Your piston moves up and down, the valves move in and out, the connecting rods push and pull, and the crankshaft spins wildly at the center of it all. This symphony plays itself out thousands of times every minute as you drive down the street.
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There are two kinds of timing that take a seat at every engine event. The first is called cam timing, the second is ignition timing. Cam timing has more to do with all of the heavy stuff moving fast inside your engine.
Your engine has a timing belt or chain that does a lot more than take energy from the spinning crankshaft and use it to spin the camshaft or camshafts. Its job is to make sure the valves are out of the way when that piston comes flying toward the engine’s cylinder head. In some engines, the piston can actually impact a valve at the top of its movement. In these engines, called “interference” type engines, even a slight slip in cam timing can be catastrophic and result in a complete engine overhaul — thousand of dollars.