How to Clean Distributor Points

To clean distributor points, you need to disconnect the spark plug wires and remove the distributor cap. After that, use a fine file or sandpaper to remove any corrosion on the points.

Be sure to clean the points thoroughly and reassemble the distributor cap before reconnecting the spark plug wires. Cleaning distributor points is an essential maintenance task that ensures proper ignition timing and improves engine performance. By regularly cleaning the points, you can prevent misfires and extend the lifespan of your ignition system.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean distributor points.

Table of Contents

Understanding The Importance Of Distributor Points Maintenance

Distributor points maintenance is crucial for optimal vehicle performance. Learn how to clean distributor points effectively to ensure proper ignition timing and smooth engine operation.

The Role Of Distributor Points In The Ignition System

Understanding the role of distributor points is essential for grasping the importance of their maintenance. In the ignition system of a vehicle, distributor points play a crucial role in ensuring proper spark timing and sending the required electrical current to the spark plugs. They act as a switch that opens and closes, allowing the flow of current from the ignition coil to the spark plugs. This, in turn, ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber, starting the engine.

Why Regular Cleaning Of Distributor Points Is Necessary

In order to keep the ignition system running smoothly, regular cleaning of distributor points is necessary. Over time, these points can become dirty or worn-out due to the high voltage passing through them and the continuous sparking that occurs when the distributor shaft spins. Dirty points can cause a weak or intermittent spark, leading to engine misfires, poor fuel economy, and decreased overall performance of the vehicle.

Regular cleaning removes dirt, oil, and carbon build-up from the distributor points, ensuring a consistent and strong spark. By maintaining clean points, you can optimize the ignition system’s performance, improving fuel efficiency, reducing emissions, and extending the lifespan of other ignition components like the ignition coil and spark plugs.

Signs That Indicate Dirty Or Worn-out Distributor Points

To identify when distributor points need cleaning or replacement, it’s essential to pay attention to specific signs. Recognizing these signs will help you address the issue promptly and prevent further damage to the ignition system.

  • Engine misfires or hesitation during acceleration
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Difficulty starting the engine
  • Inconsistent engine performance at idle
  • Increased emissions
  • Visible carbon deposits on the distributor points

If you notice any of these signs, it’s a clear indication that your distributor points may be dirty or worn-out. Swift action and routine cleaning or replacement will help restore your ignition system’s efficiency and keep your vehicle performing at its best.

Tools And Materials Needed For Cleaning Distributor Points

When it comes to maintaining your vehicle’s ignition system, cleaning the distributor points is an important task that shouldn’t be overlooked. Dirty distributor points can lead to poor engine performance and even engine misfiring. To ensure your distributor points are in top shape, you’ll need the right tools and materials for the cleaning process.

Essential Tools For The Cleaning Process

Before you begin cleaning the distributor points, it’s important to gather the necessary tools. Having the right tools on hand will make the cleaning process much smoother and more efficient. Here are the essential tools you’ll need:

  • A screwdriver set: You’ll need a set of screwdrivers to remove the distributor cap and access the points.
  • Point file or sandpaper: A point file or sandpaper is used to remove any corrosion or dirt buildup on the points.
  • Compressed air can or brush: This tool is useful for removing any loose debris or dirt from the distributor points.

Safety Precautions To Be Followed During The Cleaning

While cleaning the distributor points is a relatively straightforward task, it’s important to follow some safety precautions to ensure your well-being. Here are some safety measures you should keep in mind:

  1. Disconnect the battery: Before you begin, make sure to disconnect the vehicle’s battery to prevent any accidental electrical shocks.
  2. Work in a well-ventilated area: Cleaning the distributor points can sometimes release harmful fumes or particles, so it’s important to work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any harmful substances.
  3. Wear protective gloves and eyewear: To protect yourself from any potential injuries, always wear protective gloves and eyewear while working with the distributor points.

