Benefits Of Replacing Your Older Ford Or GM Distributor

If you have an older Ford or GM vehicle, it likely has a distributor. You may want to consider replacing it soon. Even if your distributor works fine, replacing it with a newer one brings many benefits.

What Is A Distributor?

OEM ford distributor

A distributor delivers electricity from the ignition coil to the spark plugs at exactly the right time. The distributor is driven by the camshaft. This method of driving the distributor also provides its basic timing. The coil feeds electricity to the distributor. A rotor inside the distributor distributes the electricity to the spark plugs. The spark plugs are connected to the distributor with spark plug wires.

When Should You Replace Your Distributor?

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As with anything else in your car, you can expect wear and tear over time on your distributor. A typical distributor housing and gear drive lasts the lifetime of the vehicle. Its components such as the rotor, cap, and points don’t last that long. On average, most people with an older vehicle need to replace these components every 10k-20k miles.

Even if the old distributor in your Ford or GM vehicle seems to be working OK, it’s a good idea to replace it with a newer one. A newer distributor has better technology that ensures more powerful ignition and more precise timing.

When you replace your older distributor with a newer model, it leads to several benefits:

1. Better Engine Performance

Older distributors simply don’t distribute power as well as more modern designs. The timing is not as precise, and there is variation in the amount of power delivered to each spark plug. The uneven distribution of power can lead to a few problems. For example, misfires and engine hesitation. 

If you get a high quality distributor made for your vehicle, you’ll notice a big improvement in your engine’s performance. Your engine will run smoother and produce more power at all RPMs.

2. Better Gas Mileage

The better your engine’s performance, the better gas mileage you’ll get. It’s common for older distributors to fail to deliver energy evenly to all the spark plugs. If a spark plug doesn’t get the energy it needs to fire strongly, some of the fuel in that combustion chamber goes to waste. That can decrease the engine’s gas mileage. A modern distributor provides a strong, even current to all the spark plugs. If you drive your car or truck a lot, the gas mileage improvement can pay for the new distributor.

3. Fewer Misfires

The precise ignition timing the new distributor provides also helps the engine avoid misfires. A misfire means that one or more of your spark plugs isn’t firing exactly when it should. If your engine is misfiring, the misfires should be eliminated after you install a newer replacement distributor.

4. More Engine Power

A modern High Energy Ignition (HEI) distributor has a couple of key design features that help your engine make more power:

  • The coil is more than twice as powerful. Our HEI distributors put out 65,000 volts. The original coil that was installed in a vehicle with a points distributor put out 20,000 to 30,000 volts.
  • The coil in an HEI distributor is integrated into the distributor cap. This eliminates the short wire that was used to connect an old style coil to the distributor. The benefit of this is that there is almost no voltage drop between the coil and the spark plug wire.

More voltage means a more powerful spark. This allows the gap in the spark plug to be set wider. A wider gap means the spark itself is physically bigger, and a bigger spark causes the fuel to burn more thoroughly. This helps the engine make more power.

5. Better Starting

A more powerful spark also helps get the engine started more easily.

What To Look For In A New Distributor For Your Ford Or GM Vehicle

OEM gm distributor

When you’re shopping for a new distributor, look for a high quality High Energy Ignition (HEI) distributor with:

  • High quality housing
  • Durable bushings
  • High-output capabilities
  • High quality terminals
  • Easy installation

HEI distributors made by Karl Performance Parts fit the bill. We build all our HEI distributors with high quality materials. Our HEI distributors come with:

  • High quality aluminum housing
  • Dual hardened steel bushings
  • Fully adjustable mechanical and vacuum advance
  • High output 7500+ RPM ignition module
  • High output 65,000 volt coil
  • Solid brass terminals
  • Easy one-wire hookup

Check out the HEI distributors we have for Ford and GM vehicles:

If you need help finding the right distributor for your Ford or GM vehicle, please contact us. We’re always happy to help!