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Some information on distributor rotor removal
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The following pictures are specific to the Integra, but other models may be similar. The rotor is held in by a small set screw. Depending on your model, it may be Allen-headed or Phillips. Usenet reports suggest the Phillips one can be extremely difficult to remove, often stripping the cross before the screw loosens, causing many headaches.

The pictures are drawn as though you were standing beside right-front door, looking across the engine bay and forwards, towards the left headlight.


Picture 1:
This is the 90-91 Integra (and Civic?) distributor. A short parts list:
2 - Distributor cap assembly
3 - Rotor
4 - Distributor body
6 - "Leak cover"
10 - Igniter
14 - Rotor set screw
15 - Coil


'90-'91 Integra distributor parts


Picture 2:
This is the 92-and-up Integra (and Civic?) distributor. A short parts list:
2 - Distributor cap assembly
3 - Rotor
4 - Distributor body
6 - "Leak cover"
8- Igniter
11 - Rotor set screw
12 - Coil


'92+ Integra distributor parts


Honda's parts rationalization now means the rotor is the same for both cars (or awfully darn close), resembling the later rotor. The '90-'91 image still shows the original rotor design.

The main difference between the two as far as the rotor goes is the "Leak Cover". This cover does not hinder access to the screw in the earlier design, but definitely does in the later.




So, on to the removal procedures:

The '90-'91 rotor is very easy. It's held in by an Allen screw which has a bit of thread-locking compound on it. A new one comes with every replacement Honda rotor. To remove the rotor, it's as simple a matter as turning the engine by hand until the rotor's tip points at the location of the #1 spark plug contact on the distributor cap. Stand in front of the front bumper, snap the "Leak Cover" off and use an Allen key to remove the screw. Piece of cake.

The '92-and-up rotor is a different beast. Not only do they appear to come with Phillips screws, but if you study the "Leak Cover" carefully, you'll see that it appears to enclose the rotor's shaft completely. The leak cover is not removable with the rotor in place, unlike the '90-'91.
Some replacement OEM rotors may come with Allen bolts even though the originals had Phillips, so check first with a 3mm Allen key before assuming the worst. At least in that case the screw will be easy to remove provided the rotor has been oriented properly.

Now to continue...
The only two ways Phillips-screwed rotors appear to be removable are these:

1) Turn the engine by hand until the rotor's tip is pointing towards the car's grille. With a stubby and well-fitting screwdriver, insert it into the horizontal slot at the rear of the leak cover, which slot appears to be there only for the purpose of removing the rotor screw. Then try to get enough leverage to avoid stripping the Phillips head.

#1 seems to be virtually impossible for most people, as the screw seems to corrode in place and is extremely difficult to remove without stripping the Phillips head. This leaves us with option #2, preferably done BEFORE #1, so as to preserve the Phillips cross head, so you'll have some hope of getting the screw out without the use of a drill:


2) Remove the distributor from the vehicle, which is easier than it sounds:
Option #2 is the best and safest way to remove the rotor on the '92-and-up models.

Curly
has offered what appears to be a very handy hint for improving your chances of getting that Phillips screw loose: Just grind a little bit off the end of your screwdriver. This forces the tops of the "wings" of the screwdriver's cross to seat more positively into the cross in the screw. Of course, this assumes your screwdriver was already bottoming out in the screw, which you'll never really know until you try this, will you?
Says Curly: "I learned this trick in about 1982 when I was a copier technician and we started doing Jap copiers with 'Yankee' tools. Instructor told us to grind the tip off all your Phillips screwdrivers. It works !
"When removing the rotor, use a fairly LARGE Phillips tip and/or grind a bit off the tip of the one you have. The tip has to feel totally snug in the screw. North American tools rarely fit Japanese screws correctly and you will need all the torque you can get."


Replacing the distributor is easy, as the slot is offset and will only engage one way. Replace the little O-ring while you're at it. It's cheap.

A method I haven't actually tried, but that seems to me would work:
If you have access to a drill press, you may be able to cut the blade off a screwdriver and chuck it into the press. Set the distributor up on the bed below and lower the screwdriver blade onto the screw head. Then turn the chuck by hand.
This way you can achieve two things: Making certain the bit is dead straight, and using the press's leverage to keep the cross from riding out of the screw as you turn by hand.
Be careful not to push too hard, though!




WARNINGS for '92-and-up:
-- Drilling the Phillips screw out causes metal shavings. Be certain that they do not fall into the distributor body. There have been reports of shorted components due to these shavings. It's always better to remove the distributor to get at the screw BEFORE you strip the head, and try like heck not to strip it at all.
-- If you buy an aftermarket rotor (not a good idea) , it will probably come without a new set-screw, so you'll have to re-use the old Phillips screw. If you do this, put some Loctite or other thread-locking compound on the threads so the screw can't come loose again, which it has been known to do.



What to do in the future?

Not much you can do, really, except option #2 above, if you have a '92-and-up. Unless your screw is Allen-headed.

Some people have reported success drilling the screw hole all the way through the rotor shaft, and replacing the set screw with a cotter pin, but that method leaves me a bit cold. Not something I'd try, personally.


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