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Alternative distributor caps and rotors?

Discussion in 'Subaru Sambar' started by MrJPolito, Jun 21, 2022.

  1. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    I have a 1997 Subaru Sambar KS4 supercharged ECVT automatic transmission with 4wd.

    I just cracked my distributor cap because the plastic is old and brittle. Direct replacements on ebay and minitruck parts suppliers are about $70-90 for a cap and rotor kit, which is insane considering the replacements at O'Reilly for other models are about ~$14 total. Has anyone ever found a compatible cap and rotor for their KS4? I searched around and found little info on this.

    My cap is the screw-on variant with a vent hole. Photos of the cap and rotor below.

    photo_2022-06-21_18-48-47.jpg photo_2022-06-21_18-48-48.jpg photo_2022-06-21_18-48-49.jpg photo_2022-06-21_18-48-50.jpg
  2. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

  3. t_g_farrell

    t_g_farrell Active Member

  4. t_g_farrell

    t_g_farrell Active Member

    I would not worry about which post is marked # 1 since its 4 evenly space posts. If they were not evenly spaced than it may make a difference.
  5. Tyler Madia

    Tyler Madia New Member

    A part crossover database would be very beneficial for sure. We have a slight advantage in that our engines are 4 cylinder, which is a lot easier to source than the 3 cylinder trucks.
  6. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    So from what I can tell, the 1991 Subaru Loyale (and other related models/distributors) have the only screw-type 4-cylinder distributor cap with the correct bolt orientation in existence. See this comparison image that I made:


    This cap (Model JH180) fits these models:

    NISSAN 240SX 1989-1990
    NISSAN D21 PICKUP 1990-1994
    NISSAN MICRA 1986-1991
    NISSAN PICKUP 1995-1996
    NISSAN PULSAR NX 1987-1988
    NISSAN SENTRA 1986-1988
    SUBARU DL 1987-1989
    SUBARU GL 1987-1989
    SUBARU GL-10 1987-1989
    SUBARU LOYALE 1990-1994
    SUBARU RX 1986-1989
    SUBARU XT 1987-1991
    SUZUKI SWIFT 1989-1994

    This cap is currently available at O'Reilly for $13, will go pick it up and try it out now.

    The other screw-type caps that I found were for Toyota / Geo / Suzuki models and they have weird bolt orientations that aren't directly across from each other, so they won't work.

    No idea how the distributor rotor will work out yet. I have a rotor from a 1991 Subaru Justy that is just a hair shorter in length than the original rotor from the Sambar, and I might get another one from the Loyale and see if it fits the new cap better.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
    t_g_farrell likes this.
  7. t_g_farrell

    t_g_farrell Active Member

    Good homework. Yeah the Suzuki's have the screws offset a bit to prevent incorrect installation I assume.
  8. fmartin_gila

    fmartin_gila Active Member

    You might check the dist cap for a 1990 Isuzu Pickup. My old fuzzy memory says it looks somewhat close to the pics.

  9. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    Good news: the Subaru Loyale distributor cap was practically an exact fit. Just had to ignore the numbers on the cap and plug the wires back into their relative positions as they were before I did the work. Here are some photos of it installed (note that the exhaust heat shields are intentionally removed for other work being done):

    IMG_20220622_175934_253.jpg IMG_20220622_175938_047.jpg IMG_20220622_175940_800.jpg

    (Also forgot to hook up the air hose to the cap vent for the photos, make sure you do that)

    Here is the 1991 Subaru Justy distributor rotor installed onto the shaft as well:


    It did not interfere with the rotation of the distributor as far as I could tell. The old rotor would not fit inside of the new cap.

    The truck ran perfectly fine and I was able to get up to 130 km/h on the flat highway nearby with no problem at all.

    I purchased an additional o-ring from the hardware store to fill the gap and keep out dust. Photo:


    (Can anyone tell me if the giant air gap without an o-ring installed is intentional?)
    Smollpp69 likes this.
  10. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    O'Reilly part numbers:

    Rotor - $13 USD - Line: IDI Part #12-0166 (Standard Motor Products JH180)

    Cap - $13 USD - Line: IDI Part #10-0199 (Standard Motor Products JR122)

    Probably could have gotten them cheaper from RockAuto (~$2 for the rotor and ~$6 for the cap), but my cap was broken and I urgently need to pick up two loads of garden soil for my very unhappy tomato plants that aren't in the ground yet.

