How to Replace the Distributor in a Nissan Pathfinder

by ContributorUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Screwdriver

How to Replace the Distributor in a Nissan Pathfinder. In Nissan Pathfinders made from 1996 onward, you'll find 3.3L engines that contain distributors, as well as 3.3L engines that don't. In 1995 and earlier, all Nissan Pathfinder engines had distributors. The home mechanic can replace the distributor without any special tools.

Replacing the Distributor From 1996 Onward

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

Disconnect the negative cable on the battery; the battery is on the driver's side near the front of the engine compartment. Pop the spark plug wires off the distributor cap.

Unscrew the screws on the distributor cap with a screwdriver and unscrew the screw holding the distributor wiring harness connector.

Use a marker to mark the rotor and the distributor housing, as well as the distributor housing and the cylinder head, so you can line them up on re-installation.

Lift the distributor up and out of the cylinder block.

Install your new Nissan Pathfinder distributor, lining up marks on the housing, the rotor and the cylinder head.

Reattach the distributor wiring harness connector and replace the distributor cap. Hook up the negative cable to the battery.

Replacing the Distributor in Models 1995 and Earlier

Unhook the negative cable from the battery.

Loosen the retaining clips and the distributor cap will lift off. Leave the spark plug wiring connected to the cap.

Take off the dust cover and mark the rotor's position as it relates to the distributor body; then the distributor body to the engine block. You want them all to line up when you install the new distributor.

Detach the harness assembly connector, using a screwdriver to unscrew it. Take out the pinch-bolt and lift the distributor up and out.

Replace the new Nissan Pathfinder distributor in the block and line up all the marks made during removal.

Engage the distributor-driven gear.


Do not turn or disturb the engine (unless absolutely necessary) after the distributor assembly has been removed. If you do, the engine won't work properly when you install the new distributor.

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