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Distributor Rotor And Cap Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your distributor rotor and cap replacement? Use Jerry’s GarageGuard to get fair cost estimates for your distributor rotor and cap 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 rotor and cap?

For a distributor rotor and cap replacement, you can expect an average total replacement cost of $138, with $46 for parts and $91 for mechanic labor costs. Prices will vary depending on your vehicle.
How long does it take to replace a distributor rotor and cap? It typically takes 0.8 hours hours for a professional automotive mechanic to replace a car’s distributor rotor and cap. The mechanic will inspect the vehicle to diagnose the exact issue, and then complete the replacement if necessary.
Here’s an overview of distributor cap and rotor replacement costs for different vehicles:
Estimate DateCustomerCarFair Cost EstimateParts CostLabor CostLabor Time
May 19, 2024
Saab 45172
$102
$51
$50
0.4 Hours
May 19, 2024
Audi A4
$79
$35
$44
0.4 Hours
May 16, 2024
Volvo S80
$77
$33
$44
0.4 Hours
May 15, 2024
Dodge Durango
$83
$33
$51
0.4 Hours
May 9, 2024
Genesis G80
$71
$51
$20
0.4 Hours
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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 rotor and cap replacement and how much do those parts cost?

Distributor rotor and cap replacements can vary in parts depending on your vehicle. In general, a distributor rotor and cap replacement involves the following parts: 
  1. Distributor rotor: The distributor rotor is an arm-like distributor component that sends a high-voltage current from the ignition coil to each individual spark plug wire. Distributor rotors generally cost $10 to $30.
  2. Distributor cap: The distributor cap holds the distributor rotor in place and includes connection terminals for the spark plug wires. The cap also protects the distributor from contamination. Distributor caps typically cost $20 to $50.
  3. Dielectric grease: Manufacturers usually recommend applying dielectric grease to the distributor cap and the spark plug terminals. This grease improves electric conductivity and protects the connections from moisture buildup. Dielectric grease costs $5 to $15.
In addition to the rotor and cap, your mechanic may also recommend replacing the following parts:
  1. Spark plug wires: Your spark plug ignition wires should be thoroughly inspected for cracks or wear during distributor maintenance. If your spark plugs require replacing, they can cost $30 to $100 depending on your vehicle.
  2. Distributor O-ring: Distributor caps are commonly sealed to the distributor housing using an O-ring. If your old gasket is damaged, it will need to be replaced for a cost ranging between $10 to $20.
You can buy distributor rotor and cap 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 rotor and cap parts are ACDelco, Standard Motor Products, and MSD Ignition. Keep in mind that the right parts and brands for your distributor rotor and cap replacement will vary depending on your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
If you need to replace your vehicle’s distributor rotor and cap, you can opt for OEM or aftermarket parts since there isn’t a huge difference between the two. In fact, aftermarket parts are commonly used for distributor rotor and cap replacements because they are generally cheaper and usually don’t cause any problems. 
However, if you are concerned about quality and want your distributor rotor and cap to match your manufacturer’s recommendations, you should opt for OEM parts. OEM parts are designed to perfectly fit your vehicle, and they sometimes come with warranties.
Keep in mind: Both OEM and aftermarket distributor rotors and caps are typically sold together in kits.
You can purchase OEM rotor and cap parts directly from your vehicle’s dealership, or you can buy aftermarket parts from auto parts shops like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts, or a repair shop. In most cases, third-party automotive dealers can also order OEM distributor parts directly from the manufacturer.
You can also purchase aftermarket replacement parts for your distributor cap and rotor online from websites like Amazon and eBay.

Where can I get my distributor rotor and cap replaced?

Finding the right mechanic and price for your distributor rotor and cap replacement can seem like hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. With
Jerry's GarageGuard™
, you can compare costs from over 2,500 vetted repair shops in the US to help you find the right shop and replacement cost. 
Using the real hourly labor rate from each shop, Jerry's GarageGuard™ compares fair price estimates* and accounts for inspection or diagnostic fees. With Jerry's GarageGuard™, you can also look through real reviews to help you pick 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.
100 Reviews
Gator Ford
address
11780 Tampa Gateway Boulevard , Seffner, FL
Distributor Rotor And Cap Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$307
(Parts - $80, Labor - $227)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$250
176 Reviews
Kenny and Billy's Auto Center
address
473 Elizabeth, NJ
Distributor Rotor And Cap Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$301
(Parts - $80, Labor - $221)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$130
111 Reviews
Creonte Tire & Auto Inc
address
127 Linden St, Waltham, MA
Distributor Rotor And Cap Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$242
(Parts - $80, Labor - $162)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$0
170 Reviews
Foster's Automotive Service Inc
address
3909 Polk St, Houston, TX
Distributor Rotor And Cap Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$275
(Parts - $80, Labor - $195)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$108.45
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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 rotor and cap?

