How to Set Ford 302 Timing

by John Stevens J.D.

The 302 was one of Ford's most popular engines, and they were produced from 1968 until 2001. Although the 302 was used in a variety of Ford vehicles, it is commonly associated with the Mustang. As with other engines, the 302's ignition timing is critical to the engine's performance. Checking the timing requires a timing light, and twisting the distributor adjusts the timing. Unlike most other engines, however, the 302's distributor is located at the front of the engine, making it easy to check and adjust the timing.

Open the hood of the Volkswagen and mark the timing number on the harmonic balancer with either quick-drying white paint or with chalk. The harmonic balance is a circular metal disk at the bottom of the front of the engine. Along a portion of the outer edge of the balancer are several numbers. It may be necessary to turn the engine to spin the balancer if the numbers are not in view. Turn the bolt in the center of the balancer in a clockwise direction with a wrench to turn the balancer. Use the paint or chalk to scribe a mark over the number 6.

Mark the tip of the metal timing pointer, located just above the harmonic balancer, with the paint or chalk.

Attach the red alligator clip of a timing light to the positive battery terminal.

Attach the timing light's black alligator clip to the negative battery cable.

Clip the timing light's third wire onto the spark plug wire closest to the front of the engine, on the passenger's side of the engine block.

Loosen the single securing bolt underneath the distributor, using a wrench.

Turn the engine on and aim the timing light at the harmonic balancer. Pull the light's trigger and observe the strobes of light. The light will reflect off the paint or chalk marks. The mark on the balancer and the mark on the pointer must appear as one mark, meaning that they must align when the timing light strobes. If the marks do not line up, twist the distributor to move the marks until they align, then turn the engine off.

Tighten the distributor's securing bolt, then unclip the timing light's three wires from the engine.

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About the Author

John Stevens has been a writer for various websites since 2008. He holds an Associate of Science in administration of justice from Riverside Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from California State University, San Bernardino, and a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School. Stevens is a lawyer and licensed real-estate broker.

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