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Avoid These Common Mistakes During a Valve Cover Gasket Job

Whether you are doing a valve cover gasket job to stop an oil leak or having someone else do it at a service center or garage, here are some common mistakes made that you should avoid or make part of your post-service repair check after the garage completes the job as shown in this example with a 1996 Toyota 4Runner with 280,000 miles.

The Tell-Tale Oil Leak

One of the common signs that you might have a valve cover leak is that tell-tale oil spot or puddle on your driveway or garage floor after having parked your car overnight. While not an emergency to panic over, if your engine’s oil level has gone too low for too long, it can lead to serious damage to your engine.

The valve covers job is to keep oil in where it belongs lubricating the valvetrain components and keeping dirt and other contaminants out.

Bear in mind that oil leaks can result in other ways unrelated to the valve cover gasket; however, a close visual inspection of the area where the valve cover(s) attaches to the cylinder head(s) can easily rule out or confirm a leaking valve cover.

Other possible signs and symptoms include a burning smell and/or smoke coming from under the hood due to the leaking oil making its way down the engine and onto the exhaust manifold. However, if the leak is gradual enough, all of the aforementioned signs can be missed and only detected with an oil warning on the dash panel or during a weekly routine oil check via your dipstick…you do check your oil and other fluid levels weekly right?!

Related article: How to Inspect the Transmission Fluid on a Used Prius

Valve Cover Gasket Job

Fortunately, for many cars, a valve cover gasket replacement service is one that opens itself up to DIY car maintenance that you can do at home with just a few simple tools. However, even though with the help of a Haynes or similar auto repair manual, ofttimes the devil is in the details and you can make a simple mistake that will still leave you with a leaking valve cover.

Related article: Car Will Not Start? Here’s What to Do with These Easy DIY Fixes

As an example of some of the mistakes commonly made during a valve cover gasket replacement, here is a useful recent video from the Toyota Maintenance YouTube channel where “Peter” finds a few mistakes made by someone else as a DIY maintenance fix for a leaking valve cover. Please note while the video is on a Toyota, the basics of typical valve gasket replacement shown apply to many other makes and models as well.

Watch This Before DIY Valve Cover Gasket Job

And finally…

For additional articles about DIY maintenance, here are two selected popular articles to add to your mechanic skills list: “Avoid Lube Center Scams with This Mechanic’s Step by Step DIY Oil and Filter Change Demo” and “Save Thousands Yearly in Scam Car Repairs and Maintenance with This Guide.”

COMING UP NEXT: Car Talk Points to Common Mistake Repair Shops Make Leaving You with an Unsafe Vehicle

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

Image Source: Pixabay