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Frequently Asked Questions – Ignition Control

  • How do I optimize the Ignition Timing?
    • This is typically performed on a dynamometer – creep up on timing until performance stops increasing – for a starting point, use expert opinions – more is not better with timing. Cranking at “Distr Base Timing” is often OK at about 10 degrees and cannot be changed unless the distributor is also moved to re-sychronize. Idle can often be pretty good at 15-25 degrees (depends on the cam). 1100 and 45kPa can often be similar to the idle timing. Most engines need only ~15 at 1100 RPM WOT, and 29-36 degrees at WOT 3000 RPM. Cruising 45kPa will easily like more than that – 40+ degrees at 3000 RPM is common – but watch out that you’re not too far from the “Distr Base Timing” or there will be arcing under the distributor cap, which can sometimes cause surging if it misfires. The 6000 RPM settings can often just be the same or a little more than the 3000 RPM settings.
  • How do I synchronize the distributor with the handheld?
    • You first should have a good idea of what your engine needs for cranking spark advance without kicking back – and set the handheld’s “Distr Base Timing” to that value. Keep in mind that this value is then your minimum spark advance allowed, and that the system cannot advance much more than 30 degrees from this value without causing some arcing under the distributor cap (depending on the rotor and cap dimensions). Start the engine (if it won’t start – be sure you’re getting spark and then move the distributor around to at least get it to start). Hold the RPMs above idle (e.g. 2500 RPMs). Watch the “Spark Advance” in the handheld and use your timing light to see timing move the distributor until they match each other. Lock down the distributor – you’re synched!
  • Does the Ignition Timing jump from each setting, or is there interpolation?
    • There is interpolation – for example, if your settings say 25 deg @ 1100 RPM & 45kPa, 15 deg @ 1100 95kPa, 40 @ 3000 & 45kPa, 31 @ 3000 & 95kPa, but you’re driving at 1800 & 65kPa, the timing will be between all of those values – at about 26.7 degrees.
  • Does the Ignition Timing Control learn what’s optimum for my engine?
    • No! There is no learning for timing control. If your engine experiences knocking, it won’t make any adjustment by itself – you have to do the adjustment with the tables provided. The distributor must also be properly set with a timing light – to synchronize the distributor with the engine and handheld.
  • Do I need to use the Ignition Timing Control if my system has it?
    • No, this feature is optional. All systems can run with the TACH signal input in a “Fuel Only” mode.
  • What advantages does Ignition Timing Control have?
    • Ignition timing control allows the timing to be set to what the user desires with RPM and vacuum, without having to change springs, weights, or vacuum advance settings. It allows the timing with boost to be adjusted to be less than non-boost conditions. If a Power Adder system is used with timing control, the spark advance can be retarded when nitrous is used. There is an idle stability function to improve idle speed control by quickly advancing when the RPMs drop, and retarding when it jumps too high at idle. It allows the cranking spark advance to be lower than the idle spark advance, to keep the engine from kicking back on the starter.

73 comments on “Frequently Asked Questions – Ignition Control

  1. After I lock out the mechanical advance, should I remove the vacuum canister and it’s timing also for a street application motor?

    1. Ignition control requires additional parts and tuning. If you are using this on a street application I recommend that you use a conventional ignition with mechanical and vacuum advance. Timing control is an advanced tuning tool that needs to be tuned manually in the handheld. IT IS NOT SELF LEARNING. If you are a person that likes to custom curve a distributor or likes messing with settings this could be a fun option. You may be let down however if you just hook it up and not tune it past its default settings.

  2. I have a sbf with twin turbo. Going to run a pro billet msd distributor. Question is, do i need a msd ignition box in order to control the timing if i use your power adder 1200 system?

    1. You do not need the CDI box but you will not have an amplified spark which would be beneficial on a boosted application.

  3. do you have a system available that will incorperate ignition control for LS style engines? similar to MSD’s Atomic LS, 100% stand alone.

