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Valve Cover

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What is a Valve Cover and where is it Located?

The valve cover, as you might expect, covers your valves. The intake and exhaust valves that allow air into and exhaust out of the engine cylinders, along with the various timing parts that move them need to stay lubricated to function properly. The valve cover does the important job of keeping the oil contained, and keeping dirt and debris out of the oil. 

The earliest engines didn’t have valve covers, and they tended to spit oil all over the place. This led to big messes and lots of oil refills. Eventually, some unsung hero came along with the idea of covering the whole works up. Since then engines have come with metal (stamped steel or aluminum) or plastic covers depending on the application fitted to the cylinder head to protect the valvetrain. Inline or straight engines have one valve cover, while V-shaped and flat engines have two: one for each bank of cylinders.

How do I Know if my Valve Cover Needs to be Replaced?

Valve covers can develop leaks for a number of different reasons. Valve covers made of plastic can be cracked or warped by heat, as can those made of stamped steel. Those made of aluminum (which are the most robust type of valve cover) and stamped steel can also be damaged if the bolts that hold them to the cylinder heads are over-tightened. Cracks, bending and breakage from impact can also occur. Rust is another issue with valve covers made of stamped steel. When any of these things happens, the fit to the cylinder head is compromised and oil starts to leak out. You might notice that your oil is frequently low. If you take a look inside your car or truck’s engine compartment you might even see the drops of oil that have been spit out. If the oil is leaking onto hot parts like the exhaust manifold you might smell smoke while the engine is running. 

There are a number of potential causes for oil leaks though, including the gasket in between the valve cover and the engine, so you’ll want to make sure that the valve cover is really at the root of your problem. You can visually inspect the valve cover for cracks or warping. Always start with replacing the gasket however, as it’s much more prone to fail than the cover. Also, some valve covers have holes for the spark plugs to pass through when installing into the head. These seals (known as spark plug tube seals) can leak over time. These should be replaced as well when doing the main valve cover gasket or replacing the whole cover.

If the valve cover on your car or truck is cracked or warped, you’ll want to replace it as soon as possible. Your valvetrain can be damaged by inadequate lubrication and by exposure to dirt and debris. 

Can I Replace a Valve Cover Myself?

Replacing an engine valve cover is not overly difficult, but is does require a certain degree of caution. Also, while most valve covers are pretty easy to see and get at, there can be a lot of parts in the way depending on the applications, like spark plug wires, wiring harnesses, vacuum hoses, even the intake manifold. Be sure to make note of everything getting in the way and where it goes before the job starts. It is always a good idea to take pictures beforehand.

You want to avoid damaging the cylinder head or the new valve cover. Once you remove the bolts that hold the valve cover to the cylinder head, you might still find it difficult to pull the valve cover off.  Do not use metal tools to pry off the valve cover. You risk damaging the cylinder head that way, which will lead to more leaks down the line. Instead, use a rubber mallet to tap the valve cover free. Caution also must be exercised when installing the bolts into the new cover; tightening them too much can warp or crack the cover, again, leading to further leaks. Since the valve cover gasket is exposed to the same heat as the cover itself, you might want to replace the gasket at the same time you replace the cover, as discussed earlier.

Need a Valve Cover Replacement?

The valve cover is an important component of your vehicle. If it has failed, you should seek out a replacement as soon as possible. Here at 1A Auto, we carry a large selection of aftermarket valve covers for many makes and models, and at great prices. Our valve covers make a great replacement and have incredible cost savings over a dealer unit, so replace your broken valve cover now with this great fitting alternative.

At 1A Auto, we make shopping for a replacement valve cover for your car, truck, SUV or van easy - we're here to help you select the right part for your vehicle! Call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about our aftermarket engine valve covers, warranty, compatibility or to purchase, or you can buy online.

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