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Replacing Your Ignition Wires Distributor Cap and Rotor
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Your Ignition Wires Distributor Cap and Rotor

Steve Vernon

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$30 to $300

Talent:

**

Tools:

Short flathead screwdriver, 3mm Allen

Applicable Models:

Porsche 944 Turbo (1986-89)

Parts Required:

Wires, rotor and distributor cap

Hot Tip:

Use care when pulling wires off

Performance Gain:

Cleaner running engine

Complementary Modification:

New spark plugs

The distributor cap, rotor and plug wires will eventually wear out on your Porsche 944. The plug wires can dry out, crack and split. They can also rub against the other components on the engine if they are not properly routed and supported and will wear through the protective surround on the wires. This can lead to the electrical current jumping to the metal contact point on the motor and not the spark plug. Checking them should be part of your regular maintenance.

The rotor and distributor cap will just wear out over time as the metal contact areas take a beating. Misfires can also be a vacuum problem caused by cracks in both the rotor and cap. These are often very difficult to spot. If there are signs of pitting on the rotor or cap or they have over 30,000 on them, they should be replaced.

The spark plug wires on the 944 are located on the top of the engine and are accessed between the intake runners (yellow arrows).
Figure 1

The spark plug wires on the 944 are located on the top of the engine and are accessed between the intake runners (yellow arrows). The plug and wire for the number one cylinder is located in front of the intake runner between the turbo pipe (green arrow). The wires going to the plugs are attached to the distributor mounted on the front of the head (red arrow).

This photo shows a close-up of access to the wires and plugs.
Figure 2

This photo shows a close-up of access to the wires and plugs. You can see there is easy access to the numbers 2, 3 and 4 plugs (red arrows), while number 1 is partially hidden (yellow arrow). It is much easier to change the number 1 plug if you remove the turbo pipe. While it is possible to change the wire out without removing the pipe, if you are doing this for the first time do yourself a favor and remove the pipe.

Remove the three fasteners securing the air box lid to the base (red arrows).
Figure 3

Remove the three fasteners securing the air box lid to the base (red arrows).

Disconnect the line running to the turbo pipe with a 17mm wrench.
Figure 4

Disconnect the line running to the turbo pipe with a 17mm wrench. Note that there are two washers (red arrows) that need to be replaced if you remove the line.

Disconnect the clamp over the pipe by reaching down and unclipping it and then remove the lid.
Figure 5

Disconnect the clamp over the pipe by reaching down and unclipping it and then remove the lid. Next, use a flathead screwdriver and loosen the hose clamps on both ends of the pipe (red arrows).

Remove the pipe from the engine (red arrow).
Figure 6

Remove the pipe from the engine (red arrow).

With the pipe removed you can see the spark plug wire, boot and how much more room you have to work (red arrow).
Figure 7

With the pipe removed you can see the spark plug wire, boot and how much more room you have to work (red arrow).

Gently wiggle and pull the wire boot from the top of the plug.
Figure 8

Gently wiggle and pull the wire boot from the top of the plug. There is a special tool for removing the wires that fits in the rings on the bottom of the boot (red arrow). If you take your time and care you can remove the wire without using it. Do not just grab the connector by the wire and pull. You run the risk of tearing or separating the cover (yellow arrow).

Make sure to follow the proper routing to each plug (red arrows) and use the wire retainers on the head (yellow arrow).
Figure 9

Make sure to follow the proper routing to each plug (red arrows) and use the wire retainers on the head (yellow arrow). Before you remove any wire, make sure to label the wire for ease of replacement.

This photo illustrates the retainers (red arrow) and sheaths that cover the wires in high heat or contact areas (yellow arrow).
Figure 10

This photo illustrates the retainers (red arrow) and sheaths that cover the wires in high heat or contact areas (yellow arrow). Wires that rub against other wires or engine components can be ruined in very short order if they are not installed correctly.

Make sure to number both the wires and the distributor to eliminate confusion while working.
Figure 11

Make sure to number both the wires and the distributor to eliminate confusion while working.

The distributor cap is held in place by two screws with springs behind them.
Figure 12

The distributor cap is held in place by two screws with springs behind them. You will need a stubby or short flathead screwdriver to remove the bottom screw. Insert the screwdriver into the top screw, push in and turn 90 degrees clockwise. Move to the bottom screw and repeat, only turning the screw 270 degrees clockwise. If you have done it properly, the screws will pop out from the cap (red arrow).

The cap will now slide off.
Figure 13

The cap will now slide off. This photo shows the hooks on the back of the spring screws (red arrow) and where they mount in the head cover plate (yellow arrow).

To remove the rotor, use a 3mm Allen and unscrew the seating screw (red arrow).
Figure 14

To remove the rotor, use a 3mm Allen and unscrew the seating screw (red arrow).

With the seating screw removed, you can pull the rotor straight off.
Figure 15

With the seating screw removed, you can pull the rotor straight off. There is a shield behind the rotor that must be installed. This shield or cap is an important part of the system. If it is damaged it must be replaced (red arrow). The locating screw hole in the cam insures that the rotor can only be installed in the proper place (red arrow). Installation is the reverse of removal.



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