There are four main steps involved in setting the timing on a
normal engine utilizing a distributor. Setting the timing on an
engine synchronizes the spark timing with the engine\'s compression
stroke for maximum efficiency. First, pull the vacuum line off of
the distributor and plug the end of the line. Next, mark the Top
Dead Centre (TDC) mark on the harmonic balancer (the round piece on
the front of the engine) with chalk. In addition, it is a good
idea to chalk the correct mark for the number of degrees to which
you\'ll be setting the distributor. This specification is usually
found in the owner\'s manual of the vehicle. The third step is to
actually use the timing gun. Hook the timing gun up to the battery
using the twelve volt alligator clips. Additionally, attach the
gun to the number one spark plug wire with the wire provided.
Usually, a certain engine speed will be designated by the car
manufacturer for setting the timing. This specification should
also be in the owner\'s manual. You may need to enlist the help of
a friend to sit in the car with his/her foot on the gas. With the
engine running, point the gun at the harmonic balancer and pull the
trigger. If the white chalk lines that you made earlier do not
line up, the timing is incorrect. The final step is the
adjustment. Loosen the bolt that holds the distributor in place
and slightly turn the distributor. Check the timing again and
continue adjustments until the timing is correct. Tighten the
distributor and remove the timing gun. A correctly timed engine
will have increases in performance, economy, and drivability.
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