Distributor

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Engines that use a mechanical distributor may fail if they run into deep puddles because any water that gets onto the distributor can short out the electric current that should go through the spark plugs, rerouting it directly to the body of the vehicle. This in turn causes the engine to stop as the fuel is not ignited in the cylinders. This problem can be fixed by removing the distributor's cap and drying the cap, cam, rotor and the contacts by wiping with tissue paper or a clean rag, by blowing hot air on them, or using a moisture displacement spray e. g. WD-40 or similar. Oil, dirt or other contaminants can cause similar problems, so the distributor should be kept clean inside and outside to ensure reliable operation. Some engines include a rubber o-ring or gasket between the distributor base and cap to help prevent this problem. The gasket is made of a material like Viton or butyl for a tight seal in extreme temperatures and chemical environments. This gasket should not be discarded when replacing the cap. Most distributor caps have the position of the number 1 cylinder's terminal molded into the plastic. By referencing a firing order diagram and knowing the direction the rotor turns, (which can be seen by cranking the engine with the cap off) the spark plug wires can be correctly routed. Most distributor caps are designed so that they cannot be installed in the wrong position. Some older engine designs allow the cap to be installed in the wrong position by 180 degrees, however. The number 1 cylinder position on the cap should be noted before a cap is replaced.

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