WEIRD Distributer Problem - 1993 Mazda 626



My girlfriend and I purchased what looked like an ok daily commuter in a very clean 1993 626.

Two days later, she called me from the side of the road. My usual mechanic determined the problem to be a failed distributer. He replaced it with a salvaged part, which immediately failed, and then with a brand new part (not factory), which ceases working when the car gets hot.

After having the dealership look at the car, they suggested a factory distributor - one that, with labor charges, would place the total cost of repairs at triple the price we paid for the car.

It’s not that I don’t believe the dealership, even though I’m a little suspicious that their solution is to buy a factory part instead of a third party one, but if anyone has seen anything like this, before I’d love some extra information before taking the plunge.

Many thanks!

Matthew Farley,

Louisville, KY


I don’t think it’s the distributor. Go to an independent garage for some REAL troubleshooting. There are other parts to the ignition. Any part(s), separately, or together, could be the fault.


It’s not a hard problem to diagnose. It will just take money to pay for “proper” diangosis.

A mechanic will/should charge $200+ in diagnosis fees to hook up the correect equipment and test drive the car. WHY SO MUCH!?!?! Because, he/she will be the one driving your car for x_____ amount of miles before failure. When it fails, they will be able to find whats missing, spark or fuel. After they find out if its lack of spark or fuel, they should be able to figure out the ‘cause’.

Also, the $200+ in diagnosis will cover the costs of that mechanics ‘down time’ while he/she is sitting besides the car waiting for a tow truck.

It’s a very basic system, all Level ‘B’ mechanics should be able to diagnose this correctly. Get out of the dealer unless they can tell you why it NEEDS a distributor, not why they ‘think’ it needs one.
Good Luck


It sounds to me like the transistors or coil in the igniter (part of the distributor) are getting fried. Is there and source such as a rusted away heat shield over the exhaust manifold that might be contributing to this? Maybe even a cracked manifold? You’d see a carbon spot if you have a crack.


There’s not enough info to get real specific here, but from the sound of things it appears that you are losing spark.

Whenever a part is replaced multiple times and the problem still exists, then that tells me someone is just guessing at the cause.

Lack of spark could be caused by an ignition module, coil, or the electrical part of the ignition switch. The latter can get overlooked, but it’s easy to check if the car will not start.


Hi, a common problem on the 92 - 93. I’m surprised the dealer didn’t tell you this :slight_smile:

Take a look here for details of a recommended mod.

Problem is transister failure caused by engine heat.

But it is fixable, also check that your engine isn’t running a little on the hot side.


scudder, thanks for the reply. do you have a link to any threads or web pages with details for the mod?

thanks for information, everyone!


also, to clarify, the car has no problems starting but, again, fails after running for a while. sometimes it’ll run for a few hours, sometimes just a few minutes.

thanks again.