Question about 1988 Ford Econoline

2 Answers

How to set timing

I bought van from friend, he left

Posted by on

  • bob johnson Sep 09, 2012

    do you need to set the valve timing or ignition timing ???



2 Answers

  • Level 1:

    An expert who has achieved level 1.


    An expert who has answered 20 questions.


    An expert that has over 10 points.


    An expert whose answer got voted for 2 times.

  • Contributor
  • 21 Answers

Best way to set ignition timing is with a timing light, but if one is not available, then this method will work.. just takes a little longer...

Locate the ignition distrbutor, and look for a small L shaped bracked with one 5/16" cap screw that screws into the engine block, One end of the bracket rest on a flat surface of the engine block and the other end rest on a ring molded around the distributor housing and sits on the engine block.. loosen this cap screw about 3/4 turn, just enough to rotate the distributor by hand without the distributor moving freely...

Look at the damper/pulley on the front of the crankshaft and a small metal pointer fastened to the front of the engine block that points to the front surface of the pulley. Rotate the engine until you see a series of marks cut into the pulley surface.. Find the mark that is labeled 0 degrees and then find the mark to the left of it marked 3 degrees. Turn the engine until the pointer is matched to the 3 degree mark... Make sure the mark on the pulley that you select arives at the pointer before the 0 deg mark.. This allows the igintion to fire before the cylinder arrives at top dead center (TDC)...

With the timing marks aligned on the crankshaft pulley, rotate the distributor until the points open to maximum gap. Tighten the bolt to lock the distributor and crank the engine...

If the engine accelerates slowly without spark-knocking, then the timing is too slow and needs to be adjusted by moving the distributor one degree farther from TDC.. If the engine spark-knocks when acclerated, then the engine is timed too high, and the distributor needs to be set one deg towards the 0 timing mark...

With a little practice, you should get the timing correct...

Do not try to start the engine if you know the timing is set too high, as it will 'kick' back on the starter and can/will damage the starter and ring gear on the engine flywheel, which will require major repairs...

Posted on Sep 09, 2012

  • Level 3:

    An expert who has achieved level 3 by getting 1000 points


    An expert that got 20 achievements.


    An expert that got 10 achievements.


    An expert that got 5 achievements.

  • Ford Master
  • 2,122 Answers

Hi Anthony, It is unusual that a vehicle needs the valve timing to be set, unless the timing belt or chain has been replaced so we'll stick to ignition timing for now. It is possible that with a vehicle of the vintage you indicate, that the vehicle has points and condenser. (The old type of ignition system.) Open the distributor cap and if you see inside the distributor a small gubbins that opens and closes while the engine is cranking that will be it. Get replacement contact breakers and condenser. Remove the contact breakers inside and take very careful note of where and how the two cables are fitted. They are insulated by a small plastic insulator and if incorrectly mounted there will be no spark. The insulator directs the currant onto the part which opens and closes, not the base! If you look at the center of the distributor you will see a shaft with angled segments. Each one of those is related to a cylinder. If it has six cylinders it will have six raised sections on that cam and if an eight, there will be eight raised sections. These are called lobes. Fit the new contact breakers onto the base plate and fit the securing screws but tight enough to allow adjustment. Turn the engine until the points are fully open against any one of those lobes. Take a feeler gauge and adjust the gap to 0.45mm and then tighten the screws until the points are locked. Turn the engine until the marks on the crank shaft fan belt pulley align with five degree mark of the pointer. Fit back the cap (do not forget the rotor arm) crank up and the vehicle should start. I'm not very sure of the ignition timing setting. I do know on American vehicles the ignition timing is related to 'dwell angles' which if memory serves is 43 degrees, but I'm not sure. Once the vehicle is up and running you may be able to get more precise data from someone else, but at least it will be mobile. Regards John

Posted on Sep 09, 2012

  • Hi Anthony, Read through the advise given by Bob Johnson, He has given you a more detailed instruction on how to set the ignition timing on your old Ford than I have given. The info contained in his solution is much better than mine. Regards John



1 Suggested Answer


6ya staff

  • 2 Answers


Hi there,
Save hours of searching online or wasting money on unnecessary repairs by talking to a 6YA Expert who can help you resolve this issue over the phone in a minute or two.

Best thing about this new service is that you are never placed on hold and get to talk to real repairmen in the US.

Here's a link to this great service

Good luck!

Posted on Jan 02, 2017

Add Your Answer

Uploading: 0%


Complete. Click "Add" to insert your video. Add



Related Questions:

1 Answer

My van is possessed....guages and other things flickering erratically

Could be a bad battery cable or connection, including the ground cables.

