There aren’t many things in the world that are more frustrating than having car trouble. If you don’t know how to fix your automobile, then you will likely spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to have a mechanic look at it. And then when they diagnose the problem, it’s going to cost you even more money to get it fixed!
Sometimes the problem with your car could be simply that the ignition timing is off. When you have a good timing light, you can diagnose the issue by yourself quickly and then fix the problem based on the feedback that you get. Instead of spending your money on a mechanic, you can invest in a timing light for yourself. Not only will you save a lot of money, but you will also save some time and headaches while you wait on your vehicle to be serviced at the mechanic shop.
I’ve used many different timing lights over the years, so I’m pretty experienced and can tell a good one from a bad one. I’m here to pass that knowledge along to you so you can make a good decision on your timing light purchase.
- Brief Reviews of the Top Rated Timing Lights
- Things to Consider When Buying a Timing Light
Brief Reviews of the Top Rated Timing Lights
While most timing lights function in similar ways, the features that they have can be completely different. Out of the dozens of quality timing lights that are available, I’ve narrowed them down to the top five and will give you brief information about each of them.
Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light
If you are just looking for a cost-friendly timing light that has basic functionality, then you may not find a better one than the Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light. It doesn’t have many features, but it does have a light that is bright enough to be visible in the daylight. It doesn’t have a Tach meter, but you can still easily check the timing, check for electronic advance/retard and diagnose a no-spark condition. It doesn’t have many other features, but that also means that it is perfect for people who are on a budget.
One of the best features of this timing light is the swivel head, which allows you to shine on areas that are hard to see or reach. The protective hand guard is also nice because you can safely use it with just one hand when you need to. It’s supposed to work with most ignition systems, and it’s worked on every one that I’ve tried it on.
This timing light functions well, but it does seem like it’s cheaply made. For a person that just needs a timing light for basic functions, this is a perfect option. But if you’re a mechanic or someone who likes to work on vehicles on their own, then this may not be the best timing light for you.
Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light with Tool Case
Whether you are a professional when it comes to automotive work, or if you just like to work on your own vehicle, the Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light is a great option. Not only does it check the ignition timing, but it can also check Voltage, Dwell and Tach readings. The detachable cables are extra convenient since you are able to attach different cable styles. Switching from voltage to ignition timing is a breeze with this timing light!
The one thing that you’ll notice right when you grab it is the ergonomic design. It is easy and comfortable to hold no matter what angle you’re working with. The backlight on the display is good as well, since you can pretty much see it when the sun is shining directly on it. Finally, the heavy-duty housing claims to be shockproof and it also has a molded boot to protect against the fan blades a little more.
Overall, you may not find a better value in a timing light than this one. It has just about all the features that you could ever need and the price won’t break the bank. If you’re in the market for a quality timing light, either as a professional or a regular individual, this timing light should be at the top of your list.
Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
If you’re shopping for your first timing light, then the Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light is probably your best option. It is one of the most basic timing lights on the market and it is simple to use. You can probably figure out how to use it without even looking at the manual, but it’s probably still a good idea to read it, just so you know you’re using it correctly.
The first time I used this timing light, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I literally just took it out of the box, connected it and used it. Once it gave me the reading, I made a quick adjustment and I was done in just a few minutes. Even though this is one of the cheapest timing lights you can find, it is actually made of a pretty durable material. The light on it was plenty bright for me to see in the daylight as well.
For a simple little timing light, this one has performed as well as any other timing lights I have owned. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but sometimes you really don’t need a lot of extra things. This is a perfect basic timing light for people who are buying for the first time, or if you’re looking to replace the basic one that you already have.
Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light
When you have a lot of different cars or other vehicles, it’s nice to have a versatile timing light that will work on a variety of them. The Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light works on all gasoline engines, including powerboats, racecars, street rods, power equipment, motorcycles and other outdoor equipment.
