Every once in a while you will need to adjust the timing of your car. You may do it for various reasons, one of which is to get a little more performance out of your car.
Recently I had changed the engine in my Mustang, so now I will need to set the timing. This post will cover how to do that. I will point out the differences between the 94-95 and the 86-93 Fox body 5.0L engines.
Since I have the luxury of owning both models of 5.0L engines with a 95 and an 86 Mustang GT, I will show you how to set the timing in each model of the car.
The biggest difference in these two models of cars is the location of the spout connector. on the 86-93 cars, the spout connector can be found next to the distributor.
Ok, by now you are probably wondering why we have to remove this spout connector. The answer to this is the same in both scenarios. If you have the spout connector in, the computer will actually automatically adjust your timing for you based on the situation that your car is running. In certain circumstances it will retard your timing and in others it will advance your timing.
If you noticed, each line represents 2 degrees. I placed an extra long line on the 10 because that is what the Mustang is timed at from factory. This is the setting I should be aiming for with my stock car. There are times when you would want to advance your timing. This is why I have highlighted the bars after it. It helps identify how advanced the timing is on the car.
There are 2 special tools you will need when performing this task. One is a distributor wrench while the second is a timing gun. If you look at the picture on the left, this is what a distributor wrench looks like. You should note the difference in the shapes of the ends. You could use this wrench as is and get the job done, but I would recommend using this with a ratchet.
The thing to note about the distributor wrench is that one end is a 1/2 inch while the other end is a 9/16 inch.
If you look to the left you will see we will be using the 1/2 inch end for our application along with a ratchet. This usually makes things much easier to get tight.
There are 3 ends that need to be hooked up with the timing gun. The first two are the clips that get attached to the battery. This powers our timing gun. The third is the piece that hooks up to the first spark plug to signal that an electrical charge is going to the first cylinder. Because of this you will need to clip this around the plug wire for cylinder #1. don't worry, it doesn't pinch the wire or anything.
If you look at the base of the distributor you will see a bolt and fastener that need to be loosened. Without this being loose, you won't be able to slightly turn the distributor to set the timing to the appropriate spot. You will want to take your distributor wrench and loosen the bolt.
Make sure you remove the spout connector from the car and put it in a safe location. You don't want to lose this piece as it could be very expensive and hard to locate a replacement.
To set your timing you will be aiming your gun pointed at the harmonic balancer from over he alternator. Once you get in there, you will see what I am talking about. If you are not in the right location, you won't be able to see the markings you put on your harmonic balancer.
I am going to assume your timing gun is now hooked up. It is time to start your car. You cannot time your car without it running. It is a fact of life. You will just have to deal with this.
Once your car is running and everything is hooked up you will ned to aim your gun to the appropriate location and pull the trigger. What you will see is a rapid series of flashing lights that illuminate when the spark hits the first cylinder. It works kind of like a disco light does, everything seems to be frozen for a fraction of a second at a time and his allows you to see the timing value you are at.
Since your distributor is loose, if you do not like your timing value you can simply turn the distributor and either advance or retard the timing. Once you get it to the value you want it to be at shut your engine off.
At this point you will tighten the distributor bolt that you loosened in the earlier. Don't unhook the timing light just yet because we want to verify that the distributor didn't move while we were tightening it. Sometimes it does and it is just a fraction off and you have to loosen and set it again.
If your timing checks out after tightening our distributor down, it is time to unhook the timing light and put the spout connector back in.
This is a pretty simple process that should take maybe 10-20 minutes to accomplish.