How to tell -- Plastic vs metal dist. Gear.

Peter Schulz peschulz at
Tue Dec 9 09:11:05 EST 2003


The point blank bad news is that you CAN'T tell.
My 170k mile titan grey wagon came with the replacement distributor ( anti tamper cover was missing)
Curiously it had the WIDE rotor (2nd picture down the positions are transposed ( plastic drive geared distributor on the left, metal on the right) doesnt mean the rotor itself had not been replaces at some point, but the plastic drive gear had little or no wear, so I did not think that it was THAT old.

Metal geared new distributor is on the left, plastic on the right in the other pictures.  Plastic drive gear is colored black.

Morale is that the only way to be sure which drive gear you have is to pull the distributor.
Easiest method I found (given that the tamper bolt and shield are already removed) is to remove the ISV and reach around the back of the engine with a 13mm open ended (crescent) or box wrench...the distributor bolt is barely visible when looking down between intake runners for cylinders 4 & 5.  This might be an excuse to buy a set of the ratcheting box wrenches (ala "Gearwrench"


At 08:53 AM 12/9/2003 -0500, Tom Werner wrote:
>I just replace the cap and rotor on my 200q 20v.  The Dist. Gear was the 11 mm type, but the dealer replacement was the 17mm.  I'll probably pull the new one off and make it an 11 mm one over the weekend.  But, the question is, how do I tell If I have the plastic or metal gear?  Car has 211k miles.  
>Seems like the previous owner let a lot of routine maintenance slide, but the car was bought off an Audi dealer lot 4 or 5 years ago, so I am assuming that the owner prior did regular maintenance.
>Tom Werner

Peter Schulz
1990 CQ (awaiting S2 3b engine transplant)
1991 200 20v TQW indigo mica
1991 200 20v TQW titanium grey 
Chelmsford, MA USA
peter at

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