Firing order question


Old 08-14-02, 10:40 AM
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Firing order question

Had trouble sending this so if this is a duplicate, I sincerely apologize.

I have acquired an '84 VW Jetta, stickshift, with 1780cc gas engine. Will not start. Backfires when cranked. I believe spark plug wires have been rearranged. I replaced wires per shop manual but drawing is a little vague and still same problem. Replaced plugs and distributor cap. To determine correct firing order, everything I've read says place no. 1 cylinder at TOC and look at distributor rotor. Where rotor points, place that wire to no. 1 plug. My question. How do I know when no. 1 cylinder is at TOC? And where do the rest of the wires go? I have only hand tools. Also, is it possible firing order is not the problem? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-14-02, 12:14 PM
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You can go to and enter your car info and it will show firing order for that car. And other helpful information about the timing.
Good Luck
Old 08-14-02, 12:27 PM
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There should be some marks on the engine somewhere to indicate relative crankshaft position. On my Subaru it is on the top of the engine behind the intake, with a rubber plug covering the hole. On other cars it is on the front crank pulley. When the rotor button is pointing to #1 wire and the marks are showing you should be at the firing position. As far as the firing order it is usually marked somewhere on under the hood. You may need a fellow V.W. owner to help you with that.... Thoughts Joe?
Old 08-14-02, 12:35 PM
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Find the #1 cylinder as marked on the cap. Find the #1 cylinder as marked on the engine (assuming that VW does this...GM does ).

If you know the direction of rotation, you should be able to figure out what goes where. Also, a Chilton or Haynes will probably have a decent diagram...check the library for one their books.
Old 08-14-02, 09:35 PM
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Keep in mind that the engine marks that show TDC will line up when the engine is at exactly top dead center, and when the engine is exactly 180 degrees out...which is top dead center, but not on the compression/power stroke, which will show the rotor pointing straight away from #1 plug wire. To get the rotor pointing at #1 plug wire, you need to be at TDC between the compression and power stroke.
Old 08-14-02, 11:38 PM
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To locate TDC on the compression stroke of the #1 cylinder:

Remove the #1 spark plug.

Remove the timing plug from the front of the transmission bellhousing.

Place your thumb over the spark plug hole.

Have a helper manually turn the engine (using a ratchet & socket, not the starter) in a clockwise direction.

Tell the helper to stop turning when you feel pressure on your thumb.

Move to the pass. side of the car & look in to the timing window in the trans. bellhousing.

Have your helper SLOWLY turn the engine until the TDC or '0' mark aligns with the arrow in the timing window.

You have reached TDC of the compression stroke for the #1 cylinder when the marks are aligned.

Pop the distributor cap & note the rotor position. It will be pointing to the #1 post on the distributor cap.

The firing order is 1-3-4-2 & the distributor rotates clockwise. See the diagram below for more detail.

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