The Best Timing Lights For 2021

No car owner would like to take their vehicle to the automobile repair shop or the servicing center often. Unfortunately, you can’t expect your car to offer you the best ride for decades. At some point, you will experience some minor issues with your vehicle. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds of bucks on the repairing service, especially if you are facing a problem with the vehicle’s ignition timing or other such casual issues that do not need professional maintenance or repair service.

The timing light is designed to help you identify the problem with your car’s ignition system. It detects the issue, making it easier for you to fix it quickly. Your vehicle’s engine is highly likely to operate efficiently when it is timed properly. In fact, a majority of engine issues occur because of inefficient engine timing. It goes without saying that the car engine that’s timed properly runs fast. Besides, a timed engine has shown to improve the fuel economy, saving you tons of money on the fuel.

What Is The Timing Light?

Not all car issues need mechanical skills. If the problem is as simple as the poor engine performance, then you probably need high-quality timing light to detect the issue and fix it yourself. It’s better to spend a few bucks on timing light than paying hundreds of dollars to the mechanic. Timing lights also help prevent engine overheating. The best product can improve the overall performance of your car.

As the name suggests, the timing light is used to time your engine so that it runs efficiently. The engine that is timed properly has a long lifespan. As these engines run smoother, there is a good chance the timed engine will last for a long time. The best part is you don’t need to be a professional mechanic to time your engine. You don’t even need those heavy mechanical tools to repair your vehicle’s engine. All you need is the best timing light.

However, selecting the best and affordable timing light from hundreds of products can get a little overwhelming for car owners. But, no need to worry! We are going to present a list of the top 10 timing lights. They can help detect all kinds of ignition issues in no time. Besides, they are simple to use. Let’s take a look:

1. Electronic Specialties ESI 130 Battery-Powered Timing Light

Electronic Specialties offers a battery-powered timing light that is designed to last for years. The product makes a perfect option for racing cars, marine, snowmobile, and other motors that do not have the batteries located right next to the engine. This timing light draws the power from the 2 “D cell” batteries that are integrated into the device. The model has great brightness, allowing users to get a clear picture of the engine and readings when it is used in the daytime.

Versatility

It can be used on both two-cycle and four-cycle engines. Besides, Electronic Specialties ESI Self-powered Timing Light is compatible with just about any type of ignition system. The timing light features a protective sleeve that enhances its durability.

The 4-feet long cable is quite flexible. You can use Electronic Specialties ESI Self-powered Timing Light for all kinds of small engine timing applications. The device delivers up to 14,000 RPM accuracy. Overall, it is a great tool in terms of RPM accuracy and brightness.

Coming to the downside, Electronic Specialties ESI Self-powered Timing Light isn’t the best model for MSD-compatible and modern vehicles. It doesn’t come equipped with the advanced tech features that could give you the voltage readings. This standard timing light is a good option for car owners that have an old model.

Features

  • Compatible with two-cycle and four-cycle engines
  • Delivers up to 14000 RPM accuracy
  • 4-feet long cable
  • Battery-powered timing light
  • 2 “D cell” batteries included in the package
  • Great for small engine timing applications

The Pros

  • Versatile
  • Gives accurate readings
  • Portable and compact design
  • Bright light
  • Affordable
  • It doesn’t require power from an external source

The Cons

  • Flashlight is missing

2. Equus INNOVA 5568 Timing Light

If you are looking for a sturdy and durable timing light for your car’s engine, then Equus INNOVA 5568 Timing Light is your ideal option. The device features ABS, a heavy-duty case that is designed to protect the timing light from the engine blades. The backlit screen enables the driver to get a clear view of the hard-to-reach places.

It features quite a few advanced options, i.e. tachometer that delivers up to 9,990 RPM, voltage, Advance degrees, and dwell. Another specialty of this device is its ergonomic and smooth design that allows you to hold the timing light at just about any angle efficiently.

