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1998 Honda Civic 1.6L Ignition Timing Not Aligning

Here is my problem, I checked timing belt on my car 4-5 times. The timing is correct. I checked it because before when I did the ignition timing with my timing gun. It would line up with the red mark; where there is 3 lines and the the white TDC marks on the pully. However, after the timing belt replacement and checking timing 3-5 times and it’s right on the timing marks both camshaft and crank. I tried lining up the ignition timing but it won’t line up to the red mark on pully I move the distributor all the way towards advance and the red mark on pully still won’t align with the mark the timing cover. Like it gets close to almost being where it’s supposed to but it’s doesnt reach because I can’t move the distributor any farther.
What can be the problem beside the timing which is correct and been checked 5 times.


The timing belt is installed incorrectly.



How if I double checked it 5 times. Every thing lines up. Camshaft pully is right on the marks. Also the crankshaft.

This generally applies to most cars, but even more with Hondas:

Don’t try to change your own timing belt unless you’re 100% sure about what you’re doing.

If you have even an ounce of doubt, hire an expert.

Edit: Have you checked to make sure the spark plugs are connected in the right order?

There is a slot on the crankshaft. A woodruff key holds the big pulley (harmonic balancer) at its correct position on the crankshaft. Did you install the big pulley and its key correctly, aligned with that slot?

When you turned the crankshaft when the belt was newly installed, did you turn it counterclockwise only, and tighten the tensioner pulley after the correct number of counterclockwise turns, first making sure the TDC mark on the big pulley and on the camshaft pulley were still aligned? The camshaft pulley has a couple small marks 180 degrees apart, that are supposed to match up with the top edge of the block.

the Woodruff key that @shanonia mentioned may have fallen out when you were installing the pulley.

Or you did not use the correct timing marks.


What do you mean after turning the pully? I was supposed to move the engine countweclockwise after the belt was installed ?

I just put the new belt, checked the marks and they both lines up. Cam and crank. I didn’t rotate the engine at all.

I did install the little woodruff, it’s likw this little rectangular block of metal that goes on the crank shaft pully right ?

This how I put the timing. After I checked both with the belt on then I tighten the belt tensioner. I didn’t rotate the engine at all. image image z

That is a mistake

After getting the marks lined up, installing the belt and setting up the proper tension, you’re supposed to manually rotate the engine twice, and make sure eveything’s still lined up correctly


So what do you suggest I do?

Line up the Top Dead Center, white line to the pointer. Then remove the valve cover and the camshaft cover and check if it’s not off a tooth or ?

I really appreciate your helps guys. I really need it I been trying fix my car for a while now. I already token the belt off like 5 times. I really appreciate your help

Check the marks for the timing belt again since you’ve run the engine. If they still look ok, and the belt tension seems correct, it must be a problem with the ignition timing. Like the distributor or the crank position sensor. Or you aren’t measuring the ignition timing correctly for some reason.

Note for future posts there are two types of “timing”, and you should try to be absolutely clear about what type you are referring to when posting here:

  1. Valve timing: The timing between the crankshaft and the camshaft, which is calibrated at the time the timing belt is installed.

  2. Ignition timing: The timing between the ignition system (the spark) and the crankshaft, on your car apparently calibrated by rotating the distributor.


I mean the car runs good, beside that it idle very low at a stop. Checked all throttle sensor and iacv. Even Bought another throttle body and still has the problem. And the ignition timing when I try to align the red mark to the pointer , even if I move the distributor to full advance it still won’t reach.

Those problems are that the car has. Plus it doesn’t have any codes.

Slow idle rpm can be associated with the ignition timing too far retarded. Suggest to focus on fixing the ignition timing problem. You’ll never be able to correct an idle rpm problem correctly, if the ignition timing is bogus.

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Did you follow these steps when adjusted the ignition timing?



Thank you for your advice, yes I’ll check the valve timing.

So just to make sure I do this right.

I lift up the car, put the car in top dead center by rotating the engine to the right only ? Which is counterclockwise. Which is the white line on the pully. And take off the valve cover and camshaft cover to check if the valve timing is correct.

You’re right but thing is the ignition timing isn’t aligning because if I’m not wrong to do the ignition timing you have to line up the red mark in the middle of the three marks on the pully beside the TDC mark. Plus put wire to connector near the computer. Which I did, also put the timing gun to 12 degrees correct ?

I’m just a diye’r and have only checked valve timing on a VW Rabbit and a Corolla. I’ve never checked valve timing on a Civic. You have to secure this information from a service manual and follow the manufacture’s procedure exactly. But you are almost certainly right that it is done by placing number one cylinder at tdc on the compression stroke, and verify the timing marks align properly on the camshaft pulley’s and crankshaft pulley.

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Yes that’s what I basically did

How do i know when I put the engine in top dead center that it’s on the compression stroke?