The distributor in your Ford Ranger is timing-belt driven by a dummy-shaft and gear that meshes with the drive gear on the end of the distributor. As moving parts wear and the timing belt stretches over time, small changes to the ignition timing can affect the performance and fuel mileage of your truck. Often, lost power and fuel efficiency can be restored by simply setting the timing back to factory specifications. Typically this procedure is done as part of a tune-up.
Wipe off the timing pointer located on the front of the timing cover above the crankshaft pulley on the front of the engine. Start the engine and allow it to run until it reaches operating temperature. When the upper radiator hose feels hot, the engine is at normal operating temperature. Turn off the engine.
Disconnect the timing connector, located on the wiring harness near the distributor, by unplugging the small gray insert from the end of the connector.