The valve cover is a metal cover that is found on very top of the engine, attached to the engine by a gasket made of rubber or cork. The valve cover and gasket seal the top of the engine and prevent oil leaks. These covers are removable so the mechanic can access the valves for adjustment but, because of the engine’s high operating temperature, it’s common for the valve cover gasket to grow brittle over time and eventually break.
Why is this small part so important? If the gasket is worn out, it will leak engine oil and the top of the engine will be covered in oil. Since the engine is losing oil, running the car for too long without an inspection and repair can cause engine damage. Here are a few signs and symptoms to look out for:
Loose or missing bolts or screws.
If you have a missing bolt or screw, it should be replaced immediately to prevent a more serious leak. If you feel comfortable replacing it yourself, remove a second bolt, take it down to your local hardware store, and ask them to match it. When installing the bolts, make sure to torque the bolts to the factory recommended torque. If you tighten them too much, you risk breaking the valve cover; if they’re too loose, they can fall out again and cause an even worse leak.
Cracks in the valve cover.
If the valve cover itself cracked or broken, it can cause serious damage to your engine. You’ll need to get a replacement. Whenever the valve cover gasket is replaced, ask your mechanic to inspect the valve cover as well.
Part of the gasket sticking out from under the valve cover.
This usually means that the piece has become warped or misshapen. That might not seem like a big deal but, if the gasket doesn’t fit properly, this can cause fluid to leak out — meaning your engine will loose oil.
Black residue around the edge of the valve cover.
Any sort of dark residue or debris around the valve cover is evidence of a leak. You might also notice a slight oil smell, from the leaked oil burning on the engine, or find oil in the spark plug wells. The gasket might not be the culprit but, whenever you suspect an oil leak, you should have the system inspected as soon as possible.
At V&F Auto, our certified mechanics use latest diagnostic equipment and high quality CARQUEST auto parts to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty on parts and labor. If it’s time for an air filtration system check, call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.