Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Dec. 3, 2018

Not all car issues need to be dealt with by a mechanic. Sometimes the problem involves the timing of your ignition. And if you don’t have the best timing light, you may have to spend hundreds of dollars at the garage to fix it. Many people are unaware of how straightforward it is to set the ignition; it’s a job that lacks the help of a mechanic. Setting the ignition timing does not require any advanced knowledge of automotive repair, it simply requires one vital equipment: a highly efficient timing light. No doubt, the quest to find the perfect timing light from the hundreds available on the market can be challenging, but we have good news for you. We have researched and rounded up the very best timing lights to help you set the ignition timing on your car with ease.

The Best Timing Light

The Innova 5568 is the best option for anyone seeking a sturdy and professional timing light. Regarding compatibility, this timing light can be used with most foreign and domestic ignition systems where timing on conventional, electronic, and computer controlled systems can be checked with ease. It is designed professionally for DIY fans and mechanics who are continually dealing with setting the ignition timing of automobiles. This means that the Innova is a tool that is of great importance to people who own mechanic shops as it will enable you to set the ignition timing on various appliances and vehicles reliably and with ease. This timing light will stand up to daily use and features an ABS, heavy-duty, shockproof housing that offers extra protection through its molded boot from the engine fan blades.

The Innova 5568 ignition timing light comes with a plastic storage case and detachable 6-foot leads with an inductive pickup that encourages quick and easy setup and storage. It helps mechanics and regular car owners diagnose a no-spark condition, check timing, and more. To see easily in extremely dark places, the Innova light features a backlit screen as well as a slim, rotating barrel to improve your timing mark aim. There are also four digital function readouts with this timing light. With its patented skip circuitry, this timing light can check both four-cycle and two-cycle engines and tests up to 9990rpm, which is enhanced performance for this kind of schedule light.

The Innova Pro Timing light requires a simple plug and play to operate, making it easy to use. With secure storage and setup, it comes as no surprise that this timing light is among our top picks.

Key Features
  • Easy to Use
  • Plug and Play design for quick setup
  • Adjustable Barrel
  • Detachable Leads
Specification
  • Brand Innova
  • Model 5568
  • Weight 1 lb

Another good timing light is the Wilmar W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light. Designed for use on race cars, power boats and street rods, this timing light is designed to cater to gas engines, motorcycles, outdoor power equipment, mowers, snowmobiles, and tractors as well as magnetos, electric generators that contain permanent magnets. It is a self-powered piece of equipment that functions with help from two standard rechargeable D cell batteries (which are not included). 

The detachable nature of the Wilmar timing light encourages compact storage of the unit. Also included in each package is a removable inductive pick-up that enables easy hooking onto your ignition system. Seasoned professionals crafted the Wilmar timing light for tuning up street rods, race cars, and power boats. The Wilmar self-powered engine timing light is ideal for mechanics as well as individuals who love fixing their cars themselves. It is a highly functional, long lasting and excellent automotive equipment to own.

Key Features
  • Perfect for street rods, race cars, and power boats
  • Detachable inductive pickup
  • Works with magnetos
  • Powered by two rechargeable or standard D cell batteries (not included)
Specification
  • Brand Performance Tool
  • Model W80578
  • Weight 10.4 oz

Another digital timing light that is highly effective is the Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light. It features a high-quality construction made possible with the inclusion of advanced technology, to effectively spark fires and induce the correct timing of any ignition system. With this timing light, you can always check the timing on electronic, conventional as well as computer controlled systems with ease and at any particular time.

The housing of the Actron timing light is constructed with durable, plated ABS technology, and includes a super bright xenon flash. This ergonomic design of the house, together with its incredibly illuminating flash makes this timing light a sought-after product on the market. All inductive metal pickups for the Actron light come with a one-touch on/off control, with a heat resistant feature over molding on battery clips. To maximize efficiency, the strobe light which is the Actron timing light issued for checking fires and ignition timing whenever the spark plug dies.

To attach a direct pickup between the wires terminal and the spark plugs center conductor, some older timing lights may require that the spark plug boot is removed. The Actron inductive timing light is a durable entity that every mechanic can own, and it comes with a one-year warranty.

