Engine timing: Expert's overview (2023)

What is engine timing?

Timing means aligning two components under equal proportions so that they do not overlap. Engine timing is the link between the valve and the angular velocity that is the crankshaft. There are two types of engine timing; belt timing and chain timing. The chain timing is inside the lubricant, while the belt timing is outside. The belt cannot be inside it to avoid it from slipping. See more details on the timing belt. Similarly, you can check out our buyer's guide for the 7 best timing belts.

How does Engine Timing work?

How does Engine Timing work

Engine timing in a four-cylinder engine makes use of cylinders 1 and 4 to set their TDC. TDC means Top dead center; it is a cardinal part of engine timing. Ensure that the first and the fourth cylinder’s pistons are up to the top dead center, which is the end of the combustion chamber.

Then the second and third cylinder’s piston will be at the bottom dead center. Your valves will also be set in the same order - see our variable valve timing article for more details. Then you link the chain from the crankshaft sprocket to the camshaft sprocket. Here is a guide on how a crankshaft works.

There is a timing mark on each of these components. The lower timing mark has to do with the crankshaft. There is also a timing mark linked to the camshaft. The chain has three timing marks that link to it. The first one is downwards, which holds the camshaft. The other two are at the intake and manifold exhaust.

Do you want to know more about the camshaft? When you have the top dead center (of the angular velocity of the engine), which is the crankshaft, you can link the first mark at the lower base. At this point, inclination takes place because you take the chain upward to the valve timing. You can connect this with the valve. Also, we have the timing guide and the sprocket.

There is a dual sprocket on the camshaft depending on the engine; some camshafts have a single sprocket. The crankshaft also has its sprocket. At the top dead center, you link both the camshaft sprocket and the crankshaft sprocket.

Furthermore, there is tolerance between the valve and the piston. You link it with an adjuster and tension it. Then, you rotate the engine manually to reciprocate it. The engine regulation is on a reciprocation system. When you notice that the piston and the valve do not merge, you know that the timing is correct.

How to set engine timing

How to set engine timing

How to fix engine timing problems[/caption]Note that other teeth link to engine timing. The electronic device allows some sensors to connect to your engine timing. After fixing the engine timing manually, ensure the timing is correct, and nothing will damage at the point of starting your vehicle.

For instance, you’re to get an angle of 45degree, and it falls short to 30degree. At this point, one tooth has dropped on the valve timing unit. If you miss any tooth when you start accelerating your car, it will not have a good sound. The sound will not be noticeable. Also, in a few seconds, the camshaft position sensor will send a signal to the ECU that the timing is incorrect.

This process happens with the aid of a diagnostic. The ECU is the electronic control unit. You can have a read of our previous article to know more about the ECU.

The ECU in a car

The ECU will say a bang A or a bang B which means either cam 1 (one) or cam 2 (two) on your engine. If you have a V engine, you count from your left-hand side to get your bang A and bang B on the right-hand side.

For a straight engine, you should start count from your right-hand side to know your Bang A or B. From there, you will discover if one tooth is high or low. Once you correct this, the production from your engine will be excellent.

Timing at idle

Timing is at idle when you can balance your top dead center and your number one valve. The maximum idle position is 0.9. When idling is high, it will be above 1 bar, while when idling is low, it will be at 0.5. There is a calibration line from 0 to 9 on the RPM (Revolutions per minute).

From 0 to a few points before 1 (one) is 0.9, which is the stability level. At this stability level, every component will function well. Anything below 0.9 will cause the engine to malfunction, and you won’t get steady acceleration.

What are engine timing marks?

 Engine timing marks and restoration

The engine timing marks act as direction or guide as to when you are timing your engine.

What is late ignition timing?

Ignition timing cannot be late; it can either be high or low.

Can you drive a car with the wrong timing?

It depends on what caused the wrong timing. If a tooth drops or increases by one, it would not stop your driving. If the timing is not well set, you cannot drive your car. The car will not start.

What are the symptoms of bad timing?

