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How to Change the Distributor in a Ford Truck

by Brian Osher; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Set of screwdrivers

  • Masking tape

  • Fine tip marker

  • Dielectric silicone

  • Distributor

Many Ford trucks use a distributor to send high voltage currents through the spark plug wires to make the spark plugs spark at the right time. The distributor gets these currents from the ignition coil. Ford recommends that the spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor are replaced every 30,000 miles to 30 months. Replacing these items at the time of distributor replacement could improve the performance of ignition system if the vehicle’s operation is close to the recommended interval.

Disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent the possibility of electrical shock.

Disconnect spark plug wires and the coil wire from the distributor cap individually. As disconnecting, label the wires and cap posts for wire locations.

Remove the distributor cap mounting screws and remove the cap from the distributor.

Disconnect the module electrical connector.

Disconnect any vacuum hoses while taking notice of where they go.

Make an alignment mark on the side of the distributor housing for the position of the tip of the rotor before removal.

Make an alignment mark on the distributor housing and the engine block for orientation of the distributor before removal.

Remove the distributor bolt and clamp by socket and carefully pull the distributor straight up out of the engine.

Transfer the alignment marks as close as possible from the old distributor to the new one.

Install the replacement distributor into the engine so that the orientation mark on distributor housing lines up with the mark on the engine block.

Reinstall the distributor’s mounting bolt and clamp.

Reconnect any vacuum hoses.

Connect the module electrical connector.

Reinstall the rotor with the tip pointing at the rotor alignment mark on the side of the distributor housing.

Reinstall the rotor cap and mounting screws.

Apply dielectric grease to all of the distributor cap contacts.

Reinstall plug wires and coil wire according to their corresponding markings. If replacing the distributor cap, transfer markings from the old cap to the new.

Connect the negative battery cable.


If spark plug wires are getting changed, swap them out one at a time so firing order mix-ups don’t occur.

About the Author

Residing in upstate New York, Brian Osher started writing how-to articles in 2010. He has written articles on automotive, computers, health and fitness, and home and garden. Osher has a Bachelor of Science in business management from the State University of New York in Plattsburgh.

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