Key Features
  • The timing light is heat resistant
  • On/off one-touch control
  • Durable, plated housing with super bright xenon flash
  • 1-year warranty
Specification
  • Brand Actron
  • Model CP7527
  • Weight 1.08 lbs

The Innova 3568 should meet all your timing needs. Uniquely built with a bright digital LCD readout display and a split-screen, you will be able to check Dwell, tachometer and all other advanced functions you need simultaneously from a single screen. The split screen makes the adjustment of a reading advance dial a straightforward task, which results most often in you having a better position to adjust the distributor accurately.

The Innova 3568 timing light is compatible with most imported and domestic ignition systems, as it allows the checking of all forms of operations, from those controlled by computers to the conventional and electronic. Work anywhere with ease, from large surfaces to tight areas, as this timing light is easily adaptable, thanks to its slim and rotating barrel. These features also help make it adjustable for a better aim at the timing mark. Check all your retard applications, base timing, mechanical advance, electrical advance or retard accurately using the Innova 3568 digital timing light.

Other extra features of this timing bright include a protective hand guard suitable for one-hand operation, inductive pickup and a patented skip circuitry test up to 9990rpm. Maximum fuel economy is ensured, together with peak engine performance when the proper ignition timing is achieved. The Innova is a timing light crafted for the stubborn do-it-yourselfer.

Key Features
  • Split-screen digital LCD readout
  • Slim, rotating barrel
  • Patented Skip Circuitry Test up to 9,990 RPM
  • Digital Advance: 0 degree to 90 degree
Specification
  • Brand Innova
  • Model 3568
  • Weight 1.9 lbs

The ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light  was developed for comfortable usage by DIYers, mechanics and car enthusiast to check ignition timingand is designed for use in 2 and 4-cycle engines. It features two D-cell original batteries that encourage a detailed view by producing super-bright light, even in broad daylight. This brand stands tall from others as it doesn’t require the need to connect to a 12V battery for power. Some of the applications this timing light works exceptionally on are racing industrial engines, marine engines, snowmobiles, and many others.

The ESI 130 self-powered timing light offers an accuracy of up to 14,000rpm, concerning its rotation per minute. At a high temperature of 100F, the ESI 130 timing light can withstand high temperatures via its protective sleeves, while its cable enables you to view the farthest end from your eyes by stretching to a maximum length of four feet. The cable also makes working in tight spaces extremely easy and quick.

Speed doesn’t affect the light intensity of the timing light in any way. Just like the Innova timing bright, the EISI 13 is suitable for both domestic and foreign ignition systems. A purchase comes with rechargeable batteries that ultimately cut down on your long-term investment into this piece of equipment. From bright lights to long cables and a broad compatibility range, the ESI 130 is one for the books!

Key Features
  • Protective sleeve withstands high temperatures
  • Standard lead length 4 feet
  • Bright flash at all speeds
  • Batteries included
Specification
  • Brand Electronic Specialties
  • Model 130
  • Weight 1.55 lbs

Another light timing model from Innova is the Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light. This is an entry-level timing light kit that is a must-have for every tune-up kit. It works well with many ignition systems, such as conventional, DIS, computer controlled and electronic systems, and is compatible with both domestic and imported ignition systems. This inductive timing light is an efficient yet straightforward way of checking for electronic advance/retard, diagnosing a no-spark condition, checking timing, and more.

Just like other models from Innova, this timing light features a slim, rotating barrel to provide users with an improved aim at the timing mark. A better aim means that all areas that were once hard to reach will instantly become accessible, which makes the Innova 3551 an excellent piece of equipment. Being highly versatile, this is a timing light that doesn’t require any prior knowledge in automobiles. It features a plug and plays mechanism that is simple to use and won’t need a lot of your time. The metallic nature prevents it from melting if it touches the exhaust manifold accidentally. It also features detachable leads that make way for quick setting up and compact storage whenever you require it.

This Innova timing light is lightweight and encourages operations with the use of a single hand. There is an additional feature of a protective hand guard that protects the user from electrocution. The final feature possessed by the Innova 3551 is the patented skip circuitry test that enables you to measure up to 9990 rpm.

