Best timing lights review and comparison 2021 [update]

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Correctly timing your car or truck will make the engine run at the maximum frequency, thereby delivering full power. Otherwise, the engine will be very omnificent. A timing light enhances the performance, improves fuel economy, and increases the lifespan of the engine. It does that by adjusting the firing time. Choosing the best timing light will make your engine give you more miles per gallon of fuel filled.

We researched the best timing lights in the market and recommended the best product for you under each product type. We present:

Keep reading to know the difference and find the best product for your vehicle from this professional review.  

Let's check this article out before choosing the best timing light for you
This is the honest review of the best timing light that will help you to set the ignition timing on your car.

Timing light types

A timing light is a crucial tool that every engine tuner should have. However, different types in the market can be so confusing. You need to know your engine specifications and choose the best product, considering its brightness, accuracy, durability, and reliability. The following are the popular timing light types you will find in the market today:

Inductive timing light

Inductive timing light features a non-adjustable Xenon light. This type of timing light can be used to tune the engine of two cycles and four-cycle motors. Another feature that we can mention is the button or knob used for adjusting the light to indicate different RPMs. Some timing lights under this category also have an in-built tachometer to monitor RPMs and a dwell meter that allows you to effectively monitor the time it takes to charge the coil. 

Adjustable/advance timing light

An adjustable or advance timing light uses a microprocessor to delay a strobe at a selected degree. That realigns the Top Dead Center (TDC) mark on the balancer with the markings on the front cover. An ordinary inductive timing light cannot do that when the engine speed increases and the distributor keeps changing position. 

The accuracy of some adjustable timing lights in the market differs from brand to brand. So, you need to check each and every product before buying. Customer reviews can be helpful when looking for answers concerning accuracy.

Digital timing light

Digital timing lights feature microprocessor-controlled circuitry and LED or LCD display for easy reading of RPMs and selection of a degree. Most digital timing lights can show RPMs as high as 9,999 and current selection between 2 and 4 cycles. They usually include a toggle button for that purpose.

MSD timing light

MSD timing lights are a type designed to help tune engines on cars with multiple spark distribution systems. A standard inductive light cannot give an accurate timing because they randomly pick any spark out of the multiple ones produced. You need an MSD timing light if your vehicle is of this type. Otherwise, you won’t be able to properly adjust the firing of your engine.

Best inductive timing light 

INNOVA 3551 and Actron CP7527 are multifunctional timing lights that can help you diagnose many timing problems and find a solution. Inductive timing lights are efficient and affordable. They can help you detect a no-spark condition, check for electronic advance or retard, check timing, among other capabilities. 

However, these timing lights have limited functions and capabilities. They cannot be the best for auto technicians needing more advanced tools. 

Top 2 inductive timing light comparison chart

INNOVA 3551
INNOVA 3551
Check Price
Actron CP7527
Actron CP7527
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.6
4.4
Price range$29-$49$39-$49
Dwell----
Tach----
RPM range0 – 9,990Unknown
Voltage display----
Check timing
Diagnose no-spark condition
Advance & retard adjustment----
2 cycle/ 4 cycle4-cycle onlyBoth 2-cycle and 4-cycle
Detachable leads & inductive pickup
LCD display----
Diesel vehicle support
With hard case----
Vehicle CoverageWorks on 12V with both domestic and import vehicles with conventional, electronic, and computer-controlled ignition systemsWorks on 6V and 12V vehicles

inductive timing light: Innova 3551 or Actron CP7527?

Design and specifications

Both INNOVA 3551 and Actron CP7527 are designed to be handled with one hand when in operation. They are lightweight with firm grips. However, Actron CP7527 is made of a plastic cover that compromises its quality. Occasional drops can have adverse effects on this timing tool. What we like about it is the bright xenon flash. It makes the tool ideal for use during the day.

These inductive timing lights are all cost-effective, but we prefer INNOVA 3551 for its sturdy structure

INNOVA 3551
Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
4.6
This timing tool is easy to use and designed with an adjustable barrel and detachable leads to enhance your engine tuning experience. Its lightweight and slim structure make it suitable for one-hand operation.

