If you’re a vehicle owner there’s no getting away from doing maintenance. When you want at least some guarantee that your beloved car will still be on the road for a while the power is in your hands. And if you get maintenance right you can even improve performance and extend its life cycle. And that’s why you need to keep on reading this article.
We list the best cap and rotor kits out there so you can find the right brand at the right price for your vehicle. And here’s our first handy tip: Why wait until you see the symptoms of a problem if you can prevent it altogether by exchanging yours sooner rather than later.
Not sure what to do or what to pick? We’ve got you covered.
- Top 10 Best Cap and Rotor Kits in 2018
- 1. MSD Cap-a-Dapt Distributor and Rotor Kit
- 2. ACCEL 8120ACC
- 3. Billetec Performance 8132ACC
- 4. Hypertech Cap & Rotor Kit
- 5. Vortech Cap and Rotor Kit
- 6. Pertronix D4002 Flame Thrower
- 7. Mallory 208M Distributor Cap
- 8. Wells Distributor and Rotor Kit
- 9. Accel Heavy Duty Distributor and Rotor Kit
- 10. ACDelco Distributor and Rotor Kit
- Guide to Buying the Best Cap and Rotor Kit
Features to Consider in Good Cap and Rotor Kits
Whether this is the first time you’re considering this or whether you’re a seasoned vehicle owner that’s used to DIY maintenance there’s always more to learn. So let’s talk about cap and rotor kits.
Why is This Important?
We don’t suggest you ever ignore this part of your vehicle’s maintenance. Ignoring a problem will affect both you and the vehicle. You don’t want to be stuck beside the road because your car keeps on stalling. You also don’t want to drive your vehicle with small problems such as misfires. Any little problem can become worse or cause other parts of the vehicle to get damaged too.
For your own and your vehicle’s benefit a quality cap and rotor kit is necessary because it’s what delivers the voltage to your car’s spark plugs. This voltage comes from the ignition coil.
This is of course necessary to ignite the fuel that will power your car. The devices we review here control the timings of engines so there aren’t any misfires. The coils that receive the voltage connect to the rotor and that moves (spins) inside the cap (distributor cap).
Misfires lead to rough idling or a complete stall. That’s how important it is to make sure yours is still fully functional, so you don’t ever get stranded beside the road when your engine fails.
Benefits of the Right Kit
You may not even realize how much more you can enjoy your vehicle by making small changes. This is true of cap and rotor kits so many car enthusiasts use this exchange to upgrade their cars. Why? Because the right cap and rotor kit can improve performance. This is possible by simply installing a quality part because a component that seals better affects how your car performs
If you know you have a low quality part at the moment it’s also wise to upgrade because a quality set will limit damage brought on by sparks. Some engine components can easily melt if these hot sparks land on them. Installing a new kit is therefore a way of protecting your vehicle.
And that’s one of the best reasons for shopping for the best cap and rotor kit in 2018: You can prolong your engine’s lifespan when you reduce the possibility of damage and you use parts that can handle the friction created by daily driving.
Now let’s find yours.
Top 10 Best Cap and Rotor Kits in 2018
Here is a well constructed unit from a well known brand so you can rest easy that the money you spend is an investment. This kit won’t leave you stranded beside the road.
It’s designed to provide good performance, not to simply look great. It has brass terminals which is at the top of the priority list when shopping for the best cap and rotor kits. The components are all high quality so they will withstand the general stress placed on engine parts.
The materials are voltage insulated which will improve performance and also protect the rest of the engine from the current running through the device.
You’ll also find a top which locks the terminal wires in a certain position. The less they move around the better because you don’t want them touching other parts of the engine. It limits wear and tear & keeps the system safer overall.
Luckily this is a good mixture of aesthetics and practicality. MSD made some components a bright red which will display well in any engine. It does have the brand’s logo displayed as well. Depending on whether you want to brag about the brands you use you’ll either love or hate this. Some drivers simply want to enjoy the colors when they open the hood, not necessarily a list of manufacturers.
