How to adjust timing

Ignition timing refers to the ignition system that allows the spark plug to fire, or ignite, a few degrees before the piston reaches top dead center (TDC) on its compression stroke. In other words, ignition timing is the adjustment of the spark produced by the spark plugs in the ignition system.

When the piston travels to the top of the combustion chamber, the valves close and allow the engine to compress the mixture of air and fuel inside the combustion chamber. The ignition system’s job is to ignite that air/fuel mixture to make a controlled explosion to allow the engine to rotate and produce power that can be used to move your vehicle. The ignition timing or spark is measured in the degrees the crankshaft is rotating, bringing the piston to the top of the combustion chamber, or TDC.

If the spark comes before the piston reaches the top of the combustion chamber, also known as advanced timing, the controlled explosion will work against the engine rotating and produce less power. If the spark comes after the piston starts traveling back down the cylinder, known as retarded timing, the pressure created when compressing the air/fuel mixture will dissipate and create a weak explosion, not allowing the engine to produce maximum power.

A good indicator that ignition timing may need to be adjusted is when the engine runs too lean (too much air, not enough fuel in the fuel mixture) or too rich (too much fuel and not enough air in the fuel mixture). These conditions are sometimes shown by the engine backfiring or pinging while accelerating.

Having the correct ignition timing will allow the engine to efficiently produce maximum power. The number of degrees will vary between manufacturers so it is best to check the service manual for your specific vehicle to determine exactly what degree to set your ignition timing.

Part 1 of 3: Locating timing marks

Materials Needed

  • Distributor wrench of the appropriate size
  • Free repair manuals В­ Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models Autozone
  • Repair manuals (optional) Chilton

Older vehicles that have a distributor ignition system will have the ability to fine-tune ignition timing. Typically, timing will need to be adjusted due to the normal wear of moving parts in the ignition system. One degree may not be noticeable at idle, but at higher speeds this can cause the vehicle’s ignition system to fire a little early or late, which will decrease overall performance of the engine.

If your vehicle uses a distributorless ignition system such as coil on plug, timing cannot be adjusted as the computer makes these changes on the fly when necessary.

Step 1: Locate the crankshaft pulley. With the engine off, open the hood and locate the crankshaft pulley.

There will be a mark on the crankshaft pulley along with degree mark(s) on the timing cover.

  • Tip: These marks can be observed while the engine is running by illuminating this area with the timing light to check and adjust ignition timing.

Step 2: Locate the number one cylinder. Most timing lights will have three clamps.

A positive/red and negative/black clamp is hooked up to the vehicle’s battery and a third clamp also known as the inductive clamp, clips around the number one cylinder’s spark plug wire.

  • Tip: If you do not know which cylinder is #1, consult the factory repair information for the firing order.

Step 3: Loosen the adjusting nut on your distributor. If ignition timing needs to be adjusted, loosen this nut enough to allow the distributor to rotate so timing can be advanced or retarded.

Part 2 of 3: Determining if adjustment is needed

Materials Needed

  • Distributor wrench of the appropriate size
  • Free repair manuals В­ Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models Autozone
  • Repair manuals (optional) Chilton
  • Timing light

Step 1: Warm up the engine. Start the engine and allow it to rise to an operating temperature of 195 degrees.

This is indicated with the temperature gauge needle reading in the middle of the gauge.

Step 2: Attach the timing light. Now is a good time to attach your timing light to the battery and number one spark plug and shine the timing light at the crankshaft pulley.

Compare your readings to the manufacturer’s specifications in the factory repair manual. If the timing is out of spec, you will need to adjust it in order for the engine to run at maximum performance.

  • Tip: If your vehicle has vacuum-assisted ignition timing, disconnect the vacuum line going into the distributor and plug the line with a small bolt to prevent a vacuum leak while the timing is being adjusted.