Key features and functions

INNOVA 3551 has the following key features and functions:

  • Patented Skip Circuitry Test up to 9,990 RPM
  • Detachable and replaceable leads
  • Rotating barrel for better timing mark aiming
  • No-spark condition detection
  • Advance or retard electronic checking
  • Detachable and replaceable Metal inductive pickup
  • Compatible 4-cycle engines only
INNOVA 3551
INNOVA 3551 Inductive Timing Light
4.6
This timing tool is easy to use and designed with an adjustable barrel and detachable leads to enhance your engine tuning experience. Its lightweight and slim structure make it suitable for one-hand operation.

With Actron CP7527, you get the following functionalities and features:

  • Compatible with both 2 and 4-cycle engines
  • Super bright xenon flash
  • Inductive pickup clamps a red and black clip
  • Compatible with DIS ignition
  • Compatible with 12V and 6V vehicles
  • Bright LED screen and indicator lights
  • Molded inductive pickup clamps over spark plug wire

I recommend the Actron CP7527 timing light because it has many features and functions. It is also compatible with many different ignition systems on different vehicle models. Being able to support both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines is another selling point. However, you need to take care of it as the casing is not heavy-duty.

Actron CP7527
Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
4.4
Actron CP7527: Actron CP7527 allows you to tune both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines with either DIS, electronic, computer-controlled, or points ignition. Its bright xenon flashlight makes the tool ideal for use even in broad daylight.

Vehicle coverage

Actron CP7527 is a definite first choice over INNOVA 3551 regarding vehicle coverage. Its ability to effectively adjust firing timing on 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines gives it an upper hand. This timing light is also compatible with both 6V and 12V vehicles. To wrap it up, Actron CP7527 works on DIS, points, computer-controlled, and electronic control systems. All factors point to it as the best option if you need wider vehicle coverage

Weaknesses

Inductive timing lights have a common weakness of not being able to perform on multi-spark engine systems. They are also not ideal for timing when engine speed constantly increases. Lack of dwell, tachometer, voltage readout, and LCD screen in these inductive timing tools is a drawback. I do not recommend them to auto technicians for that reason.

Individually, Actron CP7527 does not have the best casing. It should have been made sturdier to make the tool more durable. INNOVA 3551, on the other hand, is only compatible with 4-cycle engines. 

INNOVA 3551

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Rating

Price range: $29-$49

Actron CP7527

Rating

Price range: $39-$49

Best digital timing light 

Digital timing lights are more advanced than inductive timing lights or any other type we have on the market. Some have LCD screens, in-built tachometers, dwells, among other features. As a result, INNOVA 3568 and Innova 5568 are recommended to advanced DIYers and mechanics who continuously handle vehicle ignition timing.

Most of the digital timing lights we have on the market are compatible with foreign and domestic vehicles. Provided the ignition system is conventional, electronic, or computer-controlled, these tools can help you accomplish the task.

Top 2 digital timing light comparison chart

INNOVA 3568
INNOVA 3568
Check Price
INNOVA 5568
INNOVA 5568
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.6
4.6
Price range$39-$49$109-$129
Dwell--
Tach
RPM range0 – 9,9900 – 9, 990
Voltage display
Check timing
Diagnose no-spark condition
Advance & retard adjustment
2 cycle/ 4 cycle4-cycle onlyBoth 2-cycle and 4-cycle
Detachable leads & inductive pickup
LCD display
Diesel vehicle support
With hard case--
Vehicle CoverageFewer vehicles coveredMore vehicles covered

Bestdigital timing light: Innova 3588 or Innova 5568?

Design and specifications

Both INNOVA 3568 and Innova 5568 are handheld digital timing lights constructed with high-impact ABS housing to improve their service life. They also have a protective hand guard for both comfort and safety when being used. 

These timing lights are designed with detachable lead, but I recommend Innova 5568 for its 6-feet long leads. It can be used with even the largest engine bays. 

Innova 5568

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Rating

Price range: $69-$79

Key features and functions

Considering features, both INNOVA 3568 and Innova 5568 have LCD screens for displaying voltage, firing, and the much-needed tachometer. The tachometer can measure RPM in the range of 249 – 9,990.