This is an excellent replacement—even upgrade—for Motorcraft products.
It’s important to note that this is designed with so much precision that it will just fit so at first you may think it’s too tight to install. This can make installation a bit more difficult. However you should see this as an advantage because once it’s in place it seals well and won’t move around so you’ll hve less wear & tear.
Dimensions: 6.1”x 5.6”x 5.4”
This is not the prettiest model on the market but you can see it’s designed with efficiency and safety in mind. As a bonus this is a less expensive product but you don’t have to fear you’re sacrificing quality.
Note that this is a female/socket style cap. Many consumers prefer this because it prevents touching of the wires.
This kit is made of 60kV rated alkyd compound. This is known for its high performance so you know it will withstand general engine pressures that come with driving on the average road. Along with this there are brass inserts that won’t corrode easily.
This brand opted for stainless steel rotor springs. The benefit of this is spark energy can flow unrestricted.
So what makes it such a safe unit? The impenetrable barrier which controls the arc and crossfire. This feature also prevents high temperatures from developing. It limits the possibility of spark current surging. If this happens it can melt components, but with this design your engine is safe.
It’s painted a dull tan color so installing this won’t bring much style to your engine. But as stated, this shouldn’t be your first priority, right?
The 8120ACC unit is designed specifically for 1956 – 1978 GM V8s. This proves its strength as it was designed for powerful engines.
You can use this on other brands’ distributors. Always check with sellers whether a specific size and design will fit your vehicle.
This is designed for older model cars and they’re known to be less complicated than some modern designs on newer cars.
Dimensions: 7.5”x 5”x 4.4”
This is a surprisingly light unit but it’s sturdy and well made. Many consumers try this instead of using branded vehicle manufacturer parts and in some cases this can even be seen as an upgrade. You’re guaranteed high quality metal components.
This isn’t only made of 60kV rated alkyd compound materials but furthermore there’s a unique process that takes place while the item is moulded. It’s called a stress relief process and this ensures it won’t buckle under the strain once it’s placed inside your engine.
Accel uses brass inserts which are always the favorites for their corrosion resistant features. As with many others on this list the springs are made of steel.
This brand kept in mind the pressure of racing cars when designing this model so you can rely on it for average driving or even for scenarios where you put your engine under more strain.
To guard against melting there is protection from arc-thru and crossfire.
Here is a sleek design although not very stylish or made in a striking color. You’ll recognize this for its brown exterior. This does match well with the brass components on top though.
Although you always have to double check with the seller this fits most brands and models of cars on the road today. Consider using this to upgrade a current or old model because of the great performance and protection you get.
To replace this you have to set aside about two hours. The benefit is that you won’t need many tools so it’s an easy DIY job for almost any vehicle owner.
Dimensions: 12.5” x 8.75” x 21.5”
Here you get an impressive 1 year warranty which is already a sign of an exceptional product. Consumers appreciate the design for its ease of installation and because it fits so tightly.
You’ll find nylon hold down screws on the rotor. This is one way of preventing misfires. The material used in the cap is high dialectric. This prevents carbon tracking and the cap ensures stability.
Here your safety—and your engine’s condition—is regulated by the burn through resistant materials in the set. This prevents sparks from affecting anything in close vicinity to the cap and rotor.
This kit is designed to fit super tight so don’t be surprised if it takes a bit of effort to wedge it in place. Because it seals well it enhances a vehicle’s performance in terms of power too.
It has the favored brass terminals so no complaints in this product’s construction.
You can’t go wrong with black, can you? This is painted a classic color which will blend in with most engine parts and give it some sophistication. The only problem with black parts is that you can’t easily see when oil or other substances leak all over your engine.
Check your model with your local dealer to ensure this one will work for you. It’s application ranges from 1987 Chevrolets and GMCs to 1991 Pontiacs.
