2000 Honda Accord LX 2.3L 90K miles ignition distributor leaking externally

Recently I went to a mechanic for an oil change and they told me that my “distributor was leaking externally” and I need to get it replace or the oil will corrode the sensor and heating bypass hose. They showed me the distributor and I did see dried oil/grease on the silver metal part of the the distributor. They told me it will cost $270, against my better judgment I agreed to it. When everything was done I asked for the old part back and they said no but after several minutes arguing I got my part back. I am very suspicious and I don’t think that I actually need to get the ignition distributor replaced. Also they got the distributor from a Chinese company called World Power System. I would like to know if I got scam.

These are picture of my old ignition distributor

Well, if there was an oil leak from below, it could well damage a sensor in the distributor. And it is entirely possible for such a leak to develop. Its never happened to any of my cars. I always thought the remedy was to replace an o-ring seal, rather than the entire distributor. But every car is different on things such as this. Hopefully somebody here will have some specific knowledge on Hondas.

I don’t think this was a scam, that’s my opinion. The price parts and labor is reasonable. It probably was leaking. And the mechanic may have felt replacing the distributor on a car this old was the best route to secure a lot more trouble free miles. Chinese-made replacement parts are very common these days.

If you look at the distributor, there’s rubber a O-ring that seals the distributor to the engine. And I can see it in your images.

If that O-ring starts leaking externally, it doesn’t mean the distributor requires replacement. It just means the O-ring requires replacement.



In all likelihood, the shop didn’t want to take a chance on rebuilding/resealing your distributor

While there are companies out there that sell all the seals, gaskets, bearings, etc. to rebuild distributors, the labor to do all of that would be higher than simply swapping out your distributor for a new Chinese part.

And sourcing the rebuild parts would likely have taken a few days, during which time you would have needed to find another car to use.

$270 seems quite reasonable for the repair. That’s including parts AND labor, correct?

I had the same problem with our Accord. All you need it the O-ring as Tester said.

The only Honda Accord distributor failure that I am familiar with involves the rotor shaft wearing the distributor base, resulting in intermittent no starts that worsen. If the rotor can be wiggled replacing the distributor would have been worthwhile. Severe rotor shaft wear often resulted in oil leaking into the distributor housing and none is visible in the photos.

Shooting from the hip, I would say that replacing the O-ring was all that appeared necessary, unless the rotor was loose?

I looked up the price for this the ignition distributor and it cost $130 and it toked the mechanic 15 minute to replace it. Well I am regretting this now.


“I looked up the price . . .”

Where did you look up the price/

What was the labor rate of the shop?

Any shop will mark up the cost of the parts . . . that is fair

Shops can’t “give away” the parts, or they wouldn’t stay in business

BTW . . . how many hours labor were you charged?

The labor for changing the o ring is the same as for changing the whole distributor. I agree that it only takes about 15 minutes, but there is also the time to get your car off the lot and drive it into the bay, the time to get the parts and the time to put your car back on the lot after the job is finished, do the paperwork and clean up to get ready for the next vehicle.

On my Honda, I just did the o ring, the oil had dripped down on the heater hose located just under the distributor and caused it to swell and leak. Believe me, you don’t want to have to replace that heater hose, it may look easy but it is not, part of the intake manifold has to be removed to get at the fitting.

I doubt you needed the whole distributor, but you didn’t get scammed. The mechanic doesn’t want to replace the o ring this week and then have to replace the distributor in a month or two for something else (possible although not likely) so he just wants to be sure that its once and done.

BTW, if that hose did start to swell, your mechanic should have at least removed the hose and shortened it to a good section, that is cut off about an inch, and reinstall it to prevent any future leaks. If the coolant leaks out and the engine overheats, it is not good for this engine. The engine is all aluminum and it does not tolerate overheating very well.

When these Honda distributors leak oil they leak it onto the heater hose and the coolant temperature sensor directly underneath it. Neither one of those parts should have oil leaking onto them. It’s a good idea to repair the leak.

When these leak, often it’s just the O-ring as mentioned above, but it’s not unusual to have the internal seal leak, meaning oil will get inside the distributor and then leak out of the distributor cap. This will require replacement of the distributor, not just replacing an O-ring.

The price you found online is irrelevant. I can buy a potato for .80 but the restaurant will charge me $4.00 for a baked potato. If the shop paid $130 for the distributor I’d expect them to sell it to you for about $216. That would be normal and fair markup. That leaves the rest as labor, and with a minimum shop charge of half an hour at about $90-$110/hr, you’re right in the ballpark. In fact, you got a good price for that distributor. I looked up my price for it and it’s more than the $130 you found.

Here is where I found the price http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1362990,parttype,7108,a,www.google.com%2BSearch%2Bfor%2BIgnition%2BDistributor%2BWORLD%2BPOWER%2BSYSTEMS

The mechanic told me since it was a quick job he didn’t charge me for the labor and that is why it is only $270

I just want to make sure if the mechanic was not scamming me because I don’t want to go back to him if he make me pay for unnecessary work.

I was there when he change it there was no internal leakage. I only see dried oil on the outside of distributor. I though problem with the O-Ring cause internal leakage?

I think you need a new mechanic. If he’s replacing distributors for no labor charge he’s admitting to you that his work isn’t worth anything. I don’t mean to suggest that I charge people $25 to install a wiper blade they buy from me, but finding and correcting an oil leak on an engine is work, and even if it only takes 20 minutes a professional will charge accordingly for his time and experience.

Yeah, rockauto is great for the DIY crowd but it doesn’t work for a professional shop. They sell to the public for the same price as they do to businesses. But when your car quits on the freeway because the distributor failed, you want the car fixed today, not in 3 or 4 days when the shipment arrives. So my local suppliers keep Honda distributors in stock, and the cost for that convenience is about $40 more than if I ordered it from rockauto.

Does this mechanic you refer to actually work in a brick and mortar business with a sign out front or is this someone just doing work on the side?

From the defense side of this the point could be made that you were not scammed at all because you were given a price in advance. The car also has low miles for the age and depending upon the oil change regimen it’s possible for lubrication holes in the distributor to sludge up and lead to distributor shaft bushing wear. If the shaft moves sideways a bit then you needed a distributor.

From the opposing point of view, there’s also such as a thing as checking the base ignition timing when changing a distributor. If the mechanic did not check this, a strike on him. I’m aware of the drive tang which in theory means it’s a drop-in, but the timing staying the same is not a given.

The distributor doesn’t control the timing on this engine. It is a drop in and there is very little play rotationally like in a conventional distributor. The inside of the distributor is the camshaft position sensor.

ok4450, sorry about that. I forgot, you already knew all that. You used to or still do work on Hondas.

The mechanic have a store with brick and mortar business with a sign.
I called the mechanic to tell him about what you guy been telling me and said there was nothing wrong nothing with o-ring it was the shaft. He said when he open the first time for diagnostic (I was not there to see it) there was a lot of oil leaked and he clean it up. This is so hard to believe this guy is scam artist lying to my face.