Engine Timing Advance Issue?

112395

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Apr 13, 2021
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Hello, I have been having some timing issues with my 1994 mustang gt.

When I first got the car it had issues with starting, specifically hot starts, this lead me to believe the timing was too far advanced so I went to check it. To my surprise the timing was set at 34* BTDC which seemed impossible. I checked that I was indeed on the number one plug wire and the timing advance on my timing light was indeed set to 0* but to no avail. I got another timing light and the same thing. As a temporary fix I retarded the timing 2* and that helped somewhat with cold starts but the hot starts were still rough, so I did another 2*.

As I was checking the timing a friend of mine told me to check it at around 2000rpm which I did, however I noticed that from idle to approximately 3000 rpm there was no change in the timing.

Is there an issue with the timing advance? Maybe the distributer is out of line by a tooth or so? (Attached is am image of the distributer with the timing light attached to what is definitely the number 1 plug wire as confirmed by tracing it back to the engine itself)


I am still very new to engine work, being as this is my first project car and was wondering where to go from here.
 

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mostsmooth

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weird, thats not where the #1 wire is on my cap (95gt). if i lined up my cap like yours, my #1 is just to the left of that intake bolt.
i guess you confirmed the wire is plugged into the #1 cylinder, passenger side, front of engine, but are you sure you have that wire connected on the right spot on the distributor cap? or any of the other wires for that matter?
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
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Start at the beginning, find 'top dead center' on the #1 cylinder, see if the pointer at the harmonic balancer is at 0*, mark the out side of the distributor body where the #1 plug wire is, pop the cap off.
Is the rotor pointing to the mark you made for the #1 plug wire?
 
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112395

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weird, thats not where the #1 wire is on my cap (95gt). if i lined up my cap like yours, my #1 is just to the left of that intake bolt.
i guess you confirmed the wire is plugged into the #1 cylinder, passenger side, front of engine, but are you sure you have that wire connected on the right spot on the distributor cap? or any of the other wires for that matter?
Could you possibly post an image of that for reference?
 

112395

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Start at the beginning, find 'top dead center' on the #1 cylinder, see if the pointer at the harmonic balancer is at 0*, mark the out side of the distributor body where the #1 plug wire is, pop the cap off.
Is the rotor pointing to the mark you made for the #1 plug wire?
I will have to try that method out tomorrow when I go and finish up the rear brakes. I'll keep you guys updated.
 

112395

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Did you remove the spout connector?
I have not checked to see if that is still connected or damaged. That may be the timing advance issue. That is also a great possibility because as I went to change the bulbs for the front blinkers I found out that one of the previous owners decided to do a blinker delete on the passenger side light. Most likely a product of a front end collision, I know the car has been in at least one, and is it even a real mustang if it hasn't?
 

mostsmooth

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Could you possibly post an image of that for reference?
i may have an old photo laying around, but wont be getting it until tomorrow, but i mean, it looks just like your cap except it is made by accel. the only difference i noticed is that black plug on the cap, i dont know what its for, but on your cap it is in a slightly different position, probably doesnt matter. i think its simply a vent?
it looks like you have an msd cap. my accel cap has a big '1' right on it for the 1 plug. maybe yours does as well and you didnt notice?
you should make sure what your firing order is (i dont know if youre aware but there are different firing orders for 302s. i would imagine your car is 13726548, but you should check. im not smart enough to know if thats obvious that it must be 13726548 or not), then make sure your wires are in the right order and follow generalkarthiefs comment about finding where your rotor is at top dead center for cylinder 1 and work from there.
i made some marks on your photo below. "A" is the clip and key that aligns the cap. on my cap, plug 1 is 3 posts counter clockwise. i marked where plug 1 is for me.

general karthiefs approach would be the best first step i think, but it's a bit easier to just check your wires first. you should check the rotor position regardless even if you find the wires were wrong.

EDIT: added photo of my cap/wires, marked terminal 1
 

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mostsmooth

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I have not checked to see if that is still connected or damaged. That may be the timing advance issue. That is also a great possibility because as I went to change the bulbs for the front blinkers I found out that one of the previous owners decided to do a blinker delete on the passenger side light. Most likely a product of a front end collision, I know the car has been in at least one, and is it even a real mustang if it hasn't?
its not that he wanted you to see if it was connected, he was asking because when you check the base timing it should be disconnected. there is timing adjustment when it is connected, something like 20-21 degrees i think. so if youre seeing 34 degrees and it is plugged in, you may be closer than you think.
warm up the car and check the timing with the SPOUT connector removed.

but again, you should do what general karthief said regardless.
 

112395

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its not that he wanted you to see if it was connected, he was asking because when you check the base timing it should be disconnected. there is timing adjustment when it is connected, something like 20-21 degrees i think. so if youre seeing 34 degrees and it is plugged in, you may be closer than you think.
warm up the car and check the timing with the SPOUT connector removed.

but again, you should do what general karthief said regardless.
I see what you are saying, I will try that sometime today.
 

112395

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I removed the spout connector and set the base timing to 12*. Put the spout connector back in and now it sits at 22* no matter the rpm.
 

112395

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I wasnt able to mess with the timing more today as the rear brakes were being a pain. Specifically the parking brake, so I will work on solving this issue later this weekend.

Thank you guys for all the help with resolving this issue so far.
 

revhead347

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I removed the spout connector and set the base timing to 12*. Put the spout connector back in and now it sits at 22* no matter the rpm.
Timing is good, your issue is elsewhere.

Kurt
 
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112395

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Timing is good, your issue is elsewhere.

Kurt
The car does have a cam in it (Alphabet cam, not sure what one), should I keep advancing the timing until it starts pinging then turn it down a bit? I am relatively sure that is what the last owner did and it felt great under load but stalled occasionally while coasting, and had a really hard time starting up and would barely start if it was up to operating temp.
 

revhead347

Apparently my ex-husband made that mistake.
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The car does have a cam in it (Alphabet cam, not sure what one), should I keep advancing the timing until it starts pinging then turn it down a bit? I am relatively sure that is what the last owner did and it felt great under load but stalled occasionally while coasting, and had a really hard time starting up and would barely start if it was up to operating temp.
Previous owners are thorn in every ones side here. Things were done to cars over the last quarter century that were based on rumors and misinformation. Don't mess with the timing, if it's at 12 degrees base timing, it's fine. I can assure you that's not your problem. A cam on stock heads has basically no value. The ECM on an SN95 is one of the most fickle units ever made, and it doesn't do well with certain engine modifications. In all likely hood, that cam is what is causing your troubles. I would encourage you to go ahead and run the surging idle checklist; it does more than just work out surging idle..


If that doesn't fix your problem, you are going to have to commit to spending some money. You can either put the stock cam back in the engine, which is an ass load of work, or have the ECM programmed to work with the cam.

Kurt