Recommended Cleaning Materials For Distributor Points

In addition to the essential tools mentioned above, using the right cleaning materials is crucial for an effective cleaning process. Here are some recommended cleaning materials for your distributor points:

Cleaning Material Description
Electrical contact cleaner An electrical contact cleaner is specifically designed to remove dirt, oil, and other contaminants from electrical connections, making it an ideal choice for cleaning distributor points.
Q-tips or cotton swabs Q-tips or cotton swabs are useful for applying the electrical contact cleaner and reaching small areas around the distributor points.
Lint-free cloth A lint-free cloth is necessary for wiping away any excess cleaner or debris after the cleaning process.

By having the right tools and materials at your disposal and following the necessary safety precautions, you can easily clean your distributor points and ensure your vehicle’s ignition system is in optimal condition. Regular maintenance and cleaning will help prolong the life of your distributor points and keep your engine running smoothly.

Step 1: Disconnecting The Power Supply

Disconnecting the power supply is the first step in cleaning distributor points. It is crucial to ensure safety and prevent any accidents before proceeding with the cleaning process.

Ensuring Safety By Disconnecting The Power

The first step in cleaning distributor points is to ensure your safety by disconnecting the power supply. This is a crucial step to prevent any accidental electric shocks or damage to the vehicle’s electrical system. By following the proper methods to disconnect the power, you can clean the distributor points effectively and prevent any mishaps.

Locating The Distributor Cap And Power Source Connections

Before you begin disconnecting the power, it’s important to locate the distributor cap and power source connections. The distributor cap is usually located on the side or top of the engine, and it houses the distributor rotor and distributor points. The power source connections can vary depending on the vehicle make and model, but they are typically found near the distributor cap.

Proper Methods For Disconnecting The Power

  • Step 1: Locate the negative terminal of the car battery. This terminal is marked with a minus (-) sign.
  • Step 2: Use a wrench or a socket set to loosen the nut or bolt that secures the negative terminal. Once loosened, remove the negative cable from the battery.
  • Step 3: Move the negative cable away from the battery terminal to prevent any accidental contact while you work on the distributor points.
  • Note: Some vehicles may have additional connections that need to be disconnected. Refer to your vehicle’s manual for specific instructions.

By following these proper methods for disconnecting the power, you can safely proceed with the next steps of cleaning the distributor points. It’s essential to take these precautions to ensure your safety and maintain the integrity of the electrical system in your vehicle.

How To Clean Distributor Points


Step 2: Removing The Distributor Cap

To clean distributor points, start by proceeding to step 2: removing the distributor cap. By carefully following this process, you can effectively maintain the functionality of your distributor and ensure optimal engine performance.

Understanding The Distributor Cap’s Purpose

The distributor cap is a crucial component of a vehicle’s ignition system. Its purpose is to distribute the high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plugs in the correct firing order. This ensures that the fuel mixture ignites at the right time, allowing the engine to run smoothly. Over time, the distributor cap may become dirty or worn out, hindering its effectiveness. Removing the distributor cap is an essential step in cleaning the distributor points and maintaining optimal ignition performance.

Points To Remember While Removing The Distributor Cap

  1. Ensure the engine is completely switched off to prevent any accidental sparking or injury.
  2. Take note of the current position of the distributor cap and the spark plug wires connected to it. This way, you can easily reinstall them correctly later.
  3. If possible, refer to your vehicle’s manual for specific instructions or diagrams pertaining to your particular model.

Techniques For Safely Removing The Cap Without Causing Any Damage

Removing the distributor cap requires precision and caution to prevent any damage. Follow these steps to safely remove the cap without causing any harm:
  1. Start by locating the distributor cap, which is usually a round or rectangular-shaped plastic cover. It is typically attached to the distributor body.
  2. Identify any retaining clips or screws holding the distributor cap in place. Use a suitable tool, such as a screwdriver or socket wrench, to loosen and remove them carefully.
  3. Gently lift the distributor cap straight upwards without applying excessive force. Avoid twisting or pulling at an angle to avoid damaging delicate internal components.
  4. Set the distributor cap aside in a clean and safe location to prevent any dirt or debris from entering.
Remember, each vehicle may have slight variations in the process, so it’s always wise to consult your manual for specific instructions. Removing the distributor cap safely sets the foundation for effectively cleaning the distributor points, ensuring your ignition system performs optimally.

