How to Set the Timing On a 2.3 Ford Ranger

by Lee Sallings

The distributor in your Ford Ranger is timing-belt driven by a dummy-shaft and gear that meshes with the drive gear on the end of the distributor. As moving parts wear and the timing belt stretches over time, small changes to the ignition timing can affect the performance and fuel mileage of your truck. Often, lost power and fuel efficiency can be restored by simply setting the timing back to factory specifications. Typically this procedure is done as part of a tune-up.

Step 1

Wipe off the timing pointer located on the front of the timing cover above the crankshaft pulley on the front of the engine. Start the engine and allow it to run until it reaches operating temperature. When the upper radiator hose feels hot, the engine is at normal operating temperature. Turn off the engine.

Step 2

Disconnect the timing connector, located on the wiring harness near the distributor, by unplugging the small gray insert from the end of the connector. Attach the timing light power cables to the battery terminals by squeezing the clips to open them and then releasing the clips to close them onto the battery terminals. The black cable is attached to the negative terminal and the red cable is attached to the positive cable.

Step 3

Clip the magnetic pick-up lead on the timing light around the number-one spark-plug wire. In the Ranger equipped with the 2.3 liter engine the number-one plug wire is the front plug wire on the exhaust side (passenger side) of the engine.

Step 4

Loosen the 13 mm distributor hold-down bolt, located at the base of the distributor, using a 13 mm wrench. Start the engine.

Step 5

Aim the timing light at the timing marks on the front of the engine. Turn the distributor to change the timing as needed by grasping the distributor cap and rotating the distributor by hand. Set the timing to 10 degrees and tighten the hold-down bolt and reconnect the timing connector. Turn off the engine and reconnect the timing connector.

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