95 Integra GSR; 160k miles
This past Friday on the way to work the car stalled and wouldn't
re-start. SInce it was rainy and I had a wet-weather start problem some
years ago I thought it might have been the distributor cap, so I
replaced that; when the car still wouldn't start I had it towed to a
nearby fixit place.
Their diagnosis was: the distributor had failed. They estimated $500
for a new distributor, and I choked and agreed to it.
Then I looked up distributor replacements for this car on the web and
saw them ranging from $180 to $320. I called the fixit place back and
challenged them on it; the desk guy couldn't explain the price
difference. We agreed to wave off until he could call an Acura place
for a parts quote, thinking it would be different than their
after-market supplier's price.
My question: is the distributor a modular part that bolts into place,
or is there more to it than this? If it's a fairly simple operation I'm
tempted to tell these guys to go soak their heads and replace it
I'd appreciate feedback. Thanks!
soak. totally modular. takes about 5 minutes to replace and maybe
another 5 to re-time the motor. [you'll need a timing light.] or you
can repair the original. if the cap and rotor are good, it's the
igniter or coil. price those separately and see how you feel then.
The distributor's parts are typically the Achille's heel of
Hondas of this vintage. The cause of an engine not starting
or stalling is often either the distributor coil,
distributor igniter, or the rotor falling off, due to a
rather notorious failed set screw. Now at some point, and
your car might be there, the housing as a whole develops
deficiencies. E.g. at its wire harness; at its the seals
between it and the engine head; the female side of the
aforementioned screw in the distributor shaft; etc.
This shop should state exactly what part of the distributor
they believe to have failed. They should indicate whether
the job includes a new igniter and new coil. It need not
necessarily include these.
It is a fairly simple replacement. It is the parts that
$500 total is not bad if it includes housing, igniter, and
Use ONLY OEM for this job. Aftermarket distributor parts do
not hold up well with Hondas.
Consider new OEM ignition wires and a new distributor rotor
From my experience with my 91 Civic and reading here for
years, Hondas go through at least one distributor housing in
their lives. My 91 Civic is on its second housing.
Thanks, Jim Beam and Elle, for your thoughts. I'm going down to have a
chat with them about this now. Honestly I don't trust these guys
technically (based on some dubious past experience) and I'm tempted to
tow it away from their shop before I let them get to deeply into it.
Be aware that they may simply be trying to avoid a comeback.
This is reasonable, IMO.
I griped several years ago about a shop that insisted the
problem with my 91 Honda's distributor was the jury-rigged
fix I'd done on the rotor set screw problem. They slapped a
new housing (salvaging the old coil and igniter) on. A week
later the stalling problem I'd been having recurred. Turned
out a new coil was in fact needed. At the time I figured
they'd taken me for around $500. In hindsight, though, the
old housing was pretty beat up, so I am more charitable
about their decision. Though it still annoys me that they
had the gall of accusing my jury-rigged fix as being
unacceptable. Wrong-o. Their first diagnosis was
Yeah, been there meself. 92 Honda, won't idle nicely, lopes or stays
high. I figure, idle speed gadjet like with every other car that has
this problem, but decide to take it to local mechanic who's pretty
good. End up with new distributor (not OEM) for $500. Now I have loping
idle and no VTEC and check engine light. Take it to another mechanic;
"new" distributor has position sensor broken off inside. Can't be
something that happened after distributor was assembled. Original
mechanic can't/won't get refund for me on said distributor; end up
cannbilizing old distributor. Now car only has lopey idle. Turns out to
be the idle speed gadget. Wow, what a surprise.
well.. that's possible but in the end op might just have to pay up..
about 20 years ago took my 79 305 camaro into a chevy dealership in
dallas for noisey lifters..The car idled real rough after the
replacement of the lifters out of the shop and on the service order was
listed "needs valve job"..Talked with svc. manager with little resolution..
took three days later to different chevy dealership and found no
compression in #1 cylinder. replaced ring set on #1 cylinder and all o.k.
spoke again with orginial dealer; they said they didn't do anything..
sent all paperwork into cc company to dispute. they did take off charge..
6 months later sheriff shows up at my door with a summons to appear in
small claims court. orginial dealership is suing me for amount of repair.
go to court. dealer svc mgr sits in the witness stand and simply
reiterates what I brought car in for and what they did..judge ask me a
few questions, asked me if i new how lifters were replaced..
i say yea, from the top..questions the repair of the rings and he says
that to replace rings you go from the bottom..
Anyway, bottom line was when you bring the car in for service I signed
service/repair order that states I agree to pay..Judge orderes me to pay..
Judge says he sees my point. but I need to sue orginial dealership to
get my money back..which means I need to prove they messed up..hard to do..
Maybe... situation was, I paid mechanic, mechanic got distributor and
included it in bill; he didn't want to go back to distributor
distributor (haha, get it?) with the ziplock bag of parts I handed him;
I want to keep him on good terms he's still the best mechanic around in
general, and in the past has been very good about living up to the
warranty on parts he provided, like a water pump that started to leak
after 9 months.
My guess is that he himself was on vacation at the time, and one of his
henchmen did the work. For one thing, I doubt he himself would have NOT
identified the idle speed adjust gadget as the problem, since it was
and since it's the obvious first place to look and since he's a good
mechanic. I noted at the time that I didn't see him around the shop
during the dropoff or pickup, which is unusual, but I never suspected
what it would lead to...
Well, his position is that since we just left it to him to fix, and he
decided on the source of the pump, he was therefore responsible. That's
the usual kind of good service I want to keep him on good terms for,
despite the one malfunction regarding the distributor.
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