Since this topic comes up all the time, I figured it might be helpful to have a
tech article. This is intended for all cars made from 1984 to approximately 1992.
I can't guarantee all vehicles will have the SPOUT connector in an identical place,
however many will. If in doubt, consult the service manual for your particular
Tools You Will Need
Let's Get Started
- Timing light
- A marking device. WhiteOut, chalk, paint marker, or anything else
that will be clearly visible against black or rust.
- Tools to loosen the distributor hold-down. An actual ½”
distributor wrench, or some combo of
sockets, extensions, wrenches, and
bubblegum will do fine.
First, get under the car and have a look at the balancer. This is
directly behind the crank pulley. You may need to bump the motor over
a couple times, but eventually you'll find the timing marks. You do NOT
want the big groove cut into the balancer. It has nothing to do with timing
on a Ford. There will be 2 sets of marks, most of them range from 10 ATDC
to 30 BTDC. You're looking for the BTDC side. Make a line on 10 BTDC with
chalk, a paint marker, or whatever.
(pardon the poor pics, this camera isn't
The small mark in that pic is 0, the long one is 10.
Next, hook up your timing light to the #1 spark plug wire. #1 is
the front cylinder on the right side of the engine, or the passenger
side for most of us. Hook up + and - leads to the battery.
Remove the SPOUT connector. This will be found next to the distributor.
You're looking for the black square connector on most cars. it looks
Some earlier cars, like 84-85 models,
may have a black round connector that
looks like a fuse holder for the SPOUT.
It looks like this:
Locate the timing pointer. This is on the right side of the engine
down by the harmonic balancer. Its a bit hard to see so you may have
to shuffle around a bit to get a good line of sight. Looks like this:
You can actually see my timing marks on the new balancer in that
picture. The large line is 10, small marks on 12 and 14.
Now for the fun part. After checking to make sure no wires or limbs
are going to get caught in the belts or fan, start the engine. Shine
the timing light down at the pointer. When it flashes, the mark on the
balancer will light up. It should line up with the edge of that timing
pointer. If it does not, shut the motor down and loosen the distributor
slightly with whatever tool you deem appropriate for the task. Fire
the motor again and rotate the distributor until the marks line up.
Kill the engine and re-tighten the distributor. Start it again to verify
the distributor did not move when it was tightened down.
At this point you're done! Plug the SPOUT back in, unhook the timing
light, and close the hood. If you wish to verify the timing is being
advanced by the computer, plug the SPOUT in and look where the timing
mark is relative to the pointer. It should have moved.