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I own a 1988 Honda Accord lx. I'd like to know the difference between an engine's "mechanical timing" and its "ignition timing". Also, how can I "ignition" time the engine with a timing light if the engine cranks but doesn't start?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Gelina Aquilina, Service Advisor / Mechanic at Ignition timing has to to with when the sparks ignite. Mechanical timing has to do with the valves and the mechanical parts internally. If your car will crank but doesn't start it's most likely not the timing. The timing will effect the way the car runs.

Helaine Kurot, Owner/Technician at 360 Automotive Mechanical timing is the relationship between the cam and crank, or when the intake and exhaust valves open and close in relation to the piston moving up and down. This should only be an issue If the timing belt jumped teeth or broke. Ignition timing is when the ignition fires in relation to mechanical timing. Adjusting ignition timing for a mechanical problem will not help and may make diagnostics and repair more difficult. This is usually computer controlled, but can be tweaked by rotating the distributor slightly. The engine needs to be running to time the ignition.

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