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Old 03-27-2013, 05:59 PM   #1
paimon.soror
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Default DIY: Valve Cover / Spark Tube Seal Replacement (2007)

Hey guys ... know I dont have a lot of posts here, and I know that this is a common thing to do, but hey, more DIY's cant hurt right? Anyway, here is a little something I took care of for my GF a month ago.

Subaru Impreza Head Seal Replacement

My girlfriend just approached her 80,000 miles of operation on her 2007 Subaru
Impreza, and during the maintenance that I perform on her car, I decided to take
a look at the condition of her spark plugs. When I removed the passenger side
ignition boot, I noticed that there was oil leaking into the spark plug galley.
After doing some research, I found that this is a common issue that every Subaru
owner will face during the course of ownership. The cause was a failed head seal
and spark plug seal.

Requirements

This project is pretty extensive, and in turn, requires a significant amount of
tools to make the job easier.

  • Subaru Part: 10966AA040 (GSKT SPARK PL PIP) (2 each side)
  • Subaru Part: 13294AA073 (GSKT-ROCKER COVER) (1 eaech side)
  • 10mm Socket
  • 12mm Socket
  • 10mm Box End Wrench
  • 12mm Box End Wrench
  • A few ratchet extensions
  • Universal Joint (must have, get one)
  • Carb Cleaner
  • WD40 / PBBlaster
  • Scott ProShop Shop Towels
  • Impact Driver (optional, makes life easier)
  • Engine Oil / Filter (recommended once task is done)

It is VERY important that you get yourself a universal joint to do this task. DO NOT
start without one unless you have super midget hands and can get in tight areas.



Getting Started...

First things first is to make as much room as you can to work. If you have a newer non-turbo Impreza,
chances are you have a SOHC model which means that the head covers are going to be a bit
tough to get to. I personally removed the hood, but I wouldn't recommend this unless you know how to
throw it back on ... it can be quite cumbersome if you have trouble aligning the bolts and could end
up damaging the hood.



I am not going to go into the details of how to remove the intake and the battery, these can be found
all over the web, but ultimately this is something you want to do to make room to work. Here is the
area without the intake...



And the driver side sans battery...



Dismantling The Head (Passenger Side)

What you want to do here is disconnect any wires that are directly connected to the valve head, which
on this engine is the spark plug boots. Start by disconnecting the spark plug wires from the distributor.
If you are unsure where this is, simply follow the spark plug wire towards the back of the engine. The
distributor is found on the passenger side.



And next, remove the spark plug boots from the head itself. They will pull right out, and if you have
done a spark plug change before, they shouldn't be on there with too much grip. Another thing that you
want to remove is the intake breather hose. This uses a simple pinch clamp, and the other end is connected
the same way under the intake resonator box.



Take note of the highlights in the image below. These are 10mm bolts and there are 6 per side.
<strong>Take note</strong> that these bolts have seen their share of heat cycling during their
lifetime. You should surely spray some WD40 or PBBlaster on them just to help them break free.
These bolts aren't torqued down very hard, and can easily be removed with a box end wrench ...
<strong>DO NOT</strong> put extreme force on these bolts, if they break, you are going to be
in deep doo doo.



If you are following this tutorial correctly, and you are on the passenger side, there is one more
bolt that you need to worry about, and that is on the timing belt cover.



This is where the universal joint and some extensions will come in very handy. I took it one step
further and used an impact driver. Again, I dont recommend this unless you have used an impact
driver with a joint before. If you arent careful, you can lose control of the joint and cause some
serious damage.



Take note of the one shorter bolt on the passenger side, remember that this goes where the timing
belt cover is.

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Old 03-27-2013, 05:59 PM   #2
paimon.soror
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Removing The Fuel Rail Shield

I noticed that a few guides online don't really mention this step, but it will make the job a heck of
a lot easier. There are a total of 4 12mm bolts, and 2 10mm bolts.



The yellow colored circles are the 12mm bolts, with the solid yellow indicating the location of two
hidden bolts. The red circles are the 10mm bolts. Once you undo these, the shield easily slides
off.