Part 3 of 3: Performing the adjustment

Materials Needed

  • Distributor wrench of the appropriate size
  • Free repair manuals Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models Autozone
  • Repair manuals (optional) Chilton
  • Timing light

Step 1: Loosen the adjusting nut or bolt. Return to the adjusting nut or bolt on the distributor and loosen it enough to allow the distributor to rotate.

  • Tip: Some vehicles require you to install a jumper wire on an electrical connector to short or break the connection with the vehicle’s computer so timing can be adjusted. If your vehicle has a computer, overlooking this step will prevent the computer from accepting the adjustments.

Step 2: Rotate the distributor. While using the timing light to look at the timing marks on the crank and timing cover, rotate the distributor to make the necessary adjustments.

  • Note: Each vehicle may vary, but a general rule of thumb is, if the rotor inside the distributor spins clockwise with the engine running, rotating the distributor counterclockwise will advance ignition timing. Rotating the distributor clockwise will perform the opposite and retard ignition timing. Use a steady gloved hand to slightly rotate the distributor in either direction until the timing is within the manufacturer’s specifications.

Step 3: Tighten the adjusting nut. Once timing has been set at idle, tighten the adjusting nut on the distributor.

Have a friend blip the throttle. This involves quickly pushing on the accelerator pedal to increase engine RPM and then releasing it, allowing the engine to fall back to idle, therefore confirming the timing is set to specifications.

Congratulations! You have just set your own ignition timing. In some cases ignition timing will be out of spec due to a stretched timing chain or belt. If, after setting timing, the vehicle is showing symptoms of untimed, it is recommended you consult a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, for further diagnostics. These professional technicians can set your ignition timing for you, as well as make sure your spark plugs are up to date.

How to adjust timing

The turbo diesel engine is a favorite of enthusiastic motorists from Europe and Asia. This is due to the fact that diesel engines are more economical to run compared to a comparable gasoline engine and produce significantly more torque which is responsible for the massive pulling power that TDI (turbocharged direct injection) and other diesel engines are known for. Diesel engines have significantly lower NOx (Nitrous Oxide) emissions than a petrol powered car, and the availability of low sulfur diesel fuel in the market further reduces the occurrence of black smoke and soot.

If a sudden loss of power is felt or excess smoke is evident on the tailpipe, then adjusting the timing could bring improvements and sort out the power issue. Please note that different makes and models of diesel engines will cause the procedure to vary, but the basic fundamentals are almost the same.

How to Adjust the Timing

Brand new cars and trucks equipped with a turbo diesel engine will generally be tuned towards a modest power input with little or no smoke but should be adjusted as the engine piles up on mileage. This is accomplished by adjusting the pump to increase the flow of fuel in the combustion chamber to produce power. However, engine timing should also be measured and adjusted to produce the desired effect.

Step 1 – Warm-up

Start the engine and let it warm to a normal operating temperature. Shut the engine off when it is fully warm. Never attempt the following procedures with your engine running, as this could lead to serious engine trouble and costly damage on the injection pump gear train.

Step 2 – Install the Luminosity Probe

Diesel engines rely on a timing meter that employs luminosity and magnetic probes to properly detect ignition patterns. A proper diesel timing meter is an essential tool to accurately read ignition timing. With a timing meter at hand, carefully remove the appropriate glow plug and install the luminosity probe.

Step 3 – Connect the Meter to Vehicle Battery

Power the meter via the engine battery and install the magnetic probe in the front cover holder. Ensure no cables are dangling and are in the way of the engine fan to prevent accidents when the engine is started.

Step 4 – Check Existing Timing

Start the engine and check the timing on various intervals to establish an accurate baseline for analysis.

Step 5 – Adjust Engine Timing

Rotate the injection pump to increase or decrease engine timing as needed. This is usually accomplished by loosening the bolts and rotating the injection pump in small increments either clockwise or counterclockwise. Re-tighten the bolts after adjustment.

Step 6 – Observe and Assess

Observe idle clatter and smoke before going for a test drive. A lean burn is usually preferred for the perfect balance of less smoke and ideal power delivery. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for proper timing figure.

