literally hundreds of gaskets on an automobile – from the seals around the doors to the gaskets on the intake, exhaust, thermostat housing, and many other places. And yet, a majority of automobile owners do not hold them in high regard despite them having one of the hardest jobs of all: standing up to extreme heat and pressure while working to keep two parts fused together tightly.
A valve cover gasket is no different. These work to form an impenetrable seal between the valve cover and the cylinder head. They are typically made of plastic or molded rubber which tends to wear out over time and form cracks. To prevent oil from leaking out of the engine, a damaged valve cover gasket needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
How Much Does A New Valve Cover Gasket Cost?
As far as gaskets go, a valve cover gasket is pretty ordinary and are built just like any other normal gasket using rubber, plastic, and sometimes cork. Therefore, there aren’t that many different variations to each gasket except for the standard and performance varieties.
Standard aftermarket parts are usually made using cheaper materials but won’t last long. High-performance valve cover gaskets cost more but can guarantee a well-sealed cylinder for up to 10 years.
Based off of pricing gathered from various online retailers, the estimated valve cover gasket price is $0.88 – $385.99. The brand of the part and the vehicle type, however, will provide a great influence on whether the price rises from a lower to a higher end.
For example, a Bruss valve cover gasket for a 1987 Mercedes 300D only costs $14.66, but a Victor Reinz valve cover gasket for a Ford F-250 6.7L costs about $187.70. Other popular manufacturers of this part include Dorman, ACDelco, Beck Arnley, Corteco, Mopar, and Genuine.
But the valve cover replacement cost includes more than just the price of the part itself. Don’t forget that there are labor fees which must be paid when your car is brought to an auto shop.
To help you get a more accurate picture of how much the total valve cover gasket leaking cost will be, see below for a few price estimates based on year, make, and model of different vehicles.
|2009 GMC Canyon||$604|
|2014 Volkswagen Touareg||$379|
|2003 Toyota Corolla||$116|
|2011 Lexus IS350||$341|
|2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV||$139|
|2014 Porsche Cayenne||$399|
Where to Replace A Valve Cover Gasket?
Once you’re comfortable with the part that you’ve chosen and have already bought it, the next step is to find an automotive center with a good mechanic that can swap out the part for you. If this is your first time to experience a car issue, you might be confused as to where the best car shops are.
A good place to start is by trawling through your local directories and yellow pages. The most popular shops in your area and the closest to your location will most likely be featured there.
Here are several other well-known automotive repair centers that you may want to consider looking up:
- Pep Boys
- Sears Auto Center
- Jiffy Lube
- AAA Automotive
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Larsen Automotive
- Northern Auto Repair
Based on estimates that we’ve gathered from all the leading auto centers, the labor price for a valve cover gasket replacement ranges between $179 and $227. Don’t forget that if your vehicle is still under warranty, it’s better to bring it to a car dealership which will allow you to have the repair done for no charge.
On the other hand, suppose you’re not so keen on the idea of spending a couple hundred dollars just to replace a gasket and have plenty of free time. Instead of bringing your vehicle to a shop, you can repair it yourself by using an easy-to-follow guide which is included in the last section.
What Does A Valve Cover Gasket Do?
A valve cover gasket works the same as any other gasket. But in order to understand its specific placement and function, you’ll need to be familiar with the parts that it supports.
An internal combustion engine has a cylinder block with a certain number of cylinders. The number of cylinders on a cylinder block depends on the type of engine and vehicle.
The cylinder head is on top of the cylinders and is a big part of the combustion process. The cylinder head contains passages which assist fuel and air with entering the cylinders.
Above the cylinder head sits a part called a valve cover which helps to seal the top of the engine. The valve cover is usually made of either metal or plastic. The valve cover gasket is sandwiched between the cylinder head and the valve cover and serves as a sealant for the two parts.
It works to keep oil inside the engine to assist during normal operation. The gasket and the parts are sealed extremely tightly to keep all pressure in. Preventing leaks is a very important function that the valve cover gasket takes care of with ease.
Valve cover gaskets are most commonly made out of rubber and like a long strip with holes cut in it for the cylinders to connect to. The number of holes on a valve cover gasket will vary depending on how many cylinders the internal combustion engine has.
A straight four- or six-cylinder engine will have 1 valve cover and a gasket with 4 or 6 holes. On the other hand, a V-style engine like a V6 or V8 will have two valve covers – one on each side and two corresponding valve cover gaskets.
Although they’re made using strong materials, valve cover gaskets will eventually succumb to the immense pressure and heat in the engine and will inevitably reveal an oil leak.
How to Know When a Valve Cover Gasket Is Going Bad?
As a bad valve cover gasket creates a really bad situation for the engine, it’s imperative to spot the warning signs before they progress into something worse. These gaskets are typically well-protected on the top and bottom but are weak at the sides.
Over time, the valve cover gasket will become brittle due to constant exposure to dirt, debris, and other elements. This will cause the material to crack and allow oil leaks to occur. Once a leak is formed, all sorts of problems can happen with the engine; leading up to complete failure if unchecked.
Here are some of the symptoms associated with a malfunctioning, damaged or corroded valve cover gasket:
- The Smell of Burnt Oil
When a valve cover gasket becomes damaged or corroded, oil can leak out from under the valve cover. If this happens while the engine is running, the oil will drip onto the surface of the extremely hot cylinder head or intake and burn up; causing a burnt oil smell to waft from the inner chamber of the engine. The smell is quite unmistakable and you should be able to identify it immediately.
If you do smell burnt oil, take a look under the hood (when the engine has cooled down) and check if the gasket is indeed leaking. If it is, have the vehicle serviced as soon as possible.
- Dirty Valve Cover is Leaking Oil
In the event that oil has leaked from the gasket but not yet spilled down onto other components, you can positively identify the leak by noting the appearance of the top of the valve cover. Over time, dirt and debris collect on the valve cover or cylinder head and when leaked oil mixes with them, it creates a sort of thick sludge that is easily noticeable.
If you’ve checked under the hood and seen this, wait until the engine is cool and then you can try to wipe the surface with a clean rag. Check back a few hours later after running the car to see if there is any visible oil escaping from the gasket.
- The Engine is Constantly Low on Oil
The engine oil light on the dashboard can light up for any number of reasons but it generally indicates that the oil in the reservoir is low. If you’ve recently topped off the amount and it seems that you have to constantly refill it, there could be a leak in some place, with the valve cover gasket being a prime suspect.
Without proper lubrication, internal engine components can build up excessive heat inside the motor and something could become damaged.
If the engine oil light is illuminated, have a look at the valve cover and cylinder head for yourself to determine if there’s any leaking going on from that area. If not, you may have to contact a mechanic to identify the source of the leak.
- Rough-Running Engine and Misfires
One of the worst things to come from a leaking valve cover gasket is an engine misfire. This happens with the oil leaks down to the spark plug galley and enters the tubes.
One of several things could happen in this case – the engine could misfire, run poorly or even catch fire in extreme cases. All of these scenarios are detrimental to the engine’s health and must be avoided.
If you notice one or all of these symptoms, verify immediately the cause and/or bring the automobile for service.