The national cost for a valve cover replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $84 and $911 with an average of $354.

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What is a valve cover and how does it work?

A valve cover is a protective cover that allows the engine valves to operate in a clean environment and prevents oil from escaping the engine.

Internal combustion engines such as the one found in most passenger vehicles rely on a set of pistons that pedal a crankshaft the way your legs might pedal a bicycle. The pistons move in response to rapidly expanding gases in their respective cylinders as a result of the combustion process. Each cylinder is sealed air tight so that pressure can build up inside. So, a series of valves at the top of the engine open and close in order to allow air and fuel to enter the cylinders and exhaust gases to escape.

The valve cover allows engine oil to work around the valves and other parts of the valve train without spraying all over the engine compartment and without contaminants entering the engine. Depending on the number of cylinders in your engine, there might be one or two valve covers.


How is a a Valve Cover Replacement done?

The valve cover(s) is located at the top of your engine. To replace the component, a technician will first need to remove the upper engine cover and any other shields, guards, cables, or other components that are in the way (including electrical, mechanical, and emission control parts). On larger engines with six or eight cylinders that have multiple valve covers, the intake plenum might also need to be removed (depending on which valve cover is bad).

With all components out of the way, the valve cover retaining bolts securing it to the intake manifold are removed and the valve cover is carefully dislodged from the engine. Old sealant material, whether a liquid type or a gasket (or both) must be removed from the mounting surface of the intake manifold. The technician might also check the mounting flange to make sure it is straight and undamaged.

Once the intake manifold has been prepped, a new gasket (or sealant) is put in place. The new valve cover is inserted and the retaining bolts are installed and torqued to manufacturer’s specifications. Finally, the engine is turned on and checked for oil leaks.

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National average cost of a a Valve Cover Replacement
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How do I know if my engine needs a new valve cover?

Problems with a valve cover usually stem from a bad valve cover gasket, the seal between the valve cover and the intake manifold of the engine. That said, a valve cover is made of metal or plastic and can become damaged from overheating, overtightening, frequent changes in temperature, lack of use, or contamination. You might suspect that a valve cover is bad if you notice one or more of the following signs:

Oil leaks from around the edges of the valve cover

Cracks appear in the valve cover

The oil level is low in your engine

You smell the odor of burning oil

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Other questions customers ask

What happens if you don't replace valve covers?
The main concern related to a bad valve cover or valve cover gasket is an engine oil leak. Of course, contamination of the oil is also a problem, but if your engine does not have enough oil at all times, your engine could suffer premature internal wear and damage. The oil that is left is also prone to premature thermal breakdown and contamination.
Is a valve cover gasket leak serious?
Yes. A valve cover leak, while not serious in the same immediate sense that worn out brake pads or a power steering pump leak might be, can cause your engine to run low on oil. Not only does that cause a mess inside the engine compartment, but it also leads to premature wear to the engine’s internal components, thermal breakdown of the oil, and even engine overheating.
Is a valve cover easy to fix?
Removing and replacing a valve cover, especially on some engines, is not particularly difficult in and of itself. There are a dozen or so bolts securing the valve cover to the intake manifold and a gasket sealing the space between the two. Although care must be exercised when separating the cover from the manifold, and manufacturer’s specifications must be followed when torquing the fasteners upon reassembly, the hardest part of valve cover replacement is often getting to the component in the first place.

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