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Valve Cover and Front Timing Cover Gaskets Leak; Spark Plug recommendation

gaskets valve cover gasket front timing cover gasket oil leak spark plugs

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9 replies to this topic

#1 mountainwalker

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 06:59 PM

Recently I noticed a burning oil smell when parking our 2003 VDC 3.0L H6 after a drive, despite not seeing evidence on the floor of my garage of any serious leak. Brought the car into our very good independent garage and they found (and I also saw) an oil leak, which they said was coming from the Valve Cover Gasket and the Front Timing Cover Gasket.  

 

Alldata Repair S3000 lists the Valve Cover Gasket as 2.7 hours labor for one bank, 3.5 hours to replace both banks, with parts coming in at $29.95 for the Right, and $29.95 for the left, and $9.95 for the inner.

 

Alldata Repair S3000 lists the Timing Cover Gasket Replace Outer Cover as 2.7 hours labor and $375.30 total.  

 

He quoted $700 total for the full job.  And they are usually the best guys in both quality and price not just in town but over a dozen nearby towns.  Does this sound right?  Any general recommendations for this repair?  

 

I didn't have time to do it that day.  The tech must have tightened up the gasket, because the leak has been very slow.  Counted not more than 5 drops hitting the floor of the garage in a 24 hour period, but no doubt you can't leave a repair like this hanging or you're asking for trouble so I plan to do it this week.

 

I figured as long as we're in there, we'll have easy access to the spark plugs and since the car is at 118,500 miles, just 1500 miles shy of the 120K inspection when sparks should be changed, might not be a bad time to change them.  Any recommendations for good spark plugs?


Edited by mountainwalker, 12 November 2013 - 07:04 PM.


#2 Fairtax4me

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 10:15 PM

The timing cover is held on by 40 small bolts around the outside, and they all have to be torqued in a certain order to avoid warping or cracking the timing cover. So yes it would take several hours to remove, clean, and reinstall.

2.7 hours per side for valve cover gaskets seems a bit high, but these are not exactly easy to get to.

I recommend what the factory recommends for spark plugs. The originals have lasted almost 4 times longer than the average life of a typical spark plug, I'd stick with that brand and type.
Most likely NGK.

#3 Caboobaroo

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 11:51 PM

That sounds about right. I'm not a big fan of doing valve cover reseals on 3.0s because they are very tight and usually fairly nasty with grease and oil. Also, I would only run the stock recommendation NGK plugs in it unless you want to change them more frequently.

#4 mountainwalker

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 12:28 AM

Thanks Fairtax4me and Caboobaroo, NGK Platinum are OEM recommended.  Would there be any benefit in performance, such as fuel efficiency, in going with NGK Iridium, or any caution about using the Iridium plugs?  They are of course more expensive than the Platinum.



#5 mountainwalker

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 12:30 AM

A poster on another forum suggested that it might not be the Timing Cover Gasket leaking, but rather the Oil Cooler O-ring leaking down to the Timing Chain Cover - but don't think that can be checked without opening it up anyway.  Do you think the Timing Chain Cover Gasket is old enough that it's better to replace now?

Breakdown of Inner and Outer Cover is as follows:

Replace Inner Cover Total $381.56, 4.6 hours labor, OEM Part 13119AA006
-To R&R Water Pump Cover Gasket, Add 0.2 Labor
-To R&R Engine Block "O" Rings, Add 0.2 Labor
-Piston Pin Access Plug and/or Seal, Add 0.2 Labor

Replace Outer Cover Total $375.30, 2.7 Labor, OEM Part 13117AA004



#6 mountainwalker

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 12:31 AM

Could the Gaskets leak have been caused by longer time between oil change?  I do far less mileage than national average on this car - half to 2/3 as much as most folks - and always change the oil by the recommended mileage/time. I used regular recommended oil up until the change before last, when I tried a high quality synthetic that can go longer between changes, and I ran it for 6 months (and only a few thousand miles). I recently learned that some fuelicon1.png gets into the oil when not fully combusted, and that the longer you go between oil changes, the more fuel you can get in your oil, and fuel is a solvent. Could the longer period before this last oil change have contributed to the gaskets leak?



#7 mountainwalker

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 12:33 AM

The timing cover is held on by 40 small bolts around the outside, and they all have to be torqued in a certain order to avoid warping or cracking the timing cover. So yes it would take several hours to remove, clean, and reinstall.

2.7 hours per side for valve cover gaskets seems a bit high, but these are not exactly easy to get to.

I recommend what the factory recommends for spark plugs. The originals have lasted almost 4 times longer than the average life of a typical spark plug, I'd stick with that brand and type.
Most likely NGK.

 

Fairtax4me, would the tech have this information for the method and order of torquing, considering it's an independent garage and not a subie dealer (albeit a very good indie garage)?  It's 3.5 hours for both valve cover gaskets and 2.7 for one alone.  They say both need to be replaced.  



#8 grossgary

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 05:55 AM

replace the valve cover gaskets first and see if that cures the leaks.  valve cover gaskets leak *all the time*, very common. i would start there, then assess where you're at later.  the statistical difference between valve cover gaskets leaking and timing chain sealant leaking can not be exaggerated. replacing timing chain sealant seems way overkill and highly unlikely.

 

the timing chain cover has sealant, not a "gasket" in the traditional sense, and generally lasts the life of the car. they almost never need resealed. i've seen some have oil drops on them, but they are very, very slowly seeping, to call them "leaking" is overkill.  leave them for now and do the valve covers first, that's likely to clear up all the leaking.  in the end - there is zero cost and zero risk to leak them for later.

 

the oil cooler gaskets are very, very common and at 10 years old yours is likely to need it at some point.  they are very easy to replace, it requires removing only one fastener:

1. remove oil filter

2.  remove two coolant hoses

3.  remove the bolt holding cooler to engine block

4. replace, reassemble

 

oil changing likely did not cause the leaks and the mechanic will have access to proper  torque data...you have acess to ALLDATA apparently, he does as well (or should).



#9 Fairtax4me

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 11:42 AM

If it has an oil cooler I would definitely look there first as the source of a leak.
The timing cover is sealed with Fuji-bond from the factory, which is a very good RTV type sealer and almost never leaks.

I would certainly hope they have service info available and would not dive into that type of repair without having the torque sequence available, but the only way to know is to ask them.


Last time I changed an oil cooler o-ring I didn't have to remove any coolant hoses. Just removed the hoolow tube in the center and the hoses had enough flex that I could pull down the cooler and replace the o-rin without draining the cooling system.

Like Gary said, changing oil types would not cause the timing cover seal to start leaking. Fuel dilution in this case is a non-factor. You have to have a very poorly running engine for fuel dilution to reach a detrimental amount.

#10 Caboobaroo

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 11:45 PM

All of the 3.0 oil leaks have been mentioned that I've seen, valve covers, oil cooler o-ring and chain case. It's much easier to replace the valve covers and the o-ring then to reseal the front case cover in the car.

My wife's sedan has a small external coolant leak from the head gasket on the passenger side but no oil leaks anywhere. Hoping to get it to 150k before I yard the engine out and go through it as it does have a bit of a chain tensioner noise.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: gaskets, valve cover gasket, front timing cover gasket, oil leak, spark plugs

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