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Old 01-16-2009, 04:13 PM   #1
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Default Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

Kind of an odd problem. I bought a remanufactured distributor assembly for my 1991 Civic DX DPFI about 2 years to the day. After about a year and 8 months of trouble free operation, I got stuck on the side of the freeway after the engine bucked hard, pinged, backfired, afterburned, and so on. Eventually the car stalled, was hitting on one cylinder only. Then it stopped firing at all.

Turns out, my distributor screw worked its way out and the rotor was resting in one spot all the time. I noted that the rotor was loose on the shaft like it was wallowed out. The shaft is fine and so is the bearing. So I put the screw back, all is fine, until 100 miles later, it does it again, on the highway, in the middle of nowhere. So I replace the rotor with another (from O'reilly's), same damn thing, on the highway and so forth.

I've now got two rotors, an Echlin rotor from NAPA, and a Honda rotor. The Honda one is loose but the Echlin one is a better fit on the shaft.

Now I put Loctite on the rotor screw, and again, 200 miles later, this time the screw stayed in, but the metal bushing and plastic rotor have seemed to separate, and there is some play in the rotor.

The rotor button is hitting right in the middle, before it left a kinda circle pattern because the whole damn thing was loose, so now I'm not too concerned, as I have only a 600 mile trip to make before I can get a better one.

Question is, has anyone else has something like this happen with their rotors or distributor.
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Old 01-16-2009, 04:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

This is usually a sign of the bearing going bad..

The resistance of the bearing shreading heats up
the shaft and melts the loctite..

Any signs of a rust colored dust material in the cap?

You can also remove the distributor from the head and turn it
by hand..You can usually feel the resistance of the bearing
if the condition is in the final stages..
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

As a matter of fact, there is a very small amount of dust in the cap, not a lot, but a light dusting. I've taken it off the car , the bearing does turn with a little resistance, and it is kinda notchy.

I'm pretty sure I'm beating a dead horse at asking, but I'd like to avoid this in the future. Is this to be expected with a new OE piece in time? Or places like Distributor King? I can get Honda parts at cost, but at cost (for me anyways) its still comparable to DK. Which one would be the better choice with your experience.

The one I got was a 89 dollar reman, so I guess I should kick myself for that.
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

dude for my shitty remanufacterd one i spent 200 bucks!!! so dont worry your not loosing money, plus these cars are common youll find that distributor anywhere but imo dont get reman or used ones, its just asking to waste money. but it new the first time
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

I used to have that problem pretty often and even with a new one after some time it happened again and ended up destroying the internals. I went OBD1. Not saying that's the answer by an means but haven't had an issue since then. Actually don't think this answer helps at all... just contributing.
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Old 01-16-2009, 10:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

i had a similar problem my distri. would heat up so much it would make my car stall the bearing was making a steaky noise i took my distri. off and sprayed it with wd40 like there was no tommorow it worked like a charm for about year and then it started again this time i just bout a used one because the distri. shaft was way to loose!
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Old 01-16-2009, 11:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

To solve this I went to honda and bought an oem cap and rotor. Never had the problem again.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

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Originally Posted by hybridmiklo View Post
To solve this I went to honda and bought an oem cap and rotor. Never had the problem again.
I actually got one that when I tightened down the cap, the rotor hit the electrodes. 30 bucks down the tube. When in doubt get OEM.

As for the op... check to see if you have any side to side play in the rotor shaft.
A little dust is normal, there is alot of sparking being done in there.

I have also had the rotor seperate just like you did. (Yes it was a cheap one.) And that is with my new dizzy. I just think you got cheap parts.
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Old 01-17-2009, 09:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

i had the same problem on my four door jus cruisin the interstate and died and the screw jus dissapeared luckily i had an extra in my tool box..... i put the other one in and never had the problem again but then when my distributor went bad wit the crank sensor i bought a remaned and 2 miles later ignitor went bad......
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Old 01-17-2009, 09:45 AM   #10
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

The rotor screw coming loose or completely off is a common thing for our era distributors. It happens A LOT; check it as often as you can at every tune up or oil change for sure.
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Old 01-17-2009, 03:35 PM   #11
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Default Re: Distributor rotor vibrates loose?

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The rotor screw coming loose or completely off is a common thing for our era distributors.
Ditto. I went through what the OP was experiencing for about eight months from 2002-03 with my 91 Civic. Even the dealer did not catch the source of the problem (which is one reason I do nearly all my own work on my Honda today). The source is that the threads in the dizzy shaft (for the rotor set screw) are stripped. Two options:

--Drill a hole through the rotor and shaft as necessary and hold them together with an appropriately sized cotter pin. This works well. My 91 Civic had this set up for about four months, whence the dizzy's coil failed. Could have been related.

--Buy a new dizzy housing. OEM is preferred, but many here say Dizzy King is okay. One of the fringe benefits of springing for a new housing is that it includes three engine sensors (mounted inside the housing) which I think tend to degrade a lot after around 10 years/150k miles.

In 2003 I put in new OEM dizzy igniter, coil, and housing. With periodic replacement of the rotor and cap since then, I have had no dizzy problems since that ugly period 2002-2003.
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