setting timing marks on 97 Silverado w/5.7


Asked by Jul 03, 2012 at 01:58 PM about the 1996 Chevrolet C/K 1500 Silverado Standard Cab SB

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I had my 5.7 rebuilt in a shop and installed it back into my truck a couple months back. Since then the service light has come on for a few days at a time then goes off. I had the codes read at the local auto parts store and it says:  Bank one sensor two malfunction. one of the fixes is to adjust cam retard timing. When I checked my timing, the marks were way off and when I tried to align them by turning dist. The truck knocks, sputters and dies. Could a faulty o2 sensor cause this problem or is there something else I'm missing? Also, on the print out from code reader there are approx. 2 pages of possible fixes. I really hate to just start replacing parts- especially when the 3 o2 sensors alone cost over $200. Any ideas to narrow it down or reason why I cant get timing on mark?
   Thanks! Jim E.

32 Answers


you need a snanner to set ignition timing cam retard should be 0 degrees was the truck missing or roughing smooth when the check engine light came on? Before u messed with it

10 of 10 people found this helpful.

It would pop occasionally and I have poor mpg approx. 12 mpg, but it runs fairly smooth. I tried to set it back where it was but I dont think I'm at the same spot on dist. cause its running a little rougher now.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

need to get timing set right and running properly before diagnosing O2 sensors .

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

Your vehicle has an electronic advancement inside the distributor. To properly set the ignition timing there is a plug that has to be separated. On the late 80s and early 90s it was on the firewall towards the passengers side. Brown or dark tan wire with a similar color plug. Follow the wiring harness from the distributor you can't miss it. If you leave this plug hooked up the engine will constantly try to adjust the timing and you will never get it set right. Once you get it set to 0° shut it off and hook the plug back up. The ecm will constantly adjust the timing sometimes up to 20° or more so that's y it looks off. After u get the timing set post what is happening

15 of 15 people found this helpful.
Best Answer

john you're way off . this is an OBDII system , the only way to set the timing is to use a scan tool, there is a procedure to follow , if it's not done the right way it will never be right.

24 of 24 people found this helpful.

It has a DISTRIBUTOR there for the DISTRIBUTOR has to be set to 0° for the electronics to do their job properly. You have obviously never replaced a distributor on an OBD II vehicle. Its just like replacing a distributor on an OBD I. Even the 2000 and newer Honda's have to be set properly when the distributor has been replaced. Yes there is a procedure to be followed but the timing has nothing to do with a computer. I explained the procedure ask any mechanic and they will tell you if the vehicle has a distributor whether its carbureted, TBI, MPFI, or SFI the timing is adjusted by turning the distributor till its flashing cylinder 1 (or 6 on a GM) at 0° with the electronic advancement wire unplugged.

11 of 11 people found this helpful.

yeah ok !

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

He even said he changed the timing and now can't get it back to where it was. If you don't know what your are talking about then don't include yourself in the discussion. Its guys like you that have made cha cha a worthless service. You think because you know how to check your fluids, tire pressure, and read a car magazine at a dentist once that you're now an expert.

16 of 16 people found this helpful.

John is absolutely correct. This sets baseline.. This is the procedure to a tee. I know if you don't unhook this wire timing will drift as it is then being contolled by the advance. I believe John's reputation speaks for itself.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

Never could find the wire John refered to. I did a tune-up recently though and noticed on the inside of dist. cap that it was firing just at the side of the pronge (or what ever they're called, where the coil sends the spark to the plug?). I assumed it should be hitting the middle so I advanced it a little. It doesnt run bad, it just doesnt get the mpg I thought it would after rebuilding it, as I was getting 12-14 in town and 15-17 on longer trips before I had it rebuilt, so I thought I would get at least that? Maybe its still going through a brake-in period as I still only have about 7k miles on the rebuild. I appreciate your input and advice, but need to ask for a favor? Let up a little on the dumby trying to fit in even though he was giving incorrect info. Thanks again.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

The number one reason for a check engine light on is a loose gas cap or a bad one.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

John is correct with the obd1 however on a 97 obdII, that distributor should not be adjustable, unless someone cut the tabs off the plastic dist body. There also is not a wire to unhook on 96 or later to set timing. The hold down bolt goes thru a slot in the dist and you can only adjust the dist by about 2-3 degrees, just the slop in the hold down bolt to the slot. These are difficult to set because of that, trying to seat the dist gear and the hold down slot at the same time because the distributor will twist as the dist cam gears mesh. YOU MUST USE A SCAN TOOL TO SET TIMING ON VORTEC 5.7 Here at our repair shop we have the factory GM tech2 scan tool. You will be able to read the timing degrees with that. If the timing is off by more than 2 Degrees it will set a check engine light. Once you have the timing correct, you MUST do a procedure called (cam crank variation re-learn). You MUST DO THIS WITH A SCAN TOOL. In the function with the scan tool, with the engine running, scan tool will tell you to quickly rev the engine to 4000rpm basically flooring it in park, and immediately let the engine back down to idle, and then if completed correctly, it will display that on the scan tool. Even if your timing is correct, you must do the cam crank variation re-learn if it has not been done yet. If you ever touch the dist once the re-learn is done, you must do the re-learn again. Sometimes it takes a few times to get the variation re-learn to accept, but also be carefull because sometimes, during the relearn the rev limiter is disabled to allow the engine to rev high enough for the relearn. If you put your truck in park and are able to rev it up past 3500rpms, then your re-learn IS NOT done.

