The Best Timing Lights For 2020

Best Value

ESI 130

Best Overall

Performance W80578

Budget Pick

Actron CP7527

Not all types of car issues need mechanical skills and professional help. Sometimes, all you need is a timing light to fix the ignition timing issues. The best timing light can save you hundreds of dollars on unnecessary repairs. The good news is that you don’t have to take your vehicle to the mechanic or an automobile store to get the ignition system fixed.

All you need is the basic knowledge to operate the timing light. The engine tends to run efficiently when it is timed properly. It also improves your fuel economy by allowing you to drive more miles with the same amount of fuel.

What Is The Best Timing Light?

If the engine of your vehicle starts to thump, then that’s probably because your engine is not timed. The problem gets worse when you have an old vehicle. Newer models, on the other hand, come packed with the computerized timing system. The diesel and gas cars feature spark plugs that activate the fuel system.

Your engine activates as soon as you ignite the fuel system. Now, it is important for the spark plug of your vehicle to ignite the fuel system appropriately, which means at the right time and in a specific sequence. That’s when the timing light comes into the picture. It helps you ensure that the spark plug fires properly and in the right sequence.

Choosing the best timing light for your vehicle can turn out to be an overwhelming decision, considering the types of timing lights available on the market. You need to make a decision based on a few factors. For instance, the timing light for the gas vehicle will be different from the same needed for a diesel car. The interesting part is that the older the vehicle is the easier is it for the car owner to time it. The computerized vehicle, on the other hand, needs to be taken to a mechanic or automobile shop.

Here is the list of the top 10 timing lights that are compatible with almost all types of ignition systems.

1. OBDMONSTER 12 V Ignition Timing Light Gun

Timing your ignition system is one of the easiest ways to boost your fuel economy and get the best performance from your engine. That’s what OBDMONSTER 12 V Ignition Timing Light Gun helps you achieve. The product might not have the best speed accuracy, but it does deliver an average speed of up to 10000 RPM.

Compatibility And Ease Of Use

The bulbs deliver bright light in the daylight and at night. You can easily connect the device to the ignition system of your car using the detachable leads and the inductive pick-up. OBDMONSTER 12 V Ignition Timing Light Gun works well on the 6 V and 12 V vehicles. Besides that, this gun-shaped timing light is compatible with 2-cycle and 4-cycle gas engines. That means you can use it on a motorcycle, cars, and other gas engines.

The specialty of the OBDMONSTER 12 V Ignition Timing Light Gun is the Xenon flashlight, which makes this timing light efficient in the dark and poorly-lit areas. The manufacturer has designed the housing of the unit with the heavy-duty ABS. It comes packed with a 4.5-inch long cable. Users like its ergonomic, gun-shaped design. You can easily press the trigger to activate the device.

Features

  • Compatible with 2-cycle and 4-cycle engine
  • 4.5 feet long cables
  • Speed accuracy up to 10000 RPM
  • Made of heavy-duty ABS
  • Pistol-shaped timing light
  • Xenon light
  • Works on 6V and 12V vehicles

The Pros

  • Highly durable
  • Easy to setup
  • Ergonomic design and robust construction
  • Universal compatibility
  • Efficient operation

The Cons

  • It doesn’t come with the carrying case

2. Dirautos Engine Timing Light and Spark Plug Tester

You can use Dirautos Engine Timing Light and Spark Plug Tester for just about any type of engine that features a spark plug. It works as the diagnostic tool, allowing you to detect any issue in the ignition system.

The company ships this unit with an ignition tester and a manual. Make sure you go over the instructions before connecting it to the spark plug. If you have been noticing the constant knocking and thumping sound from your engine, then that’s probably a sign your engine’s timing is off.

Installation

To help ensure that your engine works efficiently, you need Dirautos Engine Timing Light and Spark Plug Tester. The setup is quite easy. All you need to do is connect the red wire and black wire of this timing light to the positive and negative terminals respectively.