Key features of INNOVA 3568

  • LCD display screen
  • Digital tachometer: 249 – 9,990 RPM
  • Digital advance of 0 to 90° with an accuracy of +/- 1 degree.
  • Display voltage reading
  • Patented skip circuitry that can test up to 9,990 RPM
  • Detachable leads make it easy to replace and store.
INNOVA 3568
INNOVA 3568 Digital Timing Light
4.6
More robust yet affordable. The LCD screen, in-built tachometer, and voltage readouts are the main highlights of this tool. It gives you the best value for the money.

Key features of Innova 5568

  • Dwell functionality
  • LCD display screen
  • Compatible with both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines
  • Display voltage reading 
  • Digital tachometer – 249 – 9,990 RPM
  • Digital advance of 0 to 90° with an accuracy of +/- 1 degree.
  • Patented skip circuitry that can test up to 9,990 RPM
  • Detachable leads make it easy to replace and store
  • Hard case for additional protection
IMAGE_ALT
INNOVA 5568 Pro Digital Timing Light with Storage Case
4.6
This is a more complete digital timing light designed with all the features and functions you would expect of such tools. In addition to what other timing lights are capable of, Innova 5568 has dwell functionality and comes with a hard case.

These are the best timing lights for every mechanic, but I would go for Innova 5568 because of its dwell feature. It also comes with a hard casing for additional protection. 

Vehicle coverage

Innova 5568 digital timing light will cost you more, but it has a wider vehicle coverage. With its compatibility with both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines, you can expect it to set firing on many vehicles. INNOVA 3568 is only a perfect choice if you consider the budget, but it will not be the best, considering its vehicle coverage. 

INNOVA 3568

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Rating

Price range: $69-$79

Weaknesses

Digital timing lights look more advanced than any other type but are still not complete. Their accuracies are significantly compromised if used on MSD ignition systems. INNOVA 3568 is definitely not the better choice because it lacks dwell functionality and casing. As a result, I recommend Innova 5568 to advanced DIYers and mechanics looking for a more complete digital timing light. 

INNOVA 3568

Rating

Price range: $69-$79

INNOVA 5568

Rating

Price range: $109-$129

Best adjustable advance timing light

Adjustable advance timing lights allow you to check base timing mechanical and electrical advance and retard applications. They work with most ignition systems, including conventional, electronic, and computer-controlled ignition systems of domestic and import vehicles. However, INNOVA 3555 and Actron CP7528 lack some features and functions that a professional timing light should have. 

Timing lights in this category is different from the others because it allows you to delay the flash when a plug is fired. You set the time delay of your choice by simply turning the knob, making it easy to operate and take readings.

Top 2 adjustable advance timing light comparison chart

INNOVA 3555
INNOVA 3555
Check Price
Acron CP7528
Acron CP7528
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.6
4.1
Price range$39-$59$69-$79
Dwell----
Tach----
RPM range0 – 9,990
Voltage display----
Check timing
Diagnose no-spark condition
Advance & retard adjustment
2 cycle/ 4 cycle4-cycle onlyBoth 2-cycle and 4-cycle
Detachable leads & inductive pickup
LCD display----
Diesel vehicle support
With hard case----
Vehicle CoverageFewer vehiclesMore vehicles

Best adjustable advance timing light: Innova 3555 or Actron CP7528?

Design and specifications

Like the previous category of inductive lighting lights, Adjustable advance timing lights are also designed for one-hand use. They are lightweight, slim, and have a firm grip for easy holding. Both INNOVA 3555 and Actron CP7528 are designed with rugged ABS casing that can withstand a few drops. For budget reasons, I recommend INNOVA 3555, but you will miss other functionalities that the other options offer.

INNOVA 3555
INNOVA 3555 Advance Timing Light
4.6
This timing light is the most affordable option with an advanced dial for easy base timing checking, mechanical advance or retard, and electronic advance and retard. You can test up to 9,990 RPM and a reading scale from 0-60 degrees.

Key features and functions

There is not much difference between INNOVA 3551 and INNOVA 3555 regarding features and functions. Both can only support 4-cycle engines, advance and retard adjustments, and have Detachable leads and inductive pickup capability. INNOVA 3555 still lacks dwell, tachometer, and voltage display.

