How To Check Honda Civic Ignition Timing

How To Check Honda Civic Ignition Timing


Many people become confused with the concept of ignition timing, most frequently mixing it up with valve timing. To clearly understand how to check Honda Civic Ignition Timing, you must understand what the motor does.

As your fuel injectors fire a spray of fuel into your combustion chamber, the piston makes it way to top dead center. When your spark plugs ignite the mixture, the piston is pushed back down the chamber from the hot expanding mixture of fuel and air.

The act of ignition as the piston heads towards top dead center is base timing. This is what we’ll be adjusting on a 1992-1995 Honda Civic today to show you how to check Honda Civic Ignition Timing. Our how to check Honda Civic Ignition Timing guide will show you how to set your base ignition timing.


You can often advance this base value of ignition, to help promote more timing and power. Unfortunately, this can also be deadly because with too much timing the mixture will ignite too early, causing your pistons to melt from pre-ignition.

Forced fed applications like turbocharged or supercharged vehicles with more fuel modifications can get away with incremental increases in ignition timing. Properly tuned on a dyno chassis, this is the true way to achieve the horsepower goals you are looking for. Read our How To Dyno tune your vehicle primer here.


Parts you will need to learn how to check Honda Civic Ignition Timing :

  • Timing light
  • 12mm wrench
  • Paper clip or Jumper wire

Before you start working on your car and following along with our how to check Honda Civic Ignition Timing article, you should make sure you are comfortable working on you own car. You will be adjusting your base timing, a process that can completely destroy your motor if not done right.

Start the motor and let it warm up to operating temperature. Make sure it’s not still on the cold map, and you idle is rock solid. If your rpms are uneven or the idle seems to hunt, stop here and diagnose your issue before continuing. It’s important your motor is warmed up properly before you start testing.

Go to your passenger side kick panel, and undo the plastic screw that secures the cover in place. Pull the cover back to expose the Honda ECU, which is mounted to a tray with 10mm nuts.

Reach above the ECU to locate a two-wire jumper connector, when the motor has finally warmed up turn off the car. Insert the paper clip or wire into the two wire jumper, which will tell the Honda ECU to leave the engine at base timing.


Now take your timing light and connect it using the alligator clips to your battery, and the hall effect magnetic clip to the number 1 spark plug wire. As soon as you connect the timing light to the spark plug, you should see the timing light begin to flash.

If you do not see it flashing light, try depressing your trigger on your timing light, if applicable. If there’s still nothing make sure your magnetic pickup is properly seated over the number 1 spark plug.


Point the flashing timing light downward towards your crank pulley. There are three marks located on the lower timing cover that you are looking for. With the timing light pointed squarely at the crank pulley, you can now read the base timing of your SOHC engine.


The middle mark on the timing cover is 16 degrees before top dead center and is the base timing that is called for by Honda. If your crank marks do not line up with the middle mark on the crank pulley, your base timing is wrong.

Loosen the three 12mm bolts that hold your distributor in place, and rotate the distributor forward to advance ignition timing, backwards to retard ignition timing.

Rotate the distributor while watching the timing marks. When the mark on the pulley lines up with the pointer, tighten the distributor bolts, and turn off the engine.


Now with your base ignition timing set, you can disconnect your jumper wire on the two wire connector and put back the passenger side kick panel. Congratulations, you have now learned How To Check Honda Civic Ignition Timing.

Looking for more How To Honda articles? Check out a few below :

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Have any questions or comments? Leave them below and let us know!


  1. I have a Honda 170i V-tec. I have replaced the cam belt. The engine cranks but I seemingly have lost the spark on the plugs. What could be the possible problem and what is the remedy