Step 3: Examination And Evaluation Of Distributor Points

Step 3 involves examining and evaluating the distributor points to ensure proper cleaning. This crucial step helps improve the overall performance and longevity of the distributor.

Importance Of Inspecting The Distributor Points

Inspecting the distributor points is a crucial step in maintaining the optimal performance of your vehicle’s ignition system. The distributor points play a central role in delivering the necessary voltage and current to spark the ignition and ignite the fuel mixture. Over time, these points are subjected to wear and tear, leading to reduced performance and potentially even engine misfires. By regularly inspecting the distributor points, you can identify any issues and address them promptly, ensuring your engine runs smoothly and efficiently.

Identifying Common Issues With Distributor Points

During the examination of your distributor points, it is important to keep an eye out for common issues that may affect their performance. Some of these issues include:

  • Excessive wear on the contact surfaces
  • Burnt or pitted contact points
  • Corrosion or rust on the points
  • Misalignment or improper gap between the points

Identifying these common issues will help you understand the condition of your distributor points and determine whether they need cleaning or replacement.

Assessing The Condition Of The Points And Determining If They Need Cleaning Or Replacement

Once you have thoroughly examined the distributor points, it’s time to assess their condition. This assessment involves evaluating the extent of wear, damage, or corrosion present on the points. If the points show signs of excessive wear, such as deep grooves or roughened surfaces, they may need replacement. On the other hand, if the wear is minor and the points are still in relatively good condition, cleaning them may suffice.

To determine whether the points need cleaning or replacement, pay close attention to their overall appearance and functionality. If they appear heavily corroded or damaged, cleaning may not effectively restore their performance. However, if the points just show minor signs of wear and have a relatively smooth contact surface, cleaning them using an appropriate method can enhance their conductivity and extend their lifespan.

Remember, ensuring the distributor points are in good condition is essential for a smooth running engine. By examining and evaluating the points, you can make an informed decision on whether to clean them or opt for replacement, ultimately optimizing the performance and longevity of your vehicle.

Step 4: Cleaning The Distributor Points

To clean distributor points, follow step 4 by carefully inspecting and removing any dirt or debris. Use a clean cloth or sandpaper to gently clean the points and ensure smooth operation. Regular maintenance of the distributor points is essential for optimum performance.

Different Methods For Cleaning Distributor Points

There are several different methods you can use to clean your distributor points, depending on their condition. Here are some of the most common methods:

  • Method 1: Alcohol swab: This is the simplest and most common method for cleaning distributor points. Simply soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the points to remove any dirt or debris. This method is effective for regular maintenance and minor buildup.
  • Method 2: Emery cloth: If the points have significant corrosion or heavy buildup, you may need a more abrasive method. Emery cloth is a fine-grit sandpaper that can be used to gently scrub away the buildup on the points. Be sure to use a clean portion of the cloth for each point to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Method 3: Wire brush: For stubborn corrosion or heavy buildup, a wire brush can be used to scrub the points. This method requires caution and precision to avoid damaging the delicate points.

