Signs of a Bad Valve Cover Gasketby Robert Tomashek
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.
Robert Tomashek is an automobile technician and educator with more than 15 years of experience. He is ASE master certified and also carries certifications from IMACA, MOOG, Monroe, EPA and Four Seasons. He has a degree in automotive/diesel technology. He has written articles for various websites and teaches automotive technology at Universal Technical Institute.