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Project Rolla, Distributor O-Ring Replacement

Since replacing the valve cover gasket, once the paint smell had burned off I could still smell a faint smell of burning oil from under the bonnet. This was strange since I spent a lot of time degreasing the area before replacing the gasket, there shouldn’t be any oil there.

A quick poke around under the bonnet revealed the culprit though; the distributor O-Ring was leaking. It was obviously leaking previously, but with so much oil and muck everywhere from the valve cover gasket, there was no way to tell until now. The area under the distributor was now slick with oil.

No worries, it’s a fairly simple job to do. Toyota had the part on the shelf (9009914127), although almost $19 for an O-Ring is daylight robbery.

The easiest way to make room is to remove the airbox lid and filter. The base can stay in place. This gives plenty of access with a socket and extension

A toyota engine bay with the top of the air filter box and air filter removed

Before starting I marked the valve cover with a Sharpie to align with the point on the distributor which I had previously painted white. This is so you know where to align the distributor when refitting. Mine is turned out of alignment as I wanted to advance my timing slightly.

An arrow points to a faint black sharpie mark on the valve cover that is close to aligning with a white mark on the distributor

There are two bolts under the distributor that secure it. One at the front (partly removed)

A close up shot of the distributor showing the bolt that secures it to the head

And one tucked under the rear

Another close up of the distributor with an arrow pointing at a bolt near the back

With the two bolts removed, and the two electrical connectors disconnected, the distributor can be carefully pulled out. Yeah, I think I can see where it was leaking.

Take care not to spin the shaft as although there are only two ways the distributor can engage with the cam, you don’t want to be 180 degrees out when you refit. If you are paranoid, you could remove the distributor cap first and note the direction of the rotor and make sure its in the same position when refitting.

A shot of the removed distributor with the face that mounts to the head covered in oil

Yup, its bit of a mess down there. Clearly the O-Ring was doing nothing to stop the oil pouring out.

A photo showing the face of the head that the distributor mounts on, covered in oil and old grime

The old O-Ring was completely flat and flush with the shaft, and when I used a pick to try and pry it out the O-Ring snapped.

A close up of the distributor shaft showing the flattened O-Ring
The flat and split in half old O-Ring

The new O-Ring slips into place nicely and is much thicker. Its no wonder it leaked. I smeared some rubber grease on the O-Ring to aid installation.

A close up of the distributor shaft with the new O-Ring fitted and covered in a red grease

Now it’s just a matter of slipping the distributor back into place. This can take some wiggling, but take your time and it’ll go into place fine. Remember to line up the mark you made before tightening the distributor down. Reinstall the air filter and box lid, and you’re done.

The reassembled engine bay

A quick test drive to get the engine up to temp, and no signs of oil coming from the distributor and no more oil smell. A nice easy repair, which should hopefully be the end of my leaks.

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