Choosing The Appropriate Method Based On The Condition

When choosing the appropriate method for cleaning your distributor points, it’s important to consider their condition. Here are some guidelines to help you determine which method to use:

Condition Recommended Method
The points are dirty or have light buildup Method 1: Alcohol swab
The points have significant corrosion or heavy buildup Method 2: Emery cloth
The points have stubborn corrosion or heavy buildup Method 3: Wire brush

Step-by-step Instructions For Cleaning The Points Effectively

  1. Step 1: Make sure the engine is off and the distributor cap is removed to gain access to the points.
  2. Step 2: Inspect the points for any visible dirt, debris, or corrosion.
  3. Step 3: Choose the appropriate cleaning method based on the condition of the points.
  4. Step 4: If using an alcohol swab, gently wipe the points in a back-and-forth motion until they are clean. If using emery cloth, carefully scrub the points until the buildup is removed. If using a wire brush, use short, gentle strokes to remove any stubborn corrosion.
  5. Step 5: After cleaning, use a compressed air can or a clean, dry cloth to remove any residue or loose debris from the points.
  6. Step 6: Inspect the points again to ensure they are clean and free of any remaining buildup or debris.
  7. Step 7: Once the points are clean, replace the distributor cap and start the engine to test for proper functioning.

By following these step-by-step instructions and choosing the appropriate cleaning method, you can effectively clean your distributor points and ensure optimal performance for your vehicle.

Step 5: Reinstalling The Distributor Cap

After thoroughly cleaning the distributor points, it’s time to reassemble everything and get your engine up and running smoothly again. Follow these simple steps to properly reinstall the distributor cap:

Proper Alignment And Fitting Of The Distributor Cap

Begin by ensuring that the distributor cap is aligned correctly with the distributor housing. Look for alignment marks on both the cap and housing, and make sure they match up perfectly. This proper alignment ensures that the electrical connections are solid and reliable. It also prevents any moisture or debris from entering the distributor and causing potential issues.

To fit the distributor cap, carefully place it over the distributor housing, ensuring each contact point lines up with the corresponding terminal. Apply gentle pressure and rotate the cap slightly as needed until it seats properly on the housing. Once in place, give the cap a slight twist to lock it securely into position.

Reconnecting The Power Supply

Next, it’s time to reconnect the power supply to the distributor cap. Locate the ignition coil wire and firmly push it onto the center terminal of the cap. The wire should fit snugly and make a solid connection. This connection supplies the necessary electricity to the distributor and gets the sparks flying for smooth engine operation.

Double-checking For Any Loose Connections Or Issues

Before wrapping up the reinstallation process, it’s essential to double-check for any loose connections or issues that may have arisen during the cleaning process. Go through each spark plug wire and ensure they are securely attached to the distributor cap. Take a moment to inspect the wires for any signs of wear, such as cracks or fraying, and replace them if necessary.

If your vehicle has a rotor, make sure it is in good condition and properly fitted onto the distributor shaft. Inspect it for any signs of damage or excessive wear. Finally, examine the distributor cap itself for any cracks, corrosion, or other signs of deterioration. Replace the cap if needed to maintain optimal performance.

Once you have thoroughly inspected all connections, wires, and components, give one final visual check to ensure everything is in place and looks secure. You are now ready to move on to the next step in your maintenance routine or fire up your engine and enjoy the results of your cleaned distributor points!

Tips For Maintaining Clean Distributor Points

Regular maintenance of distributor points is essential to ensure proper functioning of the ignition system in your vehicle. Over time, these points can accumulate dirt, grease, and oxidation, leading to poor engine performance, misfires, and even stalling. By following a regular maintenance schedule and taking additional preventive measures, you can keep the distributor points clean and prolong their lifespan. In addition, professional inspection and tuning by a competent mechanic are crucial to identify any underlying issues and ensure optimal performance. This article will provide you with some useful tips on how to maintain clean distributor points and maximize the efficiency of your vehicle.

