How to Replace the Valve Cover Gaskets on Ford Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Ford car featured a pair of one-piece valve cover gaskets to conceal the rocker arms. Oil circulates underneath the valve covers to lubricate the valve train. It is Ford car this reason that a damaged valve cover gasket usually results in an oil leak. Replacing the Ford car valve cover gaskets usually takes less than an hour.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Valve Cover Gaskets on a Ford 351

Allow the engine to cool to avoid skin burns from hot valve covers.

Pull the breather cap off the top of the valve cover.

Remove the six bolts that secure the valve cover to the top of the cylinder head with a socket wrench and a socket extension.

Lift the valve cover off the cylinder head.

Turn the valve cover upside down, then peel the old gasket off the outer edge of the valve cover.

Apply a coat of water-resistant sealer to both sides of a replacement gasket, then position the gasket onto the outer edge of the valve cover. Ensure that the gasket's bolt holes align with the valve cover's bolt holes.

Position the valve cover onto the top of the cylinder head, ensuring that the valve cover's bolt holes align with the bolt holes on the cylinder head.

Insert each of the valve cover's six retaining bolts through the edge of the valve cover and into the cylinder head, then tighten the bolts only until they are snug, to avoid damaging the gasket.

Press the breather cap into the opening on the top of the valve cover.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket extension

  • Water-resistant sealer

 How to Replace Valve Cover Gasket in a Ford Explorer

Remove the air duct from the MAS to the throttle on the driver's side of the vehicle. Remove the throttle, the belt, the AC compressor and the hose around the intake manifold.

Remove the wiring from the compressor and the valve cover. Disconnect the vacuum hose on the carbon canister from the throttle. Remove the PCV valve and hose, the power brake vacuum hose and the remaining two hoses that are attached. Remove the bolts and the valve cover.

Disconnect and remove the battery. On the passenger side remove the alternator and drain the coolant. Remove the top radiator hose and heater hose. Remove the spark plug leads and the coil module, unplugging the low-voltage connection from the coil. Remove the bolts and the valve cover gasket.

Remove the old gasket and clean the seating area with automotive engine cleaner and a brush. Place the new gasket into the gasket seating area. Replace the bolts and tighten them. Be sure not to tighten the bolts too much or the gasket will not fit properly.

Replace the valve cover. Reconnect the low voltage connection to the coil, the spark plug leads and the coil module. Reconnect the top radiator hose, the heater hose and the alternator.

Reconnect the power brake vacuum hose, the two hoses and the PCV valve and hose. Reconnect vacuum hose on the carbon canister from the throttle and the wiring from the compressor and the valve cover.

Add oil to the engine and start the car. Allow the car to run idle for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will allow for the oil to flow back through the motor, lubricating the parts.

 How to Replace Valve Cover Gasket in a Ford F-Series

Visit a local automotive parts store to purchase your supplies and tools. It is not necessary to purchase parts that are specific to Ford. Gather your supplies and tools so that they are available and at hand prior to starting the maintenance. Allow the car engine to cool. Lift the hood and disconnect the negative battery cable for safety purposes.

Disconnect all hoses. This includes the intake hoses, the fuel pressure regulator hoses and the PCV Line hoses. Using the 10 mm socket, remove the bolts that hold the support bracket. Release the clamps attached to the compressor outlet and throttle body and remove the inter cooler out of the bottom hose. Remove the throttle body hose. Using a screwdriver, remove the throttle cap off the throttle body linkage.

Disconnect the two electrical connectors to the IAC and the TPS from the throttle body. Using the screwdriver, unscrew the EGR tube from the upper intake. Using a socket and a 1/4 inch drive ratchet disconnect the dipstick tube bracket, by removing it from the bracket mounted to the backside of the upper intake.

Separate the upper and the lower intake by removing the bolts that are attached. Lift off the upper intake and the throttle body. Remove the breather from valve cover back. Unscrew the distributor cap bolts. Move the cap and wires out of your way, allowing access to the valve cover.

