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moparfl, ASE Certified Technician
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Experience:  ASE Master Tech 30 years Dealer EXP
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replaced my distributor on my 1998 jeep Wrangler. Cannot get

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replaced my distributor on my 1998 jeep Wrangler. Cannot get the engine to run right now. The timming is off and the check engine light is giving me a code for emissions! I am up against a wall with my Haynes manual, its just not giving me what I need. Can you give me help with what I need to do?
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1998 Jeep Truck Wrangler 4WD L6-4.0L VIN S

Vehicle Level Engine, Cooling and Exhaust Engine Distributor Service and Repair
Service and Repair

All distributors contain an internal oil seal that prevents oil from entering the distributor housing. The seal is not serviceable.

Plastic Alignment Pin

Factory replacement distributors are equipped with a plastic alignment pin already installed. The pin is located in an access hole on the bottom of the distributor housing. It is used to temporarily lock the rotor to the cylinder number 1 position during installation. The pin must be removed after installing the distributor.


The camshaft position sensor is located in the distributor on all engines. For removal/installation procedures, refer to Camshaft Position Sensor. Distributor removal is not necessary for sensor removal.

Refer to an exploded view of the distributor.

A fork with a slot is supplied on the bottom of the distributor housing where the housing base seats against the engine block. The centerline of the slot aligns with the distributor hold-down bolt hole in the engine block. Because of the fork, the distributor cannot be rotated. Distributor rotation is not necessary as all ignition timing requirements are handled by the powertrain control module (PCM).

The position of the distributor determines fuel synchronization only. It does not determine ignition timing.

NOTE : Do not attempt to modify this fork to attain ignition timing.


  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable at the battery.
  2. Disconnect coil secondary cable at coil.
  3. Remove distributor cap from distributor (2 screws). Do not remove cables from cap. Do not remove rotor.
  4. Disconnect the distributor wiring harness from the main engine harness.
  5. Remove the cylinder number 1 spark plug.
  6. Hold a finger over the open spark plug hole. Rotate the engine at the vibration dampener bolt until compression(pressure) is felt.

Align Timing Marks

  1. Slowly continue to rotate the engine. Do this until the timing index mark on the vibration damper pulley aligns with the top dead center (TDC) mark (0 degree) on timing degree scale. Always rotate the engine in direction of normal rotation. Do not rotate the engine backward to align the timing marks.
  2. Remove the distributor hold-down bolt and clamp.
  3. Remove the distributor from engine by slowly lifting straight up.
  4. Note that the rotor will rotate slightly in a counterclockwise direction while lifting up the distributor. The oil pump gear will also rotate slightly in a counterclockwise direction while lifting up the distributor. This is due to the helical cut gears on the distributor and camshaft.
  5. Note the removed position of the rotor during distributor removal. During installation, this will be referred to as the Pre-position.

Slot At 11 O'clock Position

  1. Observe the slot in the oil pump gear through the hole on the side of the engine. It should be slightly before (counterclockwise of) the 11 o'clock position.
  2. Remove and discard the old distributor-to-engine block gasket. INSTALLATION
  1. If the engine crankshaft has been rotated after distributor removal, cylinder number 1 must be returned to its proper firing stroke. Refer to previous REMOVAL Step 5 and Step 6. These steps must be done before installing distributor.
  2. Check the position of the slot on the oil pump gear. It should be just slightly before (counterclockwise of) the 11 o'clock position. If not, place a flat blade screw-driver into the oil pump gear and rotate it into the proper position.
  3. Factory replacement distributors are equipped with a plastic alignment pin already installed. This pin is used to temporarily hold the rotor to the cylinder number 1 firing position during distributor installation. If this pin is in place, proceed to Step 8. If not, proceed to next step.
  4. If the original distributor is to be reinstalled, such as during engine overhaul, the plastic pin will not be available. A 3/16 inch drift pin punch tool may be substituted for the plastic pin.
  5. Remove the camshaft position sensor from the distributor housing. Lift straight up.