Adjusting the timing on a turbo diesel engine is easy, but it does require some technical knowledge and proper diagnostic equipment to properly accomplish. Remember that proper tuning can only be achieved through numerous adjustments and test drives to properly determine the right increment that strikes the balance between power, fuel economy, and emissions.

How to adjust timing

The turbo diesel engine is a favorite of enthusiastic motorists from Europe and Asia. This is due to the fact that diesel engines are more economical to run compared to a comparable gasoline engine and produce significantly more torque which is responsible for the massive pulling power that TDI (turbocharged direct injection) and other diesel engines are known for. Diesel engines have significantly lower NOx (Nitrous Oxide) emissions than a petrol powered car, and the availability of low sulfur diesel fuel in the market further reduces the occurrence of black smoke and soot.

If a sudden loss of power is felt or excess smoke is evident on the tailpipe, then adjusting the timing could bring improvements and sort out the power issue. Please note that different makes and models of diesel engines will cause the procedure to vary, but the basic fundamentals are almost the same.

How to Adjust the Timing

Brand new cars and trucks equipped with a turbo diesel engine will generally be tuned towards a modest power input with little or no smoke but should be adjusted as the engine piles up on mileage. This is accomplished by adjusting the pump to increase the flow of fuel in the combustion chamber to produce power. However, engine timing should also be measured and adjusted to produce the desired effect.

Step 1 – Warm-up

Start the engine and let it warm to a normal operating temperature. Shut the engine off when it is fully warm. Never attempt the following procedures with your engine running, as this could lead to serious engine trouble and costly damage on the injection pump gear train.

Step 2 – Install the Luminosity Probe

Diesel engines rely on a timing meter that employs luminosity and magnetic probes to properly detect ignition patterns. A proper diesel timing meter is an essential tool to accurately read ignition timing. With a timing meter at hand, carefully remove the appropriate glow plug and install the luminosity probe.

Step 3 – Connect the Meter to Vehicle Battery

Power the meter via the engine battery and install the magnetic probe in the front cover holder. Ensure no cables are dangling and are in the way of the engine fan to prevent accidents when the engine is started.

Step 4 – Check Existing Timing

Start the engine and check the timing on various intervals to establish an accurate baseline for analysis.

Step 5 – Adjust Engine Timing

Rotate the injection pump to increase or decrease engine timing as needed. This is usually accomplished by loosening the bolts and rotating the injection pump in small increments either clockwise or counterclockwise. Re-tighten the bolts after adjustment.

Step 6 – Observe and Assess

Observe idle clatter and smoke before going for a test drive. A lean burn is usually preferred for the perfect balance of less smoke and ideal power delivery. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for proper timing figure.

Adjusting the timing on a turbo diesel engine is easy, but it does require some technical knowledge and proper diagnostic equipment to properly accomplish. Remember that proper tuning can only be achieved through numerous adjustments and test drives to properly determine the right increment that strikes the balance between power, fuel economy, and emissions.

How to adjust timing

Ignition timing is tough to understand, but easy to adjust and set. Just for your edification, I’ll go into the what’s what on timing on this page, but if you have zero interest in all of the complexities of ignition timing, why it’s important to how well your engine is running, and why it can be disastrous if it’s off, you should skip all of the tech talk and simply get out your manual to make the adjustments.

What Is Ignition Timing?

Your engine is a complex symphony of rapidly moving parts — pistons, rods, valves, pulleys, camshafts, a crankshaft — all of these heavy, strong pieces are moving with great velocity inside your engine. Your piston moves up and down, the valves move in and out, the connecting rods push and pull, and the crankshaft spins wildly at the center of it all. This symphony plays itself out thousands of times every minute as you drive down the street.

