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How to Time a Ford 6-Cylinder Engine

by Robert Bayly

Checking the timing on your Ford six-cylinder engine during a tune-up is a good idea. Proper ignition timing will, of course, give optimum performance. Improper timing can result in poor power and fuel economy, or a noisy engine when accelerating. Checking your timing is a pretty straightforward process, but you will have to invest in an inductive timing light. It is a good investment, as you can use it on any engine.

Step 1

Park the Ford on a level, paved surface and set the parking brake.

Step 2

Move to the engine compartment and find your timing marker located on the driver's side of the engine. It is attached to the timing cover, just above the crankshaft pulley. A typical marker shows "12-8-4-0." These are degrees before top-dead-center. Spray the marker with some parts cleaner and wipe clean with a shop rag. Look for a small notch in the crankshaft pulley. If you can't see it, bump the engine (don't start it) with the ignition. When you can see the pointer, spray and clean it. Paint the notch with some white-out to make it easier to see.

Step 3

Pull the vacuum advance hose off of the vacuum advance on the distributor and plug it with a pencil. Use a wrench to slightly loosen the bolt on the distributor hold clamp so that it takes some effort to turn the distributor.

Step 4

Clip the pickup lead on the inductive timing light to the number one spark plug wire, which is the first one on the front of the engine. The red wire is clipped to the positive battery terminal. The black one on the negative terminal.

Step 5

Start the engine. The timing light will flash in sequence with the number one spark plug. Shine the light on the timing marker. You will see the notch in the crankshaft pulley hover under the marker. Turn the distributor to line up the notch with the number on the marker that corresponds to your specific timing setting. A common setting for Ford six-cylinder engines is four degrees before top-dead-center. Yours may be different.

Turn off the engine, remove the timing light, tighten the distributor hold down bolt and reconnect the vacuum hose to the distributor.

Items you will need

  • Parts cleaner
  • Shop rags
  • Wrench set
  • Inductive timing light

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