Regular Maintenance Schedule For Distributor Points

Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining clean distributor points. Establishing a regular maintenance schedule allows you to stay ahead of any potential problems before they become major issues. Here’s a basic outline of the steps you should take:

  1. Check distributor points: Begin by examining the points for any signs of wear, corrosion, or buildup. Use a flashlight to get a clear view and ensure there are no cracks or pitting on the contact surfaces.
  2. Clean the points: Once you’ve inspected the points, it’s time to clean them. Remove any accumulated dirt, grease, or oxidation using a fine-grit sandpaper or a points file. Be careful not to damage the contact surfaces or alter the gap between the points.
  3. Adjust point gap: Measure the gap between the distributor points using a feeler gauge. If necessary, adjust the gap to the manufacturer’s recommended specifications. A proper point gap ensures optimal engine performance.
  4. Lubricate moving parts: Apply a small amount of dielectric grease or distributor cam lubricant to the rubbing block and pivot point of the points. This helps reduce friction and ensures a smooth operation.

Additional Measures To Prevent Buildup And Prolong The Lifespan Of The Points

While regular cleaning is essential, there are additional measures you can take to prevent buildup and extend the lifespan of your distributor points. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Use a quality distributor cap and rotor: A worn-out or faulty distributor cap or rotor can contribute to point buildup. Regularly inspect these components and replace them if necessary.
  • Install an ignition condenser: Adding an ignition condenser (also known as a capacitor) to the distributor can help suppress arcing and reduce point wear. Consult your vehicle’s manual or a trusted mechanic to determine the appropriate condenser for your specific make and model.
  • Keep the engine bay clean: A clean engine bay reduces the amount of dirt and debris that can accumulate on the distributor points. Regularly remove any leaves, twigs, or other debris that may have made their way into the engine compartment.
  • Consider electronic ignition conversion: Upgrading to an electronic ignition system eliminates the need for distributor points altogether. This modern system offers improved reliability and performance.

Importance Of Professional Inspection And Tuning

Maintaining clean distributor points is not a one-time task. Professional inspection and tuning should be part of your regular maintenance routine to ensure optimal performance and identify any potential issues. A competent mechanic has the expertise and diagnostic tools to:

  1. Check timing: Accurate ignition timing is crucial for proper engine combustion. A professional can verify and adjust the timing to ensure maximum power and fuel efficiency.
  2. Perform a comprehensive ignition system check: This includes evaluating the distributor cap, rotor, ignition coil, and other related components to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  3. Diagnose and address specific issues: A mechanic can troubleshoot any ignition-related problems, such as misfires, backfiring, or rough idling, and provide the necessary repairs or replacements.

By adhering to a regular maintenance schedule, implementing preventive measures, and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can keep your distributor points clean and your ignition system in optimal condition.

Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Clean Distributor Points

How Do You Clean A Points Distributor?

To clean a points distributor: Remove the distributor cap and rotor. Use a clean cloth and rubbing alcohol to carefully wipe away any dirt or residue from the points. Inspect for any signs of wear or damage. Replace if necessary.

Reassemble the distributor cap and rotor.

How Do You Clean Distributor Contacts?

To clean distributor contacts, follow these steps: 1. Disconnect the vehicle’s battery. 2. Locate the distributor cap and remove it. 3. Use a clean cloth or a soft brush to remove any dirt or debris. 4. Inspect the contacts for signs of wear or damage.

5. If necessary, lightly sand the contacts to remove any corrosion. 6. Reassemble the distributor cap and reconnect the battery.

How Are The Breaker Points Cleaned?

Breaker points are cleaned by removing the distributor cap and using a small file or emery cloth to carefully clean the contact surfaces. It’s important to ensure that no debris or residue remains on the points, as this can affect engine performance.

Regular cleaning helps maintain proper ignition timing.

Can You Clean Points With Sand Paper?

Yes, sandpaper can be used to clean points.


To sum up, regular maintenance of distributor points is essential for optimal engine performance. By following the step-by-step guidelines provided you can confidently clean distributor points yourself and avoid unnecessary expenses at the mechanic. Remember to prioritize safety, wear appropriate protective gear, and use the recommended tools.

By taking care of this important component, you’ll be ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your vehicle. Happy cleaning!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top