Setting timing on an EFI Ford 5.0 engine.

Since this topic comes up all the time, I figured it might be helpful to have a tech article. This is intended for all EEC IV cars made from 1984 to 1991. Pictures are for a Panther, but its basically the same gig on most 5.0 cars.


Tools needed:

Timing light

A marking device. White out, chalk, paint marker, or anything else that will be clearly visible against black or rust.

Tools to loosen the distributor hold-down. An actual 1/2” distributor wrench, or some combo of sockets, extensions, wrenches, and bubblegum will do fine.


Firstly, get under the car and have a look at the balancer. This is directly behind the crank pulley. You may need to bump the motor over a couple times, but eventually you'll find the timing marks. You do NOT want the big groove cut into the balancer. It has nothing to do with timing on a Ford. There will be 2 sets of marks, most of them range from 10 ATDC to 30 BTDC. You're looking for the BTDC side. Make a line on 10 BTDC with chalk, a paint marker, or whatever.

(pardon the poor pics, this camera isn't the best)



The small mark in that pic is 0, the long one is 10 BTDC.

Next, hook up your timing light to the #1 spark plug wire. #1 is the front cylinder on the right side of the engine, or the passenger side for most of us. Hook up + and - leads to the battery.

Remove the SPOUT connector. This will be found next to the distributor. You're looking for the black square connector on most cars. it looks like this:



Some earlier cars, like 84-85 models, may have a black round connector for the SPOUT. It looks like this:



(pic courtesy 85CrownHPP)

Locate the timing pointer. This is on the right side of the engine down by the harmonic balancer. Its a bit hard to see so you may have to shuffle around a bit to get a good line of sight. Looks like this:



You can actually see my timing marks on the new balancer in that picture. The large line is 10, small marks on 12 and 14.

Now for the fun part. After checking to make sure no wires or limbs are going to get caught in the belts or fan, start the engine. Shine the timing light down at the pointer. When it flashes, the mark on the balancer will light up. It should line up with the edge of that timing pointer. If it does not, shut the motor down and loosen the distributor slightly with whatever tool you deem appropriate for the task. Fire the motor again and rotate the distributor until the marks line up. Kill the engine and re-tighten the distributor. Start it again to verify the distributor did not move when it was tightened down.

At this point you're done. Plug the SPOUT back in, unhook the timing light, and close the hood. If you wish to verify the timing is being advanced by the computer, plug the SPOUT in and look where the timing mark is relative to the pointer. It should have moved.