tl;dr: Is the capacitor inside a 97 Corolla's distributor important?

A few months ago my 97 Corolla wouldn't start. After some investigating we found what looked to me like a bad capacitor (plastic gunk was oozing out). We removed it and the car started running fine.

Finding a replacement part has been tough. So my questions:

1) Is that capacitor thing the "condenser?" Am I searching for the right thing?

2) Is it important? Depending on what I read its purpose is either to make the radio sound better or to improve spark timing. The radio works fine, so if that's all it's for then I won't bother with replacing it. But spark timing seems important...

Edit: Here is a pic of the capacitor.Pic of capacitor

  • Does your Corolla have a points distributor? I wouldn't think so as it's a 97, which should be OBDII compliant. Looking through the parts list, I'm not seeing a condenser listed for either the 1.6L or 1.8L engines, which means it must serve another purpose than to protect the points from damage. It may be there to help protect the coil from damage or other parts of the ignition system, but I don't know for sure. I'd suspect, since it's there, there's a reason for it. You may want to check with a Toyota service department for a replacement. It should be cheap if it's a condenser (or like it). Mar 11, 2019 at 18:09
  • In this image of a distributor for your car, I'm not seeing what looks like a capacitor/condenser. Can you show us an image of what you're working with? This will ensure we are talking apples-to-apples :o) Mar 11, 2019 at 18:12
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 IIRC it would be farther inside the cap than you can see in the pic. That brown wire near the coil pack would be the wire coming out of the capacitor. Again, IIRC. I can post a pic of the bad capacitor later today.
    – BradDaBug
    Mar 11, 2019 at 18:30
  • Put the capacitor back in. See what happens. If it's bad replace it. Switching an ignition coil puts a lot of wear and tear on the switching transistor. The capacitor works in tandem with other components to insure reliability. Follow thru with the repair.
    – Bob S.
    Mar 12, 2019 at 6:33
  • It is to reduce electromagnetic (radio) noise. Not for the ignition itself. Sep 9, 2020 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


Be wise , car manufacturer, don't through components for nothing, this cap. Has an important role in protecting electronic switching devices.

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