Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

Changing a valve cover gasket is easier than you think!  That’s why we recommend tackling it yourself.  The only tricky part of this if you’ve got a V6 engine where one valve cover gasket is blocked by the intake manifold.  If this is the case, you’ve got to remove the intake manifold to get to that valve cover.  In some cases that’s not a bad job, in others, you could have to drain and disconnect the fuel system, deal with tricky to get to brackets, or move tons of vacuum lines.  If you pop your hood and see an intake manifold cover the valve cover, take it to a mechanic!

Valve cover gaskets are usually easy to replace because they are right on the top of your motor and don’t require moving many other components to get to them.  They also are held on by bolts that are easy to remove an aren’t usually frozen.

When it comes to Subaru valve cover gaskets, they can be a bit trickier as the top of the motor is actually on the side.  When doing these we recommend having both a 10mm short socket as well as a 10mm box end wrench for the tighter areas. On a vehicle with an inline or V motor, you may need a deep socket and a few different length extensions.

As with all of our how-to videos we’ve got a few tried and true tips to make the job easier:

Tips for a Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

  • Clean everything
  • Replace everything
  • Do a valve adjustment if possible
  • Use a torque wrench

Clean

Since you’ll be opening your motor, it’s really important to keep things clean.  Valve covers are often covered in dust and dirt so it’s important to clean them as best you can before removing them to make sure dirt and sand doesn’t fall into your motor.  Once you’ve got the valve cover off, it’s important to cover any opens where debris or bolts could fall into the motor like the area around the timing chain.  Next, before reassembling things, it’s important to clean the gasket mating surface as well as the inside of the valve cover.  In this case, it’s best not to touch the valves or camshaft.

Replace

You’re obviously here to replace the valve cover gasket but don’t overlook the spark plug tube seals.  Leaky spark plug tube seals can damage your spark plugs and ignition coils cause misfires and other issues.  Spark plug tube seals sometimes come with the valve cover gasket, but other times they need to be purchased separately.  Also if there are any seals for any variable valve timing components or sensors it’s smart to replace those as well.

Valves

Some engines have adjustable valve lash.  If your engine has this capability it’s smart to do a valve adjustment while you’ve got the valve cover off.  It’s difficult to remove the valve cover without damaging the gasket so it can save yourself some money and time in the future by adjusting the valves while you already have things apart.

Torque

As we mentioned in the video the proper torque on the valve cover bolts is the key to getting a good seal on your new valve cover gasket.  Also, valve cover gasket bolts are usually small so they can strip easily especially if you have aluminum heads.  You most likely will need a torque wrench that uses inch-pounds since the torque will be low.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash