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Setting Ignition Timing

Setting proper ignition timing is crutial to making power and having a reliable motor. Having it set to manufacturer specifications on a stock motor will give you the most power and best fuel economy. However once you begin to modify components on the motor, you may need to change the igition timing to extract the power from those units.


Generally, advancing the timing will give you better throttle response and low end power along with improved fuel economy. Retarding the timing will reduce the chances of detonation and provide a safer condition for boosted motors or N2O motors.

Running a spark advance that is too extreme for a given setup can yield disastrous results. Be sure to consult a professional before attempting to change your ignition timing.

Before you begin, be sure the car is warmed up and at operation temperatures. Jump the service connector that is location on the passenger side fender well and turn off all accessories devices in the car. The car must be idling at 750rpms +_/-50rpms in order to correctly set the ignition timing. Loosen the three 12mm bolts on the distributor. There is one on top and two on the bottom.
Once the distributor is loose and you can move it by hand, connect the timing gun to the #1 spark plug wire and to the battery. With the engine idling at 750rpms, point the gun down towards the crank pulley between the driver side engine mount and the power steering resevoir. As you pull the trigger on the timing gun, it will flash like a stobe light.
While the timing gun is flashing, you will notice a pointer in the shape of a triangle on the block, and a series of colored marks on the crank pulley. Each mark designates a certain spark advance. The upper single white mark is 0BTC. You will also notice a cluster of three marks that are very close together. The center mark is 16 degrees BTC while the mark closest to the front of the car is 18 deg BTC and the other is 14 degrees BTC. Now move the distributor to change the ignition timing. You will notice that when you rotate the distrubutor, the pointer will indicate a different location on the crank. Set the timing to where you need it and tighten down the distributor. Be sure to double check after you've tightened the bolts as very often the timing will slightly change while you are tightening the bolts on the distributor. Done!

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