Ignition and timing systems get your engine in sync
There are two kinds of timing that take place in your engine: cam timing and ignition timing. Cam timing has to do with a number of components working together in your car's engine. A vehicle owner can generally tell if cam timing is working. If cam timing were not working, the engine would be running poorly or failing all together. Ignition timing, on the other hand, can be affected by a number of causes.
Ignition timing can be thrown off by a number of factors. The system of ignition in your vehicle has to coordinate with the rest of your engine. The fuel needs to be ignited at the right time so that expanding gases will create the maximum impact. If the timing of the ignition is not correct, gas use and emissions can increase. When the mixture of air and fuel in the cylinder burns, the temperature rises. Fuel is then converted into gas. This increases the pressure in the cylinder and forces down the pistons. To get the most power from the engine, pressure in the cylinder needs to be maximized during the power stroke. This will also create the best engine efficiency and better mileage. The timing of the spark is what makes this possible.
Timing can vary from engine to engine. Consult your vehicle's service manual for the best advice about how to correct your vehicle's engine timing. Many new engines can adjust the timing on their own or timing can also be adjusted with a timing light.
To adjust timing with a timing light, follow instructions to wire the light. Point the light at the main pulley that is associated with the crankshaft. Time the engine to zero degrees advance. Point the light at the mark on the pulley. It will appear to flash. Loosen the distributor and turn it slightly. That mark will move left or right. If you turn it too much, the mark will leave all together. The engine can also be turned off this way. On most crank pulleys, there will also be another mark. This should be 3-5 degrees before the top dead center. This is the mark to aim for. Turn the distributor until the mark flashes at the correct spot every time. Once set, tighten the distributor.
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