Signs of a Bad Valve Cover Gasket

by Robert Tomashek
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The valve cover is bolted to the top of the cylinder head and is sealed with a gasket to keep oil from leaking onto the outside of the engine. A valve cover gasket generally fails due to deterioration from age. As it begins to fail, it will allow oil to leak down the sides of the cylinder head. This seepage is the first sign of valve cover gasket failure.

Smell or Smoke

If a gasket leaks enough, the oil running down the side of the head will eventually reach the hot exhaust manifold. It will then burn, causing a burnt oil smell and possibly smoke.

Replace the Gasket

You can try tightening the valve cover bolts, but you must be careful not to bend or deform the cover flange. In almost all cases, simply replacing the gasket is the best thing to do.

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