What Does Ignition Timing Mean?

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Timing – it has a couple of different meanings when applied to your car’s engine. One of the most critical is ignition timing (not to be confused with engine timing). Ignition timing refers to when spark is created during the engine’s cycle. It needs to be just right or you end up losing power, increasing fuel consumption and producing more emissions in your exhaust.

What’s timing all about?

Your engine runs on a controlled series of explosions. Spark plugs create their spark to ignite fuel vapors. This creates combustion. The explosion then pushes down the piston, which turns the camshaft. However, the plug can’t fire at just any time. It needs to be timed correctly with the engine’s motion.

There are four cycles in an automotive engine (thus the name four stroke). These are:

  • Intake
  • Compression
  • Combustion
  • Exhaust

The spark plug must fire at the right point in these cycles to maximize the power created by combustion. The system should fire before the piston hits top dead center (TDC). The increase in pressure from combustion pushes the piston back down (after reaching TDC), and turns the camshaft. The reason that the plugs need to fire before the piston hits TDC is that if it didn’t happen then, by the time combustion actually occurred, the piston would be so far into its downward motion that the force of the combustion would be largely wasted.

Remember: while gas is highly combustible, it doesn’t burn instantaneously. There is always a delay. By firing before the piston hits TDC, your engine is able to account for this delay and maximize the amount of power each time.


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Fabrice

18 years of experience
133 reviews
Fabrice
18 years of experience
Toyota Yaris - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Orlando, Florida
My appointment was late in the day, so being late was expected. Fabrice notified me ahead of time about his tardiness. When he arrived, he was apologetic, courteous and professional. He got to work right away and let me know of other work that was needed for future appointments

Oreste

12 years of experience
111 reviews
Oreste
12 years of experience
Nissan Frontier - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Miami, Florida
The best ever!!!! Will not use anyone else in future .. very knowledgeable and explained every thing to me .very professional, well spoken .

Breck

18 years of experience
527 reviews
Breck
18 years of experience
Jeep Patriot - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Houston, Texas
Becks was very informative about things that I didn't know needed to be looked at with my car. He fixed little hick ups quickly and had me ready to get back on the road sooner than I thought he would.

Miguel

19 years of experience
63 reviews
Miguel
19 years of experience
Audi allroad - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Miguel is very professional mechanic. He called me in advance about his coming. He brought the quality parts (brakes pads and rotors) and done his job quickly and of great quality. I tested the brakes after the replacement and they were efficient and very silent. I would recommend him very much.

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