How to change the distributor cap and rotor

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The distributor cap and rotor under the cap are very important aspects of the ignition system of your car. The spark plug wires are connected to the distributor cap and rotor rotates as the engine speed, a signal is sent to each spark plug wire passing through, sending spark to the engine cylinders. Eventually, distributor caps and rotors are worn during continuous use. The replacement of these parts is considered part of routine maintenance and is very easy in most vehicles task.

Things You’ll Need

  • Craps and ratchet screwdriver
  • Workshop Manual for your vehicle (optional)
  • Distributor cap and rotor parts

Instructions

  1. Open the hood. Locate the dealer. It can help to have a shop manual for your make and model of a car, but this is usually an easy part to find, as it has all the spark plug wires coming out of it and running to the spark plugs.
  2. Remove the distributor cap without pulling wires off the spark plugs. You can remove the spark plug wires, if you wish, but make sure and label them, and the distributor cap itself with a marker and a piece of tape so that the firing order of the engine remains unchanged. The cover can be fixed in a couple of ways. Many covers have hinged clips attached to the distributor itself holding the cover. These can be popped by hand or with a flat head screwdriver. The lid can also be screwed on, in which case locate the bolts (or screws) and remove with a socket or screwdriver.
  3. Remove the rotor located under the distributor cap. The rotor is a plastic component that slides on the distributor shaft. In many vehicles the rotor is removed simply by pulling up the shaft of the distributor. Most modern cars may have a small bolt or screw holding the rotor in place and must be removed before the rotor can be removed.
  4. Slide the new rotor on the distributor shaft in the reverse of removal by pressing down on the shaft. The rotor will have a notch in it to ensure correct alignment with the distributor shaft. Reinstall bolt or screw holding the rotor in place if applicable.
  5. Transfer the spark plug wires from the old distributor cap new cap one at a time to avoid mixing up the order of distribution. By removing the spark plug wires, pull up the base where they slide over the top and not the cable itself to avoid damage.
  6. Reinstall the distributor cap in the same orientation as the old cap is installed. The lid only light in a way that allows clips or screws are properly tightened. Start the engine to make sure it is working properly and firing on all cylinders.
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