Key Features
  • Check the timing, diagnose a no-spark condition and more
  • Slim, rotating barrel for better aim
  • Protective hand guard for one-hand operation
  • Patented Skip Circuitry Test up to 9,990 RPM
Specification
  • Brand Innova
  • Model 3551
  • Weight 1.8 lbs

ESI has introduced yet another timing light so effective, we couldn’t help but include it on our list! It’s the ESI 125 Digital Tech Advance Timing Light, and it’s the perfect companion for all car enthusiasts and mechanics. It has been specially developed from countless studies and the use of advanced technology, to undertake diagnostic functions together with the provision of precise tuning. The speed of your car’s engine is measured using the stroke tachometer, to a rate of up to 9999rpm, with brilliant xenon lights flashing at all speeds. The ESI 125 is ideal for all DIY and mechanics who need to check the timing on DIS, electronic, conventional and computer controlled systems found in both foreign and domestic ignition systems.

Use this timing light to improve tuning accuracy, improve your fuel mileage, as well as your engine performance. You can read the degrees advance and rotation per minute with ease via its bright display feature, and have a comfortable grip vis its textured non-slip grip, designed to make this timing light easy to use at all times by everyone. When it’s not in use, this timing light comes with a replaceable and detachable cable that can easily be stored. The removable nature of the wire also gives users the freedom to switch between wires from other brands or of different length, depending on the kind of tuning up experience they require. The accuracy, compactness, and functionality of the ESI 125 timing light is one that’s respected by many consumers worldwide. 

Key Features
  • A very bright display
  • 2 and four stroke tachometer
  • Detachable and replaceable cable set
  • Designed for precise tuning and diagnostic work
Specification
  • Brand Electronic Specialties
  • Model 125
  • Weight 8 oz

When checking of the ignition of a car, having an efficient timing light is crucial, which is why the Craftsman Advanced Timing light is included in our list. This tool helps you adjust your engine’s ignition time to the manufacturer’s specification or your custom preferences with ease by illuminating the timing marks.

Centrifugal, computer advance and vacuum advance can all be measured using this single device thanks to the inclusion of an adjustable knob. Use of the craftsman timing light is made more enjoyable and convenient in any weather or lighting condition through the installation of a super bright xenon light. This light is placed on the advanced engine timing limit and enables you to check your timing under any lighting condition.

The metal inductive pickup of the Craftsman advanced timing light allows for a reliable connection without the risk of heat damage, while its durable plastic body and dial have been carefully crafted to last for years. Use a single, simple touch interface to power and control your vehicle’s ignition system, and enjoy the benefits of this high-performing timing light for years  without the need for constant maintenance.

Key Features
  • The dial allows for adjustments at a range of RPMs
  • Metal pickup gives a good connection even in the heat
  • Works with a single button for ease of use
  • Uses your car as a power source
Specification
  • Brand Craftsman
  • Model 9_14065
  • Weight 2.4 lbs

Like a mechanic or a regular car enthusiast, you’re on the lookout for a timing light without all the hassle of another power source. We present to you the Flaming River Single Wire Timing light, the only self-powered timing light on our list crafted by countless professionals to work without support from an auxiliary power source. It is highly functional, long-lasting and excellent automotive equipment to own. This single and vital feature makes this entity suitable for use with rear battery mount race cars, marine, motorcycles, go-karts, mags, and other spark ignition systems. This has all been wonderfully designed for single-wire hassle-free timing. The xenon bulb identified with this timing light is an excellent feature that doubles as a convenient work light while generating a bright timing strobe.

The Flaming River timing light elements a state-of-the-art, single-wire design, and operates entirely on two D cell batteries that can be recharged. It provides an accurate timing of up to 14,000rpm and provides easy visibility even during broad daylight. Also included in each package is a removable inductive pick-up that enables easy hooking onto your ignition system. It is designed professionally for DIY fans and mechanics who are continually dealing with setting the ignition timing of automobiles. This means that the FR1001 from Flaming River is a tool which is of great importance to people who own mechanic shops as it will enable you to set the ignition timing on various appliances including vehicles reliably and with ease. The FR1001 should meet all your timing needs if you’re on the hunt for the best timing light.

Key Features
  • State-of-the-art, single wire design
  • for use with magnetos and all spark ignition systems
  • Bright xenon strobe visible in daylight
  • Accurate timing up to 14,000 RPM
Specification
  • Brand Flaming River
  • Model FR1001
  • Weight 14.4 oz

The MSD Ignition Timing Light is the best choice for anyone after a sturdy and professional timing light, regarding compatibility, this timing light can be used with most foreign and domestic ignition systems, where timing on conventional, electronic and computer controlled systems can be checked with ease. This timing light will stand up to daily use and features an ABS, heavy-duty, shockproof housing that offers extra protection through its molded boot from the engine fan blades. Some of the applications this timing light works exceptionally on are racing industrial engines, marine engines, snowmobiles, and many others. It also features detachable leads that make way for quick setting up and compact storage whenever you require it.