You may take some time to get this fitted because it’s such a tight fit. Remember this is a benefit because there’s not possibility of leaking and in the end it can improve your engine’s efficiency. When engine parts fit tightly there’s also less damage brought on by wear and tear over time.
The screws are also very small so some consumers may find it difficult to tighten them with their fingers. Better keep your tools ready.
Note that it’s not designed for modifications. It should fit on your vehicle as is. You also can’t use alternative screws as it will affect how it performs.
Dimensions: 7.9”x 7.1”x 5.2”
The inspiration for this design comes from the late 1990s. GM tried out a new design which became known as the Vortec distributor. Why try this unique design? Because the positioning of the terminals eases the wires’ routing.
Today you can still find these kits, only they’re more durable and here you get one with a funky red exterior.
Unfortunately this kit is one of the more expensive items on this list of reviews.
This kit is heavy duty version of the first Vortech kits. They’re constructed from a more durable substance. This not only allows them to serve your car longer but it also isolates sparks, keeping your engine safer with less damage to other parts. This is thanks to the Rynite used in manufacturing.
Once again as with most of the items on our list of best cap and rotor kits there are brass terminals that won’t corrode easily.
As mentioned these have bright red exteriors so they can add some flair to your engine if that’s a priority for you.
Although originally designed for GM these fit on many cars these days that have the Vortech design already. You can check with your local dealer to confirm compatibility.
When installing yours you may have to use the old screws of your current distributor so don’t throw the old ones away directly. Depending on what type of screws were originally used and how the parts were designed, the new screws of this kit may not work.
Other than that it’s an easy installation.
Dimensions: 7.6”x 5.7”x 1.5”
There’s no question that this kit will add some character to your engine with the look and inside you find a unique design which keeps temperatures low. It also comes at a reasonable price which makes it possible for almost anyone to upgrade their vehicle’s performance.
It’s made of a high performance 60 kV rated altyd molded compound. Why is this necessary? Because it gives the system protection from ‘arc-thru’ and any cross-fire that’s normal when electrical current is used.
But the real impressive feature is how it’s designed. The dust cover has an uncommonly large air gap. This is more spacious than you’ll find in most kits and this additional space helps keep the temperature low around the coil. You know your engine needs to be cooled down for optimum performance and this kit has a built in method to help you get that right.
Of course you’ll find brass contact terminals so the unit won’t wear out quickly.
If you love bright things this stunning blue kit may be what you’re looking for. You’ll find this in both blue and red. These colors also help you see splatters of oil easier than on some dark brown or black parts so you’ll know when to clean or check your seals.
The air gap design makes this an appropriate option for high performance vehicles. As always you just need to confirm whether it will fit your particular vehicle.
Despite the unique design the installation is much the same. The kit provides you with everything such as nylon rotor hold down screws and even the silicone you’ll need to ensure a tight seal.
Dimensions: 7.3”x 6.4”x 6.5”
First off note that this is only a distributor cap and not a complete kit with rotor. However it’s still an impressive component which we felt worthy to mention on this list. Mallory is a respected brand that’s been around for 80 years and once again it brings us an impressive part.
You can purchase a rotor separately that will match this component.
The design incorporates most of what you want in a good distributor cap. You get a substance that’s impact resistant and during manufacturing it’s stress relieved. The design ensures arc through and crossfires are eliminated.
The manufacturing process makes it more stable & durable. That means even if you drive in rough conditions or on low quality roads—where there’s more friction and shock going through the engine—this component won’t easily wear out or malfunction.
The brass inserts are corrosion resistant and they make for excellent conductivity.
- Unlimited flow of energy sparks
- There’s a maximum energy transfer which will affect your ignition process and performance
- Overall performance of your vehicle is enhanced thanks to minimal misfires
Here’s another striking red design with which you can brighten up your engine’s look.
This is a very specific design to match 32 and 42 series Mallory distributors. It’s strong enough to put in V8 engines and makes for a great upgrade if it fits.