There are two kinds of timing that take a seat at every engine event. The first is called cam timing, the second is ignition timing. Cam timing has more to do with all of the heavy stuff moving fast inside your engine. Remember the valves and pistons? Both of these are moving, and the piston is moving with the explosive oomph provided by the other cylinders in your engine. Your engine has a timing belt or chain that does a lot more than take energy from the spinning crankshaft and use it to spin the camshaft or camshafts. Its job is to make sure the valves are out of the way when that piston comes flying toward the engine’s head. In some engines, the piston can actually impact a valve at the top of its movement. In these engines, called “interference” type engines, even a slight slip in cam timing can be catastrophic and result in a complete engine overhaul — thousand of dollars. This is one reason it’s so important to inspect your timing belt for wear or damage.

Luckily unless you’ve been doing some serious work on your car, the cam timing is probably right on the money. If it wasn’t, you’d know it because your car would be running horribly, if at all. Your ignition timing, on the other hand, can be throw off by any number of little things. The good news is it’s just as easy to adjust and reset. A little history: The engine in your car or truck has 4 cycles. Each one of these cycles is repeated in each cylinder. First, it sucks in air and fuel. Most new cars use direct injection so the air gets sucked in through the intake valve while the fuel is blasted in by a precise injector. The second part, or stroke, in each cylinder is called the “compression stroke.” Now the air-fuel mixture is literally compressed tightly. This creates heat and volatility in the mixture. The third stroke is the ignition or combustion stroke (now we’re getting somewhere). At this point the spark plug fires and ignites the air-fuel mixture, causing the piston to be pushed back down to the bottom of the stroke. The final stroke is the exhaust stroke. At this time the exhaust valve opens up and lets the old, burnt mixture out so we can suck new stuff in and do it all again!

The key to this whole operation is making sure the timing of that spark is on cue. A fraction off and you get an engine that is working against itself, which will cause a loss of power and choppy idle. A little more off and you can get some serious fireworks when you don’t want them! No spark? Try testing your coil!

Timing Adjustment Basics

Now that you know what timing essentially is, I can tell you the basics on how to adjust and set it on your engine. Timing is different on every engine, so it’s a good idea to have a good service manual handy to talk about the details in your engine. Newer engines adjust the timing themselves, so as long as your sensors are all functioning as they should, you won’t have to do any tinkering with timing. In fact, you usually can’t unless you remap your ignition computer’s chip or buy an aftermarket performance chip that has a different timing map flashed into it. Be careful because the wrong chip can not only make your car run badly but can also throw error codes and bring on the dreaded Check Engine Light.

If you’re cool enough to have an older school car or truck with a distributor that you can put your hands on, adjusting the timing is as simple as giving the distributor a twist. You’ll need a timing light. With the light wired up per the instructions and the engine running, point the light at the main pulley that comes off the crankshaft. This pulley has a notch or mark on it. On an engine timed to zero degrees advance, also known as Top Dead Center, that mark will appear to flash with the light pointed at it. If you loosen the distributor and turn it slightly, you’ll see that mark move to the left or right. Turn the distributor too much and the mark will leave entirely. You can also shut off the engine in this way. On most crank pulleys, there is another mark. This is the mark you aim for, usually somewhere between 3-5 degrees before Top Dead Center. All you do is turn the distributor until that timing mark is flashing at the right spot every time. Once it’s set, tighten the distributor so it won’t turn on its own, and you’re good!

A vehicle’s engine timing belt operates the valves’ timing. The cam shaft pulley powers the timing belt. The pulley keeps the engine’s internal components smoothly working by controlling the valves to open and close at the proper time. The Nissan car timing belt rarely needs adjusting as the engine position sensor controls monitor it. A timing light device, however, is a great tool for determining belt tensions if it needs to be adjusted.

  • How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Sentra
  • How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Pathfinder
  • How to Adjust the Timing on a Nissan Frontier
  • How do I Adjust the Timing on a 300ZX Twin Turbo?