    1. The FiTech throttle body EFI systems will NOT control timing on LS ignition systems. We do not have a system like the Atomic LS yet 😉

  4. Can a vortec style distributor from the late 90’s silverado be used for timing control with these systems?

    1. no

  5. Hey there, building a mild 351w, 73 engine, with performer intake, performer plus cam, 10:1 compression, some porting on heads, headers, etc. The debating is between your Go Street and Go EFI 4 systems and the ignition control capability of the latter. In your opinion would it be greatly beneficial on this engine build in drivability, and fuel mileage and if so what distributor would you recommend? Planning on putting engine in a 64 Fairlane with a AOD, the dream is to take on longer trip type runs so reliability, drivability and mileage are the main concerns. Thanks

    1. Timing control is a great tool to fine tune your engine with. Please note however that this is a manual input and not a self learning feature so if you hook it up and leave it alone you basically have a stock HEI timing curve. I would recommend selecting the system based on the horsepower you intend to make with the engine. If you are making 380hp right now and are possibly going to swap heads in the future that would increase your horsepower over 400hp you should really be getting the larger system.

  6. I am running a Pertronix Flame Thrower 3 in my 350 Chevy, will your Fitech run off this distributor?

    1. Our systems read a tach signal off the coil so it should work with this module. It will NOT do timing control though.

    2. Will FiTech run a Chrysler 2 wire distributor? What is the advantage over the Chrysler CDI box?

      1. Timing control was designed to work with a 2-wire magnetic pickup distributor such as a MSD pro billet or equivalent. Any distributor outside of this 2-wire type distributor may work but we don’t condone the use of due to custom modification.

  7. I have a customer using your system on a Ford 428 with a Pro-Billet FE distributor and getting no spark. We have checked the wiring several times and all powers and grounds are as they should be. Controller turns on, fuel pump turns on, just no spark. Distributor instructions say it requires an ignition box but your instructions say it does not. Which one is right and where should I start with trouble shooting this situation?? Distributor and coil are brand new with the FiTech install, truck ran before with stock distributor and carb. Any help would be great Thanks!!!

    1. The EFI system instructions are correct. You can run this distributor with or without a CDI box. Now be sure you selected VR-Coil in the INITIAL SETUP as this is what makes the system switch to timing control.

      The first step to check is to be sure you receive a RPM on the Dashboard.

  8. Will the timing adjust according to the boost pressure?

    1. When using timing control you can designate the timing curve in relation to RPM and vacuum/boost. Whatever you put in the parameter the system will run that degree of advancement. To say it simply if you say pull 5 degrees timing under boost the system will do it.

  9. When using timing control, should you still use vacuum advance – or does timing control automatically advance based upon detected vacuum?

    1. When using timing control you have complete control of your ignition timing curve. This is based off of vacuum and rpm which will equate to both vacuum and mechanical advance digitally in the ecu. Timing control is a manual tuning feature which requires you to modify the curve in the handheld to best suit your engine. If left alone it is preset to run like a stock HEI distributor with vacuum advance.

  10. Is there any plan to offer a harness to convert a GM HEI dist to be compatible with a 30004 unit?

    1. An HEI will work with any of our kits. Just use the tach output of the HEI and hook it to the EFI systems blue wire.

  11. Hello
    I am installing a power adder 4 system on an older twin turbo 350 Chevy. For initial set up I am not using timing control from the FITech EFI.
    I currently using an external CDI MSD 6 BTM ignition box with boost timing control. To get a (voltage) signal I am also using a MSD 8920 Tach adapter along with the ignition box.
    The primary tach output signal from the MSD 6 BTM box is currently sent to the 8920 tach adapter box, then onward to the tach.
    Should I just twin the primary tach output connection at the MSD 6 BTM and send 1 to the 8920 Tach adapter, and the other 1to your “blue wire” to 6 bin connector or will this dilute the signal to the throttle body?
    Your recommendations?
    Thanks, Bruno Erelis

    1. Hook the blue wire to the tach output lead on the BTM box. This spot can be shared with the tach adapter.

  12. Can you provide some distributor part numbers, two wire , for timing control, for a Dodge Charger 383. The Go EFI 4 works great without timing control but would like to use timing control to complete the install.Thanks

    1. Any two-wire magnetic pickup only distributor will work. There are plenty on the market. Visit your local speed shop and they will help you pick one out.

  13. Will this system work with the GM small cap HeI with external coil? I’m referring to the 7/8 pin HEI. If not, is there an HEI small cap that your system can use for timing control?

    1. You will need a 2-wire magnetic pickup distributor that can be locked out and phased. An example would be a MSD pro billet or equivalent.

  14. I have a MSD Crank Trigger (flying magnet) and a MSD Crank Trigger Distributor and my question is how I should set up my timing? I want between 32-36 at WOT and about 45 at highway cruse.
    I want to controll timing with the ECU but can not figure out how to set everything up.
    Thanks!