Design And Compatibility

Equus INNOVA 5568 Timing Light is quite simple to use. It features a plug and play design with a slim barrel that could access the timing mark easily. You could also rotate the barrel to change its direction and get a perfect aim at the engine’s timing mark.

The model is compatible with 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines. The best part is Equus INNOVA 5568 Timing Light is a versatile model. You can use it on the traditional and computerized engines. The manufacturer ships the product with a storage case and 6-foot long cable (detachable).

Features

  • Supports dwell, tachometer, advance, and voltage readings
  • ABS heavy-duty casing
  • Works on 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines
  • Delivers 9,990 RPM
  • Compatible with traditional and modern vehicles
  • Detachable 6-foot cable
  • Comes with a plastic storage case
  • Slim and adjustable barrel
  • Backlit screen
  • Plug and play design

The Pros

  • Universal compatibility
  • Plastic storage case
  • Shock-proof and durable housing
  • Ergonomic design
  • Advanced reading options
  • Flexible device
  • Easy to use

The Cons

  • The model doesn’t offer a bright light

3. Automotive 12V Timing Light

Automotive 12V Timing Light works with nearly all types of engines, including the DIS, conventional, computer-controlled, and more. It makes it easier for users to diagnose the ignition system and engine timing. The device works on both 6-volt and 12-volt systems. Note that it can’t be used on diesel engines.

Should you sense the thumping and ticking sound from your engine, take the engine timing readings using this battery-powered timing light and fix the issue on your own. It features a portable and compact design, making it easier for you to carry it in your vehicle. Compatible with 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines, Automotive 12V Timing Light can be used on motorcycles and four-wheelers. It has a pistol-style design and inductive pick-up clips that can be easily hooked on to the spark plugs.

Features

  • Compatible with 2-cycle and 4-cycle engine
  • Pistol-shape design
  • Inductive pick-up clips
  • On/off touch control

The Pros

  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Offers accurate readings
  • Bright light
  • Strong grip
  • Ergonomic design

The Cons

  • No cons that we know of

4. Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light

Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light can be used for improving the engine efficiency and fuel economy of your vehicle. The model is designed for car owners who need a sturdy and durable timing light to check the ignition fire and the engine’s timing light status. The model has a bright flashlight that’s compatible with the two-cycle and four-cycle engines. The model comes with inductive pick-up clamps and a wire.

Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light is an efficient and bright light that delivers the best RPM. Despite being one of the durable and versatile models on the market, this timing light is available for an affordable price. Besides, the model is quite simple to use. Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light can be used on 12V and 6V models. That being said, you can use it on your motorcycle and cars. It features an LED screen for a clean display.

Brightness

The manufacturer has used a Xenon bulb in this model. The Xenon bulb and Fresnel lenses deliver bright light in all conditions. Whether you are using it in the broad daylight or in a poorly-lit environment, rest assured that Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light will give you accurate readings. Check the user’s guide to get more information about how to use this device. The manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty on this product.

Features

  • Compatible with 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines
  • Xenon bulb and Fresnel lens
  • Work on both 12V and 6V systems
  • LED display for accurate readings
  • Inductive pick-up clamps
  • 1-year manufacturer warranty

The Pros

  • Bright light
  • Versatile device
  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Compact design

The Cons

  • Some users have complained that the RPM scale doesn’t offer the best performance.

5. Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light

Are you looking for a durable and MSD-compatible timing light for your ignition? Well, Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light is made for the MSD engines. It is a battery-powered timing light, which means you don’t have to connect it to your vehicle’s battery.

Note that it is designed strictly for MSD ignition. It may not work for vehicles with a standard ignition system. The model delivers up to 14,000 RPM. Besides, Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light is a versatile unit. You could use the light for various applications, including magnetos, marine, and even electric generators. The model comes with the 2 “D cell” batteries.

This MSD-compatible timing light comes with a Xenon bulb that delivers a bright light in all settings. You could even use it in the daytime. Made of heavy-duty rubber, Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light is a durable model.