How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Sentra

Locate the crank pulley at the front of the engine and remove any dirt or grime to reveal the timing ignition marks. Start the car and allow it to reach normal operating temperature. Shut the engine off and connect the timing light to the battery of necessary and then to the number one ignition wire at the front driver side of the engine.

Start the car and shift into neutral making sure the parking brake is set. Hold the throttle at 2,000 RPM for 2 minutes and turn the engine off. Disconnect the throttle position sensor from the front of the throttle body.

Restart the car and race the engine three times for 1 second each. Let the engine idle normally for 1 minute.

Point the timing light at the crank pulley to determine the amount of adjustment required. Loosen the bolts on the distributor and turn the assembly until the desired crank timing mark and the middle line of the timing light match.

Tighten the distributor and test the timing again to verify the distributor didn’t move when tightened. Turn off the engine and remove the timing light. Replace the number one ignition wire.

Items you will need

How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Pathfinder

Place stops under both front wheels and fully set the parking brake. Turn off any accessories such as the radio, climate controls and lights. With the engine turned off, locate the crankshaft pulley at the bottom front of the engine and remove and dirt or grime to expose the timing marks.

Start the engine, allowing it to reach normal operating temperature. Place the transmission in neutral and hold the throttle at 2,000 RPM for 2 minutes. Let the engine idle normally for one minute then rev the engine three times for 1 second each.

Attach the timing light to the battery if necessary and then to the number one ignition wire found at the front passenger side of the engine on a six cylinder or the first wire on the passenger side of a four cylinder.

Point the timing light at the crankshaft pulley to determine the amount of adjustment needed. Loosen the distributor mounting bolts and turn the distributor slowly until the pulley timing marks line up with the middle line on the timing light.

Tighten the distributor mounting bolts and recheck the timing to ensure the distributor didn’t move during tightening. Turn off the Nissan Pathfinder engine and remove the timing light. Push the number one ignition wire back into place.

Items you will need

How to Adjust the Timing on a Nissan Frontier

Look at the engine’s lower front to locate the crankshaft pulley. Remove any debris on the pulley and the timing belt to expose the imprinted arrows.

Start the engine with the transmission in “neutral” and keep the throttle at 2,000 rpm. Do not release the hand brake.

Wait until the engine get to its normal operating temperature which should take about two minutes in fair weather. Meanwhile, turn off all the accessories such as the air conditioner and radio.

Idle the engine at its normal rpm for one minute, then press the accelerator three times for one second each.

Keep the engine running while attaching the timing light device to the battery and the first ignition cable found at engine’s passenger side.

Determine the adjustment tension needed by aiming the timing light at the crankshaft pulley.

Use a wrench to loosen the distributor mounting bolts, adjusting them slowly until the timing arrows lines up with the center line on the timing light.

Tighten the distributor mounting bolts. Inspect the timing on the pulley and the belt to make sure the distributor is stationary during tightening of the bolts.

Turn off the engine and detach the timing light. Press the ignition cable back into place.

Items you will need

Timing light device

How do I Adjust the Timing on a 300ZX Twin Turbo?

Park your 300ZX on a flat surface. Keep the engine running, but shut off all accessories and equipment that may be on in your car, including the radio and air conditioning/heat.

Exit your car and place wooden or metal wheel chocks under the front and back of your two front tires. Enter your vehicle, put the transmission in neutral and engage the emergency brake. Step on the gas to bring the engine to an idle speed of 750 rpm. This will warm up the engine so that it can indicate the correct ignition timing when you check it in Step 5.

Exit your 300ZX, allowing the rpm level to go back to zero. Open the hood to work on your engine. Turn on the fast or warm idle speed option located on the engine control module to keep the engine warm. It should be located on the engine.

Connect the timing light to the battery by placing the red clip on the positive terminal first and the black clip on the negative terminal second. Attach the timing light clamps to the No. 1 spark plug wire. The No. 1 spark plug wire will be labeled as No. 1 on the end of it. Shine the timing light on the pulley connected to the engine’s crankshaft.

