Bad Distributor Cap & Rotor Symptoms and Replacement Cost

When the engine starts running, it produces a lot of electricity which enters the ignition coils. After that, this electricity is sent into an electrode of the distributor rotor. This causes the rotor to rotate and transfer electrical power to separate electrodes which are positioned inside the distributor cap. From there, the distributor cap transfers electricity to the spark plugs through a series of spark plug wires. This entire process happens each time the cylinders of the engine demand a spark to ignite the air and fuel mixture inside of them for combustion.

As you can see, the distributor cap and rotor are very important parts of the internal combustion process. You cannot afford to have a vehicle with a bad distributor cap and rotor. If you do, then it can cause a lot of problems to your engine and the overall functionality of your vehicle.

5 Bad Symptoms

You will certainly recognize the symptoms of a bad distributor cap and rotor as they arise. Do not ignore these symptoms for too long or else you may find yourself stranded somewhere because your car won’t move. The only solution is to replace the distributor cap and rotor as soon as possible.

Below are the top 5 symptoms of a bad distributor cap and rotor.

1) Cannot Start Vehicle – You need a functional distributor cap and rotor to start the car. Without that electrical spark in the combustion chamber, the engine won’t start running. You may only have difficulty starting your vehicle at first, but then it will get to a point where you cannot start the vehicle at all.

2) Engine Noises – If you start hearing squealing or yelling sounds after you start your car, then you may have a dirty or faulty distributor cap. If you hear a sputtering, tapping, or clicking noise, then it is either your cap or rotor that has gone bad. Don’t tolerate these noises for any longer than necessary.

3) Check Engine Light – Since a bad distributor cap and rotor affect the internal combustion process of the engine, you can definitely expect the Check Engine warning light to come on. The engine control unit can detect whenever there is improper combustion in the cylinders. As soon as this is dedicated, the Check Engine light illuminates on the dashboard. The warning light likely won’t be enough to indicate that you have a bad distributor cap and rotor. So, be wary of the other symptoms too.

4) Shaking – Intense shaking may occur in your vehicle when you start it up or change gears. This shaking is a sign that you have engine problems for some reason. You’ll feel the vibrations through the seats because they’re so intense. This is normally what happens when your distributor cap has gone bad.

5) Engine Stalling – A faulty distributor cap can cause your engine to stall. Voltage must be produced by the spinning distributor rotor for the engine to keep running. If the rotor does not rotate properly, the engine loses power and stalls out as you’re trying to drive. The longer you let this go on, the worse it will get.

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Replacement Cost

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When you need to replace your distributor cap and rotor because they have gone bad, you can expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $120 for a new one. This total includes both the parts and labor costs together. The parts cost is between $30 and $60 while the labor costs are between $50 and $60. As you can see, this is not a very expensive replacement job at all. But be prepared to pay some extra fees and taxes on top of the total estimated price.

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