When you start to have problems during engine ignition, there's a good chance that the vehicle distributor is already damaged. The distributor is responsible for distributing high-voltage electricity to the cylinders at the correct time in order for engine ignition to happen. If you begin to experience hard starting, misfiring, or stalling, the ignition distributor has to be replaced. But before you do, there are some things that you should look into when buying a replacement distributor.
What type of distributor system does your vehicle have?
If your vehicle was built in 1975 or earlier, it's most likely that it's equipped with a mechanical ignition system, which is also known as original distributor cap style. You can always upgrade this to a high electronic ignition (HEI) without any problems with compatibility. Although it's recommended that you buy an aftermarket replacement, there is nothing wrong if you choose a second-hand distributor as long as it's sold by a licensed dealer.
Meanwhile, for vehicles built in the late 1970s and early 1980s, an electronic ignition system is used. This system is usually equipped with an electronic ignition module. In case your vehicle has one, you can upgrade to an MSD Ultimate HEI without encountering compatibility issues.
But for vehicles that were built during the late 1980s and early 1990s, a distributor is no longer necessary; hence, the name-distributorless ignition system. If your vehicle belongs in this category, you only need to replace your spark plugs at 60,000-mile intervals.
How do you use your vehicle?
If you use your vehicle for racing most of the time, then you need to choose high-performance distributors. Race cars generally use this type of distributor because it is specially made to meet the demands of a racing vehicle.
However, if your vehicle is intended mainly for street driving, it's better to spend on a distributor without the race-only features. These features can cost you more and can affect your vehicle's overall drivability.