86-93 5.0L Mustang Distributor Install

Posted 4/1/2013 by Jonathan McDonald

Need help replacing a 86-93 5.0L Mustang Distributor? Watch our install video & read the tech article to help you remove and install a new distributor in your Stang.

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The Ignition system is one of the most overlooked & under-appreciated systems on a Fox Mustang. From the factory the stock system was quite capable & reliable. There are still many a fast Mustang out there running stock style distributors, wires, plugs, and coils; however, as with most systems, there is room for improvement. Especially when you are faced with component replacement because of failure.

Yes, we just mentioned failure on a system we just referred to as reliable. Everything fails. Time and use take their toll on everything. The 1986-1993 Mustang Ignition System failure that you are likely most familiar with is TFI Module (Thick Film Ignition) failure. This typically presents itself at the most inopportune time, when your Fox Body Stang is at operating temperature, the engine will just die. After a short cool down period, the engine will most of the time restart, go down the road a little way, & then die again once the heat builds up. When these symptoms first presented years ago, it was easy to "trend fix" by simply replacing the TFI Module. Now that the 86-93 Ponies have quite a bit more age under her thier belt, "trend fixing" these symptoms is not as easy. The reason is that the PIP Sensor (Profile Ignition Pickup), also called a hall effect sensor, presents the exact same symptoms when it fails. The problem is that the PIP sensor requires the distributor to be completely disassembled to be replaced. Not nearly as easy as the TFI module!

The next consideration is the amount of wear your distributor is presenting. If you don't know the mileage on the current one, or if you know yours has high miles, then the shaft & shaft bushing are probably worn to the point of having noticeable slack between them. This causes erratic spark timing and in severe cases can even cause "spark scatter". This is starting to sound like quite a bit of work to fix the problem, right? Not Really.

Companies like Performance Distributors Inc. (PDI) make it quite a bit easier by offering a complete replacement drop-in distributor for your 1986-1993 Stang. Take the Hot Forged Distributor for instance. PDI starts with a CNC Machined forged aluminum housing. Then they press in an oil-impregnated bronze bushing, add a high quality PIP sensor, slide in the steel shaft, and press on a steel drive gear that is fully compatible with roller camshafts. They top it off with a cap & rotor that feature brass terminals for the best conductivity possible. The real brains of the Hot Forged Distributor is the Dyna-Mod TFI Ignition Module. It allows for a longer coil saturation time which provides a longer duration spark. This smooths out idle and revs, offers more complete combustion, as well as improving fuel economy.

Now that you know why you need to replace your distributor, lets cover the how. Start by disconnecting your battery. It is a good "best practice" to clean around the distributor where it enters the block so no dirt or debris fall in the engine once the old one is removed. Remove the distributor cap by releasing the two spring clips. Make note of the direction the rotor is pointing as well as the orientation of the TFI module. Unplug the TFI module connector. Grab you a specialty distributor wrench or a 1/4" ratchet, long extension, swivel joint, and a 1/2" socket to remove the distributor hold down bolt and clamp. Lift the distributor out of the engine.

To install your new distributor, start by lubricating the camshaft gear along with the gear. Engine oil will work, but PDI includes a specialty camshaft lubricant for this purpose. Slide the distributor in to the engine, aligning the rotor & TFI module at the previously noted positions, and fully seat the distributor in the block. Re-install and tighten down the hold down and bolt. Plug in the TFI module connector. Transfer the spark plug wires to the new distributor cap. The 1986-93 Mustang 5.0L Firing Order is 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8. Cylinder #1 is typically marked on the distributor cap. If not, it is the terminal closest to the intake manifold. If you are also installing new wires, cylinders 1 thru 4 are on the RH passenger side of the engine. Cylinders 5 thru 8 are on the LH driver side of the engine.

Start the car & verify timing! I can't stress this point enough - Any time you touch the distributor you need to verify ignition timing! Check out How to Set 5.0L Mustang Ignition Timing for instructions on how to check & adjust your timing.

When installing a new distributor, it is a great opportunity to go ahead & freshen up the rest of your ignition system as well. New Spark Plugs, Spark Plug Wires, and ignition Coil will complete your system transformation. We offer the parts individually, as well as the 1986-1993 Mustang 5.0L High Performance Ignition Kit. Don't ignore your ignition any longer - Upgrade & improve today!


About the Video

Mustang Distributor Install: Performance Distributors Hot Forged Aluminum Distributor 86-93 5.0L

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Published on 2013-04-01
Are you replacing your worn out ignition coil and wires? Or do you have a worn out stock distributor giving you issues? Then you are in need of the Performance Distributors Inc (PDI) 1986-93 Mustang 5.0L Hot Forged Aluminum Distributor. This drop in ready distributor will ensure you get the most out of your Mustang ignition coil and plug wire upgrade. If you are currently having TFI module issues or have a worn rotor and cap then this makes a great upgrade for your 5.0L Mustang.

In the video Jmac walks you through removal of your stock Foxbody Mustang distributor and shows you how to install the new PDI Hot Forged Aluminum Distributor. The 1986-93 Mustang 5.0L Hot Forged Aluminum Distributor features a hot forged aluminum housing, new cap and rotor, includes a Dyna-Mod TFI Module and is compatible with roller cam.


* Mustang Livewire Plug wires
* Mustang Screamin Demon Ignition Coil
* Mustang Hot Forged Aluminum Distributor
* Mustang Wire Looms by Taylor

Fit Ford Fox Body Mustang LX, GT, Cobra 5.0L - 1986 (86) - 1987 (87) - 1988 (88) - 1989 (89) - 1990 (90) - 1991 (91) - 1992 (92) - 1993 (93)
JONATHAN MCDONALD: The Performance Distributors Hot Forged Distributor features a hot forged aluminum housing that's CNC machined versus a billet aluminum housing that allows for a lower cost unit with higher strength. It's loaded with an oil impregnated bronze bushing that the shaft rides on for a long service life. The shaft also is fitted with a steel distributor gear for use with roller camshafts.

The cap has brass terminals which are better conducting than the aluminum terminals found on the stock distributor cap. The Dyna-Mod ignition module, also called a TFI module, gives you a longer coil saturation time which allows for a longer spark duration that helps give you the better idle, fuel economy, and higher horsepower.

To remove the distributor from your 5.0 liter Mustang, you want to go ahead and remove the distributor cap, and then make a note of where the rotor is pointing and where your TFI module is pointing because you want to line up the new distributor in the same location. Unplug the TFI module, then grab you a half inch socket with a ratchet, and completely remove the hold down bolt and hold down bracket for the distributor, then lift the distributor up and out of the engine.

Every hot forged distributor includes a package of camshaft lubrication. This packet is to be used. Drizzle some down onto the camshaft and put some on the steel gear on the end of the distributor. And then you can go ahead and install it into place.

Slide the distributor down into the block lining up the rotor with the oil pump shaft and the camshaft. And rotate it around to where it's pointing back in the same direction as the old distributor. And then line up the TFI module to where it's pointing the same direction as on the old distributor.

Reinstall the hold down clamp and bolt. Plug-in your TFI module. Now on top of the cap, the firing order is 1, 3, 7, 2, 6, 5, 4, and 8. The coil is in the center. Transfer your spark plug wires over to the new distributor cap.

Swapping out your distributor was fairly straightforward and it'll provide years of trouble free service. Now whenever replacing your distributor, it's a great time to go ahead and change out your spark plugs and upgrade your plug wires and ignition coil. For these ignition parts and more, check out latemodelrestoration.com.