Once done, you need to connect the signal wire to the 1 spark plug. The ergonomic design of this device makes it a whole lot easier for the driver to operate it. This pistol-sized timing light offers convenient buttons and smoother operations. It comes with a 4.54 feet long cable.

Compatibility

Compatibility isn’t an issue since Dirautos Engine Timing Light and Spark Plug Tester can work on motorcycles, RVs, lawnmower, cars, and even airplanes. It is important to note that this ignition timing light does not work on diesel engines since they don’t have a spark plug. Other than that, it is compatible with all the 6V and 12V spark plug vehicles.

Features

  • Compatible with spark plug engines
  • Work on 6V-12V cars
  • Pistol-shaped design
  • 4.5 feet long cable
  • 10,000 RPM
  • Two-cycle and four-cycle compatible device

The Pros

  • Durable
  • Good speed accuracy
  • Extend the life of the engine
  • Improves fuel economy
  • Easy to connect
  • Universal compatibility

The Cons

  • Not compatible with diesel engines

3. 8MILELAKE Engine Timing 12V Ignition Testers

8MILELAKE Engine Timing 12V Ignition Testers are designed for the petrol-powered four-wheelers. The unit comes with the Xenon light that offers good visibility in the daytime and at night. The cover of this timing light is made of heavy-duty ABS material, which is capable of lasting for years. The 1.35 m cable is quite easy to connect to the electrical outlet.

The unit has metal clips that can be fastened to the positive and negative terminals. Moreover, the unit flashes a bright light that makes it easier for the driver to get the readings. The strong plastic casing and quality design make 8MILELAKE Engine Timing 12V Ignition Testers a perfect fit for all types of petrol vehicles.

Features

  • Compatible with 12 V petrol-powered vehicles
  • Made of ABS plastic
  • 1.35 m long cable
  • Xenon bright light
  • Shipped with a manual

The Pros

  • Versatile
  • Bright light
  • Generate accurate readings
  • Robust construction
  • Premium materials

The Cons

  • Some users have complained about the durability of this timing light

4. ALLOMN Xenon Induction 12V Timing Light

A comfortable and sleek design combined with a pistol-shaped structure makes ALLOMN Xenon Induction 12V Timing Light an ideal option for car owners. The inductive pickup allows drivers to connect the device easily to the spark plug. The device is compatible with both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines. That means you could use it for motorcycles, cars, and other vehicles that feature a 12V gas engine.

Installation is quite smooth. You only need to connect the red wire to the positive terminal and the black wire to the negative terminal. The manufacturer offers a 12-months warranty on this timing light.

Features

  • Integrated sensor clips
  • 10000 RPM
  • ABS plastic housing
  • Pistol-shaped device
  • Inductive pickup
  • Xenon timing light

The Pros

  • Ergonomic design
  • Robust design
  • Quality performance
  • Easy to connect
  • Improves fuel economy

The Cons

  • The light is not bright

5. ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light

Compatible with almost all types of ignition systems, ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light is your ideal option for two-cycle and four-cycle engines. This battery-powered timing light does not need an external power source.

You don’t have to use an additional wire to plug the device into your car’s electrical outlet. With that being said, ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light can be used for industrial as well as marine engines. The unit comes packed with two batteries.

Accuracy And Brightness

Accuracy and quality of the product are never going to be your concern. ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light enables the driver to get a clear and bright light even in the daytime. You could even flash the light on the hard-to-reach areas to get a clear view of the engine components. The product is versatile and durable. You can use it for different engine systems. It offers approx 14,000 RPM accuracy.

The best part about this unit is its accurate readings and a protective sleeve. The manufacturer has designed this timing light in a way that it can resist extreme temperatures (up to 1200 Fahrenheit) easily. The manufacturer supplies the light with a 4 feet long cable. ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light is designed to last for years. You can use it for racing, snowmobile, and other such industrial engines.

