What is ignition timing all about?
Your engine relies on perfect timing to work smoothly and efficiently. This requires ideal ignition timing. The ignition system is responsible for creating the spark that combusts the fuel that powers the cylinders and therefore the engine. In order to have your engine run perfectly, the ignition has to create a spark at the optimal time. As miles accumulate, your ignition system may start to spark at the wrong time, and the timing will need to be adjusted.
Keep in mind:
- Many modern vehicles have ignition timing that automatically adjusts.
- Whenever the ignition timing is adjusted, the entire ignition system should be inspected.
- After adjusting the ignition, the vehicle should run for a few minutes to make sure that it works properly.
How it's done:
- Hook up timing light
- Check the ignition timing
- Adjust if needed
The ignition system is a pivotal part of your vehicle, and should always be inspected during routine maintenance and service. During all engine tuneups the ignition timing should be checked.
What are the common symptoms indicating you need to adjust the ignition timing?
- Car stays running when you turn it off
- Rattling noise from the engine
How important is this service?
Your engine has four basic steps of operation. The first is intake, where fuel is added to the cylinders. The second is compression, where the fuel is compressed in the cylinder. The third is power, where the compressed fuel is combusted, thus firing the cylinders. And the fourth is exhaust.
Your ignition system plays a key role in between the second and third steps. The ignition system sends a strong current to the spark plug, where a spark is created that helps ignite the fuel. This happens immediately after compression; the spark ignites the compressed fuel, which combusts it and creates the power. Over time the ignition timing can be altered, and the spark will not occur between compression and power. As a result, the fuel will have a hard time combusting, the cylinder will not be as powerful, and the engine will have problems.