How to Test a Faulty Distributor in a Ford Aspire

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The distributor in a Ford Aspire should last at least 45,000 miles without much trouble. However, over time, the distributor's rotor may burn out or the electrodes may not produce the spark they once did. When this happens, you'll probably need to replace the unit. However, before doing so, there is a simple test you can perform to verify that the distributor is the problem.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Open the hood and remove one of the plug wires from the end of the distributor. The plug wires pull right off the end of the distributor. While all of the wires should be tested, only test one wire at a time.

  • Place the tip of a metal screwdriver into the end of the spark plug wire. Make sure that the screwdriver is contacting the metal contacts inside the end of the plug wire.

  • Place the metal shaft of the screwdriver next to the electrode on the distributor. The screwdriver should not touch the electrode, but should be pretty close to it.

  • Turn the ignition and crank the engine.

  • Have an assistant watch for an electrical arch coming from the distributor to the metal shaft of the screwdriver. Obviously, you don't want to be touching the engine or the screwdriver while this is happening. If the distributor arcs, then it is producing power.

  • Put the spark plug wire end back onto the distributor electrode.

  • Repeat Steps 1 through 6 for all of the electrodes on the distributor. If any of the electrodes fails to arc, then the entire unit must be replaced.

References

  • Ford Aspire Repair Manual 1994-1997; Thomas A. Mellon, A.S.E., S.A.E.; 1998
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