Jeep cherokee 4.0 distributor timing

Jeep cherokee 4.0 distributor timing DEFAULT

Re: Renix 4.0s distributor timing

It's an interesting question, though. Dealing with the ignition system alone*, if you install a distributor exactly 180 degrees off (which would be at the TDC mark on the crank, but TDC for cylinder #6 instead of #1 in the case of the 4.0) it will work as long as you also then install the plug wires 180 degrees off. I've done this on other vehicles, and unless the distributor has some odd asymmetrical firing pattern, like an early 90 degree V6, or some VW's and old Porsches (some of which a slight timing variation between the two banks), the engine doesn't know the difference. It's the spaces in between that don't work.

Remember that the timing of the spark itself is only one function of the distributor. It must also send it to the plugs via the rotor, and that timing is fixed entirely by distributor position. Beyond a certain range, it just won't line up. In addition, the range of compensation the computer can provide is limited. I'm not sure which factors came into play, but when I experimented with timing on my 87, I found that it could not work well even if the distributor was a single tooth off. It would run well one tooth advanced, but started very hard. It would start well one tooth retarded, but stalled with throttle.

*As I said, I know that this works on old carbureted engines, but all bets are off for MPI fuel injection. While the ignition system might work perfectly 180 degrees off, it probably would work very poorly on any fuel injected system which, like the Jeeps, uses something other than the distributor to time the injector pulses. If the injectors are still firing 153624 while the distributor is firing 624153, the injection pulses which are supposed to occur just before the intake valve opens will occur instead just before the power stroke. Fuel injection will always be two strokes late, and I'd expect mixture problems.

ETA looking at the question that gives rise to this thread, I would strongly advise double checking the timing, since it's quite possible the engine would run "reasonably well" with the distributor wrong, but that mileage and power would suffer.


I know that’s for many Jeep owners it’s a piece of cake. Also it’s nothing you do every day. Probably most of you will never do it in theirs but it happened to me on Saturday – my engine started chirping. I looked and listened to the engine and (with help from the Jeep Forum guys) narrowed causes down to ignition distributor and/or oil pump. I decided to start with the distributor (lately if turned out to be good decision). Here is small how-to.


1. Tools


All you need is on the picture:

  • flat screwdriver
  • philips screwdriver
  • 13mm wrench
  • 19mm socket and ratchet
  • 8mm socket
  • Sharpie marker

After you have all tools we can start the job

2. Remove auxiliary electric fan

This step is only necessary when procedure is done on the Cherokee (XJ) model – this is the only way to turn the crankshaft vibration damper. In Grand Cherokee (ZJ) you have access to this bolt from underneath. Now disconnect the battery negative cable, then disconnect the radiator fan electric connector:

Auxiliary fan connector

Then unscrew (using 8mm socket) two bolts which are also mounting points for coolant reservoir pipe:

Fan bolts

And remove it simply pulling it up.

3. Remove distributor cap

But before you do this there are two things to be done. First – write down somewhere numbers to which cylinder which wire goes. Unfortunately there is no such info on any distributor caps I have seen. You can also print this picture:

Cables order

Then make a mark both on the distributor and the cap just next to the cylinder number one terminal:

Make mark

Now, using philips screwdriver, unbolt and remove distributor cap.

4. Set crankshaft in correct position

Now lie under the car and turning the crankshaft vibration dumper clockwise (!) find the notch on it and mark it with sharpie – it will make our job a little easier:

Mark dumper

Then, this time from the top, rotate it clockwise until that notch will be aligned with 0 degree mark:

Set to zero

Now the rotor should be aligned with the mark we did before:

Rotor aligned with the mark

5. Remove the distributor

Now take out the rotor. Then disconnect distributor’s connector

Disconnect distributor

Now using 13mm wrench unbolt distributor from engine block:

Unbolt distributor

and pull it out from the engine.


6. Set oil pump

Before inserting new distributor in it’s place you need to make some alignment. First, using flat screwdriver, set the oil pump shaft around 11 o’clock position:

Set oil pump

7. New distributor preparation

Then take the new distributor, put the old cap on it and mark the distributor next to the number one cylinder terminal as you did with the old one.

Transfer mark

Then set distributor’s shaft in a way that rotor’s line should point on 4 o’clock.

Set distributor shaft

8. Insert new distributor

Remembering about distributor gasket insert new distributor carefully into the engine’s block keeping distributor’s hold down ear aligned with bolt hole in the engine. During the insertion process the distributor shaft should rotate a little bit. At the and it should point exactly at the mark we made before.

New distributor in place

If it points in other direction you have to pull it out again and change the initial position to achieve the final one. Then bolt it down to the engine’s block.

9. Rotor, cap, connections

Now install the rotor, then the cap and distributor connector. Then using previously made notes correctly connect all ignition cables.

10. Fan

Reinstall the auxiliary fan and connect negative battery cable. Start engine. Take a beer.

Technorati Tags: Jeep, Cherokee, XJ, Grand Cherokee, ZJ, distributor, rotor, cap

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4.0 l jeep motor please tell me how to set the timing with out a light.

4.0 l jeep motor please tell me how to set the timing with out a light.

What is the firing order? just in case I get a timming light what wire should I hook it to? and what should the timming be set at? And how do you ste it by ear exactly? thanks

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Jeep Distributor Change Procedure, 4.0 ltr ERH engine, Cherokee XJ

How do you set the ignition timing on a 1996 Jeep Cherokee?

You cannot "set the ignition timing" Timing is adjusted by the computer as it monitors the "CPS" Crankshaft Position Sensor.

True statement Gregg, but! Your forgetting the whole picture. The camshaft sensor is in the distributor which is gear driven by the camshaft, the camshaft is then driven by the crankshaft by the timing chain. Technically, when you install the Camshaft sensor (distributor) you turn the engine (crankshaft) to position the piston on #1 cylinder at TDC (top dead center). The timing mark on the harmonic balancer should read 0. You then install the distributor with the rotor lined up to the center of the #1 cylinder lug on the distributor cap. Theoretically, from this position the computer adjusts the timing as needed.

However, on occasion the rotor does NOT line up dead center of the lug on the distributor and I have had vehicles then backfire and stumble, even after following the above procedure. For a number of reasons the timing is off! To correct this misalignment I have adjusted the timing by turning (advancing) the crankshaft position a few degrees on the harmonic balancer and then re-installed the distributor with the rotor dead center on #1 lug on the cap!

Seemed to make the computer happy and eliminated the stumble and backfire! So, in short! The timing can be played with!


Cherokee distributor timing 4.0 jeep

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jeep 2000 4.0 camshaft sensor and synchronizer

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