Using a Timing Light

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  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-75
What You'll Need
Timing light
Combination wrench
Masking tape or duct tape
White chalk

The timing light on your car is based on the stroboscopic principle and helps set the timing for the ignition in a combustion engine. It serves to highlight the marks on the engine parts for ignition time of the engine in running stage. Adjusting the timing becomes integral during tuning of your car and that is when these lights have to be used. Follow the simple steps below to use your timing light.

Step 1: Initial Steps

Before starting work, turn the car engine off and also make sure that the key is taken out from ignition. Clean the engine battery terminals so that the steps which follow may be performed without much trouble. The timing light is connected to the circuit of ignition in the engine.

Step 2: Connections and Position

The timing light has 2 clips: one red and one black. The former has to be connected to the positive end of the engine battery and the latter to the negative one. The clip with the thick coating or insulator cover has to be connected to the first spark plug wire.

Now you have to locate the timing signs. Generally they are located on the lower part of the engine where the crankshaft pulley is inserted. Rotate this pulley in order to get the marks. At times the marks are to be found on the number one cylinder. Consult with the car manual to get the specific location.

Step 3: Correct Timing

Consult the car spec sheet to know the correct degree for the timing. The pointer has to be placed on the prescribed mark while the engine idles in the particular RPM in the drive gear. These vary from car to car, so make sure you consult the sheet twice before setting the timing mark. You can make the marks of the timing, with chalk, so that they are easily seen. Locate the distributor’s vacuum advance and pull out the hose attached to it. At the end of the detached rubber hose, put some masking tape so that it is sealed.

Step 4: Adjustments

Start the car engine and let it get warm. The engine needs to idle, for the timing mark to adjust itself. Now take the light and point it at the marks by pressing button over the light. Since the light is connected to the plug, with every firing of the plug there is current flow through the light that results in a strobe effect. As a reaction to this, the timing mark stands still without any fluctuation. Check if the pointer is at the correct mark. This means that the timing is perfectly set without any need for further adjustment.

Step 5: Further Adjustments

At the base of the engine distributor shaft, locate the hold down clamp. Loosen the clamp using wrench and get hold of the distributor vacuum advance. Rotate it backward and forward. As you did previously, place the light along the marks. Keep moving the distributor in an opposite direction so that the timing pointer points to the right mark that is specified in the spec sheet. After the timing is set, tighten the clamp of the distributor without moving the latter. Turn the car engine off and disconnect your timing light.