How to Set the Timing on a 1987 Honda Accord

The Honda Accord first rolled out in 1976 and has since remained a widely popular vehicle, touting a reputation for reliability, efficiency and ease-of-driving. Over the years, Honda has made improvements to the Accord's timing systems. On more current models, the engine distributor has been replaced with an electronic timing system. On the 1987 Accord, at times it may become necessary to adjust the engine distributor and dial in your engine timing.

Tools Used: Engine tachometer, Timing light, Chalk, Set of wrenches

Set Timing

Park the vehicle and turn off the engine. Connect a tachometer to the engine. Make the connection at the engine coil.

Hook up the engine timing light. Usually this is done by connecting two leads to the battery and clipping a lead to the number-one spark plug wire (the spark plug wire furthest toward the passenger side of the engine compartment). Mark the engine timing marks with a piece of chalk. These marks are located on the crankshaft pulley and engine block.

Ensure all wires are not touching the exhaust manifold, and make sure the engine fan is clear of all obstructions.

Set the parking brake and make sure it is tightly pulled. On a manual transmission, shift the transmission into neutral. According to the manufacture's specifications, put all automatic transmissions into second gear. This can be dangerous, so insert wooden blocks underneath the front two tires to prevent the vehicle from rolling forward. Double check that the parking brake is on and start the vehicle's engine. Check the idle speed and adjust it if necessary. The idle speed should be 700 to 800 RPMs for a manual transmission and 650 to 750 RPMs for an automatic transmission.

Locate the rubber cap that covers the inspection window. The window is located on the cylinder block. Find the vacuum advance diaphragm and disconnect the vacuum hoses that attach to it. Make sure these hoses are plugged after removing them.

Check the timing with the engine timing light by pointing the light at the chalk marks. The timing light will illuminate the chalk marks. The crankshaft chalk mark will line up with the hash marks on the engine block mark. Check the owner's manual for the proper setting of the marks. If you need to make adjustments, then find the larger bolt that holds the distributor in and loosen it with a wrench. Rotate the distributor and watch the chalk marks with the timing light. The crankshaft mark will move as you rotate the distributor. Do not touch the spark plug wires on the distributor while performing this adjustment; they could shock you.

Tighten the adjustment bolt on the distributor once you have completed the adjustment. Make sure not to bump the position of the distributor while tightening it down.

Confirm the timing and idle speed settings by re-performing step four and step six again. Make any changes necessary and turn off the engine.

Tips & Warnings

Do not touch any spark plug wires while the engine is running; this will likely cause a shock.

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