Check where the timing mark on the pulley falls compared with the degree tab on the front of the engine and you will be able to see what the current ignition time is.

Find the distributor lock-down bolt at the base of the distributor housing and use a wrench to loosen it. Disconnect the distributor vacuum hose from the distributor housing and plug it into the engine’s electronic spark computer. Use jumper cables to ground the carburetor switch by placing the red clamp of the jumper cable on the switch and the black clamp on the ground.

Use your hand to rotate the distributor until the timing mark on the pulley lines up with the degree tab on the front of the engine to create an ignition time of 15 degrees.

Unplug the distributor vacuum hose from the electronic spark computer and connect it into the distributor housing. Tighten the lock-down bolt with your wrench and remove the jumper cables from the carburetor switch. Remove the timing light components from the engine, close the hood of your car and remove the wheel chocks.

How to adjust timing

The correct adjustment of a vacuum advance unit is critical to ensure that an automobile engine runs at its peak performance. The vacuum advance mechanism allows the distributor to vary the spark timing to compensate for the load and speed requirements of the engine. During light loads on the engine, the cylinders burn leaner and require the spark to be initiated earlier in order to obtain optimum power. The vacuum advance unit provides this varying spark advance and improves the fuel economy and throttle response throughout the operating range of the engine.

Step 1

Set the mechanical timing of the engine. Disconnect and plug the vacuum advance hose at the distributor and plug the hose. Connect the timing light inductive pickup to the No. 1 spark plug wire and connect the power leads to the vehicle battery.

Step 2

Loosen the distributor hold-down bolt. Start the engine and allow it to warm up to normal operating temperature.

Step 3

Turn the distributor and use the timing light to set the timing to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. Most cars have a decal in the engine compartment that shows the timing specifications. Tighten the distributor bolt when all adjustments have been made. Rev the engine up to 2,000 rpm and have your assistant observe the timing reading on the harmonic balancer. Record the timing setting. Remove the vacuum advance hose plug and reconnect the hose to the distributor.

Step 4

Remove the vacuum advance hose at the carburetor. Connect the long-hosed vacuum gauge to the carburetor’s vacuum advance port. Place the vacuum gauge inside the passenger compartment of the car in a location where it can be read by your assistant when the vehicle is in motion. Ensure the vacuum gauge hose does not interfere with any operating parts of the engine.

Step 5

Drive the vehicle and have your assistant or helper note the maximum amount of vacuum shown on the gauge when the engine is operated at normal highway speeds.

Step 6

Stop the vehicle safely, apply the parking brake and turn off the engine. Connect the timing light inductive pickup to the No. 1 spark plug wire and connect the power leads to the vehicle battery.

Step 7

Connect the vacuum pump with gauge to the distributor vacuum advance. Start the engine and have your assistant rev the motor up to 2,000 rpm. Pump the vacuum up to the reading recorded during the driving test in Step 5.

Step 8

Check the timing mark on the harmonic balancer with the timing light. Record the total advance displayed on the scale. Subtract from this reading the value recorded in Step 3. For example: If the reading in Step 3 was 35 degrees, and the reading from Step 8 is 42 degrees, then 42 minus 35 equals 7.

Step 9

Disconnect the vacuum pump and insert a 3/32 Allen wrench into the port on the vacuum advance where the hose connects. There is a small adjusting screw in the vacuum advance. Turn the screw clockwise to decrease the vacuum advance and counterclockwise to increase the advance. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the total difference between the mechanical advance and vacuum advance readings is approximately 10 degrees apart. The vacuum advance is now set for 10 degrees of advance at normal highway operating conditions.

Remove the vacuum pump and timing light. Reconnect the vacuum-advance hose to the carburetor.

How to adjust timing

There are two types of timing in an engine: cam timing and ignition timing. Cam timing is what determines when the valves open and close with respect to the position of the pistons in their bores. It cannot be adjusted on a stock engine. It is set when the engine is built, aligning them to manufacturer’s specs. Cam timing is not connected with or affected by turning the distributor.

