GM Prizm/Nova 1985-1993 Repair Guide

Distributor

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION




WARNING
Once the distributor is removed, the engine should not be turned or moved out of position. Should this occur, please refer to the end of this section.

1985-88 VIN Code 4 Engine

See Figure 1

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Disconnect the distributor wire at its connector.
  4.  
  5. Label and disconnect the vacuum hoses running to the vacuum advance unit on the side of the distributor.
  6.  
  7. Remove the distributor cap (leave the spark plug wires connected) and swing it out of the way.
  8.  
  9. Carefully note the position of the distributor rotor relative to the distributor housing; a mark made on the casing will be helpful during reassembly. Use a marker or tape so the mark doesn't rub off during the handling of the case.
  10.  



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Fig. Fig. 1: Distributor removal - 1985-88 VIN Code 4 engine

  1. Remove the distributor hold-down bolts.
  2.  
  3. Carefully pull the distributor out until it stops turning counterclockwise.
  4.  

To install:
  1. If the engine has not been moved out of position, align the rotor with the mark you made earlier and reinstall the distributor. Position it carefully and make sure the drive gear engages properly within the engine. Install the holding bolts.
  2.  
  3. Install the distributor cap and re-attach the vacuum lines to their correct ports.
  4.  
  5. Install the wiring to the distributor, and connect the battery cable.
  6.  
  7. Check and adjust the timing as necessary.
  8.  

1988 VIN Code 5 Engine

See Figure 2

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Label and disconnect the coil and spark plug wiring at the distributor cap.
  4.  
  5. Disconnect the distributor wire at its connector.
  6.  
  7. Remove the distributor hold-down bolts. Before moving or disturbing the distributor, mark the position of the distributor relative to the engine and the position of the rotor relative to the case. Use a marker or tape so the mark doesn't rub off during the handling of the case.
  8.  
  9. Remove the distributor from the engine.
  10.  
  11. Remove the O-ring from the distributor shaft.
  12.  

To install:
  1. If the engine has not been moved out of position, align the rotor with the mark you made earlier and reinstall the distributor. Position it carefully and make sure the drive gear engages properly within the engine. Install the holding bolts.
  2.  
  3. Reconnect the wiring and the spark plug wires. Connect the negative battery cable.
  4.  
  5. Check and adjust the timing as necessary.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 2: Distributor removal - 1988 VIN Code 5 engine

1989-93 All Engines

See Figures 3, 4 and 5

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Disconnect all electrical connections at the distributor, including the plug wires.
  4.  
  5. Remove the distributor cap.
  6.  
  7. Mark the position of the distributor case relative to the engine. Use a marker or tape so the mark doesn't rub off during the handling of the case. Also mark the position of the distributor rotor relative to the case.
  8.  
  9. Remove the distributor mounting bolts.
  10.  
  11. Remove the distributor from the engine and remove the O-ring from the distributor shaft.
  12.  
  13. If the engine has not been moved out of position, align the rotor with the mark you made earlier and reinstall the distributor. Position it carefully and make sure the drive gear engages properly within the engine. Install the holding bolts.
  14.  
  15. Reconnect the wiring and the spark plug wires. Connect the negative battery cable.
  16.  
  17. Check and adjust the timing as necessary.
  18.  



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Fig. Fig. 3: Distributor removal - 1989-90 VIN Code 6 and 1990-92 VIN Code 5 engines



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Fig. Fig. 4: Distributor removal - 1991-92 VIN Code 6 engine



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Fig. Fig. 5: Distributor removal - 1993 all engines

Installation - Timing Lost

If the engine has been cranked, dismantled or the timing otherwise lost while the distributor was out, proceed as follows:

1985-88 VIN CODE 4 ENGINE

See Figure 6

  1. Remove the No. 1 spark plug.
  2.  
  3. Place your finger over the spark plug hole and rotate the crankshaft clockwise to TDC (Top Dead Center). Watch the timing marks on the pulley; as they approach the zero point, you should feel pressure (compression) on your finger. If not, turn the crankshaft another full rotation and line up the marks.
  4.  
  5. Install the spark plug.
  6.  
  7. Observing the alignment marks made during removal, reinstall the distributor.
  8.  

