Valve Cover Gasket Leak Symptoms | With Easy Fixes

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betti holt`

In this article, we will extensively explore the valve cover gasket, one of the crucial components of a car engine’s combustion system. We will delve into its structure and address bad valve cover gasket symptoms, along with potential solutions if you encounter such issues.

Valve Cover Gasket Leak Symptoms

Understanding the vehicle, you drive can prove to be a wise step and a savior in times of emergency. You do not need to be crazy about automobiles to understand the basics, which can be tackled individually. I am thoroughly analyzing valve cover gasket symptoms here, discussing all you need to know about this engine component.

Valve Cover Gasket Symptoms: Definition

The valve cover gasket is an engine component designed to protect the cylinder head hardware. It additionally prevents any oil from escaping the engine. If your car shows any valve cover gasket leak signs we will discuss in this article, check it immediately.

Leaking Valve Cover Gasket Symptoms

When you first detect a leaking valve cover, there’s still time to address the issue before it worsens. Below are the typical valve cover gasket leak symptoms that can assist you in determining the source of its leak.

Visible Oil Leaks Or Accumulated Dirt

If you suspect your vehicle exhibits symptoms of a faulty or leaking valve cover gasket, inspect the gasket directly. A valve check can be carried out to identify potential leaks from the gasket.

A clogged or dirty valve cover gasket may also be the underlying cause of your gasket leak symptoms.

Over time, dirt and debris tend to accumulate on various engine components. Failure to periodically clean these parts can result in cracked components, ultimately leading to faulty valve cover gasket symptoms.

Low Engine Oil Level

A leak is likely if your vehicle displays symptoms of a bad valve cover gasket. The oil may leak out of the engine due to a faulty cover gasket. If left unchecked, the dashboard’s engine oil light will flash, indicating the car is low on oil.

When the engine runs on low oil, it lacks adequate lubrication in its internal components, resulting in excessive heat and friction. So, if you notice any bad valve cover gasket symptoms, have your car inspected as soon as possible to minimize any potential damage.

Burning Oil Smell From Engine

Another common leaking valve cover gasket symptom is a characteristic burning oil smell coming from the engine’s cylinder head and under the valve cover leaks; if this is happening to your car, your engine in idle will experience leaking oil drips onto the engine components, including cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds and even exhaust pipes in some cases. 

These components are hot and end up burning this oil, which gives rise to this burning oil smell which can be one of the valve cover gasket leak symptoms, a clear indication of something being wrong. It is advisable to look professionally at this rather than handling sensitive engine particles if you are not confident.

Rough Idling and Engine Misfire

Is rough idling one of the bad valve cover gasket symptoms one should be on the lookout for? The answer is yes. Rough idling is a common symptom of many engine components’ failures, including the gasket valve. It acts as a seal to ensure no oil enters the spark plug tubing in specific models.

Dashboard Warning Lights

Your dashboard blinking lights let your car catch your attention and let you know something is wrong. It should not be overlooked, or action should not be procrastinated as it can lead to stress and severe harm to the engine. If your Oil Warning Light is illuminating, it can be because of the vehicle’s insufficient oil pressure or a broken gasket and valve cover.

Smoke Coming From Engine

Even a little smoke from your car is one of the urgent bad valve cover gasket symptoms and a clear sign that your engine needs to get checked. But how is it connected to a malfunctioning valve cover gasket? Smoke can arise from the exhaust manifold or other heated engine parts in case of oil leaks within the engine.

Valve Cover Gasket Symptoms: Causes

Now that we have covered the most probable bad valve cover gasket symptoms let us discuss the causes. 

Remember that these valve cover gaskets tend to wear out over time, which can also lead to some leaking gasket symptoms. This is why one should check on it periodically to ensure minimum damage to the engine. 

That being said, the following are some other probable reasons that your vehicle is showing valve cover gasket leak symptoms:


Let us start with one of the primary reasons your car can probably show valve cover gasket leak symptoms, and overheating. It is essential to understand that every car is designed and should thus function at a specific temperature. 

An overheated engine is obviously under pressure, which can break or burst out of the valve cover gasket. This can further lead to the above-discussed leaking valve cover gasket symptoms.

 Irregular Oil Change

Another fundamental cause of lousy valve cover gasket symptoms is an irregular oil change in the engine.

Changing the oil of your engine regularly can help your engine stay healthy and avoid wear and tear for a longer period.

Extremely tight or loose valve cover bolts

If your automobile displays indications of a malfunctioning valve cover gasket, there is a high probability of a leak, which could cause oil to seep out of the engine. Ignoring this problem might lead to the engine oil light blinking on the dashboard, signifying low oil levels.

Insufficient oil may cause inadequate lubrication for the engine’s internal parts, resulting in high heat and friction. Consequently, it is recommended to have your car examined promptly if you notice any signs of a faulty valve cover gasket to avert potential damage.