Using a screwdriver, unscrew and remove the valve cover bolts. Using a little force, remove the valve cover. Remove the old gasket and all remnants that may be left behind. Using automotive engine cleaner and a cloth clean the gasket seating area.

Place the new gasket into place and replace the valve cover. Replace and tighten the bolts in sequential order, starting in the middle and working from side to side on the diagonal and run then down to where there is very slight resistance. Using a torque wrench, start in the middle again and follow the same pattern.

Reverse the steps used to remove the parts initially, putting everything back into its place.

Items you will need

  • Valve cover gasket

  • 10mm socket

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • 1/4-inch drive ratchet

  • Automotive engine cleaner

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Valve Cover Gasket on a 2.0 Zetec DOHC

Allow the engine to cool for a few hours if the car has been driven recently. Open the hood and locate the spark plug wires on top of the valve cover. Label the wires with a piece of masking tape as to which spark plug each is connected to. Grasp one of the wires by the base and pull it straight up from the top of the engine. Repeat for the other three wires.

Push the throttle cable and the cruise control cable to the side so that the valve cover can be lifted up without hindrance from the cables. Locate the black air intake tube at the rear of the valve cover. Grasp the tube by the base and pull it straight up from the valve cover. Push the tube slightly to the rear of the valve cover.

Remove the ten 8mm valve cover retaining bolts with a socket and ratchet. Carefully pull the valve cover straight up and remove it from the engine. Clean the mating surface on the engine with a clean rag, being careful not to let any debris fall into the cylinder head. Pull the old gasket from the underside of the valve cover and discard it. Make sure to remove all the pieces of gasket from the mounting groove on the underside of the valve cover.

Press a new valve cover gasket into the groove on the underside of the valve cover until it is fully seated all the way around. Lubricate the gasket with a light coating of clean motor oil applied with a finger.

Replace the valve cover on the cylinder head, making sure all of the mounting holes line up. Replace all of the retaining bolts finger-tight first, then tighten them in a crisscross pattern with a torque wrench initially to 1.5 foot-pounds, then to to 5 foot-pounds. Do not over-tighten the bolts or the plastic valve cover could warp or break.

Push the Intake pipe over the opening at the rear of the valve cover until it is fully seated. Reposition the throttle and cruise control cables back in their original places. Push each spark plug wire back onto its corresponding spark plug until it snaps into place. Remove the masking tape labels from the wires and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Masking tape

  • 8mm socket

  • Ratchet wrench

  • Clean rag

  • Clean motor oil (to lubricate new gasket)

 How to Replace Valve Cover Gasket in a Ford Focus

Disconnect the negative battery terminal and set aside. Locate the valve cover gasket. Disconnect spark plug wires from it's harness by gently pulling and twisting.

Disconnect coil plugs, wiring and remove the wiring harness. Disconnect the PCV valve and it's hose. Set the PCV valve hose aside.

Disconnect the fuel rail pressure temperature sensor from temperature sensor. Move the gas throttle bracket. Remove the valve cover gasket bolts, valve cover and the old gasket.

Use automotive engine cleaner to remove any particles that are left from the old gasket in the gasket seating area. Put in the new gasket.

Place the parts back on the motor that were removed initially, starting with the valve cover. Once the cover has been replaced, tighten the valve cover bolts in sequence. Put the gas throttle bracket back. Reconnect the fuel rail pressure temperature sensor back onto the sensor. Reconnect the PCV valve and it's hose, coil plugs, wiring and the wiring harness. Reconnect the spark plug wires from its harness and reconnect the battery terminal.

 How to Replace a Valve Cover Gasket on a 2.9 Liter V-6 Ford

Remove the eight-valve cover mounting bolts, using a 3/8-inch ratchet and socket, along with at least a 6-inch extension. Turn the bolts counterclockwise to remove them from the engine. The addition of a 3/8-inch drive swivel extension may be necessary to maneuver the socket around other engine parts.

