How to Advance or Retard Ignition Timing

by Thomas West
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Ignition timing is crucial to the performance and longevity of your vehicle’s engine. The engine must have the correct timing so that the air and fuel mixture detonates at precisely the right time. If the ignition timing has too much advance, the air and fuel mixture will detonate prematurely, and your engine will ping and knock, which will eventually damage your engine. On the other hand, if the timing has too much retard, engine performance and fuel mileage will suffer. Knowing how to advance or retard your timing is important to reach a happy medium.

Step 1

Park the vehicle on a level surface and apply the parking brake. Open the hood.

Step 2

Locate the distributor, which will be near the top of the engine at either the front of back of the engine block.

Step 3

Loosen the distributor mounting bolt located at the base of the distributor, turning an adjustable wrench in a counterclockwise direction.

Step 4

Turn the distributor in a counterclockwise direction to advance the ignition timing. Do not over-adjust the distributor, as even a slight movement will yield a significant change in the ignition timing.

Step 5

Turn the distributor in a clockwise direction to retard the timing.

Step 6

Tighten the distributor holding bolt in a clockwise direction with an adjustable wrench. Close the hood.

Road test the vehicle to see if the desired results have been achieved. Fine tune your adjustments by repeating the above procedures.

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