Note that this is a male HEI style with a screw down design.
Dimensions: 7.1”x 3.8”x 1.5”
There’s nothing fancy about this cap and rotor kit but that’s exactly what some vehicle owners want, right? It’s a simple yet sleek design of high quality. Wells is conscious of consumers’ safety and preferences so they ensured this is made according to OE (Original Equipment) specifications. Therefore you can use this if you don’t want to pay the high rates of original manufacturer parts.
As mentioned this is made according to OE specifications and is durable. It has a very simple design that does the job. It’s designed to send the high secondary current towards the correct ignition wire.
This is made for average use on today’s cars but is not necessarily for high performance vehicles. It can withstand the pressure of regular driving but wasn’t designed to cope with more.
Unfortunately it’s of acceptable quality, but not exceptional. This is proven by the fact that no warranty is offered on this. Luckily it doesn’t require a huge investment so if you realize you need something different or if it breaks quickly you don’t lose as much as you would with other kits.
Once again here is a black unit that looks sleek and can complement the current parts in your engine. Many consumers will appreciate the minimalistic look. If you’re upgrading your car on a tight budget you also won’t feel you’re paying for features and looks you don’t really need.
You’ll find this suits most normal cars but don’t try it on high performance vehicles.
Thanks to the minimalistic design installation is easy as well. You won’t need as much time as you would with more complicated and elaborate kits so if you’re looking for a minimal effort DIY job this could be it.
This cheap unit could also be the perfect way to see if you can handle this job by yourself. If you do get it wrong and need to take your vehicle to a professional, at least you didn’t waste a lot of money.
Dimensions: 5.4”x 4.6”x 3.9”
Here is a heavy duty cap and rotor kit from a well known brand so you can upgrade your car’s engine if you know you’ll be putting it under more pressure in the near future. It’s similar to the brand’s other unit showcased in this review but slightly lighter.
So what enables this to cope in high performance situations or if you’re taking your vehicle on rough roads? It’s the high performance 60kV alkyd compound used matched with brass inserts. These don’t corrode easily and can take the strain of driving in rough conditions.
It also has an impenetrable barrier to ensure the sparks don’t reach any other part of the engine. The performance is enhanced by the stainless steel rotor springs that promote spark energy flow.
The bonus of a heavy duty kit is that it will still work well if you upgrade your ignition system too.
This Accel model has a black coating so your high performance vehicle’s engine can also look stylish. Black is also a practical color if you want your engine to look new and untouched.
This heavy duty unit will fit on any 1956 – 1978 GM and AMC V8 engine. It’s a female/socket style distributor cap so make sure it matches with what you currently have.
Fairly quick and easy to install.
Dimensions: 7.5”x 4.8”x 4.3”
It’s important to note that ACDelco doesn’t always manufacture its own parts. The company partners with third parties for this, but you can still trust they adhere to the brand’s strict guidelines.
This unit matches the original GM parts in terms of performance and durability. Therefore, if you’re looking for an upgrade this won’t necessarily do the job.
It has a full anti-arc barrier so secondary voltage arcs can’t cause your engine to misfire.
As mentioned below there are special inserts which not only affect the fit on the engine but ensure there is optimum connectivity. You need this between the towers of the distributor and the wires in the spark plug if you want it to work well.
Not all consumers like the fact that the two parts aren’t the same color.
This part is a GM recommended replacement unit. You can expect it to act as well as original parts and you’ll find they work for most cars of today.
The design incorporates metal inserts. With these you can ensure it fits precisely and stays in place. You don’t want your kit to move around when driving over rough ground as any movement will affect your car’s performance.
Dimensions: 8”x 5.2”x 2.2”
Guide to Buying the Best Cap and Rotor Kit
When to Install a New Cap and Rotor Kit
It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong if your car starts malfunctioning. Maintenance is necessary because of regular wear and tear:
- Ignition parts move constantly and there’s friction which automatically wears out the parts no matter their quality & fit.
