Distributor Plug in a Toyota Camry

I drive a 99 Camry 4-cyl w/140k miles. Car runs ok for its age. Recently went to a Toyota dealer for a free inspection. One recommended item was “Distributor Plug” for $195 ($5 parts and $190 labor). This is in addition to replacing spark plugs.

Does this sound reasonable or even necessary? Does the Cmary even have a distributor? I thought it had electronic ignition.


What reason did they give this needed to be done?
What does run ok mean,140,000mi is not old or wore out.
Call them and ask them what does the plug do and why it is needed and post what you found. I would not do it until you know what it is.

I have the same car with about the same number of miles. I just changed the ignition wires for the first time. Could this be what they are suggesting? I did this without any indication that it needed to be done other than the fact that plug wires will break down over time…
I changed the spark plugs at the same time. It took about an hour to do the entire job. The parts totalled less than $50. Good for another 100k miles…

Oh…I forgot to answer your second question…
This model does not have a distributor per se…it uses two modules with two outputs on each module. It is a booger to get the plug wire to release because you have to get under the coil to release the lock tab in order to free up the wire. If you could see what you were doing, it would be a snap, but this is in a tight spot with poor access.

I believe that the car does not have a distributor, but the basic design of engine parts is such that it has a hole where the distributor would go. The “plug” is literally just that - something that plugs up an unneeded hole where the distributor is not. (The basic part is not entirely different from a freeze plug).

I believe the only reason one would replace it is if it is leaking (is it?) And even then I’d likely only bother if the oil loss was measurable or perhaps dripping onto a hot manifold.

Sorry to reply late. Said that the distributor cap was leaking.

The car has two noticeable problems that I am aware of. The valve cover gasket leaks. I had it replaced at a shade tree mechanic last year using a generic gasket; I will try to do it myself this year with a Toyota part. Also, there is a thunking sound when I go over bumps. I had my struts replaced last year and a new mechanic said that I the strut mounts were worn and I should have replaced them along with the struts for $200. I didn’t know about that and the labor cost of replacing them is almost the same as the labor cost of replacing the struts. Fortunately, 95% of my driving is level highway where I don’t notice any bumps at all.

I don’t think he was referring to either the ignition wires or the spark plugs since the parts cost only $5.

The car does have an oil leak from the valve cover gasket (see reply to #1 post). If you can give me an idea of where the distributor cap is located or how to identify it, I’ll try to check if there are additional leaks from the cap. Thanks.

You do not say you have to add oil so leaks must not be very bad, me I would just drive it.

I remember getting one of those “free” inspections on my 1 or 2 year old car. The inspection revealed oil leaks which would require $900 to repair. I said, “No, thank you.” I never repaired these minor leaks, and drove the car for 15 more years (180,000 miles) until a slipping transmission retired the car.
Moral of the story: ignore little leaks unless they are leaks onto a hot exhaust (fire hazard). The dealer will imply, perhaps even say, that ALL leaks must be repaired. Sometimes, they just say that “so and so is leaking” and wait for your imagination to run wild of worst-case scenarios. Be prepared.

No, I don’t notice any oil leaks on the floor nor do I have to top off oil between oil changes.