Align the protrusion on the housing with the pin on the spiral gear drill mark side.



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Fig. Fig. 6: Setting the No. 1 cylinder - 1985-88 VIN Code 4 engine

1988 VIN CODE 5 ENGINE 1991-92 VIN CODE 6 ENGINE

See Figure 7

  1. Remove the No. 1 spark plug.
  2.  
  3. Place thumb over the spark plug hole. Crank the engine slowly until compression is felt. It will be easier to have someone rotate the engine by hand, using a wrench on the crankshaft pulley.
  4.  

The spark plugs on the fuel injected engines are in deep wells; use a screwdriver handle to plug the hole and feel the compression.

  1. Align the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley with the 0 degrees mark on the timing scale attached to the front of the engine. This places the engine at TDC of the compression stroke.
  2.  

Verify that the timing marks are aligned properly by, removing the oil filler cap and check to see the cavity in the camshaft. If necessary turn the crankshaft pulley 1 complete revolution.

  1. Turn the distributor shaft until the rotor points to the No. 1 spark plug tower on the cap.
  2.  
  3. Install the distributor into the engine. Be sure to align the distributor-to-engine block mark made earlier.
  4.  

Align the drilled marks on the driven gear with the cavity of the housing. Install the distributor into the engine and align the center of the flange with the center of the bolt hole in the cylinder head.

  1. Install spark plug and wire.
  2.  
  3. Connect battery negative cable. Check and/or adjust ignition timing.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 7: Distributor installation - 1988 VIN Code 5 and 1991-92 VIN Code 6 engines

1989-90 VIN CODE 6 ENGINE 1990-92 VIN CODE 5 ENGINE

See Figures 8 and 9

  1. Crank the engine and align the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley with the 0 degrees mark on the timing scale attached to the front of the engine. This places the engine at TDC of the compression stroke.
  2.  

This can be accomplished by cranking the engine until the exhaust camshaft is in the position shown in the illustration.

  1. Turn the rotor until the distributor alignment marks match.
  2.  
  3. Install the distributor into the engine.
  4.  
  5. Connect battery negative cable. Check and/or adjust ignition timing.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 8: Positioning the exhaust camshaft - 1989-90 VIN Code 6 and 1991-92 VIN Code 5 engines



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Fig. Fig. 9: Positioning the distributor alignment marks - 1989-90 VIN Code 6 and 1991-92 VIN Code 5 engines

1993 ALL ENGINES

See Figure 10

  1. Crank the engine and align the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley with the 0 degrees mark on the timing scale attached to the front of the engine. This places the engine at TDC of the compression stroke. This can be accomplished as follows:
  2.  
  3. Remove the circuit opening relay.
    1. Remove the radio.
    2.  
    3. Disconnect the circuit opening relay electrical connector from the center console.
    4.  
    5. Remove the circuit opening relay from the center console.
    6.  

  4.  
  5. Remove the No. 1 spark plug.
  6.  
  7. Install a compression gauge into the spark plug cavity.
  8.  
  9. Crank the engine and observe the compression gauge. The TDC of the cylinder's compression stroke occurs when the compression reading is highest.
  10.  
  11. Align the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley with the 0 degrees mark on the timing scale attached to the front of the engine. This places the engine at TDC of the compression stroke.
  12.  
  13. Position the rotor to the No. 1 cylinder position.
  14.  
  15. Install the distributor.
  16.  
  17. Remove the compression gauge and install the spark plug.
  18.  
  19. Install the opening circuit relay by reversing the removal procedure.
  20.  
  21. Set the ignition timing.
  22.  



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Fig. Fig. 10: Removing the circuit opening relay - 1993 models

 
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