How do you time a VW Rabbit?

It depends on whether you have a newer model which uses the breakerless ignition, or the older versions which use points. This method is for the newer models. If you are lucky enough to have the newer model, connect your timing light per manufacturer's directions with the test lead clamped close to the #1 spark plug. Locate the timing hole in the transaxle - should be below the wide black plastic air-intake tube. Unscrew the plastic plug (counter clockwise) and stow it in a safe place. Disconnect and plug the vacuum advance hose going to the distributor. Start the engine (in Neutral, with the handbrakes on!). Once the car reaches normal operating temperature (fan should come on perhaps twice) point the timing light into the hole while squeezing the trigger. You will have to try to get the light just right so you can see both the fly wheel and a little pointer on the inside edge of the hole. The timing light pulses will show you whether the timing mark is lined up with the pointer. If it is lined up you are set. Otherwise you need to turn off the engine, then using a 13mm wrench, loosen the distributor clamp (at the base of the distributor), to where you can turn it with some effort. Start the engine and while shining the light into the hole, carefully turn the distributor while holding the base and not the cap, or you will probably have a shocking experience. While turning the distributor, you will want to make sure the timing mark (either a line, or a notch on the edge of the flywheel) is moving toward the pointer. Also, be careful to stay out of the way of the radiator fan, as it may come on without warning and scare the dickens out of you at best, or cut you up at worst. Once you get the marks lined up, carefully tighten the distributor clamp (13mm wrench), reattach the vacuum advance hose, replace the timing hole plug, and you are done. Note: Your engine idle speed must already be correct for this to be precise. You can use a dwell/tachometer to check your idle if you don't have a tach already. Idle speed should be on a sticker on the inside of the hood. Hope this helps