How to Replace the Distributor in a Dodge Ram

by Editorial TeamUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Wrench

  • Socket with breaker bar (long ratchet)

  • Distributor

How to Replace the Distributor in a Dodge Ram. The Dodge Ram 1500 and higher series has been a big, popular vehicle for the company since 1994 and has both distributor and distributorless systems. Here's how to replace the distributor in 3.9L, 5.2L and 5.9L engines, if you like to do your own work.

Replacing Distributors: 1994 to 1997 models

Find the distributor at the back of the engine block. It's cramped back there, but you can find the distributor by the spark plug wires running to it.

Use a wrench to unbolt the air cleaner assembly and disconnect any connecting tubes necessary for access. Also remove the throttle body--a round piece on the top of the block with one or two holes in it--and the plenum chamber next to it on V-8 engines. For all engines, unscrew the distributor low-tension wires from their connector, and unscrew the high-tension lead from the coil.

Label each spark plug wire before removing it from the distributor cap, if you have to remove the wires for cap removal. Unscrew the screws or unfasten the clips to remove the cap. Check the distributor rotor to be sure it points to the CYL NO. 1 mark on the camshaft position sensor mounting plate, if your Ram has one. This is necessary for proper installation later.

Make a mark on the distributor housing position lining it up with the engine block, as well as the distributor shaft or rotor relative to the distributor housing. Use this to align pieces for installation later.

Unbolt the distributor hold-down bolt with a wrench, remove the clamp, and lift out the distributor. The rotor will turn when the driven gear unmeshes with the drive gear. After the piece is clear, mark the rotor position relative to the drive gear.

Carefully lift the distributor assembly out of the engine. Note that the rotor will turn as the driven gear unmeshes with the drive gear. When clear of the drive gear, matchmark the position of the rotor. This will be the starting position when reinstalling the distributor.

Install the rotor so it lines up with the last mark made as the distributor came out. For six-cylinder engines, part number 21207E from Parts Train will fit, though the number differs by manufacturer. Lower the distributor slowly and carefully into the hole. The gears will mesh and the rotor will start to turn. The distributor shaft tongue must go into the slot in the oil pump shaft.

Check all alignments after the distributor is firmly in place--the engine block and distributor housing marks, as well as the rotor and distributor housing marks. Tighten the hold-down bolt on the distributor to 200 inch pounds. (22.5 Nm). Reassemble everything in reverse order from Step 3, then Step 2.

Replacing Distributors: 1998 to 2005 models

Trace the spark plug wires to the distributor; it will be at the back of the engine block, in a cramped space.

Disconnect the negative battery cable to the distributor and unhook the air cleaner tube. Unscrew or unhook the clamps holding the distributor cap in place, and unscrew the Camshaft Position (CMP) sensor connector with a screwdriver.

Matchmark the distributor housing and the rotor for later realignment, as well as the distributor housing and the intake manifold. Unbolt the holding clamp and remove the distributor.

Set the engine at Top Dead Center (TDC) mark of the No. 1 cylinder compression stroke with a socket with breaker bar (long-handled ratchet).

Install the Ram distributor, replace the clamp and lightly tighten the bolt. The distributor part number is A1303801 from Parts Train, but numbers differ from different manufacturers. Order using the model, year and engine size.

Turn the distributor in its seating so the rotor lines up with the No. 1 cylinder mark on the Camshaft Position (CMP) sensor. Bolt the clamp bolt to 200 foot pounds (22.5 Nm).

Reattach the CMP sensor connector and use the screws or clamps to replace the distributor cap. Connect the air cleaner tube and the negative battery cable.

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