How to Set the Timing on a Ford F150

by Robert Bayly

For the Ford F-150 to run efficiently the timing needs to be checked routinely during a tune-up. This will ensure the best performance and gas mileage for the F-150. The procedure to check timing for six-cylinder and V-8 engines is basically the same but there are two slight differences. The six-cylinder has its timing markers on the driver's side of the engine and the V-8 on the passenger's side. Adjusting the timing is important to the maintenance of the F-150 and adds a few minutes to the tune-up.

Step 1

Park the F-150 on a level, paved surface and set the parking brake.

Step 2

Find the timing marker on the timing cover. On six-cylinder engines its on the driver's side next to the crankshaft pulley and has numbers on it reading "12-8-4-0." This stands for degrees before top-dead-center. The marker on V-8 engines is on the driver's side and is just a triangle shaped pointer. The numbers are on the harmonic balancer. Spray some parts cleaner on a shop rag and clean the markers.

Step 3

Find the timing references on the crankshaft. Six-cylinder's have a little notch in the crankshaft pulley. V-8's have numbers stamped in the harmonic balancer behind the pulley. The V-8 numbers read "Before 10-8-6-4-2-0-2-4 After." The "Before" numbers are before top-dead-center, the "After" numbers are after top-dead-center. The setting will be in the "Before" area. Barely click the starter to bring the notch or numbers into view. When the numbers or notch is visible, clean with parts cleaner and shop rag. Dab a little white paint (any kind will do) on the notch or the numbers to increase visibility.

Step 4

Loosen the distributor hold down bolt with a wrench just enough so that it can only turn the distributor with some effort. Remove the vacuum advance hose from the vacuum advance on the distributor and plug it with a small Phillips screwdriver.

Step 5

Clip the red wire on the timing light to the positive battery terminal and the black one to the negative terminal. The pickup lead clips over the number one spark plug wire which is the first wire at the front of the engine on six-cylinders and the first on on the passenger side for V-8s. Carefully position the light's wires to avoid getting caught in the fan or pulleys.

Step 6

Start the engine and aim the light at the timing marks. The timing light will flash every time the number one spark plug fires, making the rotating mark on the crankshaft appear to be stationary. If the the distributor is turned the mark will move. Adjust the distributor until the proper reference number is obtained. These numbers vary from engine to engine. The timing setting should be printed on the emissions sticker near the radiator.

Step 7

Set the timing, turn off the engine, remove the timing light, tighten the distributor bolt and hook up the vacuum advance hose.

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