Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DIY: Cleaning the distributor

I was so bummed a few days ago when Ace's engine (my Honda Accord) had a hard time starting up. It had a strong crank but didn't want to go all the way for some reason. I just got a new battery so that can't be it. And Ace just got the full treatment at my trusted auto-shop about a month ago. IE., changed timing belts, changed spark plugs, cleaned the servo and throttle assembly. The whole shebang. So what could this be?

I consulted a good friend of mine/ Accord guru and he recommended that I check my distributor and do a little D.I.Y. to rule out an electrical problem. So here's what teacher Ken instructed me what to do...



This is the reason why we thought the distributor was the culprit. I got this from underneath the distributor. It was leaking oil. Oil inside the distributor will make it harder for the electricity to travel. So I removed the cap and cleaned the inside.




Step 1. Remove the battery terminal. Very important. This is to avoid shorting something and you know, electrocution. No big deal. Removing the negative terminal will do it.

    

Step 2. With the negative battery terminal removed, turn on the headlights to drain the residual electricity. I left it on for 10 seconds. Then turned it off. This is when I realized I needed to get a manicure. But look at my fluffy slippers! Cute eh? 


Step 3. REMOVE THE DISTRIBUTOR CAP. It was as easy as 1, 2, 3. Literally. Because it only had 3 screws. I marked two that were exposed but the other one was underneath so just use your imagination. :)

 
 Step 4. Just jimmy the cap 'till it comes loose. In my case, I had to loosen the air filter to get it out of the way. So here is the cap and the inside of Ace's distributor. I saw the traces of oil but I was surprised how little I saw. I was expecting it to be soaked but it wasn't. I just grabbed a clean dry rag and wiped the heck out of everything...


Ew. Look at all that oil.


   Step 5. SANDING. Teacher Ken told me to sand the rotor and the "carbons". The rotor spins around hitting the carbons which creates electricity that will travel to the high-tension wires to the spark plugs. Or at least that's how I understand it. But be careful though... sand the contact points very gently and only a little bit because it wears out easily. So I used the smoothest sand paper I had. 

The rotor..


The contact points..

Step 6. DONE! After sanding, I wiped everything off one last time and assembled everything back and connected the batteries. I completely forgot to take an "after" shot but didn't forget to take a selfie of course. 


  
 Moment of truth... I put the key in the ignition and started the car. Tears almost fell when Ace was still hard starting. :( So I guess that oil in the distributor wasn't the culprit. Yes, all that for nothing. Well, not nothing. At least I ruled out one possibility right? Plus, I had the best time getting my hands dirty. I feel bad for my manicure though.

Thank you Ken for your patience in walking me through this D.I.Y.!

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