How to Replace the Distributor in a Nissan Altima

by Editorial TeamUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Wrench or ratchet

  • Nissan Altima O-ring

  • Nissan Altima distributor

How to Replace the Distributor in a Nissan Altima. All Nissan Altima engines contained distributors until the 2002 models. From 2002 onward, the Nissan Altima models contained both distributor and distributorless systems. If you have a 1.8L, 2.0L or 2.4L engine, here's how the home handyman can replace the distributor. You won't need any special tools.

Removing the Distributor

Look for the distributor on the engine block of the Nissan Altima; access should be easy. Identify the distributor by the cables running to it from the spark plugs in the engine block.

Check to see that your engine is on Top Dead Center (TDC) and that the No. 1 piston is on compression stroke. This has to be lined up properly both when you remove and replace the distributor.

Disconnect the negative cable on the battery and pull the spark plug wires from the distributor cap. The battery will be at the front, near the grille on the driver's side.

Mark the engine block to indicate the distributor and rotor positions and then unscrew the screws to remove the distributor cap.

Unscrew the wiring connections from the distributor with a screwdriver.

Use a wrench to remove the bolt or bolts that hold the distributor in the engine. Depending on the year of the vehicle, the number of bolts varies.

Lift the distributor up and out of the cylinder block.

Installing a New Distributor

Put in a new distributor housing O-ring before installing the new distributor. You have to buy the O-ring separately. Grease it lightly before putting it in.

Install the distributor for your Nissan Altima, lining up the rotor with the mark on the housing. The original part number from Nissan will be 22100-9E001RE or 22100-1E420RE, depending on the year of the vehicle. When ordering from Nissan or an auto parts store, know the year and engine size.

Make sure the distributor is seated in the housing and the distributor gear is fully engaged. Tighten the hold-down bolt.

Reattach the distributor pick-up lead wires, put the distributor cap back in place with screws, reattach the spark plug wires and connect the negative cable to the battery.

Tighten the hold-down bolt or bolts on your model engine.


Don't move the camshaft or crankshaft position after you take out the distributor of your Nissan Altima. If you do, you will have to find TDC on cylinder No. 1 before you install the new distributor.

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