Distributor question

Car is chugging when stopped. Changed the spark plugs and fuel filter. Still does it. Now checking the distributor. I’ve attached a couple pictures. You can see the brown marks. Is this a problem? Thanks.

You’ve got some burn marks there, but I doubt that’s the cause of the problem. You could take a screwdriver tip and try to clean those up a bit, and see if it helps or not. What does the rotor tip look like? On the second photo you have something that looks a little bit like a carbon track, bottom of photo. If you have carbon tracking on the inside of the distributor lid, that would confirm you definitely have a distributor problem. No carbon tracking? The burn marks on the metal bits are probably just normal wear.

There’s nothing shown in those pics that denote a problem.

Any one, or a combination of, a hundred things could cause a rough idle. What type of car and how many miles on it?

I assume with a distributor the car has some age and miles on it.

Changing a distributor cap and rotor (what’s the rotor look like, anyway?) is such an inexpensive and basic thing that I cannot in good conscience recommend not doing so.

Changing plug wires is pretty basic too, and never a bad idea. Change them one at a time to prevent inadvertently misrouting them. Connecting them wrong is a very common beginner’s mistake.

But, as OK4450 suggested, knowing the year, make, model, and mileage of the vehicle will go a long way toward helping us help you.

Change the distributor and rotor as preventative maintenace

But I doubt it’s the cause of your problem

2000 Mercury Villager. 145,000. This distributor was replaced in 2012. Probably 30,000 miles ago. I’ve also checked the wires for carbon and they look ok. But if George above is correct that that is carbon tracking then do I need replace the whole thing or just the cap and rotor? Obviously a difference in price. Thanks.

The carbon tracking indicates that the plug wires, cap and rotor need replacing. Failure to replace those parts will eventually result in failure of the distributor though.

I would have to agree with all of the above… The pics denote what is considered normal inside of a cap. What is not normal is voltage leaking outside the cap…or wires grounding out…or spark plug well filled with oil…etc

Need to know vehicle details of course BTW. There can be a LONG list of possible causes for this behavior so…without direct evidence of a Distrib cap n rotor problem… You might be wasting your time.

“Chugging” is a bit vague for a problem description… Do you have an engine miss ? Does this vehicle have OBD codes at all? OBD 1 can show you its codes usually after you connect two wires and then read the morse code coming from the instrument panel. OBD2 will simply provide you with the code itself.

We need a lot more info to even begin trying to help you out here.


A 2000 Villager is OBD2 . . . should be simple to get codes read at one of those auto parts stores

Maybe my eyes are getting bad to match my lousy hearing but I don’t see any carbon tracking on that cap.

Your first step would be to do what is mentioned above; find out what, if any, codes are present.
“Chugging” could be due to an ignition miss, fuel system flaw, vacuum leak, EGR hanging open, IAC gone stupid, etc, etc, etc.

Hopefully it doesn’t involve dropping a cylinder with a compression issue.

Duh… I dunno how I missed the vehicle info…Happens…lol Yes of course this is OBDII… If the engine is “chugging” methinks a code should be present.

We need those codes if the Check Engine Light is illuminated…I suspect that it IS? If you do not have the code reader (A must have item these days…and so inexpensive theres few excuses left not to pick one up). Auto Zone or Peps will pull the codes for you no charge. Let us know…much better advice once we have codes.