Bottom Line -- I believe I now have a 3rd defective distributor; the distributor supplier has graciously volunteered to refund my money at his suggestion or have their technical support people call me back. I chose the technical support option and the following is my detailed trouble shooting procedure so read on if you think you might benefit from my testing procedures and experiences. By the way after talking with their very nice technical support people, Distributor King has now next day air shipped me a 4th distributor which I am now testing. The technical support people are very interested and concerned about the problem and pleased that I am willing to help in finding a solution. Included is also an explanation of how this model distributor can be disabled but probably not reassembled.
I just installed the third distributor and a day or so later while waiting to make a left hand turn the engine just stopped running and would not immediately restart. Traffic finally cleared a couple minutes later, ready to reluctantly step out and start pushing I tried the starter again and it ran. It then ran perfect for another ľ mile where I had dinner and then an additional 3 miles back home without a problem. Who says Nissan arenít dependable?
The following day I ran it at an idle in the drive way for 20 minutes --- I was listening to the car run, using the time to straighten and clean my work bench off and stepped away for a couple minutes and when I returned it had stopped. Panicked with surprise that it happened while I was watching and happy the problem had occurred I ran to get the wife to assistance me. Unfortunately it restarted within the minute or so it took me to get my wife and have her run the starter as I was going to verify if there was spark as I pull the #1 cylinder ignition wire off the distributor. The heart break of intermittent came to mind as it started but a few minutes later it stopped again and I was able to view there was no spark.
It then proceeded to run and stop several times while I worked with it. I was able to remove the 4 wire low voltage connector from the carís distributor and quickly connect it to my original OEM (oil leaking but temporarily washed cleaned) distributor and give it a gentle spin with my hand and view spark at the end of the coil wire to the block. You may want to use caution here and make sure the coil wire is within a half inch of the block to prevent excessively high voltage being generated in the coil. The wire to block gap limits the maximum voltage, the wider the gap the higher the voltage before the ark starts. The spark occurred OK every time while connected to the OEM unit but I was never able to get it to fail again after reconnecting it back to the distributor in the car (remember that word intermittent). I verified that there were no brakes in the wiring by moving and pulling on the low voltage wiring at and around the 4 wire connector at the distributor with the car running. At the low voltage 4 wire connector I verified all the connectors were good. A common sewing pin is smaller in diameter than the thickness of the pins on the distributor and yet the common pin will not easily slip into any of the mating 4 wire connectors female connections.
Called Distributor King and quickly explained my problem, they offered to refund my money or suggested they would have technical support call me back and I was asked to pick a time. Really wanting to make a $139 lifetime warranty distributor work and not wanting to have to purchase the dealerís $330 range distributor I picked the technical support option. I suggested I would not mind switching parts from my distributor to theirs if possible; they look like they could be interchangeable to me. Being late in the day in New York time, it would be the next day and I said anytime was OK and he picked 11 AM for my call back time. Tech support called me back at 10 AM the next day, which was good. After we talked and I explained my testing, Tech support recognized my inconvenience and said they would refund my money but would really appreciate it if I would be willing to try a fourth one as he explained they had found out they had a problem with this model and it had been fixed. He explained the last one I received should have been one of the updated ones as he wondered if I had I just happened on a wild chance found another bad one. They have been so nice and I appreciate the reasonable pricing so I picked that they send me another distributor option.
In the process I asked technical support how do you get one of these apart and they, not being in the repair business but only selling new, took one apart while I was on the phone line. I had suggested if I could comingle the parts from old OEM distributor and their new one that I had and I would be happy. This idea struck an interest in the technical support person and he was willing to give it a shot, well at least how do they come apart. The car dealer had already told me there were no serviceable parts for the distributor; wouldnít it be nice if they had a 10 cent seal? From my perception over the phone here is how he did it. There is a drive cog on one end (thatís the end where the gear is on some distributors or the part that goes in to the engine) with a pin that drives out but is very tight. Now you have to separate the rotor half and the cog drive end half so you can remove the electronics, the shaft does not slide out like what I will call in a conventional normal distributor such as a 1980 type US car. By experimentation he found that the input shaft and the rotor end are pressed together as he held the cog end stationary and finally turned the rotor end counter clockwise explaining he did not think it was going to go back together but we were going to get to see what the insides look like. He may have had to remove a couple of screws securing the light sensor that detects the cam position by shining a light through a plate that has 360 holes punched into it, you will see it. Once the two shaft halves were separated he removed four screws and the electronic and found a plate underneath that was held by two more screws --- removing the screws allowed the cog end of the drive shaft to pass out of the distributor housing and revealed the seal. He explained the seal looked like a special Teflon looking material and did not look like something a person could ever find. Dashed now a couple of times in my thoughts of maybe there was just an O ring and now knowing there appears to be no indexing for reassembly of the shaft halves, now knowing itís also a press fit that was not intended to ever come apart or go back together by the car manufacture those distributors are really un-repairable.
The technical support person said the evening after we talked he installed one of their distributors in his 1995 Altima to test and we were talking the next day as he explained his girl friend was out with the car right now. I was surprised that we both had the same year and model cars, mine now with just 50,000 and he said his had 140,000. I asked if his girl friend knew she was testing his car and questioned if he was also testing her on how easy she would be to live with. His only comment was, she has a cell phone and has not called.
Itís a few days later and I now have about 60 miles on my 4th distributor and yesterday when I checked with technical support, he said his car was still running fine as I teased him about how his girlfriend was doing. As we were kidding each other I explained I had some new driving rules while in the Altima. I now never pull out in front of a fully loaded cement truck and when possible I always drive on the shoulder side of the road.