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

by Tim Petruccio

The 2.9-liter V-6 engine by Ford was available from 1986 through 1991 in the Ford Ranger XLT and the Ford Bronco II. The 2.9-liter Cologne engine was so named because it was built by Ford Motor Company in Cologne, Germany. The engine produced about 140-horsepower. The valve cover on the 2.9-liter Cologne covers the upper engine parts, and it is removable for upper engine repair. The gaskets on the valve covers can shrink over time, allowing oil to seep through the gaps between the valve cover and the engine block.

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.

Tip

  • Fel-Pro, a Federal Mogul company, makes a wonderful valve cover gasket that is not all that expensive. The Fel Pro gaskets are PIP or press-in-place gaskets, and are available for several different makes and models of vehicles. Fel-Pro gaskets are available at a local auto parts store. I have used Fel-Pro gaskets for most of my 20 years as a mechanic.

Warning

  • Replacing the valve cover gasket involves exposing the upper engine and engine oil system. Motor oil is petroleum based, and highly flammable. Keep this project away from open flame, spark, static electrical charge, excess heat and cigarette smoking. Failure to adhere to this warning could result in engine or vehicle fire damage.

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About the Author

Tim Petruccio is a professional writer and automotive mechanic. His writing combines more than 20 years of mechanical experience in automotive service, service management, automotive education and business ownership. He assisted in the automotive beta, which launched March 2011.

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