A Comprehensive Part by Part Review
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This is a part by part review for the Duralast Gold GM04 distributor.
Over all I would rate this distributor 'good' for the price, it will get you running, however because of the lack of thermal compound I found on my Ignition control module (ICM) unit, you may not be running for long after installing it. The ICM on the unit I purchased most likely would have overheated well before it 's time.
Cap: The cap was surprisingly heavy, looked like they made it with more plastic and it gave it a "heavy duty" feel. The hold down screws are zinc plated with a hex head. The hex head is essential for long term service. The screws were hard to back out of the base plate because the holes for the screws were a little to small in my opinion.
Rotor: looked low quality, the plastic was thin and the conductive metal did not have a raised circle shape like the OEM. The tip had a rough texture to it, this may be to conduct the spark better.
Magnet and Inner shaft: I had looked at 2 different duralast gold GM04 distributors from 2 different autozones and I found that one of the distributors had a very weak magnet compared to the other. The easy way to check is to spin the gear slowly by hand, and if you feel the gear almost 'click' in to place as you spin, its is a strong magnet. I chose the one with the strongest magnet and it has preformed well. The spiral grove cut in to the shaft below the magnet was slightly shallower and elongated than the OEM part. I believe it functions the same. This shaft is slightly thicker than the OEM counterpart so it will NOT fit in to a OEM distributor body. Lastly when spinning the shaft I noticed it was dead straight. Used shafts tend to have a slight bend at the rotor in them but since this one is slightly thicker than the OEM I assume it will resist bending more than the OEM.
Pickup coil: I tested the pick up coil with a multi-meter and and it put out very good voltage at 1 Rev per second. However the connector fittings that plug in to the back of the ICM (ignition control module) were poor quality and very hard to remove and attach. This could be very frustrating if you need to replace the ICM at any point.
Ignition control module (ICM): The ICM was held down by 2 flathead/phillips head zinc plated screws. Not a very good option for long term servicing. Those tend to strip pretty easily so I may replace mine with stainless steal hex head screws.
The big con about the ICM is when I removed the ICM I found the thermal compound paste underneath it was only covering about 60% of the ICM. Also the thermal compound was dried and hard. In my experience thermal compound with stay 'wet' for years after application, so for a brand new distributor I was very concerned.
ICMs are the number one part of these distributors that will fail, and they will fail because of over heating; proper application of thermal compound to ICMs is essential for long term use.
Aluminum base: This is the platform the cap sits on, it was generously thicker than the OEM counterpart, which give it the 'heavy duty' type feel however I am concerned about its ability to dissipate heat from the ICM with the added thickness.
Outer shaft: The outer shaft looked almost exactly like the OEM except for the addition of a O-ring directly under the distributor gasket. Which I assume is in place to prevent oil from leaking past the distributor gasket and it also may keep the distributor cushioned from side to side movement. The included distributor gasket looked and felt poor quality, it felt like hard plastic and seemed like it would leak if it was affixed on to any thing less than a perfect surface. I would recommend replacing that gasket with a quality one before installing it to avoid leaking oil.
The gear: The gear looks like equal quality to the OEM part, the roller pin is slightly larger than OEM and the channel to fit the inner shaft is also larger to accommodate the thicker inner shaft. The down side to this is if down the road you need to replace the worn out gear, I doubt it will be easy to find a replacement since replacements are made to fit OEM which would have a channel to narrow for this distributor.
This distributor was purchased to salvage the inner shaft out of it to rebuild a OEM distributor. However the shaft was to thick to fit in to the OEM distributor. Because of that I swapped out the cap, rotor, pickup coil, ICM and the distributor base gasket with high quality parts I was using for the rebuild. I am sure that what I did voided the warranty, So be warned that dissembling this distributor may void it's warranty.
Pros: Strong magnet, Dead straight Inner shaft,
Cons: Lack of thermal compound on ICM, Rotor looks cheep, bad connectors on pickup coil, Cheep distributor mounting gasket,