timing is measured when cylinder #1 fires. if this is in connection with your misfire on 2 & 3 i don't think it's going to tell you much!!
i'm sure the ecu controls the timing but it should say in your manual.
ok, if you really want to check, try this:
get yourself a timing gun. if it only has a clamp type thingy on your timing gun, then clamp it on plug wire for cylinder #1 (the left-most 1 when looking from the front of the car, also nearest the alternator) & point the part where the strobe light comes out down at the pulley where the stearing pump/aircon/alternator belts are. you should be able to see the timing marks.
if there are a black & red wire as well as the glamp thingy on your gun, connect the wires to the battery as well as the clamp on plug wire #1
the marks may not exactly line-up with pointer on the timing belt cover coz it depends on fuel type & other inputs to the ecu.. but they should be close..
finding ignition problems is a pain in the butt if you don't have the right equipment!!
you said in your other post that you checked the plug wires. i wonder if some water or other conductive stuff has gotten onto/into the spark plug boot or where it plugs into the pack & is shunting part of the spark to ground or if one of the plugs is defect!! did you try to swap plugs 1 & 4 with 2 & 3 or put new ones in 2 & 3?
I had a problem with a misfire on my '98 and what we found was there was a plug wire arcing and shorting out down inside the hole right at the top of the plug. It was a new set of wires from a local parts store and the boot was shorter than on the oem plug wires. At the price of wire for these RAV's I took them back and got a different brand that had longer boots. That fixed the problem.
Problem is you can't see it down in there you can only go by feel. It didn't happen at idle, only when the engine was on a pull. Some times things like that are hard to find.
The only plugs I use are the Bosch 4418, Platinum 4. I get good use out of them - The problem with mine was not the plug but the wires. The boot on the wires did not cover the top of the plug down far enough so the spark was excapeing and shorting out to the side of the casing the plug is down in.
I don't get my wires at Parts Plus any more :roll:
i've really no idea if you can change the timing, but i remember reading somewere that the ecu uses the "knock sensor" to set the correct advance. it will set the advance until knocking is detected then back it off a little!
I am not sure whether the ECU does knock timing, but I am sure you can adjust the timing by advancing or retarding it.
use a 14mm socket, and it's just a single nut under the distributor.
at 700rpm, check your timing. stock states that it should be within 10deg. Retard your timing slightly will allow high rpm band, but the RAV4's 3S-FE is not a high reving engine, so a 0-5 deg will be the best option.
If you have to set the initial timing on a car with a distributor you probably have to short 2 pins in the ECU diag. socket to prevent the computer from controlling the timing. Otherwise the computer controls the ignition timing. Some code readers can actually do this for you. This is not the case with distributorless ignition. I have a 96 but I've never had to set initial timing. Did the 98-99 come with distributorless ignition?