The most frustrating part about owning a vehicle is experiencing car trouble. If you don’t know how to fix your car, then you might have to spend a lot on the services of a mechanic just to get it running again. Sometimes, the issue is something as simple as the vehicle’s ignition timing. This is when the best timing light would come into play.
With such a product, you can easily diagnose your car’s problem then start working on it. Rather than spending your money on mechanics, why not invest in a good timing light? There are many products available on the market now, and one can easily get overwhelmed. We’ve helped you out by reviewing the best products available to narrow down your options. Read on to learn more.
- Features to Consider in Good Timing Lights
- Top 10 Best Timing Lights 2023
- 1. ESI 130 Self - Powered Timing Light
- 2. Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light
- 3. Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light
- 4. Innova 3568 Digital Timing Light
- 5. Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light
- 6. Performance Tool W80587 Digital Advance Timing Light
- 7. Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
- 8. Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light
- 9. Actron CP7528 Advance Timing Light
- 10. Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light
- Guide to Buying the Best Timing Lights
- The Verdict
Features to Consider in Good Timing Lights
What should you look out for in a timing light?
Your purpose for the timing light
It’s easy to purchase a cheap product which will only tell you if your engine’s timing is right or if it’s off. Such products work fine if that’s your sole purpose for getting a timing light for yourself. But if you’re a mechanic or a DIY enthusiast who prefers versatile tools, then you may have to choose a product with some added features.
These additional features can be very helpful for you. Also, a timing light which comes with added functionalities can help you learn a lot more about your car. This, in turn, may help you get better at fine-tuning and fixing minor issues.
There are two major types of timing lights namely inductive and inline. The main difference between these types is in the connection. The former comes with a built-in sensor which you would clip around your vehicle’s spark plug. For the latter, you unplug the spark plug first before connecting it.
Inline timing lights are significantly cheaper than inductive ones. However, they don’t have a very good design. They are, however, more suitable for DIYers who want to avoid getting themselves electrocuted.
Ease of use
Most of the products available have a gun shape, and they come with a trigger. These are the more contemporary models which are very easy to use. Some even come with a microprocessor to control the timing light. With some timing lights, you can also easily check your vehicle’s RPM, Dwell, battery voltage, and more.
If this is your first time to purchase a timing light, then you may also want to look at the cover material. In such cases, you might benefit more from one which doesn’t have a metal cover as this can reduce the risk of electrocution.
Simple or complex
This is another important thing to look for when purchasing such a product. As you look for the best timing light for yourself, think about whether you need one that’s simple or one that’s complex. For the latter, you will have to spend more money, but you will enjoy the extra features and functionalities.
But if all you want is a simple tool to perform its most basic function, then there are many choices too. Also, you won’t have to spend too much if you choose a product that doesn’t come with too many features.
Although some people don’t consider the product’s brand, it’s important too, especially if you’re looking for a piece of equipment or a tool such as a timing light. If you purchase one from a reputable brand, the chances are that you will have a high-quality product in your hands. Since this will be an investment for you, it’s best to choose one from a trustworthy brand.
Top 10 Best Timing Lights 2023
1. ESI 130 Self - Powered Timing Light
This is the original timing light that’s powered by batteries. It’s a high-quality product that’s built to last. With the ESI 130 Self – Powered Timing Light, you don’t need to connect to a power source for it to work. This makes it perfect for racing, snowmobile, marine, industrial engines, and other types of small-engine timing applications.
The ESI 130 Self – Powered Timing Light is extremely efficient. The product comes with 2 original “D cell” batteries which provide it with the power needed to function. This timing light produces a light that’s super-bright to provide you with a detailed view even when you use it at daytime. This means that unlike the competition, you don’t need to connect this light to a separate battery.
The design of the timing light allows you to use it whether you have a 2 or a 4-cycle engine. Also, it works well with all types of ignition systems making it highly versatile. When it comes to RPM, this timing light provides an accuracy of up to 14,000 RPM.
