Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Distributor O Ring

Distributor o ring

Bad or Failing Distributor O Ring Inspection

by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office

Distributors are an ignition system component found on many older cars and trucks. While they have largely been replaced by the development of coil on plug ignition systems, they are still commonly found on many vehicles made in the last few decades. They use a rotating shaft that is driven by the engine to distribute the spark to the engine's individual cylinders. As they are a moving component that can be removed, they require a seal just the same as any other engine component.

Distributors commonly employ a specifically sized o-ring that fits on the distributors shaft to seal it with the engine referred to as the distributor o-ring. The distributor o-ring simply seals the distributor housing with the engine to prevent oil leaks at the base of the distributor. When the o-ring fails it can cause oil leaks from the base of distributor, which can lead to other problems. Usually a bad or failing distributor o-ring will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential problem that should be serviced.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get an $80 diagnostic
by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

Oil leaks around the engine

Oil leaks are by far the most common symptom of a failed distributor o-ring. If the distributor o-ring wears out or fails, it will no longer be able to properly seal the distributor with the engine. This will cause oil to leak from the base of the distributor and onto the engine. This problem will not only create a mess in the engine bay, but it will also slowly reduce the oil level of the engine, which if allowed to drop low enough, can put the engine at risk of receiving damage.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get your car fixed at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

Engine performance issues

Another much less common symptom of a bad distributor o-ring is engine performance issues. If a bad distributor o-ring allows oil to leak onto certain parts of the engine bay, the oil may find its way into wiring and hoses, which can cause them to deteriorate. Deteriorated wiring and hoses can cause all sorts of issues ranging from vacuum leaks, to wiring shorts, which can then lead to performance issues such as reduced power, acceleration, and fuel economy.

The distributor o-ring is a simple but important seal that is found on virtually all vehicles equipped with a distributor. When they fail, oil leaks can form and develop into other issues. If you find that your distributor o-ring is leaking, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. They will be able to look over the car and determine if you need a distributor o-ring replacement.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...


Related questions

Q: Opinion about Alpha Romeo cars

I used to work on a lot of them 20-30 years ago. They were pulled out of the United States because they were such money pits. They are beautiful cars and they run fast but their electronics are just horrendous....

Q: Distributor gear is missing teeth

The teeth themselves cannot be replaced on a distributor. If the teeth are missing the whole distributor will need to be replaced. It is also a good idea to have your spark plugs and wires replaced at the same time....

Q: Erratic engine idle - 2005 Dodge Dakota

As you have said, this may be related to a dirty or failing idle air control valve. The idle air control valve monitors the air intake as it is mixed with fuel prior to being injected into the engine at...