A running engine sends an extremely large amount of electricity through the ignition coils to the rotor, which turns inside the distributor. The rotor then routes the energy in order through the spark plug wires ultimately to the engine’s cylinders in order.
The distributor rotor and cap keep the distributor’s contents separate from the engine and keep the distributor’s working parts clean and tidy – while supporting the incredibly high volts of energy and delivering them to the appropriate spark plugs. The spark plugs utilize the spark from the distributor to ignite the fuel mixture, which is what keeps the engine running.
High voltage runs through this entire distributor system during the operation of your vehicle, but this voltage won’t get distributed to the correct spark plugs to ensure that your engine will run. Usually a faulty distributor rotor and cap will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver that service may be required.
1. Engine misfires
Engine misfires can occur for a number of reasons – checking your distributor rotor and cap to see if they need to be replaced may be one way to ensure that everything is in solid working order so you can check this difficulty off the list.
2. Car doesn’t start
When the distributor cap isn’t on tightly or it is malfunctioning, the engine is unable to send the spark through the entire circuit required to move the cylinders – which ultimately make the car run.
3. Check Engine Light comes on
Your Check Engine light can mean any number of different things, but when you see this light on along with some of the other symptoms listed here, it’s time to call a professional to see what the code is from your car’s computer.
4. Excessive or unusual engine noises
Your vehicle may make some very strange noises if the distributor rotor and cap are malfunctioning – specifically because the cylinders will be trying to fire but failing.
Any time you are having routine servicing on your vehicle, ask that the ignition system be checked. If you have any trouble starting your car get immediate assistance from a qualified professional.