22 of 22 people found this helpful.

im having the same problem by the book n Chevrolet say the mark needs to hit the 8 imprint I done tried n tried nit wont it ,it will get close to it but I start the truck and automatically the check engine light comes on sayn crank n cam corillation ,,n im all out of ideas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what kinda scan tool are u talking about cus I have a 230.00 one n it doesn't give me that option!!


snap on .

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

TEch2 is the factory GM scan tool and that is what we use at our shop. That $230 is a code reader and nothing more. There is a reason that snap on, cost 2500-3000+ along with tech2 or other scan tool.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

There is no wire to disconnect on the year he is talking about. Late 80's and early 90's had the brown wire that needed to be disconnected, but with the spider injection, the timing is controlled by the computer.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

Wow ! - Almost two years to figure out that a 1997 5.7 Distributor does NOT have a little wire to unplug ! Mechanically the engine must be set to Top Dead Center. The electronic timing (advance or retard) must be less than + or - '2' or the Check Engine Light in turned on. This can be set approximately by setting the flat front face of the distributor and the flat back face of the throttle body parallel with each other. For more precise setting of timing advance/retard a scan tool of some sort must be used. With the development of modern smartphones that run apps, a less expensive option is available with Bluetooth OBD2 plug readers (ebay) and Torque (Android) Bluetooth App (Google Play) -- total cost under $30 (if you already use a smartphone). Way Too much Posturing and Misinformation on this Site ! No one benefits from HOT AIR.

19 of 19 people found this helpful.

Yeah this John guy who has the mark as "most helpful" answer on here is sadly wrong for 96 and up, but then again it was more helpful than Rucko's need to bash him than to give the correct timing procedure. Thanks Kurt for finally clearing things up. The 96 up definitely doesn't have the timing advance wire that needs unplugged as it is fully controlled by the computer. As for the relearn method I have yet to see it on my MTG 2500, will have to look into that next opportunity that I have to do so.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Hi! Read and appreciate all the in put, been looking for a way to set up the distributor to"0" by rotating the distributor at top dead center to the 0 setting (precisely). This was done with our air cooled VW and motor cycle engines mid 60's 70's.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

could a worn out timing chain give the same fault,?,mine also misses out,just after you have the throttle set at speed then let off then it misses,my garage man siad it was all six fuel injectors clogged

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

A good code scanner can help alot.but popping off the distributor cap and twisting the crank back and forth while watching the rotor button can give you a idea if you got slack in your chain.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

when i set the timing on my vortec 350 I use a junk distributor with the cam gear knocked off to line up the oil pump rod so my good distributor will fall right on the number 8 mark,and remember guys the mark on the intake and distributor line up right to

13 of 13 people found this helpful.

I must have a special 97 350 vortex. Bought it new but there's no #8 cast in distributor base and no marks on the shaft. Does dimple on drive gear have a magnet? I may have installed gear 180 out

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

No magnets,there should be a 8 very small.and yes you can install the gear 180 out.I did once

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

I know what the problem is, am mechanic, need to clear fault codes. the computer is still showing the faults before rebuild. I know how. You should take it back to who rebuilt it. They should know. Don't worry about it, if oil light or battery, brake indicaters are not showing it is ok. If you have gauges rather than dumby lights, it should run around 200 on tenp, 40 to 60 is average iol press.


The timing is computer controlled the gear on the distributer or camahaft or possibly a loose timing chain could

2 of 2 people found this helpful. snap on...which was bought book, so im learning as i go has me at 2 on the cam retard, but it still shutters and shimmys in drive...tachs slow in park...the distributor is turned counter clockwise at about 5-7 degrees more than it should with the 2 reading..i put a rather new engine in it lately and have been struggling with it for a long time to get her road worthy it possible she is a notch off like the older ones and still run, but crappy and still hold a 2 on the cam retard...??? it seems to smooth out a little when the engine warms up good, but still too bad to be actually road worthy...ive replaced just about all the bad mayby ? anything helpful will be greatly thanked.


@skilletlegs: I changed a 5.7 on my 97 silverado almost a year ago..I was careful to put the distributor at the proper TDC mark. The engine ran, but very rough. I towed it to a friendly mechanic who had the high end snap on tool, and he adjusted the cam retard to zero...He explained that while I was very accurate in putting the distributor back in, it was vitally necessary to use the snap on tool correctly, as this actually sets the ECM computer to the proper cam retard...he showed me this in principle by comparing the readings from his scanner before, then after, as well as the fuel trim and other performance values....all associated. what I am saying is, even though you have the tool, it might be a good investment in having a experienced TECHNICAL mechanic to show you the ABC's how to use it properly...AND explain the WHY...much of this is not intuitive to really helped understand the importance of the difference between buying a very expensive tool, versus just having a good mechanic do the work for me..that was my experience. I never bought the expensive tool...have never needed it since that adjustment was made. Would not believe it would ever be necessary, until the day my timing chain becomes muffed, or I change the distributor at some future date...hope this helps...

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

where is this wire located on a 97 chevy Silverado 1500 Z71


where is this timing wire on a 1997 chevy Silverado 5.7L 1500 4WD

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

I have the factory shop manual in front of me, and i also have replaced my distributor on my 1997 vortec engine. you can not time without a scan tool. you can get it close but not exact. engine must be at operating temp rpm must be over 1000 and it is to be set at 0 no more than +2 or -2 . some replacement distributors are able to be turned when in place. clear codes if the code p1345 does not come up you got it.

so what happens if your timming keeps going off? my gmc i keep reseting it but nomatter wat it goes off

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