A distributor rotor and cap replacement is a multi-step process. After an inspection, your mechanic will go through the following steps to replace your distributor rotor and cap:
  1. Preparation: With the engine off, the mechanic will disconnect the positive and negative cables on your car battery. They will also remove your engine’s cover and your air filter housing to access your distributor. Depending on your vehicle, other parts may be removed as well.
  2. Marking components: Before any part of the distributor is removed, your mechanic will mark the exact location and position of each component. This will help them replace everything correctly after the new rotor and cap are installed.
  3. Removing spark plug wires: Your mechanic will remove your spark plug wires from the distributor cap.
  4. Removing the distributor cap: Your distributor cap is held in place by bolts or clips. Your mechanic will remove these, then take off your old distributor cap. Once the distributor cap is removed, your mechanic will have access to the rotor.
  5. Removing the old rotor: Your mechanic will mark the location of your rotor, then gently pull it from its position.
  6. Installing the new rotor: The new rotor will be placed in the exact position as the old rotor, fitted correctly onto the distributor shaft.
  7. Installing the new cap: The mechanic will securely seal the replacement distributor cap onto the distributor housing. 
  8. Reinstalling the spark plug wires: The spark plug wires will be reconnected to the new cap in the correct firing order. If your spark plug wires need to be replaced, that will be done at this point in the process. 
  9. Reinstalling additional components: Any parts that were removed from the engine bay to provide access to the rotor and cap will be replaced at this time. Your car battery will also be reconnected.
  10. Testing: Once the new rotor and cap are in place, your mechanic will start the engine to ensure everything is working optimally. Sometimes, the mechanic may need to adjust the ignition timing before a final inspection.
Keep in mind: The specific steps involved in a distributor rotor and cap replacement may vary depending on the car. Some vehicles have specific distributor designs that require special attention during the replacement process.

What happens if I don’t replace my distributor rotor and cap?

If you notice any issues with your ignition, take your car to a mechanic for an inspection. Failing distributor rotors and caps can lead to the following issues:
  • Engine misfires or backfires
  • Difficulty starting 
  • Lower fuel efficiency
  • Rough idling
  • Poor acceleration
  • Engine stalling
  • Engine damage
  • Ignition system damage

What is a distributor rotor and cap?

The distributor is located inside the ignition system. It distributes the high-voltage spark generated by the ignition coil to the right spark plug wires with the correct firing timing. 
The distributor rotor spins to distribute electricity to each engine’s cylinders through spark plug wires that are attached to the distributor cap. 
In short, the distributor rotor and cap are responsible for the conduction of electricity that helps power the vehicle's ignition system and engine.

When should I replace the distributor rotor and cap 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 or you hear loud engine noises when the vehicle is running, there may be an issue with your distributor rotor and cap.
  2. Vehicle won’t start: If your distributor rotor or cap are damaged, your spark plugs will not conduct electricity to the cylinders correctly and your car may not start.
  3. Shaking or rough idling: Damaged or worn distributor rotors and caps can cause your car to shake or vibrate when starting, idling, or accelerating.
  4. Check engine light: Your check engine light will turn on if there is something wrong with your distributor. A mechanic can scan your vehicle for trouble codes to find the culprit.
  5. Low fuel efficiency: If your distributor is not operating optimally due to a damaged rotor or cap, it can decrease your mileage and increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
Keep in mind: The symptoms listed above may be indicative of other issues with your vehicle. Take your vehicle to a certified automotive mechanic for an inspection and diagnosis if you notice any signs of a bad distributor rotor or cap.

How often should a distributor rotor and cap be replaced?

The replacement interval for your distributor rotor and cap will depend on your vehicle’s make, model, and year. That said, it’s generally recommended that distributor rotors and caps are changed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles or every two to three years. 
Keep in mind: In newer vehicles, your ignition system may be a distributorless ignition system or coil-on-plug system, which do not include distributor rotors and caps. In this case, you’ll need to replace individual ignition coils, which have different recommended replacement timelines.

Can I replace my distributor rotor and cap myself?

Distributors are complex assemblies, and changing your rotor and cap will involve the movement, disconnection, and reassembly of numerous parts. You could replace your distributor rotor and cap yourself, but it’s best to leave this intricate job to a certified mechanic rather than attempting a DIY fix.

FAQs

If you notice issues with your ignition system, your mechanic will inspect your vehicle for distributor issues. Depending on the problem, you may need to replace your entire distributor assembly, including the rotor, cap, spark plugs, and spark plug wires. 
In general, if your distributor cap & rotor are damaged but every other component of your distributor is running correctly, your mechanic will only replace your rotor and cap.
The symptoms of a bad distributor rotor and cap include: 
  • Engine misfiring or backfiring
  • Rough idling
  • Vehicle won’t start
  • Shaking or vibrations from the engine bay
  • Check engine light 
  • Lower fuel efficiency
Each vehicle’s distributor rotor and cap maintenance intervals will be different, but it is generally recommended that you replace these parts every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, or every two to three years.
Distributor caps usually last 20,000 to 40,000 miles, although the exact replacement interval for this part will vary depending on the age, make, and model of your vehicle.
Your ignition distributor rotor and cap consistently handle high electrical voltage, which can cause wear and tear over time. Your mechanic may inspect these parts during a routine tune-up to ensure they are not worn or damaged.

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.