Sep 05, 2014 | 1999 Ford Windstar

1 Answer

Change the time on renault traffic van

Hi Stephen

with the ignition on but the radio off. Click the top left button on the remote stalk to activate, +/- to adjust then the left button for changinging minutes. click the left button to set!!
Good Luck

May 08, 2014 | 2009 Renault Trafic 1.9dCi

1 Answer

How to set the dashboard clock for a renault traffic van

Turn the ignition on with the radio off. Press the top left button on the radio remote stalk to activate the time change. The hour will flash first. Use +/- to adjust the hour then press the left button again for changing the minutes and again use the +/- to adjust the minutes. Press the left button again to set the time.

Mar 29, 2012 | Cars & Trucks

1 Answer

Bad rear wheel bearings

You do not say which side, but I can just about guarantee that it is the LEFT Rear thats bad. I've done 2 different EGGS w/ this problem. Seal goes out, leaks into the drum, wipes out brakes... bearing. I repeat, on both vans, only Left side was bad. I still have both vans w/ over 200k on ea. & have never had to do the right side bearing/seal on either.
!. buy a new wheel Bering & a new seal fir the left side. From the same auto parts store (ck 1st to see which one will allow this, then buy u'r parts from them) borrow a wheel puller / slap-hammer. 2. Jack-up left rear, & set this side of axle on stable jack stand. Leave other 3 wheels on ground, chock all 3 securely. 3. remove wheel, drum, brake shoes... etc. 4. Attach wheel puller to lug studs as instructed (just ask someone or get directions) You are going to be slamming the sliding weight back on the shaft to the hilt, repeatedly, until the other end of the axle pops out of the 3rd member. At that point remove the hammer, remove the shaft. leave van as is. 5. this is when U take the shaft & new bearing to a auto machine shop/parts house/repair shop/friend's place..... whatever... w/ the proper PRESS to remove the old bearing & instal the new. cost me $25 for this where I went. 6. Back @ the van, replace the b-Seal. try not to screw it up. use wood block (pice of 2x4 worked for me) lite coat of grease on o/s of seal heaps instal. Once seal is "tapped" into place, insert the axle w/ new bearing all the way until it seats into place. May require a firm stab to seat properly, do not hammer it at this point. 7. Replace brake shoes (if using new shoes, replace right side shoes also, just do ONE side @ a time so u have a guide in case u get mixed up reinstalling the shoes)
Worked 2 times for me..... or pay a Mechanic to do for U. This is Not that hard a Shade-tree fix. Luck :) gettocar

Jul 14, 2011 | 1992 Toyota Previa

1 Answer

2009 cargo van chevy 2500-- cant find fuse for left directionals

Try a couple of new bulbs and hope it hasnt burnt a wire in the wire harness.

The fast flash is often an indication or a bulb out, but a burnt wire will cause the same

May 12, 2010 | 2009 Chevrolet Traverse

2 Answers

2009 cargo van chevy 2500-- cant find fuse for left directionals

first never plug back in to that trailer, it may have bad wiring, the next thing to do is to check the front and rear bulbs, they may have blown,if it was a fuse the signal inside would not blink,so this tells me you may have blown the bulbs,and also this trailer is unhooked from the van and lights still dont work?. good luck.

Mar 21, 2010 | 2009 Chevrolet Traverse

2 Answers

I just bought a 1999 chevy astro van AWD

i am not mechanic but realise logic control senses excessive rear wheel spin and transfers some torque to front wheels. try quick take off on gravel road to see which wheels dig in or have friend spot if front wheels are driving when they should be. could be simple corrosian at wiring harness. unplug and spray with contact cleaner and re connect and re try. this wont cost you anything.

Mar 02, 2010 | 2000 Chevrolet Astro

1 Answer

460 1995dodge ram cranks won't start wiggle wires sometimes works

A friend of mine has a Dakota about that same year, he had to replace the computer. His was acting the same way he bought a reconditioned one from Autozone, I think for about $100.

Dec 12, 2009 | 1995 Dodge Ram 3500

1 Answer

I have a 1998 ford windstar lx. i drove to a friends house, then when i left the house 45 min later the van was running rough. whent down the road abit then the engine light came on, then about a minute...

There are various fault code that the engine light represents. Get the computer scanned and see what exactly the problem is. It may be a miss fire, or it could also be something else. You said that you just put gas in it...double check the gas cap. Take it off and put it back on. If it is loose, that will set off an emissions code. Hope this helpls.

Feb 22, 2009 | 1996 Ford Probe

Not finding what you are looking for?
Cars & Trucks Logo

269 people viewed this question

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Ford Experts


Level 3 Expert

85216 Answers

Colin Stickland
Colin Stickland

Level 3 Expert

22485 Answers

gerry bissi

Level 3 Expert

4388 Answers

Are you a Ford Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions

Manuals & User Guides