Another excellent feature of this timing light is that it comes with a protective sleeve. This feature increases its durability as it can withstand very high temperatures. The ESI 130 Self – Powered Timing Light has a cable which stretches up to 4 feet allowing you to see a good distance ahead. With this model, you won’t have to worry about the light’s intensity as it doesn’t get affected by your speed.
- It's suitable for all types of ignition systems.
- The protective sleeve can handle temperatures as high as 1,200 Fahrenheit.
- It has a standard lead length of 4-feet.
- Includes batteries and a bright flash at various speeds.
- It's not as bright, and it doesn't have a flashlight function.
2. Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light
This is a professional-grade product made from high-quality materials. The Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light has an ABS, heavy-duty housing that’s shock-proof allowing it to withstand daily use. It even comes with a backlit screen so you can see easily even in dark areas or environments with low visibility. The barrel has a slim design, and it rotates to improve the aim at the timing mark.
Easy to use
This timing light comes with an advance dial with a direct reading feature which you can adjust. This feature enables you to check retard and advance timing or even check base timing. The Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light is also quite versatile because it works with most types of ignition systems. It has a Plug and Play design which allows for a fast setup and easy use.
One of the best features of the Innova 5568 Pro-Timing Light is the ergonomic design. You can comfortably hold this timing light at different angles, even the odd ones. Also, you can read its backlit display easily from various perspectives. This model makes use of a metal clip to place around the spark plugs which is much safer than the conventional plastic connector.
You can use this popular timing light to check Dwell, Tach, and Voltage readings. It also makes use of detachable cables which is a huge advantage if you have different kinds of cable styles to attach. Also, this model comes with an adjustable barrel with a slim design as well as detachable leads.
- The digital readout has four functions namely Advance, Dwell, Tachometer, and Voltage.
- The housing is shock-proof and comes with a boot for added protection.
- Includes 6-foot leads that have an inductive pickup and are completely detachable.
- Comes with a molded storage case made of plastic.
- Some claim that the light isn't very bright.
3. Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light
The Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light is a must-have item for any tune-up kit. It’s an entry-level model which works with most types of ignition systems such as electronic, conventional, DIS, and more. This model offers an efficient but simple way for you to perform different functions such as checking, diagnostics, and more. It also comes with detachable leads, a handguard that’s protective, and a skip circuitry test.
Easy to use
This model comes with an advance dial with a direct reading feature which you can adjust from 0-60 degrees. This enables you to check different timings. It has a Plug and Play design so you can set it up quickly and use it with ease. The Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light also comes with a slim, adjustable barrel that rotates and detachable leads with inductive pickups.
If you’re looking for an efficient timing gun with basic features and functionalities, then the Innova 3551 Inductive Timing Light is your best bet. It has a swivel head which allows you to access areas which the competition cannot. This model produces a very bright light making it useful even in broad daylight.
This is a convenient tool that comes at a very reasonable price. It has a power switch which means that you don’t have to keep your finger on a button to keep it running. It also has a sleek design which adds to the timing light’s appeal. All these features mean that you’re getting great value for your money.
- You can use it for various purposes such as diagnosing no-spark conditions, check timing, and more.
- The rotating barrel has a slim design to help improve your aim.
- Comes with a handguard that will protect you while using it with one hand.
- It's compatible with most types of ignition systems, whether domestic or imported.
- The return procedures are quite complicated.
4. Innova 3568 Digital Timing Light
The Innova 3568 Digital Timing Light comes with an advance dial which allows for direct reading. With it, you can check mechanical retard or advance, base timing, as well as electronic retard or advance applications. It’s a very versatile model since you can use it with most types of ignition systems. The timing light even comes with a protective handguard, detachable leads, and a skip circuitry test that’s patented.