Remove the valve cover by inserting a flat-head screwdriver between the valve cover and the engine block. Move the screwdriver around the entire valve cover and pry the cover until it is detached from the engine.

Scrape the large pieces of gasket material off the valve cover and engine mounting surface, using the tip of a flat-head screwdriver. Scrape the entire mounting surface of the engine, as well as the mounting surface of the valve cover with a razor blade or box cutter blade, in order to ensure that you have removed all of the old gasket material from both surfaces. Spray the valve cover with aerosol engine parts cleaner and wipe the lip of the cover clean, using a rag or towel.

Wrap a rag or towel around the tip of one or two of your fingers. Spray the end of the rag or towel with aerosol engine parts cleaner. Wipe the engine block mounting surface outward, away from the exposed engine parts, until the gasket material debris has been completely removed. Do not spray the engine directly with the engine parts cleaner, so as not to introduce the engine parts cleaner chemicals into your engine's oil system. This is a highly corrosive spray, which can eat through your engine's rings and seals with ease.

Hold the new valve cover gasket near the engine mounting surface to discern which side of the gasket mounts against the engine, and which side faces up to the valve cover. Set the gasket on top of the packaging box and apply a very thin layer of Permatex Grey "Gasket Maker/Sealer" to the side of the valve cover that mounts onto the engine mounting surface.

Lay the new valve cover gasket onto the engine mounting surface and gently align all eight-mounting holes with the new gasket. Use one of the valve cover mounting bolts to guide the gasket into the right place. Do not apply any pressure to the gasket with the bolt, so as not to damage the new gasket material. Once the new gasket is in place, do not move it -- the pressure of the valve cover on top of it will seal the gasket completely.

Align the valve cover over the engine mounting surface. Maneuver the valve cover so that you can set it straight down onto the new gasket, without shifting it or moving it once it is installed (moving the valve cover will push the gasket out of alignment with the engine mounting surface, and you will have to start the installation process from the beginning). Place the valve cover straight down onto the engine mounting surface and new gasket.

Insert the eight-mounting bolts by hand, to start them into their holes. Tighten the mounting bolts down in a pattern that goes from the middle outward. Tighten the center-most bolt on one side of the valve cover, and then the center-most bolt on the opposite side. Do not torque any bolts down using a ratchet -- you are only trying to snug the bolts flush with the valve cover. Repeat the tightening process outward, from the middle, until all eight bolts are snug.

Torque the valve cover mounting bolts down in the same middle-to-end pattern. Use a 3/8-inch drive torque wrench to perform this step. The proper torque specifications for the 2.9-liter Ford Cologne engine is between 25 and 27 foot-pounds of torque. If you have a torque wrench that measures in inch-pounds, convert the foot-pounds to inches by multiplying by 12. This would mean that you want to set the inch-pound torque wrench between 300 and 324 inch-pounds of torque. Torque all eight mounting bolts down.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket set

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet extension, at least 6 inches in length

  • 3/8-inch drive swivel extension (optional)

  • New valve cover gasket

  • 3/8-inch drive torque wrench (rated in foot-pounds or inch-pounds)

  • Razor blade or box cutter blade

  • 1 bottle aerosol engine parts cleaner

  • Clean rag or towel

  • 1 tube Permatex Grey "Gasket Maker/Sealer"

 How to Replace the Valve Cover Gasket on the 2003 Ford Explorer

Locate the valve covers on the top left and right side of the engine. Connect the socket to the ratchet and remove the bolts from around the edge of the valve covers.

Pull the valve covers off of the top of the engine and locate the gasket on the inner edge of the cover. Scrape the gasket off of the cover using the screw driver.

Place the new valve cover gasket onto the inner edge of the cover and replace the cover to the top of the engine. Replace the securing bolts to the covers and tighten the bolt to the torque specifications for that engine type. The torque spec for the V6 engine is 46.7 and for the V8 it is 51.9.

Items you will need

  • Ratchet

  • 5/8 inch socket

  • Flat-head screw driver

  • Replacement gasket

About the Author

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