    Hope this helps someone later!
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
    Smollpp69 likes this.
  11. Tyler Madia

    Tyler Madia New Member

    Very nice!

    Unfortunately I have a distributor that doesn't use the screw on cap but it has the snap on thingys.
  12. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    Can you post a few photos of it? I can try to find something. I think the latch positioning is the most important part here, everything else can be moved around.
  13. t_g_farrell

    t_g_farrell Active Member

    The gap is probably related to using a part not designed for the Subie dizzy used in the truck. Dizzy should be water tight with a vent on top. I think adding the oring was a wise move there. I find it funny that all these vehicles seem to have a lot of thought placed on being able to wade thru ~2 feet of water. I have air vent hoses all over my van for the dizzy, transmission and some other vented stuff that always surprises me. At least I know I can ford small streams if I had too!
    MrJPolito likes this.
  14. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    I was able to find decent photos of the clip-type cap on ebay (assuming that these photos actually show the right thing). My screw-type distributor cap never really showed in photos when I looked.

    Here is a comparison photo of the clip-type cap I found on ebay vs several RockAuto variants from other models:


    The most similar looking cap, Model JH71, is currently available at O'reilly for $9 and fits these models:

    GEO TRACKER 1989-1990
    GMC TRACKER 1989-1990
    SUZUKI SAMURAI 1985-1989
    SUZUKI SIDEKICK 1989-1990
    TOYOTA CELICA 1976-1978
    TOYOTA CORONA 1976-1978
    TOYOTA PICKUP 1976-1978
    TOYOTA STARLET 1981-1984

    The third cap (Model JH72) looks like it might fit too, if you can't find the first one.

    For the distributor rotor, I'm beginning to think the system may not be very picky about it, as long as it fits into the distributor cap without rubbing as you rotate the shaft.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
  15. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    That's actually hilarious to think about. The cabin doesn't have any of the computers or electronics on the floor either. Ready for a flood. My Daihatsu Hijet's engine and power steering computers would have gotten soaked if I drove it through 2-ft of water (and it looked like someone once did, lol)
  16. cop on my back

    cop on my back Active Member

    From what I have found there is no substitute. That said, I hope you prove me wrong.
  17. Tyler Madia

    Tyler Madia New Member

    The clips seem to be exactly 180 degrees apart.

    Attached Files:

  18. MrJPolito

    MrJPolito Active Member

    That cap looks identical to the JH71 cap. Someone will have to try it to know for sure, but the clips look the same to me.
  19. rkrenicki

    rkrenicki Active Member

    Which is precisely why I tell everyone to avoid the US resellers and eBay for most things.

    For a 1996-1998 supercharged model, you want these:
    Cap: https://www.amayama.com/en/part/subaru/22162ka230 $15.39
    Rotor: https://www.amayama.com/en/part/subaru/22157ka080 $7.62
    Gasket: https://www.amayama.com/en/part/subaru/22171ka070 $2.93

    For the earlier 1990-1996 supercharged models, only the cap changes to https://www.amayama.com/en/part/subaru/22162ka190 but is the same price.

    Buy a couple of them to spread the shipping rate out a bit, and they work out to about $33/set in quantities of 3. Heck, even one set is $43 shipped... half that of the US based resellers.
  20. Tyler Madia

    Tyler Madia New Member

    Looks good. I'll try it out and let you know if it works.
  21. t_g_farrell

    t_g_farrell Active Member

    Yeah but if you can source something that works just as well locally or from rockauto, its a huge savings. I know for my van I think I have the full rear drum brake service parts sourced from rockauto, I just need to pull the trigger and then verify and then I'll post up in my thread with the details.
  22. Tyler Madia

    Tyler Madia New Member

    For the snap on cap, I picked up this one from Oreilly's and it fits. This is what came up for the JH71 part number. I haven't run it since I'm waiting on more parts but it looks perfect.

    Attached Files:

  23. Smollpp69

    Smollpp69 Member

    Those two part numbers you listed were an absolute exact and perfect fit. My '90s Sambar already had a o-ring on it. I have the original 90° angle cap. The brass connectors alone is worth the upgrade. My tachometer doesn't bounce when it freeway speeds anymore and I'm sure I will see better fuel economy in the next few days. Thank you for the research and write up!

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