A lot of people like to make small vehicle repairs themselves, instead of going to an auto shop or garage. If you are a do-it-yourself kind of a person, then you should own a timing light.
But, it is not that easy to select one that works best for you. All products make big claims, but you can’t actually know until you try them for yourself.
But, don’t worry. You don’t need to do that because we have done it for you and have made a list of the best timing lights on the market.
Let’s take a quick look at their prominent features first.
We will then dive into each product’s features, Pros, and Cons later…
- Top 10 Best Timing Lights To Buy In 2020 Reviews
- 1 INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light
- 2 INNOVA 3568 Digital Timing Light
- 3 ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light
- 4 INNOVA 3551 Inductive Timing Light
- 5 MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light
- 6 Performance Tool W80587 Timing Light
- 7 ESI 125 Digital Tach Advance Timing Light
- 8 Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light
- 9 Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
- 10 Craftsman Advanced Timing Light 14065
- Best Timing Lights Buying Guide
- Final Thoughts
Top 10 Best Timing Lights To Buy In 2020 Reviews
INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light
INNOVA 3568 Digital Timing Light
ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light
INNOVA 3551 Inductive Timing Light
MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light
Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
1 INNOVA 5568 Pro-Timing Light
This is the top variant in the Innova lineup of timing lights and comes with a lot of useful features. It has an advanced digital display that shows four things—dwell, voltage, advance degrees, and tachometer. And, the screen is backlit making it easy to use even in the dark.
It has a patented skip circuitry test (up to 9,900 RPM) and can switch between 2 and 4 cycles. And this timing light works with almost all ignition systems (conventional, DIS, electronic and computer controlled systems).
The body is made with a heavy-duty, shock-proof housing. Plus, the molded boot provides added protection from engine fan blades. Also, the rotating barrel is quite slim and gives a perfect aim at the timing mark.
Moreover, this timing light comes with detachable 6-foot leads that have an inductive pickup.
And that’s not all. It also includes a plastic storage case as an added feature.
2 INNOVA 3568 Digital Timing Light
This variant from Innova’s range of timing lights is the second from the top of the product line. Why? Because it has more features than the 3551 and 3555 variants, but less than that in 5568.
It has a split-screen, digital LCD display that shows tachometer and advance functions at the same time. However, it does not show voltage and dwell like the top variant.
It also includes detachable leads with inductive pickup and a protective hard guard to enable one-hand operation. And it has a slim, adjustable barrel that helps in aiming at the timing marks.
However, it works only with 4 cycle engines and not with 2 cycle engines, which is a limitation.
3 ESI 130 Self-Powered Timing Light
This is a mid-range timing light with decent features. And, it works for both 4 and 2 cycle engines and all ignition systems. It provides accurate readings up to 14,000 RPMs.
It has a protective sleeve that can withstand high temperatures of up to 1,200 F.
This timing light comes with 4-foot lead and batteries included in the package. Moreover, it has a bright flash at all speeds.
This timing light is not shaped like a gun which is considered a better shape in terms of ease-of-use.
This is a timing light made for professionals. And, it is a high-quality product with all necessary features and no extra bells and whistles. Moreover, the performance and accuracy provided by this timing light are unmatched.
ESI is one of the oldest companies that manufacture vehicular diagnostic tools, and they certainly know what they’re doing.
4 INNOVA 3551 Inductive Timing Light
This entry-level timing light model from Innova has basic features and is ideal for an amateur DIY-er. It is also quite affordable, so you can try this one out if it’s your first time using a timing light.
And it includes the necessary features like checking the timing, diagnosing no-spark conditions, and checking for advance/retard, etc. And, it works with most ignition systems, but, is only compatible with 4 cycle engines.
Moreover, it has detachable leads with inductive pickup and a protective hard guard to enable one-hand operation. And, it has a slim, adjustable barrel that helps in aiming at the timing marks.
Overall, it is a good entry-level timing light with all the necessary features, without any bells and whistles. And, it is quite affordable as well.
5 MSD Ignition 8992 Timing Light
This is a premium timing light with many useful features. The best feature is its intense and bright xenon flash that is visible even in daylight. And, it gives accurate and stable readings up to 8,000 RPM, which is the most important requirement for any timing light.
This timing light has detachable leads with an inductive pickup that makes it quite easy to store. It is a gun-shaped timing light making it really easy to point and aim.
Moreover, it has a tough, shock-proof housing that protects your hand. Plus, it even allows you to operate it with only one hand. It made to last and can withstand rough working conditions like that at a mechanic shop.
What’s more, the battery clamps in this light are color-coded and insulated, making it easy and safe to use.
6 Performance Tool W80587 Timing Light
This digital advance timing light is total value for money and offers a lot of premium features at a decent price.
This timing light can show accurate engine speed reading up to 9,000 RPM and ignition spark advance from 0 to 90 degrees. And, it can work with both 4 and 2 cycle engines. You can use the push button to adjust the advance and switch between 2 and 4 cycle engines.
The initial timing and advance for this timing light have been professionally set to provide superior performance.
