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Distributor Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your distributor replacement? Use Jerry’s GarageGuard to get fair cost estimates for your distributor replacement.
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John Davis
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does it cost to replace a distributor?

For a distributor replacement, you can expect an average total replacement cost of $190 - $500, with $50 to $300 for parts and $100 to $300 for labor. Prices will vary depending on your vehicle.
How long does it take to replace a distributor? It typically takes five to eight hours for a professional automotive mechanic to complete the job. The mechanic will perform a preliminary inspection to diagnose the exact issue, and then complete the replacement if necessary.
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do I need for my distributor replacement and how much do those parts cost?

Your vehicle may require specific parts for a distributor replacement, so you’ll need to check your owner’s manual or consult with a mechanic for part specs. In general, a distributor replacement involves the following parts: 
  1. Distributor assembly: The distributor assembly is the main component associated with a distributor replacement. This part is made up of the distributor housing, the cap, the shaft, the ignition module, and the rotor. The distributor assembly distributes the ignition coil’s high voltage to each spark plug in the correct order, which ensures optimal engine performance. A distributor assembly typically costs $50 to $400.
  2. Rotor: Inside the distributor assembly, the rotor rotates to connect with the distributor cap and sends the high voltage to the appropriate spark plug wire. Distributor rotors typically cost $10 to $30.
  3. Distributor cap: The distributor cap is located on top of the distributor assembly and specifically directs the ignition coil’s high voltage from the rotor to the right spark plug wire. Distributor caps range in price from $10 to $50.
  4. Distributor cap gasket: Some distributors have a gasket that seals the connection between the distributor cap and the distributor assembly. These cap gaskets are generally $5 to $20.
  5. Distributor-to-engine-block O-ring or gasket: Distributor assemblies sometimes require an O-ring or gasket to correctly seal the distributor to the engine block.
  6. Ignition module: For some vehicles, you may need to replace a separate ignition module along with the distributor assembly. The ignition module controls the spark plugs’ firing timing. Ignition modules usually cost $50 to $200 depending on the vehicle.
You can buy distributor parts for your car from auto parts stores like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and eBay. Three brands we recommend for distributor parts are ACDelco, Spectra Premium, and Cardone. However, the right parts and brands for your distributor replacement will vary based on your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
If your vehicle’s distributor needs to be replaced, your best option for parts would be OEM parts. 
While aftermarket parts may be less expensive, OEM parts are made to correctly fit their designated vehicle’s specifications. OEM parts are also typically made of higher-quality materials than aftermarket parts, and they may come with warranties.
You can purchase parts directly from your vehicle’s manufacturer for your distributor replacement, or you can buy parts from an automotive shop, like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts, an online retailer, or a repair shop. In most cases, third-party automotive dealers will order your OEM distributor parts directly from the dealership.
If you’re purchasing aftermarket parts for your distributor replacement, you can shop online from sources like Amazon and eBay. Auto body shops may also offer aftermarket parts.

Where can I get my distributor replaced?

If you don’t have a go-to mechanic, you may be wondering where to get your distributor replaced. Luckily,
Jerry's GarageGuard™
compares costs from over 2,500 vetted repair shops in the US to help you find the right shop and price. 
Using the real hourly labor rate from each shop, Jerry's GarageGuard™ compares fair price estimates* and accounts for inspection or diagnostic fees across shops. With Jerry's GarageGuard™, you can also browse through real reviews to help you choose the best car repair service.
Take a look at some of our vetted shops below and download the app to compare car repair quotes in your area.
118 Reviews
101 Auto Care
address
11945 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL
Distributor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$259
(Parts - $219, Labor - $40)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$120
198 Reviews
Harrell's Auto Service - Gillespie
address
1128 Gillespie St, Fayetteville, NC
Distributor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$247
(Parts - $219, Labor - $28)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$129.99
122 Reviews
Acme Auto Electric & Repair
address
9015 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA
Distributor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$247
(Parts - $219, Labor - $28)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$140
115 Reviews
On The Go Tires
address
(Mobile repair service), Fort Myers, FL
Distributor Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$239
(Parts - $219, Labor - $20)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$75
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How will a mechanic replace my distributor?