Features

  • Delivers up to 14,000 RPM
  • Come with a single wire
  • MSD-compatible timing light
  • Xenon bulb
  • Self-powered light
  • Made of rubber
  • It runs on D cell batteries

The Pros

  • Universal compatibility
  • Great for MSD ignition
  • Bright light
  • Accurate RPM
  • High-quality material

The Cons

  • It may not work on the standard engines
  • Limited functions

6. Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light

Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light will be a great addition to your mechanical toolset or the engine tune-up toolkit. This timing light is compatible with all kinds of standard ignition systems, including computerized, DIS, and traditional engines. The manufacturer ships this device with the handguard, a skip circuitry test, and the detachable cable.

The dial makes it easier for the driver to get accurate ignition timing readings. Like its siblings, Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light has the plug and play design that makes it simple to use. The slim and adjustable barrel enables you to get the best aim at the timing mark. It comes with the inductive pickup clamps. The model features an ergonomic gun-shaped design. The specialty of this timing light is its swivel head that gives you a clear view of the hard-to-reach spots.

The device generates a bright flashlight, which makes it a perfect option for mechanics and DIY enthusiasts. Another interesting quality of this model is the power switch. Unlike other timing lights, you don’t have to hold the power button to get the readings. The light is compatible with only 4-cycle engines. Moreover, it doesn’t have the dwell, voltage, and other advanced features. Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light delivers accuracy up to 9,990 RPM.

Features

  • Used on a 4-cycle engine
  • Delivers up to 9,990 RPM
  • Adjustable and slim barrel
  • Skip circuitry test
  • Plug and play design
  • Swivel heads
  • Gun-shaped and compact design
  • Compatible with different engines
  • Protective handguard

The Pros

  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Accurate readings
  • Ergonomic design
  • Easy to use

The Cons

  • Not compatible with 2-cycle engine

7. Performance Tool W80578 Battery-Powered Timing Light

Performance Tool W80578 Battery-Powered Timing Light is one of the versatile models. It works with just about any type of engine seamlessly. You could use this timing light on the magnetos, snowmobiles, mowers, tractors, gas engines, and even the electrical equipment. This timing light is tested for durability and efficiency.

Launched by the Wilmar Corporations, this product delivers a great performance. The manufacturer supplies this timing light with a 5-foot long cable that makes it easier for you to stretch the timing light to different areas of your vehicle. It is a standard timing light that works on nearly all kinds of older and modern engines.

Battery-Powered Timing Light

Performance Tool W80578 Battery-Powered Timing Light is compatible with both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines. You can use it on your race cars, powerboats, and motorcycles. As the name suggests, it is a self-powered light that does not need to be attached to your car’s battery. It comes equipped with 2 “D cell” batteries. The manufacturer supplies it with the inductive pick-up clamps that can be easily hooked to the ignition system.

Compatibility

You can detect the ignition timing status and tune-up your vehicle easily. Overall, Performance Tool W80578 Battery-Powered Timing Light is a functional and effective tool for your two-wheeler and four-wheelers. It features detachable pick-up clamps, making it easy for you to store the device in a compact storage case. As far as compatibility is concerned, Performance Tool W80578 Battery-Powered Timing Light is the best choice. The unit is compatible with all types of engines and off-road vehicles.

Features

  • Designed for street rods, electrical equipment, racecards, mower, marine, and other vehicles.
  • Inductive pickup clamps
  • 5-foot wire
  • Battery-powered timing light
  • Runs on 2 “D cell” battery
  • Used for tuning-up the vehicle

The Pros

  • Universal compatibility
  • Self-powered
  • Bright light
  • Detachable clamps
  • Sleek and compact design
  • Delivers a good performance

The Cons

  • The clamp screws are quite loose
  • Difficult to connect to the ignition

8. Electronic Specialties ESI 125 Digital Tach Timing Light

Electronic Specialties ESI 125 Digital Tach Timing Light is another great timing light from Electronic Specialties. The device is mainly used to diagnose the engine timing issues and fine-tune the engine efficiently. The device measures the speed of the ignition system with an accuracy of up to 9999 RPM.

