A car distributor is an engine component and part of the ignition system. Its role is to receive voltage from the ignition coil and then send it to the spark plugs. Distributors can get damaged, which may create issues with the engine misfiring or failing to start. When this happens, it will likely need to be replaced, which will require some budgetary considerations.
As a general rule, replacing a distributor will cost between $89 and $123. This price includes the cost for parts, usually between $39 and $59, and the cost for labor hours, usually between $50 and $64.
If the vehicle has a complex set-up, labor costs will increase, especially if other elements that work with the distributor need replacing.
If you’ve been experiencing problems with your distributor, let’s take a look at the costs associated with replacing this element.
- The Cost of Replacing a Distributor
- Replacing Distributor Components
- Factors That Impact the Cost to Replace a Distributor
- Related Repairs Costs
- Distributor Assembly Cost
- How Much is it to Replace a Distributor O-Ring?
- Spark Plugs
- What Are the Signs of a Bad Distributor?
- How Long Does It Take To Replace a Distributor?
- How Are Distributors Replaced?
- Can You Do a Distributor Replacement Yourself?
- How Long Does a Distributor Last?
- Can You Still Drive if the Distributor Is Faulty?
- Bottom Line on Replacing Distributors
The Cost of Replacing a Distributor
Replacing a distributor is generally not very expensive, but you should know what to expect when the time comes. You should also bear in mind that these costs can be doubled by the extent of the damage and by the car model you drive, so you may see big variations in prices.
Below, we’ll look at these variations in the most popular car models.
|Model:||Average total cost (low):||Average total cost (high):|
Other factors that will influence the price will be the age of your vehicle and whether the entire distributor assembly has to be replaced or just the cap.
The cap is the easiest and cheapest fix on the distributor, but that part is also the most essential to its running so it should be kept in as good a shape as possible.
Cost to Replace Distributor Toyota Corolla
Replacing a distributor on a Toyota Corolla usually averages between $59 and $132, but can increase up to between $354 and $552 if the full distributor system will have to be replaced.
In general, distributor parts for a Toyota Corolla will be around $274 if everything needs to be replaced, and an extra $95 will go toward labor costs.
Cost to Replace Distributor Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 is usually cheap to buy new parts for, which will significantly lower the costs of a distributor replacement. You will generally pay between $74 and $127 in total for this kind of job, especially if you only need the cap and the rotor replaced.
Parts will usually cost around $32 while labor should remain around $95 unless further work is required.
Cost to Replace Distributor Nissan Sentra
In general, a cap and rotor replacement for a Nissan Sentra distributor will cost between $60 and $92.
This can increase to a total of $429 if an extensive replacement is required, at which point you would have to pay around $334 for the necessary parts and $95 for labor costs.
Cost to Replace Distributor Honda Accord
Replacing a distributor on a Honda Accord will usually be done for a price estimate between $92 and $160, including parts and labor.
For a more complex job, you may have to pay $269 for parts and $95 for labor costs, which would bring up the total to $364. Generally, you won’t have to do a huge replacement job, so the cheaper options will be more common.
Cost to Replace Distributor BMW 325i
Parts for BMW models are on the pricier side, so for any type of distributor replacement, you’ll have to pay at least an average between $202 and $340.
You’ll usually pay around $138 for parts and $95 for labor costs, which can increase if you need to replace further elements around the ignition.
Remember to check with your mechanic to get a full idea of everything that needs to be done, especially if you have a higher-end car. It will be more profitable to deal with the whole problem at once.
Cost to Replace Distributor Chevrolet Blazer
If you have a Chevrolet Blazer car model, you’ll usually be able to replace distributor parts for an average of between $99 and $131. Parts for it tend to be priced around $42 to $59, while labor tends to average between $57 and $72.
Cost to Replace Distributor Lexus GS300
An easy distributor replacement on the Lexus GS300 will cost you between $81 and $95, but a full replacement of the system can take the price up to around $800.