The replacement process for a distributor includes multiple steps. Your mechanic will go through the following process to complete your distributor replacement:
  1. Preparation: Your mechanic will turn off the vehicle, disconnect your car battery, and set the engine at dead center. They will also run a diagnostic test to ensure the distributor is not working, and they’ll mark the distributor’s position in relation to the engine so they can replicate the orientation with the replacement parts.
  2. Gaining access: Parts like the air filter housing, the engine cover, the spark plug wires, and the distributor cap will be removed so your mechanic can gain access to the distributor.
  3. Disconnecting electrical connections: The mechanic will disconnect the primary ignition system wiring, the ignition coil wire, and any additional parts that connect to the distributor.
  4. Removal: The distributor is typically secured by a bolt or clamp, which will be carefully removed to lift the distributor out of the engine bay. Sometimes, engines need to be rotated so the distributor can be removed, so this may be an added step in the removal process. The mechanic will then place a temporary cover over the hole in the head to prevent drips or drops into the engine.
  5. Transferring parts: Your mechanic may need to transfer your rotors, distribution cap, and sensors from your old distributor to your new one. If the distributor comes pre-assembled, they will skip this step. Additionally, if you require new parts, your mechanic will install those rather than transfer the old ones.
  6. Installation: The distributor, cap, and rotor will be installed at this point. Your mechanic will also reconnect any applicable wiring, including the primary ignition wire and the ignition coil wire.
  7. Reinstalling parts: Your engine cover, air filter housing, and spark plug wires will be placed back in their original spots. Your car battery will also be reconnected.
  8. Testing: Once the distributor is installed, the mechanic may run some tests to ensure it’s working correctly. They’ll check the ignition timing, the engine’s performance, and they’ll keep an eye out for leaks.

What happens if I don’t replace my distributor?

If you notice any issues with your distributor, get a vehicle inspection immediately. A failing distributor can lead to the following issues:
  • Engine misfires or backfires
  • Rough idling
  • Poor acceleration
  • Lack of starting
  • Engine stalling
  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • Engine damage (ex. Pistons, cylinder heads, and valves could fail)

What is a distributor?

The distributor, located inside the ignition system, distributes the high-voltage spark generated by the ignition coil and sends power to the right spark plug wires with the correct firing timing. The distribution process works in combination with the combustion process in the engine’s combustion cylinders, which ensures the engine runs efficiently.

When should I replace the distributor on my car?

If you notice any symptoms of a bad distributor, you should have it replaced immediately. The most common symptoms of a damaged or faulty distributor include:
  1. Engine misfires or rough idling: If your vehicle jerks when starting, idling, or accelerating, there may be an issue with your distributor and the combustion process.
  2. Vehicle won’t start: If your distributor is damaged, your spark plugs will not operate correctly and your car may not start.
  3. Shaking or rough vibrations: A faulty distributor will impact the spinning motion of your distributor rotor, which can cause your car to shake or vibrate.
  4. Check engine light: Your check engine light could indicate issues with your distributor. A mechanic can scan your vehicle for trouble codes to uncover why your check engine light is illuminated.
  5. Strange noise: A clogged distributor will emit a high-pitched squealing noise.
  6. High emissions: If your vehicle smells strongly of fuel or it fails an emissions test, it could be due to a faulty distributor.
  7. Low fuel efficiency: A bad distributor can decrease your mileage and increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
Keep in mind: Signs of a bad distributor can vary from vehicle to vehicle. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, check your owner’s manual for troubleshooting recommendations, or talk to a mechanic for professional guidance.

How often should a distributor be replaced?

Distributor assemblies do not have a general lifespan. In fact, distributors are typically made to last the lifetime of the vehicle. The only time a distributor should be replaced is if unusual symptoms are detected, and a replacement is deemed necessary after an inspection and diagnosis.

Can I replace my distributor myself?

Distributors are complex assemblies, consisting of numerous parts that require precise connections. While it’s possible to replace a distributor yourself, it’s best to seek the expertise of a professional mechanic.

FAQs

Some of the symptoms associated with a worn-out distributor include:
  • Poor fuel efficiency 
  • Car won’t start
  • Engine misfires or backfires
  • Rough idling
  • Shaking or vibrations
  • Strange high-pitched noises from the engine bay
  • Check engine light
On average, it costs $362 to replace a car distributor. This price is made up of $225 for parts and $137 for labor.
It typically takes 1.2 hours hours for a certified mechanic to replace a car distributor.
Your vehicle requires a well-functioning distributor in order to start. Your distributor is responsible for sending a high-voltage spark to the spark plugs in the correct order, and if this doesn’t happen due to a bad distributor, your vehicle will not start.
Keep in mind: Your vehicle may still start with a bad distributor, but even if your car is running, there could still be issues with the distributor.
It is recommended that the entire distributor assembly be replaced if you are experiencing issues with your vehicle related to the distributor process, but it isn’t always necessary to replace the cap and rotor. Depending on your vehicle and the exact issues with your distributor, your mechanic may reuse your old cap and rotor with the new distributor.
You should avoid driving if your distributor is malfunctioning. A bad distributor can cause engine damage if the issue is not addressed over time. Additionally, your engine may misfire or your car may not start if your distributor isn’t working properly.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.