This is one of the best timing lights available on the market now thanks to all its excellent features. It has a unique construction with a special split-screen LCD display. This means that you can simultaneously check Dwell, tachometer, and other types of advanced functions from it.
The screen of the Innova 3568 Digital Timing Light permits you to adjust the advance dial as needed. Because of this, you’ll be in a superior position to adjust the light’s distributor accurately. Aside from this, the design of the timing light also allows you to work in narrow or tight spaces.
The timing light comes with a slim barrel that rotates and which is fully adjustable to give you better aim. The Innova 3568 Digital Timing Light has excellent compatibility because you can use it with most ignition systems whether domestic or imported. You can even use it to check timing on electronic, conventional or computer-controlled systems.
- This timing line is perfect for any selective DIYer.
- The digital LCD display has a split-screen to show the tachometer and other advanced functions at the same time.
- Has a barrel with a slim and rotating design for improved aim.
- It's compatible with different types of ignition systems.
- It's relatively expensive.
5. Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light
Easy to use
You can use the Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light for any kind of gas engines such as power equipment, snowmobiles, tractors, motorcycles, and mowers. Just put in two “D cell” batteries into the timing light, and you’re good to go. It even comes with an inductive pickup that’s detachable and easy to hook up.
The design of this timing light allows you to start it up from either side of your vehicle. It has a push-button switch which provides the tool with the reliability of operation and long life. It comes with clips of high current as well as protective boots. Also, the light has wire leads which are 5-feet in length and resistant to grease.
The Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light is the best timing light for power boats, street rods, and race cars. But you can also use it for any vehicle and equipment which has a gas engine making it a versatile tool. It’s a self-powered timing light that runs on batteries, either standard or rechargeable.
This model features a hook up making it very easy to connect. Also, you don’t have to connect the Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light to a separate power source as it runs on batteries. You can use this tool to check timings on various vehicles and appliances. It has a push button that enhances the longevity of the tool.
- Metal frame made of a strong material which allows for superior durability.
- The full-grip handle and tension knob provide comfort.
- Allows for a cutting depth of 4 inches and above.
- You can perform flush cuts with the hacksaw because of the adjustable angle of the blade.
- The shank lacks length.
6. Performance Tool W80587 Digital Advance Timing Light
Easy to use
This timing light has advance and initial timings which have been professionally-set. This will help you acquire total timing and superior performance. With the Performance Tool W80587 Digital Advance Timing Light, you can perform diagnostic work and precise tuning thanks to the LED display and the Xenon flash that’s extremely bright. It even comes with a pushbutton control so that you can switch between 2 and 4 cycle engines.
The Performance Tool W80587 Digital Advance Timing Light is the best timing light to use for MSD ignition. This will allow you to benefit from its superb performance. This model displays an engine speed of up to 9,000 RPM and an ignition spark advance from 0 up to 90. It has a housing that’s made of ABS material that’s both inductive and durable.
With this timing light, you can pick up leads, and it works with various 12V systems. This model has a push-button control making it easier for you to switch between engines. The design of this timing light makes it perfect for diagnostic work and precise tuning.
The Performance Tool W80587 Digital Advance Timing Light will allow you to start it up from either side of your vehicle. The push-button switch doesn’t just make the timing light easier to use, but it also provides reliable operation and long life. It even comes with clips of high current and boots for protection.
- Has a xenon flash that's super bright and a LED display with high visibility.
- It's designed for diagnostic work and precise tuning.
- Includes inductive pickup leads and functions with 12V systems.
- Has a pushbutton control which you can use to switch between 2 and 4 cycle engines.
- Some claim that the bulbs burn out easily.
7. Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
The Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light is a type of strobe light which you can use for checking the ignition timing. You can also use it to check fires each time your spark plug does which can help maximize the efficiency of the engine. It’s a very effective product which comes with a warranty that’s good for 12 months.
