers partially threaded inserts – about five internal threads. Time Sert has fully threaded M14x1.25 51457 tapered seat inserts in the 5600 kit (which is their triple oversized kit). The Time Sert 5553 also has partially threaded inserts in their kit, but fully threaded taper seat inserts and washer seat inserts are available separately. Fully threaded inserts require the use of the 51484A installation ring on driver installation tool.

6. The Calvan 389-4000 leak tester is included in the 38900 kit. This tool consists of rubber hose, a brass air control valve and a rubber cone. It’s purpose is to help determine that the valves are closed before any reaming is done. This is important because the engine’s valves can be damaged by tooling if the valves are open and in the way. Also by isolating the cylinder by closing the valves, metal debris will not get blown into the rest of the engine when cleaning the cylinder out when blowing with compressed air. The good news is that we have the 389-4000 available separately so it can be purchased with a Time Sert kit as well. In most cases we ship it along with the kit. The 389-4000 eliminates the need to remove the valve cover to determine the valves are closed on the cylinder being worked on, as Time Sert suggests. Using the 389-4000 to determine the valves are closed whether using the 38900 or 5553 saves a lot of time and trouble.

*Time Sert 5553 and 5600 and Calvan 38900 come with free shipping which is usually 1-4 days within the USA. We also have the Calvan 38900-2 at a reduced price with two inserts instead of the normal 8. Remember we’re NOT on Amazon, we sell exclusively on and To receive free tips on the kits we sell be sure to write the word “tips” in the comment section at checkout or mention to us on the phone when ordering. We’ll email them when you purchase right away so you can review the tips before your kit arrives. If you don't request them to be emailed we'll just include the tips in the package. We appreciate any word of mouth advertising.

Question - My spark plugs are fully threaded. Will the Calvan inserts accept fully threaded inserts?

Answer - Yes. The top threads of the fully threaded spark plugs will not engage but will work fine in the Calvan insert. Time Sert does have some fully threaded inserts. The 51457 would need to be used along with a 51484 install ring, if using the 5553 kit. The 5600 already has the 51457 included. *Partially threaded spark plugs cannot be used in the fully threaded inserts. I know this can be confusing, call if further explanation is needed.

Have a question not covered here? Give Dennis a call at 800-734-8665 (TOOL) or provide your vehicle and unique situation details by using our Contact Form.

19th Jul 2021 DennisB

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