Features

  • Compatible with both two-cycle and four-cycle engines
  • Delivers up to 14000 RPM
  • 4 feet long cable
  • Protective sleeve
  • 2 D cell batteries included in the package
  • Used for industrial and marine engines

The Pros

  • Universal compatibility
  • Durable
  • Premium design
  • Bright light
  • Accurate readings
  • Resist temperature up to 1200 Fahrenheit

The Cons

  • Some users have complained about the low brightness of the light during the daylight

6. INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light

Made of premium materials, INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light features a robust and compact design that can resist the regular use quite efficiently. The INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light features the heavy-duty ABS plastic housing. The backlit screen makes it easier for you to check and measure the readings even in a poorly-lit environment. The manufacturer has kept the design of the barrel quite simple, allowing you to rotate the dial for a perfect aim.

Ease Of Use And Design

You could adjust the dial of the model to get accurate readings. Using the INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light, the driver can get the base and retard timing reading accurately. The light is quite versatile, meaning you could use it on almost any type of ignition system.

The model is easy to use. You only need to plug the device into the electrical outlet. The best quality of this unit is its ergonomic and flexible design. You can use it however you want. Besides that, you can point the device at any angle comfortably. Thanks to its backlit display.

Compatibility And Installation

Unlike the plastic connectors, INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light comes packed with the metal clips that can be fastened around the spark plugs. Overall, it is an ideal option for drivers who want to take the readings of Dwell, tach, and voltage. The adjustable barrel and detachable cords make it a perfect option for different engine systems. The unit is compatible with both traditional and computerized engines.

Features

  • Supports tach, dwell, and voltage reading
  • 6 feet long cable
  • Heavy-duty ABS plastic housing
  • Shockproof case
  • Delivers 240-9990 RPM
  • Compatible with 2 and 4 cycle engines
  • Detachable leads

The Pros

  • Shockproof case
  • High-quality material
  • Ergonomic design
  • Slim and adjustable barrel
  • Rotating dial
  • Universal compatibility

The Cons

  • No cons that we know of

7. Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light

Are you looking for a versatile timing light that is compatible with different types of ignition systems? Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light is an ultimate option for mechanics and car owners. If you often have to use the timing light to detect the timing issues in the ignition system, then this versatile model can make the best choice.

Installation

You could use it for electronic, DIS, and traditional engine systems. Designed specifically for diagnosing all sorts of engine timing issues, the Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light generates accurate reading.

You get a rotatory dial that needs to be turned to take readings. The driver can set the dial from 0 to 60 degrees. The plug and play design of the unit enables you to start the timing light easily. It features a slim and compact design barrel as well as detachable leads. This gun-shaped timing light offers basic functionalities.

Design And Efficiency

The best quality of this timing light is its swivel head that makes it easier for the driver to get a clear view of the hard-to-reach areas seamlessly. It produces a bright light, allowing you to measure the readings accurately in the broad daylight. The best part about the unit is that it comes equipped with an automatic power button that keeps the device running. The manufacturer has kept the price quite reasonable.

Features

  • Compatible with electronic, DIS, and industrial engines.
  • Rotatory dial
  • Delivers up to 9990 RPM
  • Protective handguard
  • Detachable lead

The Pros

  • Slim and compact barrel
  • Seamless operation
  • Universal compatibility
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable

The Cons

  • The brightness of the unit is not as good as advertised

8. Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light

Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light is another effective and high-quality product that allows you to take the readings of your car ignition system seamlessly. The model is specifically recommended for DIY enthusiasts who are looking out for a premium and durable timing light. The company ships the product with a 12 months warranty period.

Easy To Use

Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light makes a perfect fit for beginners. If you have never used the timing light, then this product is quite easy to use. Despite being a simple product, the unit comes packed with a broad range of advanced features.

All you got to do is plug it into the electrical outlet and there you go! You can note the readings and make changes to the ignition system to get your engine running. Despite being one of the most efficient and reliable products, the manufacturer sells it for an affordable price.

