1997 Nissan Altima Distributor-to-Cap Connection

Tiny
CAPNAMERICA
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 NISSAN ALTIMA
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 180,000 MILES
The cap center terminal connects to the high-voltage feed from the distributor through a spring, which makes up when you install the cap to the body. I am working on a neighbor's car, and this spring is just that--a spring--with nothing but a tiny wire to an aluminum lug to make up its electrical circuit. I would expect a carbon button on the cap end--the spring appears to make a slip connection in the distributor body itself. My question: What is this connection? Am I missing a carbon button? Car runs funky intermittently and I'm trying for the easy stuff first.
Nissan service has been useless--these guys shuffle papers, and are reluctant to let you speak to a mechanic. I understand this, regarding wasting their time. Parts is more helpful, but their pics don't show this piece--they will sell me a distributor!
I can make up a carbon button from an old generator brush if needed, but I'm not sure what's needed!
HELP! And. Thanks!
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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 AT 12:23 PM

6 Replies

Tiny
DOCFIXIT
  • EXPERT
How about getting a new dist. Cap the carbon probably wore off or feel out sometime
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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 AT 12:39 PM
Tiny
CAPNAMERICA
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It's not the button in the cap. There IS one of those, which is healthy. This spring (and maybe button) I refer to is what we would have called some years back "the coil connection" to the cap, but it's internal to the distributor/cap on this dist, since there's no external coil. Also, apparently the spring (and maybe button) are part of the distributor itself. There is no motion between the two pieces as with the rotor center connection in the top of the cap. I think Ol' Bubba may have had a hand in working on this car in the past and lost the mystery piece. Any other ideas?
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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 AT 2:11 PM
Tiny
DOCFIXIT
  • EXPERT
O.K. The high tension connector from coil to cap. Fits on a pin like thing on cap. That's the way it goes. What is car doing or this just maintence?
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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 AT 4:51 PM
Tiny
CAPNAMERICA
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Hey Doc--appreciate your taking the time to think this one through. The car is Intermittently blowing black smoke and getting poor fuel mileage. It's running otherwise. I plan to change the plugs (deposits, possible leak at base of one insulator--just look OLD.), Dist cap (heavy oxides on aluminum pins to plug wires), and rotor (badly pitted, wear on center ). I noted that the high-tension connection consisted of the spring I mentioned with the end toward the cap bent a bit. It just doesn't look right. That's where I got the notion of a missing carbon button, sort of like the center rotor connection on some caps. To get everything right, I just wanted to make sure this was as it should be. Thus my question.
I hope to find someone who has done a tune-up on one of these distributors--or has one and can go take a quick look at it--and can tell what is supposed to be there.
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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 AT 7:59 PM
Tiny
DOCFIXIT
  • EXPERT
Spring is out of coil? Spring not be out stays in coil then pin in cap pushes on contact compressing spring. Gives good contact. Need new coil. Also have car scaned for codes an Auto Zone will do free. Then post will advise
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Thursday, August 27th, 2009 AT 1:44 PM
Tiny
CAPNAMERICA
  • MEMBER
Spring fell out when I removed dist cap. Outer end (toward cap) is bent slightly, and there is no button to contact the aluminum lug in the cap. I pushed the spring back onto the lug inside the distributor; will fab up a button just to make me feel better, install new cap, rotor, and plugs, see how it runs. If still funky, will go for scan at Auto Zone and see if there are any codes set which do not give a SES light on the dash.
Thanks.
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Thursday, August 27th, 2009 AT 2:07 PM

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