This Innova MSD timing light is lightweight in nature and encourages operations with the use of a single hand. The metal inductive pickup of the MSD Ignition timing light allows for a stable connection without the risk of heat damage, while its durable plastic body and dial have been carefully crafted to last for years. The housing of the MSD Ignition timing light is constructed with sustainable, plated ABS technology, and includes a super bright xenon flash. This ergonomic design of the house, together with its incredibly illuminating flash makes this timing light a sought-after products on the market.

Key Features
  • Tough and easy to use
  • Extremely accurate
  • Intense strobe visible during daylight
  • Provides stable timing signals
Specification
  • Brand MSD
  • Model 8992
  • Weight 1.85 lbs

Best Timing Lights Buying Guide & FAQ

Features to Look for in a Good Timing Light

A good timing light possesses a number of features that make it functional, durable and highly cost effective. We have come up with a list to guide you on your next searching spree, to make the process easier and more enjoyable.

  • Brand

To decide between brands, you must have a clear understanding of the dealer or manufacturer, as not all dealers have quality timing products.

  • Design

Before you commit yourself and your efforts to searching for the best timing light, you must understand your needs, and have enough knowledge about your engine. Timing lights don’t all function the same, neither do all of them work in 4, 6, 8-cylinder engines.

  • Type

Inductive and incline are the two main types of timing lights in the market. The difference between the two timing lights lies in their connections. Whereas the incline timing light requires the unplugging of the number 1 spark plug, the inductive timing light enables you to clip around the spark plug wire using an inbuilt sensor. The most affordable of the two is the incline, but concerning quality design, the inductive lights surpass it by a wide margin. Incline timing lights are ideal for DIYers as it helps reduce the possibility of electrocution.

  • Cover Material

Buying a timing light with a metal cover increases your chances of being electrocuted since metal conducts electricity.

  • Ability to Operate

The latest design of timing lights features a microprocessor which controls timing lights, and these are great once you’re willing to spend an extra dime. Many timing lights are shaped like a gun and come with a trigger. Other modern timing light models allow you to check the dwell, RPMs and the battery voltage.

Benefits of Using Automotive Timing Light

Using automotive timing lights come with many benefits which include but are not limited to;

  • Increasing the lifespan of your engine; Engines mostly breakdown when not carefully looked after. Timing lights ensure proper ignition timing so as not to overheat the engine.
  • Fuel efficiency; With a timing light, your engine operates at peak efficiency and ensures maximum fuel economy.
  • Improved ignition tune-up; This not only adjusts and improves the fuel mileage, but it also assists with the overall performance of the vehicle.
  • Electrical solution; Timing lights offer a great solution to electrical and engine faults experienced on your vehicle.

Best Timing Lights FAQ:

Q:  What is a timing light?

  A timing light is a tool used by mechanics and individuals to help them fine tune and ignite their car’s fuel when the spark fires from the spark plug. The proper timing helps your engine work at peak efficiency and power. Unlike a flashlight, timing lights hardly run out of juice to control the light, provided your car is connected to and runs on a working 12-volt battery.

Q:  How do timing lights work?

  With the engine running, the trigger of the timing light is pulled, and this light flashes a beam each time the Number 1 plug fires. The motion of the pulley is frozen by the strobing timing light, and this allows you to calculate degrees before or after the spark is firing.

Q:  What are the symptoms of bad timing?

  • The engine will not turn over, or it might misfire.
  • The engine may emit a ticking noise.
  • There may be an oil leakage from the front of the motor.

Our Top Pick

In summary, we take a second look at our top pick, the Innova 5568, a highly efficient timing light that is easy to set up or store. With its backlit screen and a rotating barrel, this light can be used in extremely dark areas with a great timing aim. It is usable in both 2 and 4-cycle engines and comes with a plastic storage case as well as detachable 6-foot leads with an inductive pickup.

Sources:

  1. Tachometer – Wikipedia
  2. Centrifugal – Wikipedia
  3. Xenon – Wikipedia

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