How to replace the distributor cap and rotor on Volvo 240

by: Mike_Brace


For this you will need a distributor cap, rotor arm and set of leads.

First with regards leads I prefer the Volvo ones as they are all the correct lengths and excellent quality. When ordering these they comes as a set of four and the king (coil) lead is a separate part as the coil position varies on different years. If you do not want to pay for Volvo ones use a good make such as Bosch.

With regards cap and rotor I have had problems with caps not fitting well, premature failure of the centre carbon brush (last one 400 miles) I have bitten the bullet and started paying the extra for Volvo ones.

With regards rotors there are two types. The later cars are fitted with a rev limiter rotor – these can fail with the rev limit dropping lower than it should be at which can make it dangerous to drive. Unless you regularly red-line the engine they are not worth fitting. I always use the one for the earlier cars which are cheaper and more reliable. When ordering these order for a 75-83 car. Again with these I have now gone to using Volvo ones as well.

Having replaced the plugs the next area for attention is replacement of the distributor cap, rotor and leads.

The cap is easily removed by unclipping the two clips. It is best to do the back one first as it is slightly harder to get at. If they are tight a screwdriver can be used to loosen it.

The cap can then be lifted to one side

Next pull the rotor arm up to pull it off – if it is very tight try wobbling it at the same time – in severe cases it may have to be broken away.

If the old rotor is difficult to get off the shaft may need cleaning – I use a brass brush

Next check the plastic cover is correctly positioned – on the outside edge at the back of the distributor base there is a cut out which should line up with the matching piece in the plastic cover. It is then a good idea to put a couple of drops of oil on the felt pad on the distributor before placing the rotor making sure the notches of the arm line up with those on the shaft

The rotor arm should go on easily – if not the shaft is not clean – do not force it on.

Now then next stage is to fit your new cap. If you turn it so the inside is facing you will see there is a long lug in line with clipping points.

This fits into the notch at the back of distributor which the plastic cover has been aligned on.

Carefully place the cap on making sure the plastic cover doesn’t move inside. It should now clip fairly easily. It is best to clip the back one first. If the second clip is very tight do not force it. Remove cap and check everything is in position and try clipping again.

The leads can now be transferred one at a time, or if new leads are being fitted they can be replaced one at a time.

The leads should all be correctly clipped so that they cannot touch either each other or any part of the engine



The instructions in this tutorial will work in the following models / years:

-1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 Volvo 240, 242, 244 and 245 with petrol engines