What distributors time is spark or ignition. At idle, your engine is turning relatively slowly, say 1000 revolutions per minute (rpm), so very little fuel and air are being drawn into the cylinders. This small amount of combustible mixture burns very quickly. For maximum efficiency, the spark needs to start when the piston is very near top dead center. If the spark comes too early (too advanced), the pressure from the ignited mixture will hit the piston while it is still coming up the cylinder and be wasted trying to shove the piston down before it reaches the top of its travel. If the timing is set too late, the pressure from the ignited mixture will dissipate as the flame front chases the piston down the cylinder bore. Here is how you properly adjust your engine (ignition) timing.

Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of your car, especially the engine, you may want to avoid doing this on your own.

Step 1 – Knowing What you Can Touch

There are several things that can be checked and altered to help adjust your engine timing, but you need to know what they are specifically. These things include adjusting the distributor nut, the timing pointer located above the crankshaft pulley, and the number one spark plug wire.

Step 2 – Get the Engine Warm

Turn the car on. Allow the engine to warm up until you see the temperature gauge reach about half way. Then, turn the engine off again.

Step 3 – Pull Out Your Manufacturer’s Information

Locate your manufacturer’s information for your car. Make sure that you thoroughly go through and understand your car’s components before you attempt to adjust the ignition timing for your engine.

Step 4 – Check the TDC

Rotating the distributor is one of the ways you can effectively adjust your engine timing and the method we would advise.

To do this, first make sure you know how many cylinders are on your car. For example, if you have a six cylinder car, you will have six sparks. Then, take a look at the harmonic balancer. There are marks that show you how far it is from TDC (top dead center). Adjusting the timing means making sure the pistons fire appropriately to the TDC position (not too far before, not after, not too close).

Step 5 – Hook-up Timing Light

First, loosen the distributor by loosening the bolt, and then hook up a timing light to the number one cylinder. Start engine. With the strobe on, point it to the harmonic balancer and look for the mark that indicates number of degrees BTDC as specified in manufacturer’s specifications.

Step 6 – Rotate

Rotate the distributor until it aligns with the correct number of degrees mark. Once aligned, tighten the distributor again. Double-check your timing before you fully tighten it in place.

If you’ve done everything correctly, your engine timing should now be spot on.

A vehicle’s engine timing belt operates the valves’ timing. The cam shaft pulley powers the timing belt. The pulley keeps the engine’s internal components smoothly working by controlling the valves to open and close at the proper time. The Nissan car timing belt rarely needs adjusting as the engine position sensor controls monitor it. A timing light device, however, is a great tool for determining belt tensions if it needs to be adjusted.

  • How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Sentra
  • How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Pathfinder
  • How to Adjust the Timing on a Nissan Frontier
  • How do I Adjust the Timing on a 300ZX Twin Turbo?

How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Sentra

Locate the crank pulley at the front of the engine and remove any dirt or grime to reveal the timing ignition marks. Start the car and allow it to reach normal operating temperature. Shut the engine off and connect the timing light to the battery of necessary and then to the number one ignition wire at the front driver side of the engine.

Start the car and shift into neutral making sure the parking brake is set. Hold the throttle at 2,000 RPM for 2 minutes and turn the engine off. Disconnect the throttle position sensor from the front of the throttle body.

Restart the car and race the engine three times for 1 second each. Let the engine idle normally for 1 minute.

Point the timing light at the crank pulley to determine the amount of adjustment required. Loosen the bolts on the distributor and turn the assembly until the desired crank timing mark and the middle line of the timing light match.

Tighten the distributor and test the timing again to verify the distributor didn’t move when tightened. Turn off the engine and remove the timing light. Replace the number one ignition wire.

