What Happens If Ignition Timing Is Too Advanced? Problems To Consider

A few of you may be asking what happens if ignition timing is too advanced.

Does it mean bad news to your engine? Or is it not a cause of concern at all?

When you advance the timing, it means that the plug tends to fire earlier during the compression stroke and is farther from the TDC. It is required to have it advance since air and fuel mixture is unable to burn immediately. There is some time needed for the flame to burn all the mixture.

But then again, when the timing is too advanced, there are some problems that can occur. Let’s talk about the issues involved when the timing is too advanced and the symptoms involved with it.

what happens if ignition timing is too advanced

What Happens If Ignition Timing Is Too Advanced?

Advanced timing is needed for combustion to happen but then when it is too advanced, then an engine knock may occur.

Moreover, this can cause the fuel and air mixture to burn up earlier than what is required during the combustion cycle. When this happens, the heat generated can continue to increase, which then leads to the engine overheating.

So how much is too much, exactly?

The widely accepted fact is that peak cylinder pressure has to happen at about 15 to 18 degrees right after the top dead center. This is needed to maximize the crankshaft’s leverage. When you initiate spark timing way in advance, this can lead to the cylinder experiencing detonation. Hence, damage can occur potentially.

Some people wonder if advancing the timing will generate more power. The truth is that when you increase the timing advance, this increases the high-end power while at the same time minimizing the low end. When you reduce the timing advance, on the other hand, the low-end power increases while the high-end decreases.

With all these things in mind, let’s look into the amount of HP you need to add per degree. The rule of thumb is that about 2 to 3 HP for each degree is a good timing add.

As for the RPM to set your timing at, we recommend that you rev the engine exceeding the point in which you have a fully engaged mechanical advance. This should be around 3000 to 3500 RPM. Then, observe the timing mark using the timing light, check the status on the harmonic balancer. Afterwards, you need to rotate your distributor until your timing mark has lined up at the zero position with the light.

Results Of Pulling Too Much Timing

results of pulling too much timing

When your engine is minimizing the ignition advance or the pulling timing, this will lead to a loss of power. When you have it too advanced, then the engine can be prone to detonation and can be quite destructive.

There are many reasons for the timing to be off. For instance, this error with the ignition timing is due to a damage inside the engine such as the valves or pistons. When there is a weak or loose timing belt, this causes the time to jump and leads to a wrong ignition timing.

An advanced timing can cause a cylinder to misfire. But an excessively slow valve timing will not cause a misfire. However, this can result in a loss of power at a substantial rate. This is why it is not so much of an issue for a computed valve timing since the right DTC is saved in the diagnostic memory of the ECM.

But as we have mentioned, overheating will be a likely issue with very advanced timing. Yet, there are symptoms linked to this such as backfires, pinging prior to overheating, poor performance, as well as backfires. When you don’t have these issues resolved, then overheating can arise. This is why it is important to pay attention to these symptoms and get them resolved before things get worse.

It is also worth noting that advancing your ignition timing far too much will raise the engine temperature. When you increase towards the MBT, you will gain more power. But at the same time, the temperature will rise and lead to a combustion temperature combined with compression that increases temperatures further.

Important Considerations You Need To Know

Timing does add power and it boosts the engine capability. However, it is best to keep it under control. When you boost it too much then, it can lead to further issues. Timing may cause the engine to run rich but only when it is well-timed. In this case, you can expect your engine to operate in a powerful and efficient manner.

This is why you have to adjust the timing right when your engine runs too rich or too lean.

A good way to enhance your camshaft’s low-speed torque with increased duration is to advance your intake lobe but in relation to your exhaust. When you advance just the intake lobe, this opens and closes your intake valve too early. Then this helps to improve your low-speed torque situation.

You can check the timing with the use of a timing light. But if you don’t have one, you can simply turn your motor over in the rotation’s normal direction until you notice that the mark lines are up with the direction you want it. Then, loosen the distributor up then hook your spare spark plug up to a #1 plug wire. Afterward, turn your distributor until you notice that it sparks.

Read More: Can Faulty Glow Plugs Cause Loss Of Power? What You Never Knew


Timing adds a bit more power. Even a few tenths of one point in the AFR makes a difference. But when you add a degree or even two in the ignition timing, then this makes a significant difference. So, be sure to tweak the ignition maps where you spend the most time in tuning.

Advanced timing is okay but if it becomes too much, then this can hurt your engine. This is why you should make it a point to measure the timing and avoid over advancing to prevent further problems with overheating, to name a few.

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