Valve Cover, Valve Cover [6 Gasket Replacement Tips], KevweAuto

Valve Cover [6 Gasket Replacement Tips]

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The valve cover may not seem like an essential engine component, but it plays a key role in protecting internal parts and containing oil. When valve covers leak or need replacement, expensive repairs can follow.

Learning valve cover basics, watching for issues, and proper maintenance helps maximize service life.

What is a Valve Cover?

Valve Cover, Valve Cover [6 Gasket Replacement Tips], KevweAuto

Before discussing valve cover care, let’s review their function:

  • Covers the cylinder head and valvetrain components including valves, springs, rockers, cams etc.
  • Provides leakproof sealing around the cylinder head mating surface.
  • Contains splashing oil around the rockers and keeps oil vapors from escaping.
  • Allows crankcase ventilation vapors to route out.
  • Provides mounting points for some ignition and engine management sensors and components.

While simple in concept, valve covers are critical barriers protecting the top portion of engine internals.

Valve Cover Failure Modes

Like any engine part, valve covers wear out over time and miles. Here are the most common valve cover failure points:

1. Cracked, Dry or Brittle Gasket

The gasket seals between valve cover and cylinder head. Over time, heat cycles, oil exposure and clamping force wear down gaskets allowing leaks.

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2. Warped Valve Cover

Excessive heat from exhaust manifold contact can lead to a warped valve cover that no longer seals correctly.

3. Loose or Missing Fasteners

Vibration works bolts and screws loose over years of driving, causing oil leaks and potential detachment.

4. Worn PCV Valve or Breather

A clogged or defective crankcase breather cannot properly vent pressure, leading to leaks past the gasket.

Catching valve cover issues early prevents extensive oil leaks and contamination.

Symptoms of Failing Valve Covers

Watch for these common signs of deteriorating valve covers:

  • External oil leaking around the valve cover mating surface
  • Oil drips down the sides of the engine block under the cover
  • Burning oil smell from exhaust due to seepage past seals
  • Visually cracked, warped or loose covers upon inspection
  • Engine tapping or rocker noise from inadequate oil splash

Don’t ignore symptoms of valve cover failure. Repair promptly before extensive oil loss or damage occurs.

Consequences of Damaged Valve Covers

Prolonged driving with leaking, loose or warped valve covers enables further damage:

  • Oil loss leading to accelerated wear of valvetrain components
  • Oil leaks dripping onto hot exhaust manifold causing burning smells or smoke
  • Potential engine misfires if ignition components get coated in oil
  • Cylinder head corrosion and gasket damage if severe leaks continue
  • Contaminants entering the engine through loose covers

While valve covers themselves are inexpensive, their failure can enable much costlier repairs down the road.

Valve Cover Gasket Replacement Tips

Valve Cover, Valve Cover [6 Gasket Replacement Tips], KevweAuto

The most common valve cover repair is replacing the sealing gasket:

  • Use a gasket scraper to fully remove old gasket material and traces.
  • Clean the cylinder head and valve cover surfaces to bare metal.
  • Check that the valve cover is flat and undamaged before reinstalling.
  • Apply a thin layer of gasket sealant to both sides of the new gasket.
  • Torque cover bolts to factory specs in a crisscross gradual sequence.
  • Check for any lingering leaks after cleanup and resume driving.
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DIY valve cover gasket replacement is straightforward. Take care to properly prep surfaces and reseal for leakproof reliability.

Signs a Full Valve Cover Replacement is Needed

Beyond just replacing the gasket, a full valve cover swap may be required if:

  • The cover is visibly cracked or warped
  • Machining is required to resurface a gasket mating area
  • Alignment pins are damaged or cover bolt holes are compromised
  • Significant material corrosion exists and cleaning is insufficient
  • The PCV system is integrated into the cover and needs refresh

Don’t just assume the gasket alone needs replacement when removal reveals more extensive cover damage or wear.

Valve Cover Upgrade Options

Valve Cover, Valve Cover [6 Gasket Replacement Tips], KevweAuto

If replacing a damaged valve cover, consider these upgrade options while access is open:

  • Aftermarket baffles help contain oil splatter
  • Magnetic covers capture metallic debris before it circulates
  • High flow breathers improve crankcase ventilation
  • Color anodized covers for custom engine appeal
  • Billet aluminum covers for show-quality engines

While not necessary, valve cover upgrades can improve aesthetics and performance while already replacing worn factory parts.

Maintaining Good Valve Covers

Valve Cover, Valve Cover [6 Gasket Replacement Tips], KevweAuto

With some simple proactive maintenance, valve cover lifespan can be maximized:

  • Keep the PCV system in good working order to minimize pressure strains.
  • Periodically check for emerging leaks and address early before they worsen.
  • Consider replacing cover gaskets as preventive maintenance around 80-100k miles even if no leaks yet.
  • Ensure the cylinder head and block mating surfaces stay machined flat.
  • Torque cover fasteners to the proper spec during gasket replacements.
  • Upgrade to temperature and oil resistant Viton gaskets for extreme conditions.
  • Avoid direct water spraying on the valve covers when engine cleaning.
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While valve covers are maintenance items, taking care of them pays dividends by protecting expensive internal engine components. Promptly address any emerging leakage issues. With some simple periodic attention, your valve covers can deliver years and miles of reliable sealing.

Conclusion

Though often overlooked, properly functioning valve covers are essential to engine reliability and oil control. Watch for external leaks, deterioration and looseness that indicate a need for gasket replacement. Repair any warping or damage immediately as well to maintain a quality seal. Consider upgrades to valve covers and gaskets when replacements are needed. With attentive preventive maintenance and prompt leak repairs, your valve covers can protect critical components throughout your vehicle’s life.

Ejenakevwe Samuel

I'm Ejenakevwe Samuel, and my blog is all about sharing the love for cars. Through my blog, I pour my heart into educating fellow car enthusiasts in everything they need to know about their beloved rides. Whether it's driving tips, maintenance tricks, or the latest trends, I aim to empower others to make informed decisions and take care of their vehicles like a pro.

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