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Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Old 06-12-2019, 05:24 PM
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Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Technician is suggesting replacing the distributor, cap and rotor. Distributor likely has 175k on it if it's the original. 1991 Trans Am, 305.

Car starts and idles fine, but the more gas you give it the slower it tends to want to go. It sometimes surges when you have steady pressure on the gas, like it wants to go sometimes then decides it doesn't want to go. Fuel/exhaust so far seems fine.

Any thoughts?

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Old 06-12-2019, 05:33 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Even if its not the problem, if it has 175k on it, it should have been replaced 125k ago.
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:36 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Yeah, i'm going with the assumption that it's never been replaced. I've only owned the car for two years and put very few miles on it, so not sure if it's been replaced before. I figured it's worth replacing then see if it had a positive impact in driveability.
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:53 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Its cheap and easy. There are a bunch of things that can cause what you are describing. IAC, ICM, Injectors, fuel pressure regulator to name a few. Are you doing the troubleshooting or do you have it at a shop?
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:07 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

I've done some troubleshooting but now it's at a shop. They've quoted me 3.5 hours to replace the distributor.

I tested the fuel pressure and at least in my testing I didn't notice a noticeable drop in pressure at WOT, but it was hard for me to see the gauge taped to the windshield. I'm going to ask him to check fuel pressure under load if the distributor doesn't fix it. I've replaced the spark plugs and wires, TPS, knock sensor and fuel filter. I pulled the vacuum from the fuel pressure regulator and didn't see any fuel coming out of it.

I also tested the injectors but not sure I had the car warmed up enough. That might be the second thing I ask them to test next.

Hopefully the distributor takes care of it!
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:45 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

3.5 hours is a lot of unnecessary time. Just last week I replaced mine and it took about one hour, and I am not a pro.

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Old 06-12-2019, 07:23 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

If a shop wants to charge 3.5 hours to change a distributor you need to go elsewhere. A beginner with a Haynes manual should be able to do it in under an hour. Do you have a timing light and simple tools? If you need a new distributor then I'm selling a rebuilt distributor with an AC Delco ignition control module, new brass terminal cap and rotor and an extra cap for $100 plus shipping. I have it in a classified as.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:24 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Interesting, let's see if they say anything about it taking a lot less time when I pick it up. I'll be sure to ask.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:28 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

What's a good estimate for how long it should take a shop to change the distributor?
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:38 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Who are you having do the work? 3.5 hours of labor at an average labor rate is ALOT of money for the cheap parts store distributor they're likely going to replace it with. You could buy an aftermarket turnkey distributor for that amount, if not less. As people above have said, a distributor on an LB9/L98 engine can be done within an hour including the time it takes to time it.

Shops don't charge you the actual time it takes to do a job. Instead of log the actual time it took them, they go by a database such as alldata or mitchell which are often grossly exaggerated. The "technician" will usually shoehorn the job together in about 1/4 - 1/2 of the time you are actually paying for, then either sit around and eat lunch or move onto the next overinflated job. Depending on who you ask, the answer will vary. I've been told before by a past boss that "Maybe a similar job somewhere had a rusted bolt and actually took that long". The problem with that is, when those problems really do arise, they usually add extra labor to your ticket. The industry as a whole is one HUGE racket.

Labor rates are inflated for various reasons. Having to assume warranty coverage for the half-*** job that the firestone tech did, failures from cheap china parts they buy (And then mark the price up ontop of your inflated labor) and even just flat out extorting the customer. They even go so far as to co-ordinate pickup times so the customer doesn't suspect anything. IE they do a 3 hour job in 1 hour but then wait an additional 3 hours to call the customer and try to come across as the hero by saying the job took an hour longer than expected but that it's on the house.

Seeing the nonsense that goes on behind the scenes at chain repair shops and dealerships as well as a good portion of private garages makes me glad I do my own work.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:41 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

The car is at Penske Chevrolet in Indianapolis. I took it to an independent shop first and the guy had it for 2.5 weeks and made 0 progress on it so I took it back. The independent shop had no idea what was wrong with my car. Their main problem is they were looking at my car "when they had time" since it's not my daily driver. I'm not sure if they would have ever found the issue given more time.

I wish I could find a good independent mechanic in the Indianapolis area, but no luck so far.

Last edited by whostorm05; 06-12-2019 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:54 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Originally Posted by whostorm05 View Post
The car is at Penske Chevrolet in Indianapolis. I took it to an independent shop first and the guy had it for 2.5 weeks and made 0 progress on it so I took it back. The independent shop had no idea what was wrong with my car. Their main problem is they were looking at my car "when they had time" since it's not my daily driver. I'm not sure if they would have ever found the issue given more time.

I wish I could find a good independent mechanic in the Indianapolis area, but no luck so far.
I will also go onto say that from the symptoms you've described, I do not believe the primary culprit is your distributor. I DEFINITELY believe that it is contributing to the problem and NEEDS to be addressed, however I wouldn't be surprised if the car came back and still had issues. Make sure you hand them their *** for mis-diagnosing the vehicle if that turns out to be the case. Too much guess-work goes on in this field.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:54 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

My old distributor looked like that, so many phantom issues.

If you have TDC lined up, marked, pull it and then put your new distributor into the same position with the oil pump key at the bottom, you can have these replaced in minutes, not hours.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:04 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Pull it out, clean it up, if all looks well, replace cap, rotor, pickup coil and ICM with delco parts. Not a huge fan of parts store junk. I'd also look into replacing the coil. at least test it out.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:11 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Originally Posted by FireDemonSiC View Post
I will also go onto say that from the symptoms you've described, I do not believe the primary culprit is your distributor. I DEFINITELY believe that it is contributing to the problem and NEEDS to be addressed, however I wouldn't be surprised if the car came back and still had issues. Make sure you hand them their *** for mis-diagnosing the vehicle if that turns out to be the case. Too much guess-work goes on in this field.
They've already made it pretty clear that this might just be contributing to the issue, but may not be the fix all. So I have to give them their credit for that.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:59 PM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Are they also doing plugs and wires with stock wire routing? If so then I can understand the 3.5 hour quote.

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Old 06-13-2019, 06:43 AM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Originally Posted by GeneralDisorder View Post
Are they also doing plugs and wires with stock wire routing? If so then I can understand the 3.5 hour quote.

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I've already replaced plugs and wires. I'm calling this morning to get more info on the 3.5 hour quote.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:19 AM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Before I could even get a chance to call them the service advisor texted me with a revised time of 2.4 hours to replace/install including diagnostic and driving time. They already have the new distributor so at this point I'm going to let them run with it as I'm curious as hell as to how the car is going to respond.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:14 AM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

With diagnostics that's not far off. But it's not likely to entirely resolve the issues. Also concerned about the quality of parts they might use. I would get a distributor and coil from Davis Unified Ignition. Might as well upgrade if you are replacing it.

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Old 06-13-2019, 11:01 AM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

The long term goal is to do an LS swap, hopefully before 2021.

If this helps but doesn't totally resolve it, I think next steps is to double check my work around fuel pressure under load. What else would you guys suggest checking?
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:21 AM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Mine (original dist.) looked like that, too. Engine had roughly 120k when I rebuilt it. Engine was running fine--other that leaky valve stem seals--when I pulled it.
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:55 AM
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Re: Distributor pics - this doesn't look great

Well - with your description of the problem, I would say you want to check fuel pressure, and probably at the very least Ohm the injectors if not replace them.

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