This is where you’ll most notice the difference between a simple fix, like a cap or a rotor, and a complex one that requires several parts and hours of labor.
Sample Price for Distributor Replacement
|Sample Vehicle||Sample Parts Cost||Sample Labor Cost||Sample Total Cost|
Replacing Distributor Components
On average, replacing a distributor cap and rotors costs anywhere from $18 to $200, depending on the vehicle and parts. Premium parts like original manufacturer parts will be more expensive than aftermarket options.
For the distributor, you may opt to purchase a kit that also includes spark plugs and wires. Since the components are so closely related, many people choose to replace these at the same time.
Sample Cost for Replacement Distributor Cap and Rotor Kit
|Sample Vehicle||Sample Parts Cost|
|1992-2001 Acura Integra||$18 – $60|
|1994-1996 Buick Roadmaster||$85 – $200|
|1999-2000 Cadillac Escalade||$22 – $35|
|1996-2000 Chevrolet Tahoe||$21 – $135|
|1999-2002 Dodge Ram 1500||$165 – $175|
|1996 Ford F150||ff$28 – $55|
|2008 Sierra 1500||$20 – $30|
|1990-2002 Honda Accord||$18 – $60|
|1978-1999 Jeep Cherokee||$18 – $90|
|1995-1997 Mazda MX6||$20 – $25|
|1997-2000 Nissan Pathfinder||$20 – $25|
|1973-1980 Pontiac Grand Am||$26 – $85|
|1988-1993 Toyota Corolla||$60 – $75|
Factors That Impact the Cost to Replace a Distributor
Along with the obvious variations in price for the parts to replace a distributor, there are other factors that can make your cost higher or lower.
For example, the quality of the parts (OEM versus aftermarket), whether you take the vehicle to a private garage or dealership, whether you’re able to do any of the work yourself, and even your geographic location can all play a role.
There can be big differences in the cost just based on the specific vehicle make and model. These cost variations are usually based on labor charges and how difficult the job is for that specific type of car or truck.
For example, replacing the distributor in a 1995 Volkswagen Golf is estimated to cost around $300. The same repair in a 1986 Toyota Camry is estimated to cost over $950.
Related Repairs Costs
Distributor Assembly Cost
It typically costs between $450 and $700 to replace a distributor assembly. This would include the distributor cap and rotor, and all of the other parts and components that are part of the system.
Replacing the distributor assembly is a job that’s best left to a professional, so we wouldn’t recommend a DIY approach. This job requires knowledge of engine timing and may need more advanced work to get the system working correctly again.
However, if you decide to purchase the parts yourself, you should note that you usually have to purchase the distributor housing separately from the cap, rotors, and igniter.
Parts for a distributor assembly usually cost between $350 and $580.
How Much is it to Replace a Distributor O-Ring?
The distributor o-ring is something that may need to be replaced if you have any work done (even a diagnostic) on your vehicle’s ignition system. This seal keeps oil from leaking through the distributor shaft, so you’ll need to have it repaired as soon as possible if it becomes worn or damaged.
Replacing a distributor o-ring usually costs between $50 and $150, depending on your specific vehicle.
If you see oil leaking from the base of the distributor, notice that your engine isn’t as powerful as usual, or running roughly, it may indicate a faulty o-ring.
Other vehicle issues, such as faulty spark plugs or wires, may produce some of the same problems that a bad distributor would cause. If you take your vehicle to a garage, the mechanic will check for these problems before replacing your distributor.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find that replacing your vehicle’s spark plugs will take care of the problem. This is a much simpler repair and much less expensive.
Replacing your spark plugs usually costs between $20 and $250. You can have them replaced professionally for $65-250, or you can do it yourself for much cheaper if you have the know-how.
What Are the Signs of a Bad Distributor?
