A faulty distributor can cause a variety of problems to include: hard starts, hesitation, stumbling, loss of power, pinging, and poor fuel economy. The distributor on this vehicle is extremely reliable. Mine failed after 240,000 miles. My car became hard to start and started taking computer code 12 for rpm signal missing. A new part will cost between $180-300. If you are on a budget, a salvage yard may be a better option. A good place to purchase the part is RockAuto. You will need to be familiar with the ignition components and have basic mechanical skills to perform this job. The tools required for this job are a ratchet set and a common or Phillips screwdriver.
It is a good idea to take pictures and notes during the process to avoid confusion during installation. Raise the hood and disconnect the battery. Mark the spark plug wires for cylinders 1-4 that are connected to the distributor cap. Remove the screws from the distributor cap and remove the cap from the distributor. It is not necessary to remove the wires from the cap. The ignition rotor will now be visible. Take note of the exact direction that the rotor is pointing. Temporarily slide the cap back on the distributor and make a mark on it in reference to the position the rotor is pointing. This step is critical because if the new distributor is not installed in the same direction as the old one, the engine will not start or run properly! Disconnect the electrical connectors from the distributor. This can be difficult and may require pressing down hard on the locking tabs. Remove the two mounting bolts from the distributor and pull it out of the engine block. Take note of the distributor shaft and the direction that it came out. The shaft is connected to the rotor and both turn in unison. Pull the rotor from the old distributor and install it on the new one in the exact manner.
It is a good idea to clean the mating electrical connectors with a contact cleaner or lubricant prior to making the final connections. Turn the shaft and rotor in the exact direction as the old one and push the distributor into the engine block. Slide the distributor cap on the distributor and make sure the rotor aligns with the mark that you put on the cap during removal. The rotor and shaft can only be installed correctly or 180 degrees out. If the rotor does not align to the mark, then you will have to pull the distributor back out and rotate the shaft 180 degrees and install it again and check for proper alignment. Once aligned, the remainder of the installation will be in reverse order of removal.