This timing light also works with magnetos, so the accuracy of the measurements is extremely accurate. The detachable inductive pickups are also very easy to hook up and can be easily paired. It’s a pretty small product, which makes you think it wouldn’t be able to work very well, but it can still change the unit of up to 9,900 RPM. One downside is that it is powered by two D cell batteries, but they are not included with your purchase. If you use it a lot, then you may have to change out the batteries frequently. Other than that, this is a good functioning timing light that has a variety of uses.
Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light
People who have MSD ignitions sometimes will have trouble with standard dial back timing lights. However, with the Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light, that is no longer an issue. There’s nothing complex at all about this timing light, which is actually pretty appealing to a lot of people, including myself.
It is a self-powered device that doesn’t need an auxiliary power source to operate. Because of that, it is great to use with magnetos, racecars, motorcycles and other outdoor automobiles. Some people have complained that the light isn’t bright enough, but I haven’t had any problems with it. I haven’t used it in the direct sunlight, but the xenon bulb has produced plenty of light for me when I needed it.
So far, my experience has been very positive with this timing light. It operates with accurate timing up to about 14,000 RPM, which is a lot higher than many timing lights. It may not be professional quality, but it is definitely worth an investment because of the variety of uses it has.
Things to Consider When Buying a Timing Light
What Do You Need a Timing Light For?
You can easily get a cheap timing light that will only tell you whether your engine timing is off or not. Those will work just fine, and if that’s all you need a timing light for, then there’s no need to spend extra money on features that you don’t even need. However, if you’re a mechanic or if you just like to work on automobiles as a hobby, then the additional features can actually be very beneficial to you. You can learn more things about the vehicles and become more experience with fine-tuning them as a result.
Dial Back Feature
A timing light with a dial back is preferred among most people, including mechanics. It is a handy feature because it allows you to easily adjust the timing with just a quick turn of the dial. These have generally proven to be more accurate as well when compared to other types of adjustment features.
The light on the dial back is also advantageous because it lets you know when the timing is perfect. This is especially helpful when you’re fine-tuning your automobile and having to make multiple adjustments to get it right.
Having a timing light that you can’t see during the day is essentially worthless. All of the products that we have reviewed for you have passed our test of being visible in the daylight. Of course, a light that is too bright can be blinding at times, especially when you see the reflection on other parts. However, it’s much better to be too bright than not bright enough. Some timing lights will have a strobe light that will flicker when it hits the target. Those are some of the easiest ones to read because it’s very clear when the target has been detected.
Stay Simple or Get More Features?
One of the main questions that people have when shopping for a timing light is whether they should spend extra money to get more features, or if it’s best to keep it simple. There is a way to get a little bit of both, but those can be hard to come by. If you just need a timing light to use for your own personal vehicles, then you are probably better off getting a cheaper version with fewer features.
Hopefully you won’t have to use the timing light very much, because that would mean that your vehicle isn’t running smoothly. Most of the time it is an easy fix that a basic timing light can detect and allow you to adjust accordingly. However, if you have a variety of automobiles and outdoor vehicles, then you may want to spend a little bit more to get the features that will allow you to work on those different types of vehicles.
Ergonomics and Durability
We’ve touched on a lot of the technicalities of timing lights, but a lot of people can overlook the ergonomics of them. Some timing lights will have a head that swivels, which allows you to get into some of the hardest places that normally would be impossible to reach. If the first timing light that you used had that feature, then you will probably take it for granted until you use one that doesn’t swivel.
Also, just because you might want to buy a cheaper timing light doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality and durability. Be sure that the timing light that you purchase is made of a high quality material that won’t easily break or melt when you set it on a part of an engine that is hot. Luckily, most timing lights are built to handle quite a bit of abuse, so you won’t have to worry too much about getting a faulty device.
Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about timing lights, including some of the top rated models, you are equipped with the knowledge you need to make an informed buying decision. For people who want just a basic timing light for personal use, I would recommend the Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light. But if you want a timing light with a few more features, then the best overall value that you can find is with the Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light with Tool Case. Professionals and amateurs can both use this timing light for a variety of uses. The versatility and value make it one of the top rated timing lights in the industry; so don’t delay in purchasing yours now!