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How to Adjust the Timing in a Ford Explorer

by Contributor

Adjusting the timing on a Ford Focus requires special tools, an Internet connection and considerable knowledge of engine mechanics. Changing the timing on a Ford Explorer for aftermarket performance parts or fuel saving devices is a common reason for reprogramming the onboard computer. This guide does not cover the Flex Fuel models of the Ford Explorer.

Step 1

Locate and download the version update PDF file from the authorized Ford distributor website. Identify the version to upload and connect the scan tool to the computer. Verify the battery has a full charge or connect it to a reliable battery charger.

Step 2

Connect the scan tool to the OBD II connector located under the steering wheel and turn the ignition on without starting the engine. Turn off any accessories such as the radio and lights.

Step 3

Turn on the scan tool and wait for the automatic connection confirmation message to appear. Follow the instructions on the computer screen, answer any questions that pertain to your vehicle including keying in the vehicle identification number or VIN located at the top of the driver's side dash and start the data transfer. Maintaining a solid Internet connection is vital throughout the process, which makes a wireless connection undesirable for this project.

Step 4

Wait for the successful transfer message to appear on the computer screen. The data transfer can take up to 90 minutes depending on file size and connection speed.

Shut off the ignition and remove the scan tool from the OBD II connector. Start the car and let it idle for 5 minutes. It's normal for the engine to run rough for several hours of driving as the on-board computer adjusts to the new fuel and air configuration.


  • Reprogramming the onboard computer can negatively impact the vehicle's operations unassociated with the engine. This includes lights, stereo and safety equipment.
  • Failing to adjust the ignition timing properly causes excess engine wear or permanent damage.

Items you will need

  • Scan tool

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