How to Set the Timing on a Kia Sportage

by Manny Jeter
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The Kia Sportage SUV features a small economical 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The ignition timing of the engine controls when a spark will start the engine and the timing can be thrown off from regular use. You can check and adjust the ignition timing with a few tools and basic mechanical skills. You will be working in and around your engine so use caution and be careful not to damage anything.

Step 1

Park your car in an area where you can work on the engine and turn the SUV on. Turn all accessories off, including the radio, air conditioning, and heat.

Step 2

Exit the SUV and put wheel chocks on the front and back tires of your car. Enter your car, engage the emergency brake, and put the transmission in neutral. Slowly bring the engine to a warm idle speed of 750 rpm by pressing on gas lightly.

Step 3

Exit the SUV and open the hood. Turn the warm idle speed option on located on the engine control module.

Step 4

Attach the timing light to the battery of your SUV by placing the red clip on the positive terminal, then the black clip on the negative terminal. Attach the timing light clamps to the spark plug wire labeled Number One and shine the light on the timing index section of the pulley to check the ignition timing.

Step 5

Observe where the timing mark on the pulley appears compared to the degree tab on the front of the engine to see what the current ignition timing is. You can remove the timing light components, wheel chocks and bring your car back to its normal state if you are satisfied with the current ignition timing.

Step 6

Find the distributor lock-down bolt at the base of the distributor housing. Use a wrench to loosen it and disconnect the distributor vacuum hose from the distributor housing. Plug the distributor vacuum hose into the electronic spark computer and ground the engine test terminal. You can ground the engine test terminals placing the red clamps on the terminals and the black clamps on the ground.

Step 7

Use your hand to rotate the distributor until the timing mark on the pulley aligns with the ignition timing you want. The Kia Sportage has two different factory recommended ignition times. For example, the 2001 Kia Sportage has a recommended ignition time of 2 degrees after top dead center or 10 degrees before top dead center.

Step 8

Remove the jumper cables from the test terminals and the timing light parts from the engine. Unplug the distributor vacuum hose from the electronic spark computer, reconnect it into the distributor housing, and tighten the lock-down bolt with your wrench.

Turn the warm idle speed option off and close the hood. Put the transmission in park and remove the wheel chocks from the front and back tires.

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