How to Replace the Distributor in a Jeep Grand Cherokeeby Contributor; Updated November 07, 2017
Items you will need
Distributor mounting gasket
How to Replace the Distributor in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Jeep introduced the Grand Cherokee in 1993, and engines from then until 2000 contained distributors. The 2.5L and 4.0L engines had distributors all through those years, with the 5.2L and 5.9L joining the group from 1993 to 1998. If you're handy with some basic tools, you can replace the distributor.
Replacing Distributors in 2.5L and 4.0L Engines
Trace the spark plug wires to the distributor on the left side of the engine block, as you face it. On some models it will be clearly evident while on others, you will find it nearly hidden by other engine parts.
Disconnect the negative battery cable; the battery is at the left front of the engine. Unscrew the screws in the distributor cap and remove it. Make marks to indicate the distributor housing position relative to the rotor; line up the marks in the director the rotor's metal tip points. These marks will help during re-installation.
Unbolt the distributor wiring harness from the engine with a wrench. Unbolt the distributor hold-down bolt and take out the distributor.
Clean the cylinder block mounting area and put in a new distributor mounting gasket. Lightly oil a new O-ring and install it. Put the rotor slightly counterclockwise of the mark you made during removal; you'll need to do this because the rotor will rotate clockwise as the gears begin to engage.
Put in your new Grand Cherokee distributor, while being sure the rotor tip lines up with the mark you made earlier. You can order part number 20216E for a 4.0L 1997 engine from Parts Train. Part numbers vary by manufacturer, so give your engine size and year when ordering.
Line up the fork with the distributor hold-down bolt hole, if your model has a fork. You have the distributor correctly installed when the rotor is in position and the slot lines up with the hold-down bolt hole.
Replace the distributor hold-down bolt and tighten lightly and reconnect the wiring harness. Install the screws in the distributor cap and replace the spark plug wires. Tighten the hold-down bolt lightly and reconnect the negative battery cable.
Replacing distributors in 5.2L and 5.9L Engines
Face the engine block and trace the spark plug wires to the distributor on the left side. On some models it will be clearly evident while on others, you will find it nearly hidden by other engine parts. Unhook the negative battery cable from the battery on the left front of the engine compartment.
Label and unplug the spark plug wires from the distributor cap and coil. Remove the distributor cap retaining hooks or screws and take off the distributor cap. Mark the rotor's position in relation to the base, marking the base of the distributor and on the engine for easier installation later.
Use a long-handled ratchet (breaker bar) on the crankshaft damper retaining bolt, in the pulley near the bottom of the engine, and slowly rotate the engine clockwise until the mark on the crankshaft damper lines up with the 0 degree mark on the timing chain cover. This will bring the distributor rotor in alignment with the CYL. NO 1 mark on the camshaft position sensor.
Detach the camshaft position sensor connector from the shaft on the distributor and remove the rotor. Unbolt the distributor hold-down bolt with a wrench and remove the distributor and hold-down clamp.
Clean the mounting area of the cylinder block and install a new distributor mounting gasket. Also put in a new O-ring, lightly oiled, on the distributor housing and replace the rotor.
Put the distributor shaft down into the engine block, moving the rotor and shaft slightly to engage the distributor shaft in the oil pump slot as you install the new distributor. Be sure the rotor lines up with the CYL. NO. 1 mark on the camshaft position sensor. You can order part number 21207E for a 5.2L 1997 engine from Parts Train. Part numbers vary by manufacturer, so give your engine size and year when ordering.
Replace the distributor shaft hold-down bolt and tighten. Install the distributor cap and reconnect all electrical wires and connections, ensuring that the spark plug wires are in their proper order.