Valve Cover Gasket
You have probably heard of a valve cover gasket, but do you know what it is or why they commonly leak? It's true, the valve cover gaskets do leak quite often in any cars with more than 30,000 to 50,000 miles on them. Actually, most cars do not leak from this area of the engine, instead they "seep" which is a slower flow of oil. Seeps from the valve cover gasket are very common and while you might have a mechanic call you to have these replaced during your regular maintenance, it generally isn't an issue unless there is a true leak that is causing the vehicle to smoke, have a strong odor of burning oil, or if it negatively impacts the oil pressure or level in the vehicle.
Why is the valve cover gasket a common place for leaks? The answer is simple, in the vehicle the oil is pumped up from the bottom of the engine to the top of the engine in an attempt to lubricate the valve train. When this happens the oil naturally pools in the valve cover and then drips back inside of the engine through drain back holes that are located inside of the cylinder head. The older the vehicle is, the more likely you are going to seek a leak or seep from the valve cover gasket just because of the way that the oil flows and then pools on the inside of the cover. As long as it is a seep and not a leak you should be fine just watching the gasket covers and ensuring that it does not turn into a leak.
If you feel as though the leak is significant and warrants replacing, you will generally find that replacing he valve cover gasket is quite affordable. Generally speaking, the replacement part ranges from $10.00 to about $50.00 depending on the make and model of the vehicle that needs the placement. If you are going to install the new valve cover gasket on your own you will not only need the gasket but also a silicone gasket sealant, which can usually be found in abundance at your local auto parts store.
When you replace a valve cover gasket you will need more time than experience. If you have never done this before you will want to give yourself the better part of a day just to be sure that you have all of the time that you need to get the job done right the first time. If you rush through the job you may find that you have just as many leaks after you replace the valve cover gasket than you did before.
If you are not capable of replacing the valve cover gasket on your own, it is best left to the professionals. Depending on the vehicle that you are driving, this may be a simple and cheap fix by a professional or it may be costly. In some vehicles today the replacement may cost a few hundred dollars because of labor. Despite being expensive, it is better to have the job done right than to end up with a bigger mess on your hands because you were not able to complete the job correctly. Failure to install the new valve cover gasket could result in bigger leaks and even damage to the engine. Because of the expensive and overall relative ease of the replacement, more and more people are undertaking the replacement of a valve cover gasket on their own. Once you have done this once, it really is a very straight forward process.