This timing light comes with the Xenon bulb, which is known for flashing the brightest light in all conditions. Whether you use it in the daytime or at night, rest assured that Electronic Specialties ESI 125 will produce bright light. The model is compatible with the traditional, electronic, DIS, and computerized engines. The timing light can be used on both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines.

Electronic Specialties ESI 125 Digital Tach Timing Light is the best option for those who want to improve their vehicle’s fuel efficiency, tuning accuracy, and overall engine performance. The ergonomic design of this timing light offers a strong grip. The supplier ships this product with a detachable cable. You could also use cables from other brands. All in all, Electronic Specialties ESI 125 Digital Tach Timing Light is a durable, functional, a versatile product. It delivers efficient performance and helps you diagnose the issues with your engine timing.

Features

  • Xenon bulb
  • Delivers up to 9999 RPM
  • Works on all types of engines
  • Detachable cable
  • Used for diagnosing the engine and fine-tuning
  • Displays Degree Advance and Tach
  • Compatible with 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines
  • LED display
  • 70-inches long cable

The Pros

  • Functional
  • Durable and versatile
  • Ergonomic and sleek design
  • Easy to use
  • Offers a strong grip
  • Replaceable wire
  • High-quality pick-up clamps

The Cons

  • Users complained about the product delivering inconsistent readings

9. MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light

It is another product that is compatible with the MSD engines on this list. MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light is known for its versatility. You can use it on just about any type of engine, including the conventional, computerized, electronic, and DIS.

The model features a shock-proof, sturdy, and heavy-duty casing that adds a protective layer to the product. With MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light, you don’t have to worry about the drop accidents and engine fan blades. The common applications of this timing light are snowmobiles, race cars, marine, industrial engines, and more.

The unit comes with a detachable wire. MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light is a lightweight and portable timing light. It comes with strong inductive pick-up clamps, a durable plastic body, and a dial. The manufacturer has designed this model using ABS heavy-duty plastic. The model features Xenon light that enables drivers to get readings in the broad daylight. The pickup and the wire are detachable. You can easily store this gun-shaped timing light in a storage case. It generates a strong strobe. Overall, MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light is a great option for all engines.

Features

  • Stable timing light
  • Works on all engines
  • Shock-proof and sturdy casing
  • Detachable inductive pick-up clamps
  • Intense strobe
  • Designed for MSD engines
  • Xenon light for clear visibility

The Pros

  • Bright light
  • Ergonomic design
  • Easy to use
  • Made of ABS, heavy-duty material
  • Universal compatibility
  • Durable

The Cons

  • Expensive

10. Dirautos Engine Timing Light With Spark Plug

Dirautos Engine Timing Light with Spark Plug is designed for 12-volt engines. It allows you to check the engine timing, fine-tune your engine, detect ignition system issues, and more. The product is simple to use. Dirautos Engine Timing Light with Spark Plug can be used on both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines.

Make sure you turn the engine off when using the timing light. Attach the red inductive clip to the positive terminal and the black one to the negative terminal of your car’s battery. Hook the largest clip to the spark plug. The device offers speed-accuracy up to 10,000 RPM.  You can also use this timing light on the 6-volt engine, given that you insert a separate battery that works with the 6-volt engine.

The manufacturer ships this product with an inductive timing light, a manual, and a spark plug tester. Dirautos Engine Timing Light with Spark Plug features a sleek and ergonomic gun-shaped design that offers a great grip. It comes with a 4.54-feet long cable. This timing light is compatible with all 12V vehicles, including boats, RVs, golf carts, snowmobiles, yacht, mowers, and motorcycles.

