What is a valve cover gasket?
A valve cover gasket seals the valve cover to the top portion of the engine cylinder head. The gasket prevents motor oil from leaking out as it travels around the camshafts, rockers and valves. In addition, many spark plug ports are sealed by the valve cover gasket. In the majority of modern engines, two style of gaskets are prevalent - liquid gaskets and formed rubber gaskets. The choice of gasket will depend on the material used in the construction of the valve cover, and how much pressure the seal might be under.
What are the symptoms of a faulty valve cover gasket?
Loss of motor oil is always a concern. Having said that, the oil leaking down from the valve cover tends to soak parts on the motor. Oil is acidic, and will eat through rubber and plastic over time, causing additional problems outside of loss of oil. The portion of the gasket that seals off the spark plug port is particularly weak, and over time will let in oil where the ignition wire or coil meets the plug. Although unseen, this leak may cause an engine misfire, leading to serious problems.
How severe is a faulty valve cover gasket?
Significant. This is not a repair that will leave you on the side of the road, at least if not ignored interminably. However, if we plan to drive our car for many years and high mileage, taking care of small leaks helps to extend engine life. Plan the repair before the leak reaches the point where oil level is critically low, meaning if you are adding more than a quart every once in a while. Find a good mechanic, one who has experience in engine repair, and set an appointment.
What is the typical cost to replace a valve cover gasket?
- Estimated part(s) cost = $10 - $40
- Estimated labor cost= $100 - $300
- Estimated total cost = $110 - $340
On a happy note, the gasket will be relatively inexpensive. Depending if it’s a liquid gasket or a pre-formed rubber gasket, price will run between $10 to $40. Installation can vary greatly with the make and model of vehicle. Most valve covers are very accessible, and the labor time will be in the $100 range. Some covers need the removal of turbo plumbing and intake components removed to gain access. Labor prices in these instances can reach into the $200 to $300.
Keep in mind, pricing will vary by location and your vehicle make and model. If you're not already, save time by using Openbay to compare pricing and book an appointment with a qualified repair shop in your area.
Service article written by an ASE Master Technician