Distributor Alignment

Tiny
6GUNN
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 TOYOTA RAV4
  • 2.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • AWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 205,000 MILES
Hello,
I am replacing the distributor in my daughter's car. Once the timing marks are lined up on the distributor shaft it will not line up with the back of the cam. The part of the distributor that bolts the distributor to the head does not line up with the hole on the head when the shaft of distributor lines up with the cam. The bolt flange is so low in fact, it bumps into the sensor housing on the coolant line.

So I figure the timing belt has jump a couple of teeth and the cam is out of sync with the crank. After doing all the work of taking the time covers off, I find that is not the case. The cam and crank are in fact in time with each other.

This is a non adjustable distributor, so there is no installing it and readjusting it later.

I am at a loss on this and I have never come across this problem before.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

John
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 8:27 AM

13 Replies

Tiny
AL514
  • EXPERT
Well you can compare the two distributors and make sure they gave you the right part to begin with. Make sure they are both the same length and have the same position bolt hole. If it is just a drop in distributor, things should be relatively the same. As long as your timing marks are spot on. Some cars the marks can be tricky and you really have to pay attention to them, especially the cam in this case. It should not be hitting any coolant lines and such, that parts correct. Is there a washer or shim on the old distributor that might have to come off and go on the new one to take up that extra space so it is not hitting or resting on anything?
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 8:39 AM
Tiny
6GUNN
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The first thing I do is compare new and old parts. So they do match. I also tried to put the old distributor back in, same result.
I noticed when I did the plugs and wire on this car two years ago the time was off. But you cannot adjust the timing and the engine was running fine, so I did not pursue trying to correct it.

There is a hole in the cam timing pulley that lines up with a hole in the cam assembly. So it is dead on. The crankshaft pulley alignment is odd on this engine. There is no mark on the pulley and oil pump housing. The shop manual states to have the key way on the top of the pulley at 12. The harmonic balancer was placed with the timing mark at 0 -top dead center. Who ever replaced the timing belt the last time put white marks on the pulley and the oil pump housing, which lined up as well (for what that is worth).
There are no shims with this distributor.
The alignment of the hole is off about an 1 1/4"-1 1/2", so in other words, it might as well be a mile.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 9:22 AM
Tiny
AL514
  • EXPERT
That is a ton of space to be off. It must be missing the cam by a tooth at least if not more. Did you line up the timing marks before you pulled the distributor out? The cam teeth are definitely not lining up. That is for sure. I think I see the problem on this diagram, The distributor is going in backwards. On the diagram you can see the line up is offset to one side. There is a groove on the end of the distributor that needs to line up with the shaft itself. See if this might be the issue.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 9:35 AM
Tiny
6GUNN
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Yes, I put the engine at TDC when I pulled the distributor. The rotor was pointed at the plug wire for cylinder one.

I am not sure what you mean by that the distributor goes in backwards.
What I notice with your diagram is that the slot in the cam is not going straight up and down. It is at an angle. Say about ten or eleven o'clock.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 11:34 AM
Tiny
AL514
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I just meant that off set of the shaft might have been going in opposite of what it is suppose to. So even lined up at the number one it wont fit in right? Something must be misaligned if you cannot even get the old distributor to go in.
Did you notice the groove on the distributor and its shaft? They need to be lined up as well
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 11:51 AM
Tiny
6GUNN
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I will have to check on that. I am using a mirror to look in there, so it is a bit of a pain.

I am using a mirror on the cam alignment as well, which is really a tight place. I am not sure how you replace a cam seal on this engine it is so tight.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 12:11 PM
Tiny
AL514
  • EXPERT
So how did the vehicle run before you pulled the distributor out of it? Was there a reason you were replacing it? And from what I am reading here, it seems the slot in the cam should be at twelve o'clock. Do you still have the timing cover off to recheck these timing marks? Somethings not right here.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 12:13 PM
Tiny
AL514
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Yeah I here that, I know how tight it is on those Toyota's. They give you no room for anything. But those marks must be off just enough to cause this, the engine being on TDC could have slipped a little because of it being on the compression stroke. It might help if took that pass side tire off and went threw the wheel well to get to it maybe.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 12:16 PM
Tiny
6GUNN
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That is a long story. The car kept blowing a fuse and the cluster, windows would go down. Traced that to the cluster, replaced it. All was good after the replacement. But I had taken everything out of the dash to check the wiring, and like a dummy I did not disconnect the battery and grounded the power wire to the lighter. That blow a fuse to the lighter and radio. Replaced the fuse, radio and the lighter worked but the car would start. I had no spark coming from the igniter and coil. Both checked out good. I looked at a diagram, and saw that there is a noise reducer on the radio and the lighter circuit in the distributor. So I was getting no pulse from the distributor to the igniter and coil.

Engine ran fine before my dumbness.

The covers are still off.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 12:32 PM
Tiny
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Replaced the fuse, radio and the lighter worked but the car would not start. I had no spark coming from the igniter and coil.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 12:33 PM
Tiny
AL514
  • EXPERT
So you did have power going to the distributor I assume? Or are you just going with a guess that the igniter has gone bad? You can check the coil for power and even ground the negative on the coil and get a spark at the plug with a test light. I am just trying to get the whole story here, besides the point that the distributor wont go into the camshaft. I can get a diagram of the igniter and coil circuits to test them, but I supposed we are just at the point of getting that distributor back in there. Do you have the cap off of it? Can you rotate the the rotor to get it to fit into the cam at all,
I noticed when you said you did the tune up two years ago the timing was off, that could be the problem now. If something is going on with one of those cam pulleys or some other timing mark is off for whatever reason. What timing was off two years ago? Was it the rotor you noticed not pointing to the correct plug wire? And how was the engine running before all this? I mean this is a duel overhead cam setup.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 1:04 PM
Tiny
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I did all the tests for spark from the distributor to the plugs-nothing. There is power to the igniter and coil.

I have not tried to just put the distributor in regardless of position.

When I did the tune up two years ago, I used a timing light on the engine. It showed the timing was off.

The engine has always run okay.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 1:18 PM
Tiny
AL514
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Well the computer is going to take care of advancing ignition timing on its own, so if it was reading twenty to thirty advanced and adjusting, that is normal. There is no timing adjustment or setting base timing for that car. I would try putting that distributor in and see what plug wire its pointing too. Line up those marks on the end of the distributor and keep it at TDC and see where it ends up, just do not start it of course.
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Monday, October 24th, 2016 AT 2:22 PM

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