You also get the spark plug ignition tester. All in all, it is a great option for car owners and mechanics that need a reliable and sturdy ignition tester and timing light. It works on almost all types of engines.

Features

  • Work on all kinds of 12v engines
  • Delivers up to 10,000 RPM
  • Detects ignition issues
  • Compatible with 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines
  • Engine ignition tester
  • Inductive pick-up clips
  • 4.54 feet cable

The Pros

  • Ergonomic and sleek design
  • Durable
  • Universal compatibility
  • Easy to use
  • Gives accurate readings

The Cons

  • It has a dim light

Different Types Of Timing Lights

Battery-Powered

Usually, the cars have batteries installed near the engine compartment. However, that’s not the case always. Race cars and other off-road vehicles might not have the batteries located at convenient spots. That’s what the battery-powered timing lights are designed for. As the name suggests, the battery-powered light does not need your car battery to operate. You don’t need an external source of battery to power this timing light. Besides, it is quite convenient since you will not have to handle the wire.  It is a great option for people driving race cars and exotic four-wheelers.

Standard Light

Standard timing lights are designed to time both two-cycle and four-cycle engines efficiently. Commonly known as inductive timing lights, this product comes with a knob or button that makes it easier for the car owner to check the ignition timing at different RPMs. In fact, some standard lights feature a built-in dwell meter and tachometer. With the standard lights, you get a Xenon light that can be used to measure the RPMs. It is the most popular and economical option for car owners.

MSD-Compatible

Some vehicles have the MSD (multiple spark distribution system). For these vehicles, the standard timing light may not work. You are going to need the MSD-compatible light to detect the issues in the ignition system. That’s because the battery-powered and standard timing lights are designed to pick only one spark. They can’t time an engine with multiple sparks. So, if you own a vehicle featuring MSD, then you need to pick the timing light that is compatible with the spark distribution system.

Factors You Must Consider When Shopping For The Timing Lights

The timing lights for cars are available in different shapes, colors, and designs. Even the features on the models can differ. Your choice depends on your purpose of buying the timing light, how often you are going to use it, and the budget. For more information about the timing specifications, check out the Vehicle Emission Control Information Label that can be found under the hood. Alternatively, you can check the service manual. It is important to check the timing specifications before you buy the timing light.

Budget

You don’t have to spend over a hundred bucks on timing light unless you are going to need it often. Timing lights are available for as low as $25. At the price range of $25-$70, you will get the product featuring the Xenon lights and a plastic case. You can also find the battery-powered timing lights at this price.

If you are ready to spend $70-$100, then expect a product featuring the built-in dwell indicators and advanced options. The best part is these lights come with a metal case. If you have an MSD engine, then you are going to need the MSD-compatible timing lights. However, these can get a little expensive. The MSD-compatible timing lights can cost you up to $200. They are sold with the carrying case.

Brightness

If your car gets stuck in the middle of the road at midnight, then you are going to have to call a mechanic unless you have the timing lights featuring the Xenon flash tubes. You need to use a bright light when working with the engine. Fortunately, most timing lights available on the market feature Xenon bulbs, which are brighter and better than incandescent lights. The best part is you don’t have to replace the timing light if the bulb stops functioning. You can have the Xenon bulb replaced at any automobile store.

Accuracy

The job of this product is to transfer information about your ignition system and fuel efficiency from your car to the light. However, some lights come with additional functions that can make this job a whole lot easier and faster for you. For instance, the built-in tachometer, voltage, and dwell readings can make a big difference when it comes to the engine timing. The only way to determine the accuracy of the readings is by checking the latest customer reviews. Besides, you must buy the product from a reputable brand.

Your Requirements

As mentioned above, you don’t have to spend hundreds of bucks on a product that comes with advanced features. A timing light that can tell whether your engine timing is off or on will do. This is especially recommended for users whose sole purpose for buying the timing light is limited to reading the engine’s timing status.

