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hi, my friend has a 97 Civic DX 4dr sedan 1.6l SOHC motor that will not start. A local shop wants to replace the distributor for around $800. I took a quick look at it and without running any tests noticed that one of the distributor cap hold down screws is stripped. It's mid summer here in FL so any car work is painful at best. I know there are a number of tests to narrow down the issue ie: coil, igniter ... but instead have opted to just swap out the distributer. It seems like a fairly easy ordeal. are there any caveats that I should know about? I'm thinking that when I put the new unit in, there's only 2 ways it can go in, correctly or 180° off. Am I correct? anything else I should know about before I roll up the sleeves? BTW i'm going with a Rich Porter unit that a local shop is selling for $267. I could have got it cheaper on-line but wanted to go local in case they give me the wrong part.
thanks for your help.
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I'm thinking that when I put the new unit in, there's only 2 ways it can go in, correctly or 180° off. Am I correct?
Actually, I believe it can only go in one way, so you don't need to worry even about being 180° off. Be sure you have a way of knowing which spark plug wires connect to which connector on the distributor. I found this youtube video which actually shows a guy replacing a distributor in a 97 civic. I think you may find it very helpful. See 97 Civic distributor replacement - YouTube
Edit: Keep in mind you might change your ignition timing a bit if the new distributor is not installed in exactly the same position as the old one.
The key is off-set, so you should only be able to install the distributor one way. It is possible to get it installed 180 degrees off. I did that once.
I would remove the old distributor cap with the wires attached. Remove the new distributor cap. Transfer one spark plug wire at a time to the new cap, so you don't mix up the firing order.
Take note of the direction the rotor is pointing on the old distributor. Just have the rotor pointing in the same direction on the new distributor, then you will be sure you got it installed the right way.
The difference in the key is very minor and easy to misinterpret. Virtually all who have pulled a distributor will manage to install backwards. Check autozone online manuals for some help.
Have you verified no-spark is the problem? If not a simple test is to simply turn keyswitch to On and listen for fuel pump in fuel tank. It should come on and buzz for 2-3 secs and go off. If you hear the fuel pump w/ no-start, then ignition is likely fault as fuel delivery is very likely.
See you down the ROW
1994 Accord EX
2003 Acura MDX
2006 Acura TSX
The last time I replaced a distributor was on an 88 Honda Accord. If the position of the distributor shaft was off 180 degrees, it would not seat right. So, I don't see how you can install if 180 degrees off if you're carefully analyzing how you install it.
If your 97 Civic is different in this respect, then other comments in this discussion might be quite right.
I have done my fair share of car work, and I managed to install it backwards. Granted, it was getting dark out, and as soon as I could not get my car started, I knew what I had done.
It is just simpler to check the direction where the rotor points and move the plug wires to the new cap like I described above. Using this route, it is almost impossible to screw up the direction of the rotor and get the spark plug wires installed in the wrong order.
new distributor has been installed using suggestions above and review the video. many thanks to all. the biggest pain in the butt was removing the wiring harness. after half a dozen cranks it started up. I took it for a spin around the block and the only thing I noticed was that at idle, the motor speed fluctuates as though a switch is kicking off and on. I did a quick check for any vacuum lines or wires that might be askew but didn't see anything. Could it be the timing slightly off since I did the distributor swap?
by connectors, do you mean the wiring harness to the distributor? if so, yes it's secure. I would say the RPM's during these surges are 300-500. it's as though the engine is toggling between a high idle & a low idle. it's very consistent as though it were a switch kicking on and off.
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