GM Cutlass RWD 1970-1987 Repair Guide

Distributor

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



Engine Not Disturbed

Do not rotate the engine while the distributor is removed in order to make installing it simpler and easier. If the engine is inadvertently disturbed while the distributor is out, please refer to the appropriate procedure.

  1. Disconnect the ground cable from the battery. On 1984 and later models, disconnect the ignition switch battery feed wire and, if the vehicle is equipped with a tach, the tachometer lead from the cap.
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  3. Tag and disconnect the feed and module terminal connectors from the distributor cap. DO NOT use a screwdriver to release the terminal connectors.
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  5. Disconnect the hose at the vacuum advance unit (models equipped).
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  7. Depress and release the 4 distributor cap-to-housing retainers and lift off the cap assembly.
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  9. Using a magic marker, matchmark the rotor-to-housing and housing-to-engine block positions so they can be matched during installation.
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The distributor must be installed with the rotor and housing in the correct position.

  1. Loosen and remove the distributor clamp and bolt. Carefully lift the distributor just until the point where the rotor stops turning. Be careful not to disturb the position of the rotor. Now, again mark the relative positions of the rotor-to-distributor housing. The rotor must be aligned with this position before you engage distributor and camshaft drive gears during installation.
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To install:
  1. With a new O-ring on the distributor housing and the rotor aligned with the second mark, install the distributor, taking care to align the mark on the housing with the one on the engine. It may be necessary to lift the distributor and turn the rotor slightly to align the gears and the oil pump driveshaft.
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WARNING
Make sure the distributor seats into the block fully. The base of the housing will stick up about1/4in. until the distributor gear engages the oil pump drive. Damage to the oil pump, distributor and engine may result if the distributor is forced into position by tightening the distributor clamp bolt. If the distributor will not fully seat, grab the housing and shaft, twist and wiggle until the distributor drops into the oil pump drive. If this does not work, install a socket wrench onto the large bolt on the front of the crankshaft pulley. Slowly turn the crankshaft in either direction until the distributor drops into the block fully.

  1. With the respective marks aligned, install the clamp and the bolt finger-tight.
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  3. Install and secure the distributor cap.
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  5. Connect the feed and module connectors to the distributor cap. Reconnect the ignition switch battery feed wire and tach connector where necessary.
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  7. Connect a timing light to the engine and plug the vacuum hose, if so equipped.
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  9. Connect the ground cable to the battery.
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  11. Start the engine and set the timing to specifications.
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  13. Turn the engine off and torque the distributor clamp bolt to 15 ft. lbs. (20 Nm). Disconnect the timing light and unplug and secure the hose to the vacuum advance.
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Engine Disturbed

CAUTION
The engine MUST be completely cooled down before performing this procedure. A hot engine may cause burns and personal injury.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
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  3. Remove the No. 1 cylinder spark plug. Turn the engine using a socket wrench on the large bolt on the front of the crankshaft pulley. Place a finger near the No. 1 spark plug hole and turn the crankshaft until the piston reaches Top Dead Center (TDC). As the engine approaches TDC, you will feel air being expelled by the No. 1 cylinder. If the crankshaft timing indicator says TDC has been reached but the other condition is not being met, turn the engine another full turn (360 degree). Once the engine's position is correct, replace the spark plug. Line the mark on the crankshaft damper with the 0 degree mark on the timing indicator.
  4.  

When the timing marks are lined up at 0 degree, the No. 1 piston can be either on the exhaust stroke or the compression stroke. But only on the compression stroke will air be forced from the hole (on the exhaust stroke, the exhaust valve is open allowing air to escape through the manifold. Therefore, when air is felt being forced out of the spark plug hole, you can be sure the cylinder is on its compression stroke. The timing will be incorrect if the distributor is installed while aligning the rotor to fire that spark plug on the exhaust stroke.

  1. Using the firing order illustration if necessary, find No. 1 cylinder on the distributor cap. Turn the rotor until the rotor contact is approximately aligned with the wire going to No. 1 cylinder, as if the distributor had just fired No. 1 cylinder. Install the distributor as described above, turning the rotor slightly to mesh the gear teeth and oil pump driveshaft so that the rotor comes out in the proper position. Make sure the distributor is fully seated in the block before tightening the hold-down clamp.
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