ABOUT USED DISTRIBUTORS FOR CARS
WHAT IS THE DISTRIBUTOR?
The distributor is an enclosed rotating shaft that sparks the ignition in a vehicle with a mechanically timed engine.
WHAT DOES THE PART DO?
The distributor routes the high voltage current from the ignition coil to the spark plugs in the correct firing order for the proper amount of time.
WHAT DOES THE PART LOOK LIKE?
A distributor is long and narrow with a shaft, a drive gear and ignition points. The part consists of a rotating arm inside the distributor cap.
WHERE IS THERE PART TYPICALLY LOCATED ON THE VEHICLE?
The distributor is located under the hood of the vehicle on top of the engine.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A USED DISTRIBUTOR?
You want to make sure that the distributor is free of any cracks or any signs of a searing or burns. You also want to make sure that the distributor has all of its critical components such as the cap, the rotating arm and the drive shaft.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT A DISTRIBUTOR BEFORE I PURCHASE ONE?
Distributors can have different trigger styles. Therefore, you need to know which trigger style is best for your engine. Here are the four most common types of trigger styles for distributors:
- Points trigger style
- Magnetic trigger style
- Optical trigger style
- Computer controlled compatible distributors
WHAT OTHER PARTS ARE CONNECTED OR THAT I MAY NEED FOR THIS PART?
The distributor is attached directly to the camshaft on most overhead cam engines.
WHAT SIGNS OF WEAR SHOULD I LOOK AT WHEN BUYING A USED DISTRIBUTOR?
A worn distributor will tend to have some corrosion on the exterior of the part. Also, the distributor may have some burns or searing if the part has been used well past its intended term of service.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE LIFESPAN OF A DISTRIBUTOR?
A car distributor should last about 90,000 miles. However, there are parts of the distributor that should be replaced earlier. For instance, the distributor cap should be replaced every 30,000 miles.
WHEN SHOULD THE PART BE REPLACED?
A distributor should be replaced when a vehicle begins to exhibit the following behaviors:
- The car won’t start
- The car vibrates and shakes
- The car backfires
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DISTRIBUTORS
DO MODERN CARS HAVE DISTRIBUTORS?
Today’s modern cars will have individual coil packs instead of distributors.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN DISTRIBUTORS GO BAD?
A fault distributor will not be able to create a spark. This can lead to the car not starting or it can lead to the vehicle shaking or backfiring.
CAN YOU DRIVE A CAR WITH A BAD DISTRIBUTOR?
You will not be able to drive a car with a fault distributor. However, a distributor with a bad distributor cap can cause some issues while the vehicle is in operation.
HOW MUCH DOES A CAR DISTRIBUTOR COST?
The cost of a car distributor can range in price from about $200 to over $500.
HOW DO YOU REPLACE A DISTRIBUTOR?
You can replace a distributor by first removing the old distributor, ensuring that the rotor - of the new distributor - is in the proper position and replacing the distributor wires on the distributor cap. Afterward, start the vehicle and take it on a test drive to ensure that the vehicle is able to properly accelerate. If there is still an issue with the vehicle, the take it to a mechanic.
HOW MANY POSTS DOES A DISTRIBUTOR CAP HAVE?
A distributor cap will have one post for every cylinder on the vehicle. For instance, if your vehicle has a V-6 engine, then the distributor cap will have six posts, one for each cylinder.