Pin Alignment Holes

  1. Four different alignment holes are provided on the plastic ring.
  2. Rotate the distributor shaft and install the pin punch tool through the proper alignment hole in the plastic ring and into the mating access hole in the distributor housing. This will prevent the distributor shaft and rotor from rotating.
  3. Clean the distributor mounting hole area of the engine block.
  4. Install a new distributor-to-engine block gasket.
  5. Install the rotor to the distributor shaft.

Distributor Pre-position-All Engines

Distributor Engaged Position

  1. Pre-position the distributor into the engine while holding the centerline of the base slot in the 1 o'clock position. Continue to engage the distributor into the engine. The rotor and distributor will rotate clockwise during installation. This is due to the helical cut gears on the distributor and camshaft. When the distributor is fully seated to the engine block, the centerline of the base slot should be aligned to the clamp bolt mounting hole on the engine. The rotor should also be pointed at the 5 o'clock position. It may be necessary to rotate the rotor and distributor shaft (very slightly) to engage the distributor shaft with the slot in the oil pump gear. The same may have to be done to engage the distributor gear with the camshaft gear. The distributor is correctly installed when:
    • the rotor is pointed at the 5 o'clock position.
    • the plastic alignment pin (or pin punch tool) is still installed to distributor.
    • the number 1 cylinder piston is set at top dead center (TDC) (compression stroke).
    • the centerline of the slot at the base of the distributor is aligned to the centerline of the distributor hold-down bolt hole on the engine. In this position, the hold-down bolt should easily pass through the slot and into the engine.

No adjustments are necessary Proceed to next step.

  1. Install the distributor hold-down clamp and bolt. Tighten the bolt to 23 N.m (17 ft. lbs.) torque.
  2. Remove the pin punch tool from the distributor. Or, if the plastic alignment pin was used, remove it straight down from the bottom of the distributor. Discard plastic pin.
  3. If removed, install the camshaft position sensor to the distributor. Align the wiring harness grommet to the notch in the distributor housing.
  4. Install the rotor. CAUTION: If the distributor cap is incorrectly positioned on distributor housing, the cap or rotor may be damaged when engine is started.
  5. Install the distributor cap. Tighten distributor cap hold-down screws to 3 N.m (26 in. lbs.) torque.
  6. If removed, install the spark plug cables to the distributor cap. For proper firing order, refer to the Specifications. See Engine Firing Order.
  7. Connect the distributor wiring harness to the main engine harness.
  8. Connect battery cable to battery.



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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
  • "Hold a finger over the open spark plug hole. Rotate the engine at the vibration dampener bolt until compression(pressure) is felt."

    where is the vibration damperner bolt? and how do I check for compression? do I start the vehicle or do I just turn the bolt and wait to feel it?

    The best way to do it is to have some one just bump the starter to spin the engine while you stick your finger in the number one cly.when you get compression you will fill air try to blow out on your finger.
    moparfl and 2 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
    Customer: replied 7 years ago.
    and that is where I stop it. Then I should be able to insert the distibutor there and it should work?
    Once you do this you will need to make sure the timing mark is on zero like is shown in the picture I sent.
    Customer: replied 7 years ago.
    since I already removed the distributor and now the timming is all off, do I just put it back in there in the wrong position and then feel for the compression?And once I do this, do I pull it out and then adjust the oil pump gear? I just dont want to do damage to the engine, so Im a little hesitant to do anything wrong.
    Once you put it on TDC you will need to have the oil pump gear in the right postion and the dist as well as outlined in the info I sent and then reinstall the dist. If I have helped you please hit the accept button. Thanks.

    Edited by moparfl on 10/12/2009 at 2:04 PM EST
    Customer: replied 7 years ago.
    it is still hesistant when it starts, but once its running the rpm gauge is bouncing up and down a little bit as well as the oil gauge. what could make this happen? would this be safe to drive or not?
    It would be ok to drive. This could just be the computer system relearning.I would run it a little while and see if it clears up. Dont forget to hit the accept button. Thanks
    Customer: replied 7 years ago.
    thank you for your time
    Your welcome.