It has a bright xenon flash, and a high-visibility LED display. And, it comes with 5-foot long, non-detachable inductive pickup leads.
Additionally, it has a sturdy, ABS housing that provides enhanced protection and durability.
In conclusion, it is one of the best timing lights for MSD ignition and works well with 12V systems. It is reliable and accurate for diagnostic work and precise tuning.
7 ESI 125 Digital Tach Advance Timing Light
This is another high-quality product from the leading vehicle diagnostic tools manufacturer ESI. This is a digital tach advance timing light that offers many features at a decent price. This timing light provides precise tuning and diagnostic functions.
It provides precise engine speed reading of up to 9,999 RPM. The display also shows tach and degrees advance (0 to 90 degrees). And, it works with both 2 and 4 cycle engines and most ignition systems.
Moreover, it has a bright xenon flash and a bright display that make it suitable for use in any lighting conditions. And, it comes with detachable and replaceable leads that further add to the convenience of using this timing light.
This is a gun-shaped timing light, unlike the ESI 130 variant, and is easier to aim and use.
However, it is not the most sturdy timing light out there and does not offer many protective features.
8 Performance Tool W80578 Self-Powered Timing Light
This self-powered timing light can work with most gas engines and is especially suitable for race cars, power boats, and street rods.
It comes with detachable leads with an inductive pickup that can be easily set up and stored. And, it has a simple design that allows it to start the vehicle from either side. It is not gun-shaped and does not have a trigger. Instead, it has a push button switch.
This timing light is powered with two standard or rechargeable D cell batteries that are not included with the product. The clips can withstand high currents, and it has a boot that provides enhanced protection.
The housing is quite sturdy, made of a metal frame, and it has a good grip.
9 Actron CP7527 Inductive Timing Light
This is a strobe timing light that is used to inspect ignition timing. It is a durable and sturdy product made with heavy-duty, ABS housing. And, it has heat-resistant molding on battery clips, providing extra protection.
Also, it has a one-touch power on and off feature that is very convenient to use. It is a basic model that you use to check ignition timing and basic diagnostics. And this reflects in the price as well, which is quite affordable.
Moreover, this timing light has a bright xenon flash and all-metal clamps with an inductive pickup. And, it is heat-resistant, thus, making it safe to use.
What’s more? It comes with a one-year warranty. So you can rest assured that you will be able to replace it if it does not work properly.
10 Craftsman Advanced Timing Light 14065
This is a premium timing light that not just lets you measure engine speed, but also measures advance. It can measure computer, as well a vacuum and centrifugal advance. And, it is easy to measure using its adjustable knob.
It has a super-bright xenon flash that allows this timing light to be used under any lighting.
The housing is made with durable plastic and is sturdy. And, it has metal inductive pickup leads that avoid any heat damage. And, it comes with a one year warranty in case it does not live up to expectations.
It is powered by the vehicle’s ignition system and is not self-powered. Moreover, it has a one-touch power control feature.
It has an adjustable dial that you can set depending on the RPM. It allows adjustments at a range of RPMs.
Best Timing Lights Buying Guide
There are many options available in the market for anyone looking for a timing light. And, to an untrained eye, they all look pretty much the same.
But, some are more expensive than others, and some are rated higher than the rest. So, exactly what is it that makes these, seemingly similar, timing lights different from each other?
The answer is simple. It is the quality, performance, and the number of features that each product offers that differentiates one from the other.
Even though two timing lights might look similar, their performance and features make all the difference.
So, let’s dive into the various important features of a timing light that you should consider before buying one.
The first and foremost decision that you need to make is whether you want an analog timing light or a digital one. Why? Because analog ones are usually cheaper and provide all basic functionalities. Digital ones are a bit more advanced, and come with a digital display that often shows various functions.
The basic models show only engine speed and timing. However, some advanced versions also provide digital tach, advance, voltage, and dwell readings. You can select one depending on your requirements.
Usually, for beginners, a basic timing light that provides accurate engine speed measurements should be enough.
The basic function of a timing light is to provide engine speed and other readings. So, the accuracy of the readings is the most important factor while making a product selection.
Before buying a timing light always check the manufacturer claim about the accuracy of readings. Specifically, check up to what RPM does the timing light claim to deliver accurate and precise timing.
Want an expert hack? Always verify these claims by reading customer reviews to ensure that the claims are valid.
Some timing lights work only with 4 cycle engines and some work with both 4 and 2 cycle engines. Also, check how easy it is to use the timing light and switch between the two types of engines.
Another factor to look at is how many types of ignition systems the timing light is compatible with. The more types of systems it can work with, the more versatile it is.
However, if you own just one vehicle and want a basic timing light just for that, then you can go with a basic model without worrying about this.
The length and detachability of leads are two important factors to consider before buying a timing light. A longer lead is more convenient to use. Moreover, if the leads are detachable, then they can be easily stored. Thus, longer, detachable leads are preferable.
Some timing lights provide additional non-performance-related features that add to the ease of use of that product. For example, a backlit display is more convenient because it allows you to see the readings in darker or low lighting.
Some timing lights also come with their own hard case that makes them much easier to store.