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When I started the car it was idling funny. Different than the normal cold start. It warmed up enough and sounded ok. I drive 500 feet (slowly in a parking lot) and then it dies when I give it gas upon entering the road. Won't start back up. Under the hood I see that the distributor cap had popped off. Not sure how that happened...seems really weird.  


The cap and distributor were dirty. It looks like there's oil sitting inside and grease inside the cap. Unfortunately I wiped it all away before I took any pictures, but there are pictures below anyway. 


I put it back on and the car starts, but dies after a few seconds. 


I read elsewhere on the FAQ that oil can get inside and cause problems, and to use some carb cleaner to clean it up (which I plan on doing when I get home). 


My question is, since this is a fancy Bluetooth dizzy did the dirt and oil destroy the electronics or whatever is inside? 


Any other helpful thoughts, suggestions, or wise cracks to entertain me as I wait for the tow truck?






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I posted this on another 123 discussion and then someone pointed out this thread. Tried to find it earlier.    I'm new to this forum but not new to BMW's or the 123.  I own an E9 like s

Yes,  Sorry I didn't post sooner.  Most of my problem has been with my M30 motor in an E9.  M10 and M30 Motors very similar and so are distributors.    I haven't been able to

Its an electronic ignition system that's built into your dizzy.  Perfect timing.  No points.  Adjustable advance and vacuum curves.  Hotter spark.  If you have a modded motor, this allows you to dial

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24 minutes ago, '76mintgrün'02 said:

Ugh.  That is a lot of oil.  @adawil2002 has mentioned having that problem repeatedly.


Yup, my first 123 in Vern lasted 16K miles, rebuild lasted 16K miles. The one in my 3.0 CSi lasted 32K miles.


Each time the people at 123 standard answer is the oil intrusion was due to excessive crankcase pressure. forcing oil past the O-ring seal. 

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I wonder which O-ring they are referring to.  The one on the body's shaft wouldn't let oil into the distributor.  It'd just let it leak out around it.  There must be one on the inside as well.  I've never taken one apart, but it'd be fun to do.  @ray_ opened one up once.  Maybe he knows.


@flagoworld was having oil intrusion problems with his Bosch distributor.  I'm not sure whether he solved that problem, but he was suspecting oil pressure problems at one point.


The original Bosch distributors don't have internal O-rings, just fiber washers and steel shim washers to take up any axial play.


I don't  have much to offer.  I just like distributors, so I started typing.... :) 


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But that doesn't explain all the oil inside, excessive crankcase pressure might.  Is your crank case  properly vented?  Breather not plugged or blocked off?

You can see the witness marks on the contacts inside the cap, and on the rotor.

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Like to get a look at one of these 123 distributor shafts, wondering if they are solid or have a hollow center?

yeah I did notice some damage or something on the rotor

Edited by tech71
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Thanks all. I have a Weber 32/36 and just had as small filter attached to the crankcase until two weeks ago when I added one of those oil catch cans with a filter on the other end. Is that part of the problem? There's some bends in the plastic tube which is likely reducing air flow. 


And I need new o-ring i imagine. There's a lot of oil on the bottom and around the distributor. Ugh. Will I need to replace the distributor at this point, too?



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Hmmm, that seems like a good place to start. don't know anything about catch cans but if its not vented in some way.....Hook your little filter back up, take that catch can out of the picture and see what happens. 

I would clean up all oil you can in the dist and run it. There must be a weep hole or something in the body of it that the oil currently in there could escape thru right?  As far as the O ring goes it may be ok if excessive case pressure is just forcing oil past it.

Filling up with oil, rotors flying off, How much are these distributors? I mean what's the draw?

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4 minutes ago, tech71 said:

Filling up with oil, rotors flying off, How much are these distributors? I mean what's the draw?

Exactly. And yeah good idea on nixing the oil can. Before I just had a filter on the end of the crankcase. I've have an oil leak forever and thought that maybe it was coming out the crankcase filter (the old one was a mess when I took it off). The leak is probably from the distributor.


That dizzy was expensive and I expect more of it. I'll keep cleaning it out after every drive and see if it eventually stops getting jammed up. 


Does the cap need to be replaced?

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