Ignition Distributor-Install Tips & General Info

The Ignition distributor is basically the heart of the ignition/spark system. The PCM,ECM, or vehicle computer is the brain and controls the distributor. The distributor is being removed form most late model vehicles and a direct ignition system is being installed. The direct ignition system basically supplies spark direclty to the spark plug rather then going through a distributor to distribute the spark. The distributor has many parts including moving mechanical parts and several electrical components that are subject to extreme engine conditions such as heat and extreme voltage that the ignition coil produces. Most late model vehicles that still use a distributor, can have 20-50,000 volts running through it. This voltage has to move from the coil, into and through the distributor and out through the spark plug wire and through the spark until it ignites inside the cylinder. Many times worn spark plugs and wires can back this voltage up into the distribtuor and/or ignition coil and cause it to short out and fail. Performing a tune up often(every few years) can prevent this from happening and can save or preserve the life of a distributor. Many other factors can cause a distributor to fail. These other factors include:

  • Worn or excessive play in the timing belt or chain
  • Leaking o-ring at the base of the distributor
  • High resistance in the spark plug wires or spark plugs
  • Worn Distribtuor cap, rotor, or other worn ignition components.

If you have a failed distributor or ignition coil, it is strongly recommended to replace the other realted tune up comonents. Putting a brand new distributor or coil on a vehicle with old or worn spark plug wires and old/worn spark plugs is simply silly and will most likely cause you to replace the same parts over again. Look closely at the ignition system as a whole and most likely a good tune up is due when a distributor or coil failure happens.

Here is some tips when installing a new distributor:

• Mark the position of the rotor prior to removal of the distributor. This

will aid in installing the replacement unit into the proper position.

• Install the replacement distributor so the rotor points in the same


• Always compare the original distributor to the replacement unit. Pay

special attention to the area below the flange. Check all dimensions!

• Lubricate the o-ring before inserting the distributor into the engine to

prevent it from tearing.

• Use caution when plugging in the electrical connectors to prevent

bent pins.

• Do not force the distributor into the engine or use a bolt to pull it into

the block! Damage to the distributor and/or engine may occur.

• Inspect all components (spark plugs, wires, etc) in the ignition

system for wear and/or corrosion. Replace as necessary



About Josh

I help manage the site here at Auto Repair Instructions. If you are having problems, then I am the one to contact.

Posted on November 13, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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