How to Set the Timing on a 2000 Subaru Outback: A Step-by-Step Guide for DIY Car Maintenance

If you’re a Subaru Outback owner, you know that keeping your vehicle running at its best is essential for its longevity. Engine timing is one of the most critical aspects of maintaining your Subaru Outback’s performance. While it may sound intimidating, setting the timing on your 2000 Subaru Outback is a task you can accomplish yourself with the right tools and knowledge.

What is Engine Timing and Why it’s Important

Engine timing refers to the position of the engine’s internal components in relation to each other. Proper engine timing helps ensure that your engine runs smoothly, efficiently, and at peak performance. A misaligned timing belt or chain can cause significant engine damage, reduced fuel efficiency, and even engine failure. Setting the timing on your Subaru Outback is essential in maintaining its optimal engine performance, keeping your vehicle running strong and dependable.

Tools and Materials Required to Set the Timing on a 2000 Subaru Outback

Before beginning the process of setting the timing, there are a few tools and materials you’ll need to gather. These may include:

  • Timing light
  • Socket set
  • Wrench set
  • Screwdrivers
  • New timing belt or chain
  • Timing belt/chain tensioner and pulley
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Make sure you have all the required tools and materials before starting to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Set the Timing

  1. Disconnect The Battery: Before beginning any work on your car’s engine, it’s essential to disconnect the battery to prevent any electrical shocks.
  2. Remove Timing Belt: Remove the timing belt cover to gain access to the belt and mark the casting marks on the camshaft timing belt pulleys with a white paint marker; this will serve as a reference point later.
  3. Align Timing Marks: Align the camshaft timing belt pulley marks with the casting marks on the upper section of the timing cover.
  4. Set Crankshaft Timing: Rotate the crankshaft pulley until the timing mark is aligned to the 0 degrees on the timing cover.
  5. Install The New Timing Belt: Install the new timing belt or chain, ensuring proper alignment of the pulleys with the casting marks.
  6. Install Tensioner: Install the timing belt tensioner and pulley and apply tension.
  7. Double Check: Recheck the alignment of the casting marks with the pulley marks and ensure proper tension on the belt.
  8. Test Run: Reinstall the timing belt cover, reconnect the battery, start the engine, and use a timing light to double-check that your engine is running at the correct timing.

Troubleshooting Tips for Any Issues That May Arise During the Process

Setting the timing on your Subaru Outback is a delicate process, and there are a few common issues you might encounter. Here are a few troubleshooting tips for common problems:

  • Issues with alignment: If the casting marks on the pulleys and timing cover don’t align, you might need to manually adjust the camshaft or crankshaft position.
  • Timing belt tension problems: If the timing belt is too loose or too tight, the engine’s performance will be affected.
  • Timing light readings: If the timing light readings are incorrect, you might need to adjust the ignition timing or the RPM values on the timing light.
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What are the benefits of setting the timing on my Subaru Outback?

Setting the timing on your car’s engine can help improve performance, fuel efficiency, and prevent engine damage caused by misaligned components.

Can I set the timing on my Subaru Outback without professional help?

Yes, you can set the timing on your Subaru Outback by following the steps outlined in this article. However, if you’re not comfortable working on your car’s engine, it’s always best to seek the help of a professional mechanic.

How often should I set the timing on my Subaru Outback?

According to Subaru, the timing belt on the 2000 Outback should be replaced every 105,000 miles or 8 years, whichever comes first. However, if you notice any decrease in your car’s performance or strange engine noises, it’s a good idea to check the timing and make any necessary adjustments.


Setting the timing on your 2000 Subaru Outback is a fundamental task that you can perform yourself with the right tools and knowledge. Proper engine timing is essential for maintaining your car’s performance, fuel efficiency, and overall longevity. By following the step-by-step guide and troubleshooting tips outlined in this article, you can rest assured that your Subaru Outback will continue to run at its best.

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Billy Covington

With a passion for all things automotive, Billy is our go-to expert on Subaru performance upgrades and modifications. He's been featured in several car magazines and blogs, and his extensive knowledge and expertise make him a valuable member of our team. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys playing guitar and writing music.

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