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Discussion Starter #1
Well, today after my drive in to class I noticed a slight oil smell inside the car so I popped the hood. Sure enough, there was a little bit of oil that had leaked out of the valve cover and onto the exhaust manifold. I have never seen this area dry, ever, but now that it has started to smell I think that I should get it fixed. My question is how difficult is it to do and is there anything to watch out for. I wouldn't even be asking this question if it weren't for the fact that those sparkplug cylinders have to stay sealed good so that oil doesn't get to them. Has anyone had to do this on their own and, if so, how did it go? Were there any complications you could warn me of, etc., etc...

TIA
 

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I had my valve cover gaskets replaced on my 3.3 this past summer. I attempted to do it myself at first, but there's a lot of stuff to take out that I didn't have replacement gaskets for, so I had the local dealership do it. I can't quote the price though, because they did some other stuff that jacked the price a little.

If you do take it apart yourself, be sure to mark hoses and such where everything goes back when you're done. And for the love of god, depressurize the fuel system first!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ummm... I don't think that I have to take any of that stuff off in order to change the valve cover gaskets on a 3.5L. Please, if someone has done this on a 3.5L, let me know. It looks pretty straight forward. Just take off the plenum and pull the bolts that hold down the covers and pull the nuts on the plug 'tunnels'. I just wanted to get some feed-back from someone that has done it before I got into it.

Thanks though.
 

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I have the 3.5, and my valve cover gasket was leaking...it made a burning smell come out of my vents- it leaked onto the exhaust manifold too. I had a guy look at it, and he tightened the bolts that clamp down the gasket..and that fixed the problem. I got grease remover spray for .88 cents and it took all the oil off. Now there is no smell...maybe that could be whats wrong with your engine?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'll check how tight the bolts are on the covers, but I do know that over-tightening can cause it to leak worse and in more spots. I just don't want to run into that problem. It is only leaking on one side and it is dripping down onto the exhaust manifold. It has always been 'wet' there, but I have never gotten the burning oil smell inside the car until recently.

Thanks for the suggestion,

[ December 04, 2001: Message edited by: swartlkk ]
 

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hey my friend, this is just the ppost for me. I have the same stupid problem. I found this out because of the smell, but also when I checked my sparkplugs and pcv valve. They both have a little oil. My car runs like **** right now. You can do this yourself, but there is a lot of stuff to take off and move around. The HAYNES repair book does a good job in telling you how to do it. Just take it to someone man, it will save you a lot of trouble. The tighting of the bolts, well, I don't know about that. If you are leaking a lot like me, it just has to be the gaskets. Does your car shake in idle? Does the engine light come on sometimes? Does it run like SSSHHHIIITTTTT? :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok well I am not getting the answers that I wanted. I just wanted to know what problems I could run into from someone that has done it themselves.

To pull the 3.5L V6 valve covers do the following:

Removal:
1. Disconnect the cable from the negative battery terminal.
2. Remove the intake air plenum and cover the lower intake manifold with rags to keep out dirt.
3. Remove the ignition wires from the spark plugs. Be sure that each wire is labeled before removal to ensure correct reinstallation.
4. Unbolt the air conditioning compressor mount and pull it away from the right cylinder head.
5. Pull the ignition wire harness up from the valve cover studs and remove the valve cover studs/bolts.
6. Remove the retaining nut and O-ring from each spark plug tube.
7. Detach the valve cover.

There really doesn't seem like there is even anything that you have to really take apart. Like I said I was just looking for someone that has done it before that knew what to look out for. I have the haynes manual but I consult this forum before I do anything just to talk with other that have done it.

I might as well complete this thread with how to reinstall the valve covers...

Installation:
8. The mating surfaces of each cylinder head and valve cover must be perfectly clean when the covers are installed. Use a gasket scraper to remove all traces of sealant or old gasket material, then clean the mating surfaces with lacquer thinnner or acetone (if there's sealant or oil on the mating surfaces when the cover is installed, oil leaks may develop). Be careful not to nick or gouge the mating surfaces with the scraper.
9. Clean the mounting bolt threads with a die if necessary to remove any corrosion and restore damaged threads. Use a tap to clean the threaded holes in the heads.
10. Place the valve cover and new gasket in position, then install the bolts. Tighten the bolts in several steps to the torque listed in this Chapter's Specifications. (Valve Cover Bolts - 105 in-lbs)
11. Complete the installation by reversing the removal procedure. Start the engine and check carefully for oil leaks.

