How to Check Engine Timing

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Car performance relies on the timing of the engine. When the engine is not timed properly, the components will not work in sync with each other. This can cause the engine to rev too high or too low when the pedal is pressed to the metal. Before timing your car's engine, refer to the owner's manual to check the timing requirements for your specific model. You might also find the specs on the plate under the hood.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Hose plug
  • Screwdriver
  • Timing light
  • Unhook the vacuum hose from the engine and plug the ends with a hose plug.

  • Unplug the wire from the engine's number one cylinder and attach the corresponding timer light to the wire. The wire will be attached to the distributor or a plug. Check your manual to find out which.

  • Look at your timing light instructions for the wire attachment diagram. The timing light will hook up to the battery or the AC outlet.

  • Start the engine and let it idle for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is at operating temperature.

  • Turn the engine off. Remove the clamp that holds down the distributor using a screwdriver.

  • Start the engine and point the timing light at the car's flywheel assembly or the harmonic balancer, depending on the model.

  • Move the distributor by rotating it until the mark on the flywheel from the timing light matches the distributor timing mark.

  • Turn off the engine. Tighten the distributor so it is in place. Check the timing light again to make sure it is screwed into the correct position.

References

  • Photo Credit Rolfo Rolf Brenner/Photodisc/Getty Images
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