The valve cover gasket helps seal the gap between the valve cover and the top of the engine. They’re typically made from rubber or cork. When this gasket is in place, it prevents oil from leaking out onto the outside of the engine. Because of the tremendous heat produced by an engine, valve cover gaskets may break down over time, causing leaks.
How this system works:
The engine valve cover is typically the topmost part of an engine and is marked with either the name of the manufacturer or the size of the engine. A valve cover gasket is put in place because the metal of the valve cover does not seal tightly enough against the metal of the top of the engine. The rubber or cork material of the valve cover gasket ensures a good seal, and helps prevent oil from spilling out of the top of the engine.
Valve cover gaskets do not typically last the life of a vehicle and should be monitored at the time of every service. Checking for oil around the valve cover is especially important for vehicles with four-cylinder engines because of an increased chance that oil could spill into spark plug tubes, causing misfires.
Oil leaks can cause damage to any engine and should be dealt with immediately.
Common reasons for this to happen:
- Blown Valve Cover Gaskets: The tremendous heat an engine produces can cause valve cover gaskets to become brittle and break down over time.
- Damaged Valve Covers: When replacing your valve cover gasket, a mechanic should also examine your valve cover(s) to make sure they are still intact. Damage to a valve cover could also cause an oil leak.
How it’s done:
A mechanic will perform a thorough inspection of the engine bay and determine the source of the leak. If the source seems to be coming from the valve cover gasket, the mechanic will replace the valve cover gasket. Different engines require different gaskets.
How important is this service?
While a small oil leak may not seem like a major issue, it can lead to both potentially dangerous and potentially costly repairs. A proactive approach to maintaining the life of an engine should include a check for oil around the valve cover. If oil leaks are discovered early, a mechanic can make the necessary repairs and avoid more significant engine issues. Oil leaks of any kind should be taken seriously and should be promptly inspected.