Items you will need

How to Adjust the Timing in a Nissan Pathfinder

Place stops under both front wheels and fully set the parking brake. Turn off any accessories such as the radio, climate controls and lights. With the engine turned off, locate the crankshaft pulley at the bottom front of the engine and remove and dirt or grime to expose the timing marks.

Start the engine, allowing it to reach normal operating temperature. Place the transmission in neutral and hold the throttle at 2,000 RPM for 2 minutes. Let the engine idle normally for one minute then rev the engine three times for 1 second each.

Attach the timing light to the battery if necessary and then to the number one ignition wire found at the front passenger side of the engine on a six cylinder or the first wire on the passenger side of a four cylinder.

Point the timing light at the crankshaft pulley to determine the amount of adjustment needed. Loosen the distributor mounting bolts and turn the distributor slowly until the pulley timing marks line up with the middle line on the timing light.

Tighten the distributor mounting bolts and recheck the timing to ensure the distributor didn’t move during tightening. Turn off the Nissan Pathfinder engine and remove the timing light. Push the number one ignition wire back into place.

Items you will need

How to Adjust the Timing on a Nissan Frontier

Look at the engine’s lower front to locate the crankshaft pulley. Remove any debris on the pulley and the timing belt to expose the imprinted arrows.

Start the engine with the transmission in “neutral” and keep the throttle at 2,000 rpm. Do not release the hand brake.

Wait until the engine get to its normal operating temperature which should take about two minutes in fair weather. Meanwhile, turn off all the accessories such as the air conditioner and radio.

Idle the engine at its normal rpm for one minute, then press the accelerator three times for one second each.

Keep the engine running while attaching the timing light device to the battery and the first ignition cable found at engine’s passenger side.

Determine the adjustment tension needed by aiming the timing light at the crankshaft pulley.

Use a wrench to loosen the distributor mounting bolts, adjusting them slowly until the timing arrows lines up with the center line on the timing light.

Tighten the distributor mounting bolts. Inspect the timing on the pulley and the belt to make sure the distributor is stationary during tightening of the bolts.

Turn off the engine and detach the timing light. Press the ignition cable back into place.

Items you will need

Timing light device

How do I Adjust the Timing on a 300ZX Twin Turbo?

Park your 300ZX on a flat surface. Keep the engine running, but shut off all accessories and equipment that may be on in your car, including the radio and air conditioning/heat.

Exit your car and place wooden or metal wheel chocks under the front and back of your two front tires. Enter your vehicle, put the transmission in neutral and engage the emergency brake. Step on the gas to bring the engine to an idle speed of 750 rpm. This will warm up the engine so that it can indicate the correct ignition timing when you check it in Step 5.

Exit your 300ZX, allowing the rpm level to go back to zero. Open the hood to work on your engine. Turn on the fast or warm idle speed option located on the engine control module to keep the engine warm. It should be located on the engine.

Connect the timing light to the battery by placing the red clip on the positive terminal first and the black clip on the negative terminal second. Attach the timing light clamps to the No. 1 spark plug wire. The No. 1 spark plug wire will be labeled as No. 1 on the end of it. Shine the timing light on the pulley connected to the engine’s crankshaft.

Check where the timing mark on the pulley falls compared with the degree tab on the front of the engine and you will be able to see what the current ignition time is.

Find the distributor lock-down bolt at the base of the distributor housing and use a wrench to loosen it. Disconnect the distributor vacuum hose from the distributor housing and plug it into the engine’s electronic spark computer. Use jumper cables to ground the carburetor switch by placing the red clamp of the jumper cable on the switch and the black clamp on the ground.

Use your hand to rotate the distributor until the timing mark on the pulley lines up with the degree tab on the front of the engine to create an ignition time of 15 degrees.

Unplug the distributor vacuum hose from the electronic spark computer and connect it into the distributor housing. Tighten the lock-down bolt with your wrench and remove the jumper cables from the carburetor switch. Remove the timing light components from the engine, close the hood of your car and remove the wheel chocks.