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Car encyclopedia

Ignition Cap and Rotor

The rotor takes the spark generated by the ignition coil and “distributes” it to each spark plug wire as it rotates on a shaft inside the ignition (or distributor) cap.

Symptoms of Wear or Failure

  • The Check Engine Light may illuminate or blink
  • The engine cranks, but will not start
  • The engine may run rough, hesitate, or stall
  • Rough idling
  • Poor acceleration

Related Repair Advice

  • Continuing to drive with a bad cap and rotor can cause engine misfiring, which can ultimately damage the catalytic converter
  • Be sure to inspect and/or replace the cap and rotor every 30,000 miles in order to avoid engine drivability problems
  • Ignition cap and rotor failure can be caused by failures elsewhere in the ignition system. The ignition wires and spark plugs should be thoroughly inspected. Old plugs or wires will burn out even a new cap and rotor.
  • Engine fluid leaks can cause damage to the ignition cap and rotor. These leaks should be repaired when the cap and rotor are replaced.
  • The ignition cap and rotor should always be replaced as a set
  • Care should be taken when servicing the ignition system as up to 45,000 volts may be present while the engine is running
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