How to Find the Distributor Cap

by Contributor

The distributor cap, made of hard plastic and some copper, covers the distributor and its internal rotor, which relay electricity to the spark plug wires at the correct time. The distributor cap is subject to high electrical voltages all the time, so they do wear out. Here's how to find the distributor cap under the hood of your automobile.

Step 1

Find the hood release located under the dash in your car on the driver's side. Pull to release the hood.

Step 2

Open the hood and stabilize it with the hood prop rod, so it doesn't close while you are working under the hood.

Step 3

Locate one of the spark plug wires on your engine. Follow that wire around and it will lead to the distributor cap. The distributor cap has one post that corresponds with each of the cylinders in your engine.

Step 4

Check your owner's manual for a diagram of your engine if you are having trouble locating the distributor cap.

Inspect your distributor cap regularly, as they do wear out. Replace the part every 15,000 miles driven or at least once every two years.


  • Most new cars have a Distributor-less Ignition System (DIS), and therefore do not have a distributor cap.


  • Each spark plug wire connects to the distributor cap in a specific location on the cap. Before you unplug any spark plug wire, make note of where each wire belongs. It is best to remove the distributor cap without unplugging any of the spark plug wires.
  • Remember the wires have electric voltage running through them. Do not touch them while the car is running, and always let your engine cool before touching the distributor cap or wires.
  • Don't confuse the hood release lever with the emergency brake release.

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