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Timing Fluctuations

If your timing seems to be jumping all over the place, check the following items:

  • What kind of timing light are you using? Many lights have trouble reading the MSD's capacitive discharge multiple sparks. Dial back timing lights are not recommended. Try another non-adjustable light and check the timing again. MSD offers a Timing Light, PN 8990.
  • Make sure you are not using Solid Core wires.
  • Inspect the routing of the Magnetic Pickup Harness. It should be routed clear of the coil primary wires and plug wires. It is best to route it along a ground plain such as the firewall, frame or engine block to form a shield around it, or replace the Black magnetic pickup cable with a shielded Gray cable PN 8862, which has a ground wire on one end.
  • Check the polarity of the magnetic pickup wires of the distributor. Reverse the connectors and check the timing again. For Analog ignitions the correct polarity is whichever¬†orientation gives the most retarded timing. For Digital Ignitions the correct polarity is whichever orientation give the most advanced timing.
  • On Chevrolet engines, if the timing is retarding inspect for cam-walk. This is especially prevalent on engines with a chrome or stock type replacement timing chain cover that is actually bowing forward allowing the cam to "walk", due to thin stamping. To check this, wedge something in-between the water pump and timing chain cover to keep the camp from walking. If this corrects the timing fluctuation, replace the timing chain cover.
  • Worn distributor gear, inspect the distributor gear for excess wear or incorrect gear mesh if the gear is riding too high or too low on the cam gear. If correct the wear pattern should show the gear mesh in the center of the gear.