You don't want your car's distributor to go busted especially if you're in the middle of the road. Because without this vital ignition part, your vehicle's engine becomes useless, and in fact, you won't even be able to start it properly! Without a doubt, no amount of pushing or jump-starting can get your car's engine to run without this ignition device.
So why is the car distributor so important? Basically, this component is responsible for gunning high-voltage charges to the proper engine cylinders at the correct moment so that the car's engine is able to start. So without this component, there's simply no way that the engine would start even if you're on full tank.
Distributors work by taking in high-voltage current from either the ignition coil (if your car has a carburetor) or the electronic igniter (if your engine uses an electronic fuel injection system) before feeding it to the spark plugs. The distributor's driveshaft connected to the engine's camshaft ends spins a small rotor along four metal contact points under the distributor's cap. These contact points are connected to your vehicle's spark plug wires. As the rotor spins, its plate transfers electric current to each spark plug wire, thus firing your vehicle's spark plugs. These processes ensure that the engine of your car will start once you turn the ignition key to the on position.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of reasons for car distributor failure. The number one reason is wear and tear, and this happens when the metal contact points and the rotor plate inside the cap wear out. As a result, the gaps between them widen and make it much harder for electricity to transfer smoothly from one part to another. Over time, the engine's capacity to produce power lessens. The distributor's driveshaft gear can deteriorate eventually as well and once this happens, it causes the rotor to spin out of timing. Engine oil is another reason. As the seals protecting the driveshaft wear out, oil enters and contaminates other vital parts like contact points, the rotor plate, and the condenser. This slowly causes these parts to corrode.
Without a doubt, a car without a working distributor can't run properly. So once symptoms of damage start to show, check this part for oil and carbon deposits. Check the driveshaft gear, contact points and rotor plate for excessive wear. Disassembling this component should be easy as most caps are held only by a couple or more screws or clips. Make sure your car's battery is disconnected before checking to prevent accidents. . And if there's too much damage, you're better off replacing the distributor rather than risk getting stuck in the middle of the road. For top-caliber replacement parts, you can check out Parts Train's catalog for stocks.