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How to Replace Valve Cover Gaskets

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Tori Tellem | Photographer
Posted May 1, 2002

The Simple Fix for the Leaky Engine

Step By Step

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  • The most difficult part of replacing valve cover gaskets is getting to the valve covers. Remove any engine components that are in the way, including the spark plug wires and the air filter. Mark the plug wires to make reassembly simpler. Once you have access, remove the valve cover bolts and lift off the covers.

  • After the covers are off, wipe away any oil buildup. It’s a good idea to cover the exposed engine parts with a towel to prevent dirt from entering the engine.

  • Not a pretty sight. The old gaskets had become useless, and you can see where the heart of the leak was. Scrape off the old gasket and wipe the covers clean.

  • New valve cover gaskets cost between $10 and $40 depending on your vehicle’s make and model, and the adhesive is a couple of bucks. Both can be found at auto parts stores. The adhesive doesn’t act as a sealant, but rather it holds the gasket onto the valve cover. Apply it to only the valve cover side of the gasket. Then snug the bolts—make sure you don’t overtighten them or you’ll distort the cover—and reinstall the plug wires and other pieces removed from the engine.

You’re under the hood doing some routine maintenance when you discover the engine is leaking oil. Don’t panic. The solution could be as simple as replacing the valve cover gaskets.

The gaskets work as seals between the cover and the engine to prevent oil from flowing out. But when the gaskets become saturated, they begin to leak. All you need to correct the situation are a few tools, new gaskets, and gasket adhesive.