Valve Cover Gasket Symptoms: How to fix it?

If your vehicle displays poor valve cover gasket signs, it is essential to examine the valve cover gasket yourself or have a professional diagnose the issue. Once identified, the next step is promptly replacing the cover gasket, ensuring that this minor issue does not escalate into a more significant engine problem.

Replacing a malfunctioning gasket with poor valve cover gasket symptoms is not overly challenging and can be accomplished in your garage. You can eliminate the faulty gasket today using a few tools and our comprehensive guide on valve cover gasket replacement.

It is important to note that delicate engine components must be handled during replacement. If you are not comfortable with this task, it is advisable to seek professional assistance to avoid causing additional damage to the engine and incurring further losses.

With that in mind, here is a detailed step-by-step guide for replacing a gasket exhibiting leaking valve cover gasket signs:

Step1: Removing The Engine Cover

Your replacement starts with the dismantling of the engine cover. This process will depend on the model of your vehicle. For instance, various engines have plastic tops that provide full coverage. In these cases, this plastic top must be completely uninstalled to provide proper access to engine components, which is the culprit of bad valve cover gasket symptoms.

Step 2: Uninstall The Engine Components Until You Get To The Valve Cover Gasket

The next step is the removal of other components of the engine until you reach the valve cover gasket. This component is generally located in a four-cylinder engine after removal. Some engines also have accelerated connections obstructing the valve cover gasket.

Step 3: Removing the Valve Cover and Remove The Bolts

Once you get to your valve cover, unscrew the nuts and bolts and take it out. This is the main component that might be responsible for the leaking valve cover gasket symptoms you might observe. It should be remembered that this component’s sealing surface needs to be flat, secure, and usable.

Step 4: Cleaning the Valve Cover

The next step to tackling your faulty valve cover gasket is to clean it. Use a gasket scraper to clean it and ensure no dirt is left on your component’s surface. After cleaning your cover, double-check for dirt and follow it up with a brake cleaner to ensure the valve cover gasket is clean and has no oil residue.

Step 5: Installation of a Gasket

The last step to stop the bad valve cover gasket symptoms is to finish the installation. This is where you repair a new cover gasket and all the necessary rubber grommets installed in the engine. Use oil-resistant vulcanization, RTV sealant, etc., to air-tight seal the valve. Then, place your part and then secure it. You can utilize a calibrated inch-pound torque wrench to ensure that bolts are tightly connected, 

Step 6: Test

The last step to ensure that the process has gone efficiently is to give the engine a test run to ensure that your car is not showing any other leaking valve cover gasket symptoms.

Valve Cover Gasket Symptoms: Lifespan and Replacement Costs

If your car shows any valve cover gasket leak symptoms, your best action is to replace it with a new one. But how long should you wait to replace your valve cover gasket? A valve cover gasket is expected to work from 50,000 to 80,000 miles on average. 

Valve Cover Gasket Symptoms: Replacement Cost

An average valve cover gasket costs a hundred to three hundred fifty dollars. The additional components will cost from about thirty to gift dollars. The other cost is for labor and ranges from seventy to three hundred dollars.  


Some frequently asked questions about Valve cover gasket symptoms have been answered below:

Is a burning oil smell coming from the engine one of the bad valve cover gasket symptoms?

Yes. A burning oil smell is one of the characteristic leaking valve cover gasket symptoms. This happens when the oil leaking from the faulty valve cover gasket gets in contact with the hot engine components. 

After how much time should one replace one’s valve cover gasket?

You should replace your valve cover gasket as soon as you start observing any bad valve cover gasket symptoms. Even if you are not, you should get your valve cover gasket checked or replaced if needed after your car surpasses 50,000 miles. 

Is a valve cover gasket leak serious?

If your engine showcases any bad valve cover gasket symptoms, you should get it checked immediately, as it is a serious issue. If left unchecked, oil leaks caused by faulty valve cover gaskets can lead to serious damage.

Can you drive with a valve cover gasket leak?

Yes, you can drive with the leak, but make sure that the number of leaks from the valve gasket is small and the oil is not plopping on hot engine parts like the exhaust manifold or pipes.

How much does it cost to fix a valve cover gasket?

Generally, the replacement cost of the valve cover gasket would be somewhere between $100 to $350. The part will cost you between $40 to $50, and the labor charges will be around $70 to $300.


A car showing you signs of distress is your cue to take care of it. They should not be overlooked or written off as usual or a pronounced effect of prolonged use. 

A valve cover gasket is essential to the engine and should not be left unattended. If your car shows any bad valve cover gasket symptoms, get it seen immediately to ensure minimum damage. It is crucial to remember that an ounce of prevention is way better and more valuable than an ounce of cure.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day.

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betti holt`

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