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How to Adjust the Timing in Nissan Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

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.

Under The Hood:

 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

  • Timing light

  • Wrenches

 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

  • Timing light

  • Wrenches

 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

  • Wrench

 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.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Timing light

  • Wrench

  • Jumper cables

About the Author

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