Construction And Build Quality

Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light can resist high temperatures. It also comes with the over-molded clips. The manufacturer has created the case of this unit using the heavy-duty ABS material. Moreover, the Xenon light makes it quite efficient for daylight. Overall, Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light is a gun-shaped, modern timing light that boosts your products’ efficiency.

Features

  • Xenon flashlight
  • Heavy-duty ABS plastic
  • Heat-resistant battery
  • One-touch control system
  • Over-molding on clips
  • 12 months warranty

The Pros

  • Premium design and solid construction
  • Durable
  • Cost-effective
  • Bright light
  • Accurate readings
  • Easy to use
  • Resist high temperature

The Cons

  • It isn’t capable of picking yellow and orange sparks

9. Flaming River FR1001 Timing Light

If you have an MSD ignition system, then the standard timing light might not work for your vehicle. Flaming River FR1001 Timing Light is designed for all types of engines, including the MSD engines. This self-powered timing light comes equipped with batteries.

You don’t need to plug it into the cigarette lighter or electrical outlet. It doesn’t need to draw power from external electrical sources. The unit is simple to use and features advanced functions that make it easier for the driver to measure the ignition readings effortlessly.

RPM And Compatibility

It can deliver up to 14000 RPM. Moreover, the Flaming River FR1001 Timing Light is a versatile unit. You can use it for different types of engines, including but not limited to generators and marine ignitions. You could use it on just about any spark-free engine system.

Thanks to the Xenon flashlight that generates a bright light in the daytime and at night. No matter what time it is, you can rely on the Flaming River FR1001 Timing Light for getting accurate readings. The housing of this unit is made of rubber, which guarantees high durability.

Features

  • Housing made of rubber
  • speed-accuracy up to 14,000RPM
  • Battery-powered timing light
  • D cell batteries
  • Xenon flashlight
  • Compatible with MSG ignitions
  • Used for all types of spark-free engines

The Pros

  • High durability
  • Universal compatibility
  • Bright flashlight
  • High-speed accuracy
  • Robust construction
  • Simple to use

The Cons

  • It is a bit expensive

10. Performance Tool W80578 Timing Light

Performance Tool W80578 Timing Light happens to be one of the most versatile timing lights on this list. The unit works well on street powerboats and race cars. Not only is it used for cars, but this model is designed for all types of gas engines and heavy-duty equipment.

You can also use the tool for checking the ignition system of the tractors, snowmobiles, motorbikes, and even electric generators.

Batteries And Connection

Performance Tool W80578 Timing Light is a battery-powered model. It runs on 2 “D” cell batteries. Note that the manufacturer does not supply the unit with the batteries. You are going to need to purchase the 2 D cell batteries separately.

The model comes with the detachable leads that make it super easy for the driver to start the device. The best part is that you don’t need to rely on additional wiring and connections. Thanks to the inductive pick-up that enables the driver to attach the unit to the spark plug seamlessly.

It is highly recommended for both mechanics and DIYers. It features a push-button that extends the life of the timing light.

Compatibility

The manufacturer ships the Performance Tool W80578 Timing Light with a 5 feet long cable. As soon as you attach the switch to the circuit, the small red light will glow. All in all, the Performance Tool W80578 Timing Light is a reliable and durable product.

In addition to being a versatile material, this timing light is quite simple and effective. Note that this timing light is not compatible with small 4-cycle generators. The price of the unit is quite high as compared to the other timing lights on this list.

Features

  • Compatible with powerboats, street rods, and race cars
  • Supports all types of gas engines
  • 2 D cell batteries
  • Detachable lead
  • 5 feet cable
  • It can be used on heavy equipment

The Pros

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Easy to setup
  • Battery-powered device
  • Reliable product
  • Universal compatibility

The Cons

  • You need to purchase the batteries separately
  • Doesn’t work on small generators

Factors To Take Into Consideration When Buying Timing Lights

Your car can malfunction due to a number of reasons. Car issues are not uncommon, but what makes it challenging is the fact that diagnosing these problems isn’t always that easy. As mentioned before, you don’t have to send your car for servicing and maintenance for some common issues, such as improper ignition timing. A timing light is all you need to diagnose the ignition timing issues and get them fixed. Let’s take a look at a few crucial factors you need to consider when buying timing lights.