However, if you are a professional mechanic or you are planning to learn some mechanical skills, then you must invest a few more bucks and purchase a product that comes loaded with a range of extra features. These options will make it easier for you to learn more about your car’s engine timing. They mainly include the built-in tachometer, dwell, and voltage reader.

Know that the product that comes loaded with a set of advanced technical features will have a complex design. Besides, it will cost you up to $100.

Ease Of Use

Most types of timing lights feature a gun-shaped light. You only need to press the trigger to get the readings. These are modern designs. The best product is the one that enables the users to get the RPM, voltage, dwell, and other readings efficiently. If you are buying the timing light for the first time, then it is important to check the cover material. It is best to consider a plastic cover to avoid electrocution. Some timing lights feature a swiveling head that makes it a whole lot easier for you to access the hard-to-reach corners efficiently.

Note that the engine of your car can be timed only if it is older and features a distributor. For those with a computerized control engine, you are going to need to take your vehicle to a professional or an automobile repair store.

Dial-Back Feature

As the name suggests, the dial back feature enables users to get the readings by turning the dial. Even though it isn’t a major requirement, a dial-back feature is highly recommended for experienced mechanics and DIY enthusiasts that are looking for a convenient method for reading the engine’s timing. Look for the timing light that features a dial-back button. This feature is a must for people who need to fine-tune their vehicles frequently.

Design And Material

We have already discussed how different timing lights feature unique designs. Many products come with ABS plastic housing, while others feature the metal case. Both materials are durable. It all comes down to your preference. However, if you have never used the timing light before, we recommend the light featuring an ABS plastic cover. The design and material of the timing lights determine its longevity.

FAQs

  1. What are the Signs I Need a Timing Light?

    If you start to notice shuddering and thumping from your car’s engine, then that’s a sign you need a timing light to time your engine. In some cases, the engine with poor timing issues won’t start. The older the vehicle is, the more it is prone to poor timing issues. Modern cars, on the other hand, feature a computerized system that doesn’t need fine-tuning.

    These models adjust the timing light automatically. Poor timing can affect your fuel efficiency. It can also impact the overall performance of your vehicle. If you notice any sign that suggests that the engine timing is off, then buy a timing light to fix the issue.

  2. How Do I Select the Best Timing Light?

    First things first, you must buy a timing light that is compatible with your engine. Consider the type of engine you are planning to time (gas, diesel, auto, and more). Do you have a two-cycle or four-cycle engine?

    Would you like the timing light to come with advanced features, such as voltage, dwell, tachometer, and other built-in functions? Or, do you want the simple light that can tell you whether the engine timing is on or off? Based on your requirements, you can research the latest timing lights and invest in a product that fits your requirements.

  3. Why do you need to Time Your Engine?

    The high-quality timing light ensures that your engine’s timing is on. It fine-tunes your car engine and times it properly. The engine that is properly timed can operate at peak efficiency. Proper timing helps increase the lifespan of your engine. This is especially important if you have an older model that doesn’t have an automated timing system. You need to read the engine timing and fine-tune the engine to keep it in good working condition.

  4. Do I Need MSD-compatible Timing Light?

    No, MSD-compatible timing light isn’t necessary unless you have the MSD engine. The standard timing might not be able to handle more than one spark at a time. If your engine has multiple sparks, then you need the MSD-compatible timing light that’s designed to handle multiple sparks efficiently. However, this product can be a bit expensive than the standard light. It can cost you more than a hundred bucks.

  5. Do all Timing Lights Come with the Built-in Dwell and Voltage Reader?

    Unfortunately, the standard timing lights that are available under $50 may or may not feature the dwell, tachometer, and other advanced functions. You need to consider your requirements when investing in the timing lights.

    The product that comes equipped with the advanced options can help you get a clear picture of your engine’s timing. The only issue is that these modern models can cost you as much as $240. So, if you have the budget for an advanced timing light, then this can be a great addition to your mechanical toolkit.

You Might Like These Too

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.