Easy to use
If this is your first time to shop for or use a timing light, then this is your best bet. It’s a basic model that’s easy to use but comes with some excellent features. Despite being highly efficient, you can probably learn how to use the timing light without having to look at the manual.
The Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light is a simple tool. Once you take it out of the box, all you have to do is connect it then start using it. As soon as you have a reading, you can make the necessary adjustments, and you’re done! Also, it’s one of the most affordable models on the market even though it’s highly efficient and sturdy.
This timing light is heat-resistant, and it has over-molding on its battery clips. The housing is of ABS plated material that’s highly durable which enhances its longevity. It has a one-touch control system for powering it up which works with any inductive pickup that’s metallic. It also has a Xenon flash that’s super-bright.
- The battery clips of this timing light have over-molding that's heat-resistant.
- The light has an all-inductive pickup made of metal.
- The housing comes with a xenon flash that's super bright.
- The housing of this light is highly durable and of plated ABS.
- The bulb may get dimmer after some time.
8. Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light
The Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light comes in handy especially in cases where your spark plug doesn’t maximize the efficiency of your engine. This handy model is a strobe light you can use to check the ignition fire and timing. It has a unique flashlight which has compatibility with both 2 and 4-cycle engines. It even comes with advance RPM light so you can see the rotation speed of your engine.
Easy to use
This is one of the best timing lights for the money. It’s highly efficient, but it comes at an affordable price. Also, it’s very easy to use making it suitable for beginners as well as professionals. The design of the light makes it compatible with 6V and 12V systems which means that you can also use it for motorcycles.
The Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light has a Xenon bulb that’s super bright that you can even use it outdoors in broad daylight. This is one feature that makes this timing light standout from the rest. It’s also easy to connect as the pickup clamp is already molded over your spark plug wire.
The Actron CP7529 Digital Timing Light features Fresnel lenses and a Xenon flash tube which ensures that the light always produces an extra bright light no matter what the environment. Although simple enough to use, you can read the user guide that’s included with the timing light to help you learn how to use it correctly.
- The molded pickup clamps make it easy to hook-up.
- It's a digital light with indicator lights and an LED screen that's very bright.
- The light emitted by this timing light is so bright that you can even use it in broad daylight.
- Comes with a warranty that's good for 1 year.
- The RPM scale starts to malfunction after some time.
9. Actron CP7528 Advance Timing Light
The Actron CP7528 Advance Timing Light is a strobe light which you can use for various applications such as checking ignition. You can also use it to maximize the efficiency of your engine. It’s an advanced timing light which allows for accurate base adjustment as well as advance reading of timing. It even comes with a user manual that’s very comprehensive and comes with illustrations.
Value for money
If you’re looking for a timing light which will give you great value for your money, then this is the best choice. You can rely on the Actron CP7528 Advance Timing Light for fine tuning your timer so you can maximize the efficiency of your engine. You can also use it with a 6V or 12V battery whether on 4-wheeled vehicles or on motorcycles.
This model features battery clips which are heat-resistant and which come with single-touch control. What makes it even more impressive is that the light has a Fresnel lens that’s focused and a Xenon flash tube that’s very bright and powerful.
Easy to use
This is a lightweight timing light that’s simple, easy to use, and highly efficient. You can use this model to check the timings on most types of ignition systems whether foreign or domestic. You can also use the Actron CP7528 Advance Timing Light to accurately check the timing on DIS, computer-controlled, and conventional systems.
- The battery clips have an over-molding that's heat resistant.
- It comes with a very bright light thanks to the Fresnel lens and the flash tube.
- Comes with an inductive pickup with a molded design to make hook-up easy.
- The advanced timing light allows for accurate base adjustment and advanced reading of timing.
- The light isn't bright enough for daytime use.
10. Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light
Easy to use
This is a very useful timing light for those who have MSD ignitions. The problem with such type of ignition is that they’re not very compatible with the standard timing lights with a dial-back feature. The Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light is a simple model which is easy to use, and this makes it very appealing. It’s a self-powered timing light that runs on batteries without the need for a separate power source.