Your Requirements

You will find a plethora of cheap timing lights on the market. These products merely help you diagnose the timing issues. These lights are recommended for car owners who don’t drive their vehicles frequently. If your only purpose of buying the timing light is to check the engine timing and diagnose timing issues, then the casual timing light will do.

However, professional mechanics and drivers that love to perform DIY repairs need high-quality and advanced timing light that comes loaded with multiple features. The modern timing lights are versatile tools that offer you a plethora of latest features. Not only does it help you diagnose the engine timing issue, but it allows you to fix certain problems smoothly.

You can also use these tools to learn more about your four-wheeler. Some units even allow the car owner to check the RPM, battery voltage, and other functions of the car easily.

Types

The engine timing lights are available in two main types, i.e. inline and inductive lights. Both lights are almost similar except for their connection system. The inline lights require you to get the spark plug removed for a strong connection. Inductive lights, on the other hand, feature an integrated sensor that could be fastened around the spark plug.

Now that the inductive lights come packed with a sensor and some advanced features, it goes without saying that these lights are a bit costly. They feature the Xenon light that enables the driver to use them for timing all types of motors efficiently. Inline timing is an ideal option for beginners.

Complexity

The more complex your timing light is, the higher it will cost and the more difficult it is for the car owner to deal with the ignition timing issues with it. These tools come equipped with a broad range of features. However, not all car owners are willing to spend hundreds of bucks on a complex and versatile timing light. If that’s the case, you can find the basic tools.

Coming to the design, the manufacturers launch the gun-shaped timing light. Some units feature a microprocessor as well as a trigger to make things easier for you. These are the modern engine timing lights that are relatively easier to use than the sophisticated models. Make sure you check the cover material of the model before making a purchase. Metal and plastic are commonly used for timing light covers.

Both offer the same range of benefits, but housings made of ABS plastic is highly recommended for beginners. The ignition timing lights that come with the metal cover put you at a high risk of electrocution. However, that won’t be an issue if you know how to operate the tool properly. Still, beginners must look for a basic tool that features a simple design and non-metal cover.

Durability

The efficiency of the timing light can be determined by its build quality and durability. Take the timing lights with swiveling heads, for example. These tools allow you to reach inaccessible areas on your vehicle seamlessly. Of course, the smoother the design of the product, the higher its durability will be.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to compromise on the quality and durability of the design if you plan on buying a cheaper product. Many companies have launched effective and durable timing lights that can resist corrosion and wear without compromising on the product’s durability.

Brightness

You don’t need an extremely bright timing light that can strain your eyes. The timing lights that are too dim won’t work either. You don’t want to spend your money on a light that doesn’t allow you to see the hard-to-reach parts in the daylight. Look for a product that flashes immediately after hitting the spot.

Accuracy

Timing lights help you find out the dwell and voltage readings, though not all timing lights come packed with these features. You will probably have to pay higher to get these advanced reading options.

The timing light is responsible for collecting information from your vehicle’s engine. Usually, accuracy isn’t an issue with the timing lights. However, some units can be more accurate than others. It all comes down to the quality of the model.

The voltage, dwell, and tach readings need to be 100% accurate so that you can diagnose the engine issues effortlessly. You can also check the customer reviews to determine the accuracy of the product.

Dial-back

Experts like to invest in the timing lights that feature the dial-back feature. Even though you don’t need it, the dial-back can be super useful for regular drivers. In order to check the ignition timing of your vehicle, all you got to do is rotate the dial of the product. These types of timing lights are more accurate and durable than the basic models.

