Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

by Eric Lander

1.jpg (32292 bytes)After having the clutch and flywheel replaced and just getting the car back last night, I noticed a significant amount of oil leaking from the valve cover and burning off from the exhaust manifold. 

Without much effort, the source of the leaks were easily spotted.

Seeing as the engine has 76,000 miles on it, such things are to be expected. According to various online resources, I should be able to purchase a new valve cover gasket for anywhere between $10.00 and $35.00 depending upon the source.

I ended up buying the gasket from a nearby AutoZone, but I'm sure most large part stores commonly stock the part. In order to complete the job, you'll also need a high-temperature silicone gasket sealant, such as Permatrex Gasket Former, or something along those lines.

When you've gotten everything ready, just go through the following steps...

1. Disconnect the negative terminal from the battery in the trunk. You'll later be removing a series of electrical wiring as well as the PCV Valve, and it's best to not have any "juice" in the system.

CAUTION! If the radio in your vehicle is equipped with an anti-theft system, make sure you have the proper codes to reactivate it later!

2.jpg (27077 bytes)3.jpg (20073 bytes)2. With a firm grip, remove the PCV Valve and the breather hoses. You may also want to disconnect any electrical connectors near the rear of the crankcase. There were two I needed to remove. One on the left, one on the right; both in front of two bolts needed to free up the rear of the valve cover.

3. Remove the spark plug wires completely but make sure you label them (if not already labeled) so when you reconnect them, you will maintain the proper firing order.

4.jpg (55136 bytes)4. Remove the bolts securing the valve cover.

5. Disconnect any tubing that may still be connected and remove the cover carefully.

6. Remove the existing gasket and sealants that may stick to the cover or the top of the crankcase.

5.jpg (36401 bytes)6.jpg (24672 bytes)7. Depending upon the mileage of your car, the cover will most likely appear to be quite dirty. I was actually impressed with the lack of burnt oil on my cover. Regardless, it is best to completely clean the cover with the utmost care and completeness when cleaning the groove where the gasket goes. I purchased some gasket remover, but found that brake cleaner was by far the best way to go along with a toothbrush or non-metal bristled brush. Verify that the grooves on the cover are completely free of oil, water, and other foreign material.

7.jpg (27916 bytes)8. Install the gasket into the cover. 

9. Apply high temperature silicone sealant to the corners where the cam bearing caps and crank angle sensor cap meet the cylinder head. 

8.jpg (33430 bytes)9.jpg (34200 bytes)10. Put the Valve cover back onto the crankcase being careful when aligning each piece. Hand tighten the head cover bolts.

11. Using a torque wrench, tighten the bolts in the order shown. Torque bolts to 43 - 78 inch-lbs.

12. Reconnect all electrical wiring and battery.

13. Run the engine and check for any possible leaks. Hopefully there aren't any, and if not, you're all set. Drop the top and hit the highway!

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Back to the Garage 19 April, 2001