The same applies to Actron CP7528. This timing light can support both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines but lacks the crucial dwell, tachometer, voltage display, and LCD screen. The only significant improvement is in the casing, which is sturdier than that of the previous version. 

I recommend Actron CP7528 over INNOVA 3555 for its support of both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines. That gives you more vehicle coverage.

Actron CP7528
Actron CP7528 Advance Timing Light, Gray
4.7
If you need a better digital timing light option, Actron CP7528 becomes the best option. It supports engine tuning on both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines, giving it a wider vehicle coverage.

Vehicle coverage

Actron CP7528 has more vehicle coverage over INNOVA 3555, and therefore, is recommended. It supports both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines and is also compatible with electronic, points, and computer-controlled ignitions.

Weaknesses

It still remains a challenge to adjustable advanced timing lights to meet the professional engine tuning demands. With a lack of dwell meter, tachometer, LCD screen, and voltage display, it becomes impossible to recommend them to auto technicians. 

INNOVA 3555 has other disadvantages, such as a lack of 2-cycle engine support. That makes us go for Actron CP7528 as the best choice of digital timing light.

INNOVA 3555

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Rating

Price range: $39-$49

Actron CP7528

Rating

Price range: $69-$79

Best MSD timing light: MSD Ignition 8992

If your vehicle has MSD engines, other timing lights will not help to tune it because they will probably be confused with the multiple sparks. MSD timing lights are designed for MSD engines. They use sensors to detect the electrical signals that pass through the wires to spark plugs and combustion chambers.

MSD timing lighting is designed for auto technicians and racers who need accurate, easy-to-use timing lights. 

MSD Ignition 8992

Rating

Price range: $199-$219

Design and specifications

MSD Ignition 8992 light is made of solid-state electronic circuit components that can accurately handle timing signals in the range of 0 – 8,000 RPM. Designed and built for rough terrain and harsh environment. The casing is made of heavy-duty resin that resists corrosion and mechanical damage. That is the reason why we highly recommend it to professional mechanics and racers.

MSD Ignition 8992 has a detachable inductive pickup, making it easy to use and ensures safety when in use. It also has battery clamps that provide strong grips when hooked to the 12V battery of your car.

MSD Ignition 8992
MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light
4.7
MSD Ignition 8992 is a very accurate MSD timing light that is easy to use. It features an intense strobe, making it possible for use during daylight. You also get very stable timing signals and can work with other ignition systems.

Key features and functions

MSD Ignition 8992 is our best product because of the following features and functions:

  • Secure pickup
  • No retard as RPM increases
  • Detachable leads
  • Battery clips are color-coded and well insulated for safety
  • Generates a strong strobe that makes it possible to use even in daylight
  • Works on different ignition systems: MSD, DIS, electronic, points, and computer-controlled ignition systems.
  • Provides stable timing signals
  • Easy to use
  • Very accurate

Vehicle coverage

MSD Ignition 8992 is professionally designed for use on 12V vehicles. It is for you if the ignition system is MSD, DIS, electronic, points, and computer-controlled ignition system. 

Weaknesses

Despite the high price and advancements of MSD Ignition 8992, it still lacks some crucial features. No dwell, tachometer, voltage display, and LCD display.   

MSD Ignition 8992

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Rating

Price range: $199-$219

Read more: Popular Timing Lights User Manuals For Free Download

Final thoughts 

Choosing the most appropriate timing light will save you time and money. Using the information provided, you can go for the best timing light for the intended purpose. Remember, the accuracy of the chosen tool is all that matters in engine tuning for higher efficiency.

This post reviewed some of the best timing lights under each type. If you are looking for the best timing light, I recommend the following products: 

Best inductive timing light: Actron CP7527

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Rating

Price range: $39-$49

Best digital timing light: Innova 5568

Rating

Price range: $109-$129

Best adjustable advance timing light: Actron CP7528

epsoak epsom salt 5 lb

Rating

Price range: $69-$79

Best MSD timing light: MSD Ignition 8992

Rating

Price range: $199-$219

Read more: How to Use a Timing Light to Reset the Ignition Timing

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