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replacing distrib cap, wires, and ignit rotor


Jenc's Avatar
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02-22-05, 01:36 PM   #1  
Jenc
replacing distrib cap, wires, and ignit rotor

Hi!

My car - a Honda Civic 1998 with approximately 40,000 miles - has been diagnosed as needing a new distributor cap, all 4 wires replaced, and the ignition rotor replaced. When it is humid outside, the sparks are not firing correctly through the distributor cap to all 4 cylinders, but instead arc across each other, and miss a few cylinders. The engine then runs very rough, and sometimes the car has difficulty starting. The "check engine light" has been going on as well.

Our mechanic is estimating this repair will cost approximately $360 w/ tax, which includes $80 computerized diagnosis, the distributor cap for $40, the rotor for $30, the ignition wires set for $120, and labor for $70. -- Does this pricing sound average, fair?

Many thanks!

 
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02-22-05, 03:43 PM   #2  
Sounds a little steep to me, especially the $120 wire set. If you have any mechanical ability at all, this is all DIY-type stuff (except the diagnostic, which you may not need). Easy way to check on parts prices - call around to a couple of parts places and check. All you need to ask is for prices for a cap and rotor (and wire set, too, if you're so inclined) for a 1998 Civic. $70 for a cap and rotor sounds way, way out of line unless they are gold plated (or come from a dealership; same thing).

Two things I would do: Replace the cap and rotor, and get any codes read. If there is an Auto Zone in your area they will do it for free and you can post back here what the codes are. You'll probably get codes, at least, for miss fire in cylinder such & such (which you already know). I would not condemn the plug wires without good reason, especially on a 7 year old Honda with only 40k miles on it. We sold off my wife's '95 Camry recently with about 175,000 miles the original wire set.

you can find maintenance procedures for your car at wqww.autozone.com.


Measure it with a micrometer; cut it with an ax.

 
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02-22-05, 03:44 PM   #3  
That's a very expensive tune-up! The prices for those parts are ridiculous. Check the prices at autozone.com to see what I mean.

The computerized diagnosis shouldn't even be necessary if replacing the parts fixes it. Only he would need to scan the codes in the car's computer(which auto zone does for free) to be sure the problem isn't something else like a bad sensor but most likely, the code it a just a misfire code. Also he would need to clear the code with his scan tool or computer to turn off the check engine light.

I noticed you didn't mention spark plugs which would normally also be replaced along with the other parts. Is that included? If not, get ready to take a hit for those too.

 
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02-22-05, 03:53 PM   #4  
I bet a cap and rotor is all you need like tow guy said. I think we posted at about the same time. Funny we said almost the exact same thing.

 
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02-22-05, 03:53 PM   #5  
Here are some sample prices for a 1.6L Civic at autozone.com:

Distributor cap - $14.99
Rotor - 8.99
"Gold" series cap AND rotor 34.99
Bosch wire set 44.99
Bosch platinum plugs 1.99ea

Cap, rotor, wires, and plugs can be done in about 30 minutes. A $70 labor charge would be for an hour (roughly) of labor, unless part of the labor is also the "diagnostic" which you would already be paying $80 for.


Measure it with a micrometer; cut it with an ax.

 
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02-22-05, 03:58 PM   #6  
Great minds think alike, Jeff. My first thought was, "jeez, what a rip-off!!!".

If I'm not mistaken, a check engine light for a misfire will clear itself once the misfire is fixed.


Measure it with a micrometer; cut it with an ax.

 
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02-22-05, 04:05 PM   #7  
I was thinking the same thing GMTA. LOL.

I've had a misfire code twice on my Taurus (which I know you how you love them so much) I had to use the scanner to clear it both times.

PS: 121,000 miles and transmission is still going smoothly.....knock on wood!

 
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02-22-05, 04:12 PM   #8  
check the altenator

 
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02-23-05, 07:04 AM   #9  
Jenc
thanks!

thank you everyone for all your helpful information! - Jennifer

 
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02-23-05, 08:53 AM   #10  
one more thing

I am not sure about Honda but I suspect it is the same as Toyota.If you can get OEM Honda parts not some cheap knock off.
But I am with the other guys cap and rotor no wires.Honda cars run forever and some still have the same stuff after over 100 thousand miles.

 
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02-23-05, 02:23 PM   #11  
Your problem may not even be the distibutor. As brmcc74 suggested - "check the alternator". Actually, I'm not certain about the alternator, but I had a similar problem with my Mazda several years ago. It wouldn't start in damp weather. After having the car for an extended period of time (he couldn't recreate the problem until it rained!) he pinned it down to, I believe some kind of filter in the fuel system. Can't remember exactly what it was but after he fixed it for around $50 or so it's run fine. Hopefully some of the other real mechanics like TowGuy may know what my mechanic was referring to. By the way, did the mechanic test the problem under the same conditions that it was failing for you?

Bob

 
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02-23-05, 06:23 PM   #12  
Got me on that one, Bob.

I was going on the phrase "has been diagnosed as needing..." and assumed the mechanics involved were reasonably competent (even if they do want to mark up the parts for the fix by about 300%).

One of the real, REAL mechanics should weigh in on the question, unl;ess they think we've already hit the high points.


Measure it with a micrometer; cut it with an ax.

 
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02-25-05, 07:19 PM   #13  
This sounds fishey to me. My experience with Hondas is the 10+ year old 100,000 mile + Honda caps rotors and plug wires are still fine. It is not impossible that they are bad but on a 98 with 40,000 miles I think it is highly unlikely they are bad. I doubt if the plugs are even bad at that mileage.

I highly recomend a 2nd opinion. And like others have pointed out the prices are too high.

I would not rule out the alternator like was said. Your local Auto Zone, Advance Auto, etc. will check the charging system for free.

Your car has a problem and it needs fixing but I suspect a coil, coil wire, or ignitor may have gone bad. I am not buying that all of those normally reliable factory parts have gone bad. Maybe 1 of them but not all.

 
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