- The voltage pulses can cause damage over time, even in quality parts.
- This part of your engine experiences constant temperature fluctuations and eventually it causes problems.
- Pressure can cause a cap to crack.
- There can also be a build up of dirt and sludge especially if you drive in less than optimum conditions such as muddy roads. In these cases your vehicle’s distributor cap may simply need a clean instead of a replacement.
So you need to stay in control and check your car so you know when it’s time to clean or replace. Of course you never want to waste money and perhaps it’s not really necessary to replace your kit yet. How would you know?
We’ll make it easy for you and list some symptoms of old, malfunctioning or faulty cap & rotor kits:
- Your car may not want to start at all
- The engine works but is noisier than it was when you first bought the car
- You often hear misfires
- Your Check Engine Light goes on
- Your RPMs fluctuate
If you realize one or all of them are happening it’s time for a check.
Remember that these are also the things you’ll need to check for after you installed the new kit. If it has any of these symptoms you may need professional help.
Make sure you got it right so you don’t damage your engine by driving it while you’re placing it under pressure or letting sparks affect other components.
How to Pick Your Kit
You can imagine it’s quite important to pick the right type so you can count on your car to fire, idle correctly and get moving. So here are a few tips to help you vet the kits you come across.
What is it Made of?
When it comes to finding quality the substance used for manufacturing is essential. It determines how long something will last. In terms of cap and rotor kits a favorite substance the experts usually prefer is brass in the connections and terminals in both the cap & rotor. You’ll find aluminum versions as well but they simply don’t perform as well as they’re less reliable. And you want your timing perfect, right? You should also look for features that will resist corrosion.
Do You Care About the Look?
You’ll soon realize manufacturers put a lot of thought into the exterior design of these items too. This does make sense since many car enthusiasts want their engines looking as great as they work. But don’t let a stunning design cause you to purchase a low quality unit.
This should be one purchase where functionality trumps all so first look at the specs before you think about the aesthetics. If you have the budget you’re bound to find a quality part that also looks good but don’t let the exterior alone determine how you spend your money.
How Long Will it Last?
One way to find the quality units in a pile of kits is to look at warranties. If the manufacturer promises a long working period you can take it as proof that all the parts inside are of high value.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll get warranties for years. Since the vehicle also determines how hard your kit will work a proper warranty the manufacturers are willing to provide is as short as three months or around 3000 miles.
The features you settle for also determine how long you’ll be able to use the kit. If your kit has features that limit over arcing of the electrical current you’ll see it keeps functioning longer as the rotor won’t malfunction as quickly as others do.
You can also pick a kit according to what you use your vehicle for. Certain products are designed to resist more impact which makes them more appropriate for off roaders.
Do You Know the Brand?
It’s always safe to pick brands you know. They’ve been around for long enough to know what consumers want and if they’re still in the market you can bet they’ve at least got a few quality products. When you purchase from new up and coming companies you run the risk of not being able to use a warranty because the company may fail in the short time you use the kit.
Feel more confident about making the right choice now?
Your cap and rotor kit will usually come with installation guidelines but here are some tips to help you.
Remember there are different types of kits and this affects the installation. You may find J hooks on yours while others have snap clips or even machine screws that keep them in place.
You’ll be working with the coil wire but your car’s design determines how long this wire is. If it’s too short to give you space to work in you may need to disconnect it when you lift the cap to clear the rotor.
Never simply remove your old set before getting the new kit ready. Use the old one as your guide: Position the old and new next to each other and transfer spark plug wires one by one. Even if only one wire runs to the wrong position, while it won’t necessarily create a hazard, it will affect how your car performs.
Will you keep on pushing your car until it starts complaining or go right now and check whether it needs a new cap & rotor kit? At least you know how to pick the best possible one for your car now. Don’t make the age old mistake of waiting until it’s too late. What’s the added advantage? Your car will feel and perform even better tomorrow of you take some time to upgrade it today. Safe travels!