How to Set the Timing in a Johnson Outboard Motor

by Andrea Walk

Johnson is a well known and well respected name when it comes to outboard motors, but sometimes these boat motors do need maintenance. Along with changing the water pump and impeller on a regular basis, sometimes the timing on the motor needs to be adjusted too. The timing is set by adjusting the link rods inside the engine. Setting the timing on the Johnson outboard should take around an hour.

1. Hook up a flushing attachment to the end of a garden hose, place it over the engine's water inlets and then turn the hose on full blast.

2. Remove the engine cover and set it aside.

3. Attach the timing light to the number one spark plug using a pair of pliers to do so if necessary and then start the boat's motor. Allow it to run for about 10 minutes so it warms up fully.

4. Examine the timing light reading, which should read approximately eight degrees Before Top Dead Center.

5. Remove the trigger link rod socket from the ball stud by hand. Remove the socket from the ball stud and decrease the length of the link rod to increase the timing, or increase the length of the link rod to decrease timing speed. Place the socket back into the ball stud once the timing is set.

6. Remove the timing light from the spark plug. Also remove the flushing attachment and the hose and close the motor cover.

Items you will need

  • Flush attachment
  • Timing light


  • "Johnson/Evinrude Outboards, All V Engines, 1992-01"; Seloc; 2003

About the Author

Andrea Walk began writing in 2001, authoring user guides for technical software. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Loyola University, where she was a member of the Dean's Grade Review Committee for English. Walk is a member of the Automotive X-Prize team Global-E.