Timing Tools

What is a Timing Tool?

Timing tools are a type of tool that secures engine timing positions during repairs. This is necessary when replacing a timing belt, for example, or when servicing other parts and the belt or chain has to come out. When setting timing too, especially after rebuilding an engine.

Timing tools go by many different names such as engine timing tools, camshaft timing tools, or simply cam timing tools. Some sellers even call them timing belt tools owing to their use during belt replacement, sometimes also timing chain tools.

The basic function of engine timing tools is to hold the movable parts of the cam timing system in place. This helps prevent throwing the set timing out of step, which can be disastrous to the engine. But what’s cam timing? You may you may be wondering.

Your car engine runs on two types of timing systems; camshaft and ignition timing. Cam timing, as it’s also called, involves a synchronized operation of the pistons and valves. The pistons, in particular, must reach the TDC position just at the right time for the spark plugs to fire or compression to ignite the air fuel mixture.

More importantly, the pistons must move in relation to the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. This timed motion relies on the rotation of the crankshaft in reference to the camshafts.

The crankshaft rotates with the up and down movement of the pistons, while camshafts open and close the intake and exhaust valves. This ensures the proper and efficient operation of the engine. In the operation of some engines, timing also helps prevent the pistons and valves from colliding.

Camshaft timing usually comes pre-set by automakers. In order to preserve it, a toothed belt or chain is used to link the crankshaft to the camshafts. As the engine runs, the belt rotates the camshafts to follow the manufacturer’s timing.

Removing the belt leaves the two parts free to move on their own. Other components may also rotate, leaving the timing in disarray. This is where the camshaft timing tools come in.

The timing tools essentially lock the crankshaft, camshaft, and several other parts in place to prevent them from rotating. Timing tools are also useful when realigning timing components during or after repairs that involve removing the cam belt.

Types of Timing Tools and Application.

Automotive timing tools are made in many different designs. This is necessitated by the different types of engines and their configurations. There’s also not specific way to secure crankshaft and camshaft gears, which allows manufacturers to make the tools in various shapes and sizes. That said, the automotive timing tools on the market today are generally two types.

  • Engine-Specific Timing Tools
  • Universal Timing Tools

Below is a description of each type and situations that fit their application.

Engine Specific Timing Tools.

As the name implies, these tools are meant for specific cars and engines. Examples include timing tools for a BMW, Audi timing tools, Mazda timing tools, and more. There are both advantages and disadvantages to that based on the required level of ease during use.

One of the good things about engine-specific timing tools is that they are easy to use. That’s because they are fully designed to fit the parts of the particular engine. On the downside, the tools are not suitable if you have to service several different cars.

Universal Timing Tools.

Universal timing tools mean tools that you can use on a broad range of car types and models. As such, you do not need to purchase different sets of the tools. Most universal timing tools can service common car makes and models without switching to a different set.

Many auto repair shops use the universal types of engine timing tools. Their use means less storage space and fewer costs to acquire them. But despite their universality, these tools will not suit all car types, and you may still need an additional set or two if you’re a mechanic.

Many timing tool suppliers also classify timing tools by the type of engine. In that regard, there are gasoline timing tools and diesel timing tools. These are usually designed to fit the parts of each particular engine, which may be different.

Other classification methods include by vehicle type, make, and model. This allows buyers to narrow down their choices. The naming also helps to ensure the right timing lock tool for specific engines.


Timing Tool Kit for Jaguar Land Rover
Timing Tool Kit for Jaguar Land Rover

What is in a Timing Tools Kit?

Automotive timing tools are mostly available as sets or kits. The set then typically contains a tool for each movable part of the timing system. The contents of timing tools kits are different across manufactures and car types. Just to give you an idea of what’s included, here is a list of the main tools in a typical kit.

  • Camshaft locking tool
  • Camshaft alignment tool
  • Crankshaft locking tool
  • Tensioner locking tool
  • Flywheel locking tool
  • Injection pump pulley tool

Let’s see where and how each tool is used.

Camshaft Locking Tool– this timing tool secures the position of the camshaft sprockets. Its function is to ensure camshafts do not lose their setting relative to the crankshaft. You insert it into the sprockets when you have to remove the timing belt, which can be during the belt replacement or when changing a part behind the belt.

Camshaft Alignment Tool– this is the pin or plate that you insert in a slot located at the ends of the camshaft. As its name suggests, the tool comes in useful when looking to correct or establish proper engine timing, especially when servicing a belt or doing major valve train repairs.

Crankshaft Locking Tool– just like the camshaft tool, the crankshaft locking tool locks the crankshaft during engine and cam belt repairs. It’s one of the main timing belt locking tools and exists in different designs. You normally insert it after rotating the engine to the Top Dead Center for cylinder 1.

Tensioner Locking Tool– this timing belt tensioner tool is specifically used to hold the tensioner in place. It’s usually fitted once you release the tensioner to remove the belt. In order to ensure the timing remains set, you should not remove this tool until you have re-installed or replaced the belt.

Flywheel Locking Tool– the tool simply locks the flywheel. The flywheel is connected to the crankshaft timing system. As such, it should not turn while you service the timing belt or repair other engine parts. To insert the flywheel locking tool, rotate the crankshaft to its timed position.

Injection Pump Pulley Tool– this tool is normally designed as a hollow pin. Its function is to ensure the correct injection pump position in reference to the camshaft timing. The hollow design helps prevent fuel from pushing it out in the middle of a repair or timing job.

How to Use Timing Tools Correctly.

Timing tools are simple components and usually in the form of locking pins and plates or blocks. When used correctly, they help set or preserve the cam shaft timing in a vehicle. Not so if you use them incorrectly. Use the below tips to ensure the proper installation of engine or camshaft timing tools.

Always Use the Right Timing Tool.

Many timing tool kits cone with manuals on how to insert the tools that they contain. In order to avoid improper installation use the right tools for the specific part. Always refer to the manual, and have the identity of every tool in the kit. Some kits offer a universal application. However, that doesn’t mean they will fit every engine type.

Never Use Force to Install a Timing Tool.

However tempting it may be, never use force or leverage to insert a locking pin or plate. Doing so risks damaging the tool or even the timing gear being locked. Instead, install them gently. You may also be using the wrong type of timing tool if you have to force it into a slot or any other opening, which is not advisable.

Never Start the Engine with Timing Tools in Place.

Engine timing tools lock timing gear and other components in place. Starting the engine with the tools in the bores and slots, therefore, risks causing breakage to the tools themselves and the locked parts. Before starting the repair process or tool installation, start by making the necessary preparations. These include switching off the engine and disconnecting the battery

Remove all Timing Tools after Use.

It’s crucial to ensure that no locking tools remains installed when you are done with servicing the engine parts or replacing the timing belt or chain. To avoid that always refer to your timing tools kit and manual to account for every tool in the set. That way, you will easily identify the missing piece and avoid damage to your car’s engine parts.


Timing tools come in useful when you need to set or maintain engine timing. They make your servicing the timing belt and several other parts easy. Most importantly, timing tools make the process safer for your engine. You can choose to purchase specialised tools for your car or opt for universal timing tools. At FJW Garage Equipment Sales we offer a wide variety of timing tools for most makes and models.