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1986-1995 Distributor Ignition Servicing- How-To

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So, you may find yourself in need of a new distributor assembly on these cars because the Hall Effect or PIP module mounted inside has decided to fight back. First of all, I am not writing about how to swap the module itself out of an existing distributor. Nor do I recommend trying it.

Tools to use: magnetic pick-up tool, Metric sockets, extensions, and 1/4" drive ratchet, Phillips and flat head screwdrivers, Sharpie marker or equivalent, silver PC thermal paste/grease, Lisle specialty socket tool #64650.

Parts recommended: Motorcraft- TFI module (DY1076), distributor assembly (DA2002), rotor (DR375A), and cap (DH434).

First: the cap, spark plug wires, and air intake tube with airbox lid must be taken off to allow proper access to the distributor assembly. Mark the plug wires to show where they each need to go, as well as the current position of where the rotor points to at this current moment on the edge of the distributor housing (see my Sharpie reference marks) to ensure that your ignition timing is kept intact when it all goes back together.


Also leave a mark somewhere on the lower shaft of the housing to help reference how it sits on the block- this position is equally important to match again for reassembly. I chose to mark it with a Sharpie to show where the holddown bolt and washer had been sitting.


Then, remove the holddown bolt using a 9mm socket and appropriate length extensions. It sits way down in a crevice of the engine block so you're going to need a flashlight to locate it- and ideally a magnetic reaching tool to manipulate the bolt in and out of there. Pull the distributor housing out with one hand, and use the other hand to slightly wiggle the round metal rotor base until the whole assembly freely pulls straight up and out.


Place both the old and new units together so you can carefully recreate those earlier reference marks onto the new one. Then, you can swap over the rotor and the TFI module (or install any new replacement parts needed. My TFI, cap and rotor in this case are only a few months old).



The TFI requires a 4.5mm deep well socket to access the two mounting bolts. This specialty tool is sold in-store by O'Reilly, though (and probably at other part stores) to make the job much easier.


Apply a coating of silver PC grease to the metal backing of the TFI module where it will contact the flat side of your new distributor housing.


Once everything is swapped over, reinsert your new assembly into the engine block and make sure that the rotor realigns with those marks exactly like how it came out. It took me only the first attempt to line everything up correctly, and I haven't even touched a distributor ignition system since HS Auto Tech class! :P


Take your time, and get it right. DO NOT even try to start the car until this stuff has all been completed properly. Final step is to reinstall and tighten the holddown bolt and washer on the bottom of the distributor housing, plug in the TFI module's electrical connector, reattach the distributor cap and all wires, and put the intake tube and airbox lid back in place.



If all was completed correctly, your car should crank and fire up smoothly and quickly as soon as you go inside and turn the key. If not... then you likely screwed up aligning the rotor and distributor housing to where they were before, and will need to try it again. Any questions, additional advice from people who have done this, or feedback are appreciated in this topic thread.


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Don't forget you may have to use a timing light to adjust if prior to servicing the timing was not correct.

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Don't forget you may have to use a timing light to adjust if prior to servicing the timing was not correct.

Agree, timing light is really important. Be sure to pull the SPOUT connector, and be sure to put it back when done. :notworthy:


And I have never forgotton to put things back!  NOT!

Most imbarresing is not tightening the bolts that hold the fan on the WP. Been there,




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Good advice. :)

The original write-up post is now completed. Kevin, please pin this on the Topic Finder.

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