    1. I believe the crank triggers have the same plug on them as a 2-wire distributor. I dont see why it wouldn’t work. You have full control of your ignition curve so you can give the timing you are calling for. It is even setup pretty close from us out of the box.

  15. Will this system work with summit ready to run that is locked

    1. You would have to modify the distributor to work. We need a plug in to the magnetic pickup inside the distributor. I don’t know what needs to be done to lock out or phase a RTR distributor.

  16. If I have a msd crank trigger and msd box and no distributor but plug wires going to a coil pac is there a way to make this work with your system??

    Thank you

    1. We have not tried this so I am not sure. All the system does is supply a momentary ground which will fire a coil but a distributor is still needed to direct the spark to the correct cylinder.

  17. I just connected the system and keep getting a p0335, also notice intermittently that the rpm jumps up on the screen, the ignition system has been tested and ok, is there a filter or something like a capacitor to filter the noise?

    1. There is noise being inducted into the tach lead of the EFI. If you are using a CDI box it will be coming from the coil wires and them coming in close contact to the blue tach FiTech wire.

  18. Does the timing control work on a stock Chrysler electronic ignition distributor? I don’t remember if it is 2-wire or not.
    Also what to do if the timing signal is noisy and causes P0335, how do you filter that, do you buy a tachometer electronic filter?

    1. Stock Chrysler ignition systems cause RPM noise because they are a ballast resistor type ignitions. You will need a digital 12 volt ignition for the tach input to work correctly. For timing control we have had people us the Chrysler distributor but the success rate is pretty low. I would recommend a new 2-wire distributor as it does not require modifying wiring. Cutting the FiTech EFI’s wiring will cause the warranty to be voided.

  19. Hi
    I would lie to hook up my HEI and AL6-2 CDI box to the FiTech 600HP Basic Kit and keep the advantages of the timing control of the FiTech.

    I will removed the module of my HEI an connect the magnetic pick up wires to the adequate (green purple) wires of the ECU.
    I have in mind to follow the wiring as figure 12 in your installation manual.

    Is there anything else I need to take care of?
    Thanks for your reply

    1. You are in uncharted territory so in theory it will work but we don’t know exactly. We have never tested this system.

    2. Did it work? Looking at doing something similar. I have an HEI with a 6A. How do you phase an HEI?

  20. Does the distributor base timing actually set the base timing or do you set it to the timing you have the distributor set at? Or do set the timing on zero and adjust the base with the controller?

    1. Whatever you designate the distributor base timing to be in the handheld must be matched mechanically with the distributor.

  21. Hi i use a FiTech 1200 on my LS engine and i want controll my spark on my MSD 6014
    can i contact the MSD box with my FiTech ? what i need for it ?

    1. Our throttle body EFI systems will NOT control timing without a 2-wire mag pickup distributor.

  22. Do the ignition drivers on this system handle a single ignition coil running a constant 12VDC? I understand that most “classic car” coils use a external ballast or resistor wire in the primary circuit in the “run” position and a full 12 VDC in the “crank/bypass” position. If the coil is constantly applied 12VDC in can saturate and overheat if the coil negative side is ran with points or even most aftermarket electronic conversion kits. Is your coil driver system capable of handling the switching current of a “internal resistor” coil running at full constant 12V? How was your ignition system validated during durability testing? I would like to eliminate the external ballast without running a CDI box.

    1. Long story short the system was designed to work with a 12 volt ignition. A .08-1.5 ohm coil works great such as a MSD Blaster 2 or equivalent. No CDI box is required for timing control. IT IS OPTIONAL.

  23. I have a 30002 system installed on my vehicle. Just got it up and running. I am running timing control with CDI box. I am having a problem with the engine stalling and immediately restarting. This happens around 2000 rpm or above and when I look at the handheld the rpm signal is frozen at 59,285 rpm yes this is a correct number. The engine will still run but the handheld is frozen in time until the next key on cycle. Any help would be appreciated as I had no problem with this ignition box with a carb. Also I’m running a MSD pro billet #8361 2 wire distributor with both mechanical and vacuum advance locked. FYI this only seems to happen above 2000 rpm. Thanks Randall.