This material came from the Haynes manual for the First Generation LH platform cars.

Oh yeah I thought that I would add this from Alldatadiy.com:

Parts OEM Part Price
4 - Valve Cover Gasket 4556593 $23.20


Labor Skill Level Warr. Std.
Valve Cover Gasket
Replace
Right Bank C 1.1 1.6
Left Bank C 1.1 1.6
Both Banks C 1.3 2.3

This says that there are 4 parts to the gaskets... Is this true?

Anyway, thanks for the replies and sorry for the long post, but it is pretty informative for those that have leaking valve covers. From the looks of it the only thing that complicates this is unbolting the plenum and A/C Compressor and after that it is pretty much like taking a valve cover of a 350 Chevy.

Later

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: swartlkk ]
 

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I pulled the engine out of mine, to replace the crank. I havent taken the valve covers off, but I did have to remove the plennum, and the a/c compressor.

It's really not difficult to remove either of those. Yes there are a lot of pipes, and cables attached to the plennum, but you really cant go wrong when you re-assemble. All the electrical connectors are different shapes, and the vacuum pipes can only fit in certain locations.
 

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Oh, and you dont need to worry about purging the fuel system. You wont be messing with the fuel rails.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
To babyalex27:

I don't have oil around my spark plugs, but that certainly sounds like it could be why your car is running so bad. My valve cover gasket isn't leaking enough to even show any drop in the oil level it has just gotten to the point of where I can smell the burning oil and it is annoying as hell. Neither does my check engine light come on at at all. Sounds like you may have some other gremlins in your engine somewhere.

When the check engine light comes on that means the computer has tripped a fault code that can be read by doing the key dance (ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON) and see how many times the check engine light flashes. Short bursts will be numbers followed by a pause when it moves on to the next digit. Only two digit numbers will be displayed and 55 will display when it is done giving the codes. Try this the next time that your check engine light comes on. Here is a run down of the codes that you will mostlikely see:

12 - battery disconnected within 50 Key-on cycles
55 - Completion of fault code display on Check Engine lamp.

So next time do the key dance and record the codes and get back to me. You can e-mail me at [email protected] .

Actually, Randy, could you put this and babyalex27's post into a new thread so that it is easier to follow??? Please

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks NCBrit
 

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well 1 day the engine light comes on and the next it doesn't. Do I still do the same thing with the plaing the on-off-on etc stuff?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yes. Everytime that the check engine light comes on even if it doesn't stay on, the computer will store a trouble or 'fault' code. So try the 'key-dance' and see what comes up.
 

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i submitted an urgent how-to to randy last night dealing with the MIL fault codes. it includes how to get them and what each one means. he said he would post it today so keep an eye out for it if you want to check your codes. chances are he'll post a message on the main page informing everyone that the page has been added.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
No you do not need a code machine to read the fault codes. Some of the more serious problems can be diagnosed with the DBR-ScanTool that any major shop uses. For things that go wrong with sensors and the like, the computer will store fault codes that can be read by doing the key-dance and watching the check engine light.

Keep an eye out in the how-to section for the trouble code thing.

Also Randy, if you would like you could put the previous post that described how to change the valve cover gasket into the how-to section also.
 

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been swamped, just gettiing to this. I did this with the plug tubes. A couple things to plan on.
1. Have a small torque wrench for tightening up. Autozone has free loaners around here.
2. Plan on a few hours. Took me 4 with the 6 tubes.
3. Check plugs for oil and replacee those at the same time if necessary.
4. Do not disconnect anything on the air compressor. Other than the mouinting bolts. The plenum comes off easily. A few wires and vaccuun lines. While off clean it out with a fuel injector cleaner or carb cleaner.
5. Do not be alarmed if your check engine light comes on after you are done. Give it a little bit then reset it. All the crap you flush out runs past O2 and makes it run rich for a bit. Any questions email me [email protected] Hope it makes sense
 
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