Ask the Expert: Why do I need special tools for setting cam timing on many of today's engines?

May 20, 2013
Having the cam timing close is no longer an option, it has to be perfect for the engine computer to do its job to maintain emissions and fuel mileage requirements.

Q: Why do I need special tools for setting cam timing on many of today’s engines?

A: Engines in today’s vehicles are very different from engines in the past. Remember when an engine had a carburetor, points, condenser and a distributor? With the use of a tachometer, dwell meter and a timing light you could have it running pretty smoothly. As emissions and fuel mileage requirements became tighter the engine design had to change also. Carburetors have been replaced with fuel injectors, points and condenser with control modules and the distributor has been eliminated, still not enough to keep up with emission and fuel mileage requirements.

Engine designs have become very high tech. The engine computer or computers are not only controlling fuel injection and ignition timing they are monitoring various inputs and outputs of the engine. Having the cam timing close is no longer an option, it has to be perfect for the engine computer to do its job to maintain emissions and fuel mileage requirements. Incorrect cam timing can cause the "check engine" light to come on or there may be strange drivability issues. Any time you service a timing belt or chain, remove a cylinder head or service the valve train, the cam timing has to be reset to OEM specification.

OTC has a vast assortment of cam timing kits and individual tools available for most Ford, GM and Chrysler vehicles on the road today. Included with the cam timing tools are the OEM procedures for using the tools to set cam timing. Visit your OTC tool distributor or go to www.otctools.com for a complete listing of cam timing tools and applications. 

About the Author

Denny Hanson | Senior Product Specialist with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions

Dennis "Denny" Hanson is Senior Product Specialist with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions’ OTC brand. Hanson, an ASE certified Master Automobile Technician, Master certified Medium/Heavy Truck Technician, L1 Advanced Level Specialist, and Undercar Specialist, has been with OTC for 25 years. His focus is on automotive and heavy duty aftermarket service tools and is based in Owatonna, MN. Hanson is also the owner of DJM Repair, a 3-bay shop where he spends nights and weekends working on everything from cars, truck and tractors to ATVs and snowmobiles.

About the Author

Rob Kochie | Product Manager with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions

Rob Kochie is a Product Manager with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions’ OTC brand. Kochie has been with OTC for more than 21 years, focusing on automotive aftermarket service tools ranging from electronics to most recently, special tools. Kochie is also a custom bike builder and metal fabricator, owner of Velocity Performance Design, LLC. He is based in Owatonna, Minnesota.

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