Symptoms of a Bad Distributor Cap, Location, and Replacement Costs

If you have an older vehicle, you will likely operate it at a dealership. If the distributor is faulty, the car simply doesn't perform as it should, because this vital component carries the current from the engine and connects the connector to the ignition coil. We will look at some of the symptoms of a bad distributor cap and help you determine if this is the problem you are facing.

Our article also tells you where to find the distributor cap and how it works. In the end, you will know how much it costs to replace a distributor cap if you want to keep your vehicle running longer.

Symptoms of a bad distributor cap

  1. Problems when starting
  2. shake
  3. Position
  4. Screeching noises
  5. Check engine light

1. Problems when starting

If the distributor cap gets worse, you will have trouble starting the engine. You will notice the problem most noticeably when temperatures drop in winter.

Cold weather chills the lid and can also freeze it. When you try to start the engine, the sudden heat can cause cracks. To avoid this, it is best to park your vehicle in a garage during the colder months.

2. shake

If you experience a lot of vibrations or shocks in your car, it may be because the distributor cap is failing. The problem may be more serious when starting the car or changing gear.

The shaking will feel uncontrollable and can be felt throughout the vehicle. This is an important sign that the distributor cap is faulty.

3. Position

If you can start the car but are having trouble keeping it running, it may be due to the distributor cap. Inside the distributor is a rotor that spins to provide voltage, so it has to work properly to keep the vehicle running.

If there is an obstruction or a crack, it can prevent the rotor from turning. In addition to stalling, this can lead to a misfire.

Screeching Noises

Another sign that the distributor cap is faulty is the grinding of the bearings inside. This problem creates a unique telltale sound that can be easily distinguished from others.

If you check the distributor cap, you can see a build-up of grease, dirt, and other debris. This blockage of air circulation is what causes the screaming sound you hear.

5. Check the engine light

Even on an older car, it has a Check Engine Light to alert you to problems. However, when this light comes on, it can mean a number of problems.

The best way to know if the lights are on due to the distributor cap is to evaluate the other symptoms. If the Check Engine Light comes on with any of the other symptoms we addressed, you can bet on a faulty cap.

The function of a dealer cap

A lot of voltage is generated when the engine starts. This voltage flows to the ignition coil and the distributor rotor electrode. This part replaces the modern ignition system in vehicles.

The rotor in the distributor begins to rotate, which transfers the energy to the electrodes in the distributor cap. From here, the cap uses the wires to transmit power to the various spark plugs.

This described process occurs every time the cylinders need a spark to ignite the air-fuel mixture for combustion. Without this part working properly, ignition will be difficult, if not impossible.

Location of distributor cap

You can find the distributor cap under the hood. When you open the hood, you'll want to look for a black, gray, or red plastic component. It is usually located near the center of the engine.

Usually the distributor cap looks like a crown with black or blue wires attached to the top with spokes. These black or blue wires are the spark plug wires that are needed to bring power to the spark plugs.

If you can't find the distributor cap, you can follow the spark plug wires to see where they connect. You can also refer to your user manual to find it. If the cap looks cracked or worn when you find it, you will need to replace it.

Cost of replacing the distributor cap

The cost to replace the distributor cap is a total of $ 70-130 for parts and labor. In general, expect to pay between $ 25 and $ 60 for parts, depending on the vehicle you drive. The other $ 45 to $ 70 is the cost of labor if you need a professional replacement.

With a few simple tools and general knowledge, you can replace the distributor cap yourself and save on labor costs. However, you need to be careful to label all the spark plug wires that you remove or you will end up with a bigger mess on your hands than when you started.