If you’re worried that your distributor is failing, you should take your car to a mechanic to get the confirmation you need. Many other engine issues could seem like they’re coming from the distributor, so it’s always good to get a professional opinion to make sure.
If your distributor is failing, there are some common signs and symptoms you can look for to help diagnose the problem. But, of course, many of these issues could be due to other causes, so it’s always a good idea to have the vehicle checked out by a professional mechanic.
- Vibration or Shaking: If the distributor cap is faulty, you may notice that your vehicle has a noticeable vibration or a more pronounced shaking whenever it’s running. This may occur more noticeably when the vehicle is idling, like when you’re stopped at a stoplight.
- Engine Misfires and Runs Roughly: If your engine is frequently misfiring, you’ll want to have it looked at as soon as possible. Many problems could cause misfiring, but a bad distributor is one of them. A rough-running engine can also indicate distributor problems.
- Car Won’t Start: If the problem with your distributor gets too bad, eventually, the vehicle won’t start. Because the distributor is directly involved with your vehicle’s ignition system, if it’s faulty, it may not send the voltage to your spark plugs that the system needs to start up the car.
- Unusual Sounds: Sounds coming from your engine that sound like clicking, tapping, or sputtering could indicate a bad distributor. Or, if you hear a high-pitched squealing sound when you start the car, it could mean that there is the buildup under the distributor cap. If that’s not the problem, it could be an indication that the distributor is failing.
- Check Engine Light: One of the simplest ways to know there is a problem with your vehicle is the check engine light. If yours illuminates, take it to a garage to have a mechanic check the diagnostic codes. The distributor can be the culprit if your check engine light illuminates.
How Long Does It Take To Replace a Distributor?
The process depends on how many components need to be replaced within the distributor. Just the cap and the rotor will take usually from under an hour to a maximum of two hours, but a full replacement could take over two hours.
If the car has a complex layout that requires more time spent on removing parts and installing new ones, you could even be looking at an eight-hour process to replace the distributor.
How Are Distributors Replaced?
Mechanics will first run diagnostics to establish whether the distributor is indeed faulty. If the need for a replacement is confirmed, they will check which parts need to be worked on and then proceed with the job.
Distributors are kept in place by being bolted to either the engine block or the cylinder. Once the battery cable is disconnected from the area, mechanics will proceed to carefully remove the distributor.
This will first entail removing all relevant ignition wiring and then the removal of the distributor.
Once the distributor is removed, the exposed area it will leave around the engine should be covered while the job progresses to make sure nothing gets in the engine. Following the position of the first engine cylinder, the new distributor will be installed, along with its rotor and cap.
Once the distributor is in place, all the wiring around it will be reconnected, including the battery cable.
The engine will then be started and tested according to manufacturer instructions before it is taken for a test drive to make sure everything works correctly.
Can You Do a Distributor Replacement Yourself?
While you can do a distributor replacement yourself if you have the expertise and the necessary tools, it is always recommended to seek professional help for it.
This minimizes the time spent on the job, and it ensures that everything is done correctly in the process.
How Long Does a Distributor Last?
If you get your distributor checked regularly by professionals, you’ll be able to extend its life, but don’t expect it to last forever. The components in distributors, such as seals, rotors, and caps, can get damaged from excessive wear.
When you start noticing issues with its performance and when it gives you the signs we’ve mentioned above, it will be the right time to take it in for a replacement.
The distributor will become increasingly brittle the longer and the more you use it, especially if exposed to oil leaks or any other engine issues that can damage it.
Can You Still Drive if the Distributor Is Faulty?
If you can get the engine to start, you can continue to drive with a faulty distributor until you can get to a mechanic. It cannot cause a safety issue, but it may affect how well the engine will perform.
Bottom Line on Replacing Distributors
Replacing distributors isn’t usually the most expensive job, but it can become costly on specific car models and depending on the extent of the damage.
A mechanic will be able to give you a quote for everything that needs to be done to it that is specifically tailored to your vehicle.