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How to Install a Distributor in a 1997 Chevy Blazer 4.3 Vortec

by Justin Chacos

The distributor in a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer accepts the electrical charge needed for combustion and relays it to the six spark plugs in the 4.3 liter Vortec V-6 engine in a specific order. A spinning rotor at the head of the distributor contacts metal prongs on the cap of the distributor sequentially, transferring the electrical signal to each spark plug through a spark plug wire. A deficient or incorrectly installed distributor will throw off the firing order causing engine sputter and may disable the engine altogether. The Blazer's distributor is non-adjustable; however the ignition timing must be correct for proper operation.

Disconnect the negative battery lead from the battery terminal and position so that it cannot accidently touch the terminal during maintenance.

Rotate the crankshaft damper on the front of the engine to the top dead center position for piston one. The crankshaft damper is attached to the large wheel on the front of the engine centered near the bottom. It has two alignment marks that, when aligned with the two V cutouts in the alignment protrusions on the engine, identify top dead center.

Rotate the bottom of the distributor shaft until the rotor contact aligns with the alignment mark opposite of the electrical input connector. There may be an imprinted 6 instead of an alignment mark. This readies the distributor for use in the 6-cylinder engine.

Look into the distributor hole with a flashlight. You'll see the oil pump drive shaft. Position it into the mating tab on the distributor with a flathead screwdriver.

Slide the distributor into the engine. It should seat fully with the spark plug wire outputs parallel with the firewall.

Install the hold-down bolt at the bottom of the distributor with a 10-millimeter distributor wrench. Torque it to 20-foot pounds.

Place the distributor cap on the top of the distributor and install the cap screws. Torque them to 20-inch pounds with a Torx bit. Attach the electrical input connector to the distributor below the cap.

Attach the spark plug wires. If they were not labeled during removal, trace the wires from the engine. When looking at the engine compartment, the three wires from the left side of the engine connect to the left outputs on the distributor cap in order. From the right side of the engine, the front wire attaches to the middle output, the middle wire to the front output, and the rear wire to the rear output.

Install the wire from the ignition coil to the front of the distributor cap. It looks like a plug wire, but is not lined up like the spark plug wire outputs.

Warnings

  • Be careful of the accessory drive belt while rotating the crankshaft damper. It presents a pinch hazard to your hands and fingers.
  • Do not allow any dirt, grime or tools fall into the distributor hole before installing the distributor.

Items you will need

About the Author

Justin Chacos is a professional mechanic with experience on all vehicle types, from cars to boats to airplanes. He has been writing since 2006 and has been published in multiple maintenance manuals and journals. He holds a Master of Science from the University of Arkansas.

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