    1. This is RF interference and is coming from the CDI box and wiring. Move ALL CDI box wiring away from any EFI wiring.

  24. I am running a 427 chevrolet with your 800 hp kit, I am also using the fuel command center. The motor is running 11:2 compression with afr 265 heads. I am looking at a comp 290H camshaft. Will there be a vacuum issue with the fuel injection or will it work well with this cam choice?

    1. The less vacuum an engine makes the more tuning you will have to do to get the EFI to work. Keep as much vacuum as possible. You can do this by minimizing valve overlap. We have success with 4 inches of vacuum so it is possible but 8+ is easier to get going.

  25. I have a 632ci engine making 950hp on pump gas. I have an MSD Grid, will it work with your system?
    Also will your kit improve gas mileage?

    1. It should work fine, since it is already controlling your timing then just give our system a tach signal from the MSD box. it should improve your mileage but it varies from car to car how much it improves.

  26. http://www.4secondsflat.com/J685S%20instructions.htm this is the distributor for a mopar. i do not feel like dropping another 200 or so on a msd adjustable rotor type you guys have in your hand held set up section of instructions. does this type require the phasing process as you have outlined. or do i just hook up the wiring like in the schematic in the directions drop the distributor in adjust it so it doesnt kick back when cranking. thanks. this is the only thing left to figure out. the fuel command center is done and routed. along with all the other things. just want to get it running. thanks phil

    1. That distributor setup is not tested or approved for Timing control, the distributor needed is an MSD (or equivalent) 2 wire magnetic pickup distributor that can use the MSD part number 84211 Rotor. If you do not have this distributor than can the distributor you show there be used to give a normal tach signal, such as from the negative of coil?

  27. Hello, I have an older msd 6al box and an msd distributer with the 2 wire hook up. I’m not sure which diagram I’m suppose to use. With timing control or without? I was not sure is this was a feature on the fitech (600) system or are there extra things I need to for timing control to work.

    1. Timing control is on the Go EFI 4 600hp system but it is an optional feature. We recommend here to hook up without the timing control to get started even if you plan on using the timing control. Follow figure 11 to hook up the system at first.

  28. Does the vent line have to go back to the fuel tank?

    1. If you are referring to the Fuel Command Center the answer is yes.

  29. When setting base timing, what RPM do you recommend if setting by total advance?

    1. You want your initial base timing as high as possible while still making it easy for the engine to start. Default is 13 but ultimately you will need to change this as needed. Also this feature is not self learning so it is recommended to adjust the SPARK MAP to suit your engine.

  30. im wanting to run your efi 4 600 on an ls based motor in a gm a body. can it be ran in conjuction with an msd ignition controler ?

    1. Timing control can NOT be used with coil packs.

  31. I am getting ready to order your 600hp kit with timing control but am not sure what the minimum vacuum requirement is for your system. The cam is the Comp XE282HR for a 383 sbc. Will this provide enough vacuum signal for the system to work correctly? I am also ordering a MSD 2 wire dizzy but can I run the system WITHOUT timing control at first then later use this feature?

    1. The cam you stated (XE282HR) will work with the EFI system. Some tweaks to idle AFR may need to be mad however.

      Also we encourage that you start using the system WITHOUT timing control to get familiar with the system.

  32. Will the FiTech 30003 work with a Mallory Magnetic Breakerless Distributor, part number 5033701?

    1. As long as you are not using a ballast resistor this distributor will work with the 30003. However you will not be doing timing control as both the EFI and the distributor are not capable of it.

  33. I am using an HEI distributor and need some help regarding base timing. When setting base timing in the handheld, do you mean timing at idle with vacuum disconnected, or with the vacuum connected?

    1. An HEI distributor will NOT work with timing control.

  34. I have a gen3 hemi with a ritter carb manifold. I want to run your pn#30012 efi8 1200hp system on it but my engine is crank trigger not distributer. Will the msd 6-hemi box pn#6013 be able to control my ignition togeather with your fitech system? Help is much appreciated. Thanks

    1. It is not possible to get the FiTech system to control timing without a distributor. You will need to use the Hemi coil driver box to get the engine running.

  35. Can I use the FiTech timing control with a mallory unilite distributor that has the mechanical advance locked out in conjunction with a Hyfire 6A control box that eliminates the ballast resistor? If so, does this mean I don’t connect the vacuum advance as well?

    1. Yes if its a 2 wire magnetic pick up style distributor with a locked out advance and a adjustable rotor. Also has to be a 12v ignition so no ballast resister.

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