 Bad or failing timing belt
  • Your car will not give you the right sound. When accelerating, the sound will be low.
  • The sensors will notify you that your timing is incorrect. It will ignite the check engine light. You should scan the engine to ascertain the problem, and it will most likely indicate that engine timing is over-advanced or retracted.
  • The engine will start to overheat.
  • Poor acceleration.
  • Your very will be moving sluggishly because the intake has been affected.

What causes a car to jump timing?

Chain timing doesn’t usually jump timing. Jump timing is very common with belt timing. The belt works on a metal base sprocket, therefore, when any of its teeth get broken, it will jump, and the car will go off.

Timing is regulation between two teeth; once one tooth is missing, there will be a cut in communication. Also, there is a belt adjuster in the belt timing. If the belt adjuster gets weak and fails to tension the belt, it will cause the timing to jump.

Can a faulty engine timing damage the vehicle?

Yes, it will destroy your valve and even pierce into your pistons.

A practical experience of fixing engine timing

 Replacing an engine timing belt

When your car trips off while driving, please check the components of your car engine; during this process of checking, if your power intake is intact, the next thing to look at is your sensor. If your sensors are okay, check your timing.

When you discover that the problem with your car is the timing, park your vehicle in a convenient place. If you have a Toyota four-cylinder engine with a horizontal form, not vertical form, you have to loosen the tire. Also, you have to remove your pulley drive and open the chain cover.

After doing this, you will notice that there is a problem with the chain. The horizontal form of an engine means it faces the right-hand side tire while, in vertical form orientation, the engine sits in front. Furthermore, you can try to ascertain if the problem of the chain is from the gear tooth that is the sprocket or a break on the chain.

Timing chain and timing belt

If the chain cuts in motion, it will destroy a lot of valves. Remember, the chain balances the piston and the valve. Once the chain cuts, the piston, and the valve will start to work on their own. The valve either pierces the piston or the piston breaks the valve.

After removing the chain cover, you can drop down your top cylinder. Then, replace the affected components (mainly the valve or the piston). Also, reset the timing and change whatever constituent is faulty within the timing unit. When the timing sets adequately, your car will start.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can engine timing cause overheat?

Yes, when the stress on the car engine is much, and the engine is not moving freely, overheating will occur. In a scenario where the top gasket of your engine is changed, overheating may take place afterward. This engine overheats because the technician failed to set the timing adequately.

  • If your engine timing is off, will your car start?

It will start but will be very sluggish with poor accelerations.

  • Can timing be set by listening to the car engine?

You can only listen to your car engine to ascertain when your timing is not in order. When you start your vehicle, and the revolution is fast, this indicates a problem with timing. This same thing occurs when there is insufficient flow of intake.

Conclusion and final words from the expert

It is essential to advance in knowledge and not dwell on old knowledge as times are changing. For instance, the timing of a ford engine requires special tools to get accurate timing. You cannot use the Normal high gauge to set it. It won’t come outright. In other words, there are specific tools that you can use for the timing engine.

These are modern tools, not the old, outdated high gauge, and it helps you get your timing faster and more effective. The tools for timing an engine vary for different vehicles.

For a Peugeot, EW10 or E12 does not use the top dead center formula. The top dead center is one and four pistons. The top dead center uses a para life formula. This formula means; the four pistons must be on an equal level at the middle of the engine block. To get the pistons to align at the required level, you can use a straw and measure it to a known equal height.

When the pistons are on the same level, the timing will be set, and it will be accurate. The general formula for most vehicles is the top dead center with the aid of timing marks.

Furthermore, Belt timing works with friction while chain timing works with lubricant. When there is no lubricant in the chain timing, excess friction will occur, and this excess friction will damage the chain. Therefore, ensure that the lubricant in the chain timing maintains a high level of viscosity.

For belt timing, ensure the seals are not transmitting fluid outside the internal combustion. If the fluid spills to the belt, it will slip. This slip will reduce the lifespan of the belt. Finally, regular servicing is essential to enhancing the life of your car’s component.

Latest posts

change car oil
change car oil
change car oil