This timing light comes with a high rating and a lot of positive reviews from customers. It works with an accurate timing up to 14,000 RPM which is much higher than the competition. The Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light is an excellent investment because you can use it for various applications.
The Flaming River FR1001 Single Wire Timing Light is a self-powered timing light that runs on “D cell” batteries. This makes it suitable for use in various applications such as magnetos or electric generators, marine, rear batteries, and all types of ignition systems which are spark-free. It offers efficient timing capabilities and a speed-accuracy up to 14,000 RPM.
This model comes with a Xenon bulb which produces a bright strobe along with a bright light for you to see clearly even during the daytime. It’s made of rubber which ensures its durability and sturdiness. Within the rubber material are a 48′ lead and a lens.
- A battery-powered timing light with a wide range of applications.
- The speed accuracy is very high.
- The rubber material of the timing light makes it durable.
- It's bright enough to use during the day.
- Some feel that the light is quite dim.
Guide to Buying the Best Timing Lights
By now you have a better idea of what’s available on the market and what to look for when choosing a timing light. Aside from this, there are also some factors you need to consider as you make your choice as these can help you decide which one is best.
What important factors should you consider when buying timing lights?
Design and durability
When searching for a timing light, two of the most important things to consider are the design and the durability. These will give you a better idea of how efficient and how reliable the timing light will be. For instance, some models have swiveling heads, and these will give you more access, even to places which are normally hard to reach. If you choose a durable product, then you can use it for a longer time.
If you want to purchase a more affordable timing light, that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice these features. The good news is that there are several products on the market which can withstand daily wear and tear while still coming at a reasonable price.
When it comes to timing lights, brightness is key. Neither it should be blinding bright nor it should be low on brightness. If the product you choose isn’t useful in broad daylight, then it’s not very useful at all. Of course, a timing light that’s too bright may be quite blinding in some occasions, especially if you happen to see the light’s reflection on the other parts.
But it’s still better to have a timing light that’s too bright than one that isn’t bright enough. There are even some models which feature a strobe light that flickers as soon as it hits the mark. Such lights are the easiest to read because they give you a clear indication when they’ve hit the target.
Those who have a lot of experience using timing lights prefer those products which have this feature. Although not a necessity, the dial-back feature is very handy. This is because it will allow you to adjust the timing easily by turning the dial. Also, products with this feature are generally more accurate compared to other kinds of adjustment features.
If the dial-back feature also has a light, this makes it more advantageous because it will give you an indication when you’ve acquired the perfect timing. This is especially handy when you frequently fine-tune your car, and you need to perform several adjustments to achieve perfection.
Technical features of a timing light
Aside from these factors, there are also some technical features you should look out for when you’re trying to determine the most suitable timing light for your own needs. These include:
Some timing lights run on batteries while others need an external power source to operate. However, the best types of timing lights are those which have more than a single power or energy source. This will give you more flexibility when you use the light. Think about what you need so you can determine which type of power source you need.
Also, you should find out about the engine type of the timing light. Knowing this will help you decide which product will be the best for you. Keep in mind that all products vary which means that their fluctuations might come about according to their engine’s design. Also, the type of engine would determine the operational level needed for the light. Some even work for different kinds of engines.
Timing lights are a must-have item for technicians, mechanics, and DIY enthusiasts too. It ensures safety in your automotive garage or any job-site as such. If you want your engine to last for a long time and you want to enhance the efficiency of fuel, you should first make sure that your engine works at peak performance. This is where the best timing lights shine.
If you want to tune your engine, you have to be able to see all its finer details. As such, you would need a timing light to make the task easier. In this article, we’ve reviewed some of the best products available on the market now. We have also included a buying guide filled with relevant information to help guide you as you make a choice. With all this information, you may have an easier time finding the right timing light to suit your own needs.