Some dial-back products come with a light that allows you to adjust the timing precisely. These products will notify you as soon as you have reached the best timing. The dial-back timing lights are highly recommended for DIYers and experienced drivers who need to fine-tune their vehicles frequently.

Power Source

There are also certain technical features that must be considered when you are shopping for timing lights. For instance, the power source your timing light needs matters. Some units operate on batteries, while others are powered by external sources. The best option is the one that’s compatible with different types of power sources. It makes it quite easier for the user to operate the timing lights.

Battery-powered timing lights are highly recommended for drivers who do not have the battery handy all the time. You are going to have to plug the device to the power outlet to operate it. This can get super inconvenient for the car owners.

Conclusion

Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional mechanic, you are going to need high-quality timing light to preserve the efficiency of your engine. The timing lights do wonders when it comes to fine-tuning. It helps you detect the timing of the engine and adjust its performance to your requirements. So, what are you waiting for? The timing lights mentioned on this list are cost-effective and premium products. Make sure you check the features of each product before making a purchase.

FAQs

  1. Why do You Need Timing Lights?

    As mentioned above in the post, timing lights are specifically used for detecting the timing issues in the engine. The product is available in different types. That being said, each product comes with a unique set of features and benefits. If you observe a ticking noise from the engine, oil leakage, and a misfire, then these are some common signs you need to time your engine.

    Some of the main benefits you get from a premium timeless light are:

    Improves Engine Durability: Car engine tends to break down and malfunction when they are not treated and maintained regularly. One of the common reasons for poor engine functioning is its overheating, which mainly occurs when you don’t time your engine efficiently. To extend the lifespan of your engine, you need to time it. The timing lights make it easier for you to diagnose the ignition timing problems so that you can fix the issue as soon as possible. The smoother your engine operates, the longer it lasts.

    Boosts Fuel Efficiency: With a timed engine, you can cover a longer distance with the same amount of fuel. The best timing light improves the fuel economy. It helps you save hundreds of bucks on an inefficient fuel in the long run. In other words, a timed engine allows you to drive more miles per gallon.

    Fix Engine Faults: Some electrical faults happen due to the poor ignition timing. You don’t experience the electrical issues in your vehicle when you tune your engine appropriately. Your engine is most likely to give a better and smoother performance when it is timed.

  2. What is the Cost of the Timing Lights?

    The cost of the timing lights depends on the type of unit you purchase. The inductive light is the most common option for DIYers. It is available under $70. These units come with Xenon lights and a plastic case.

    If you want to invest in a better option, then we recommend the advanced timing lights. They can range anywhere between $70 and $100. The specialty of this model is its advanced adjustment buttons and dwell indicators. These products are available in a metal housing. You need to handle it carefully as metal housing can cause electrocuting.

  3. Do the Standard Timing Lights Work on the MSD Engine?

    Some vehicles have MSD (multiple spark distribution) ignition systems. You can’t use a standard light to handle these types of engines. To time the MSD engine, you need the MSD-compatible timing light. However, the MSD-compatible timing lights can cost you up to $250. Some MSD timing lights are shipped with a carrying case.

  4. What is the Engine is not Timed Properly?

    If you keep the engine timing off for longer durations, then it will result in inefficient fuel economy and backfiring. Most importantly, the engine that isn’t timed properly can affect your fuel economy. Your vehicle will consume more fuel per gallon. Your car won’t run if the timing is off. Even if you manage to start it, you will notice the timing issues from the vehicle’s performance.

  5. Should I Invest in the Inductive Timing Light?

    Inductive timing light is a great option for car owners who need to time their vehicles frequently. Inductive light features Xenon light. You can use it on two and four-cycle engines.

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Chris Jacobs

Sports cars have always been Chris's passion since he was a little kid. He was very excited to turn 16 years old so that he could drive his mother's old van. Many years later, he's still a passionate car geek and totally in love with his Tesla Model 3.