Popping Off The Head Cover

Undoing the bolts isn't simply going to make the head cover come off. You will need to work a bit
to break the seal created by the rubber gasket. This can be easily done by grabbing a long flat head
screwdriver and giving it a few light taps with a hammer.



The head cover is going to gently start sliding off, and this is where the "hard" part comes, which is trying
to remove the head cover with the limited room you have. It is most certainly possible, and possible without
any excessive force. <strong>Excessive force may damage the internals of the engine, please be VERY careful
here.</strong> I eventually got the cover out by working the cover towards the back of the engine, and then
up through the engine bay. Take your time, and eventually you will get it.



Once the cover is off, check for each of the gaskets. There should be one large gasket that is either going to
be stuck to the cover, or stuck in place on the engine. You can see from the picture above that the gasket
is right on the engine. The large 'tubes' in the center of the head are the spark plug galleys. There
are two gaskets around them as well, in my case they were actually stuck on the cover.

Replacing The Gaskets

You will immediately see the difference between your new spark plug gaskets and the old ones.
The image below shows the older work seals on the left with the new seals on the right.



Give the spark plug galleys and clean with a shop towel to get the oil off, then press on the
new seals. They only go on one way, and you need to make sure they are pressed on fully and
seated evenly.



Take some time to clean the cover. Chances are there is a lifetime of oil gunk and grime that has
coated the cover, and you really want to make sure that it is nice and clean. You also want to
make sure that the valley for the gasket is free of oil and clean of any dirt an debris. Use some
carb cleaner, and dry well.



The head gasket goes on only one way, and the easiest way to figure it out is to find the curve
on the gasket to match it with the curve on the head. Make sure the seal is nice an clean, and that
it is installed fully.



Once this is done, go ahead and work on getting the head cover back on the engine. Again, be very
careful here, and take your time. It will go back on without any excessive force. Reinstall the head
cover bolts using a ratchet. To not use power tools here, you want to make them tight, but not excessive
as you may damage the gasket.

Off To The Driver Side
The driver side is going to be slightly easier as there is a bit more room to work with, but the
concept is exactly the same. There are a few extra things that you will need to worry about though


The first difference is the layout of the fuel rail shield. Above you will see a picture that I took
that hopefully shows you where all of the bolts are. These are all 12mm bolts.



Another thing you will want to remove here to make the job easier is the oil fill tube. This goes
directly to the head cover and is attached by two 10mm bolts.

Done? ... Almost

Once you reinstall everything, and make sure that all lines have been reconnected, you really should prime
the engine. Chances are when you removed the head covers, a large amount of oil spilled on the ground,
which is perfectly fine. First, you want to go and add about a half quart of oil to replace what spilled out.
What you want to do though, is have engine oil back into the heads to coat the parts.
It is very easy to do this just by removing the ignition fuse in the fuse panel under the steering wheel. Once
you do this, turn the ignition for about 3 seconds ... wait .... and again for 3 seconds. Now replace the fuse.
This simply primed the oil pump without starting the engine.

Now go ahead and start up the engine. If all goes well, your engine should turn over fine (might take a bit of
cranking since you had the battery disconnected). Quickly check the head covers, and make sure there are no leaks
and no strange noises. Let the engine idle for a bit if you can (it may stall out, again, this is because of the
battery disconnect). After the engine has warmed up, take it for a quick, gentle drive. When you return, check again
for leaks. No leaks means you did the job right!

Lastly, you will want to go ahead and do a full oil change. There is a chance that you contaminated the oil while
doing this, and it is always best to have some nice fresh oil in the car after doing some work.
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Old 03-27-2013, 06:29 PM   #3
alt14
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Great writeup! A lot of people will appreciate this since most diy on this if for 05 back
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Old 03-27-2013, 06:51 PM   #4
paimon.soror
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Thanks for the kind words. Just to comment on something that I read on previous DIYs ...

Yes: it will be a hell of a lot easier to undo the motor mount and bring the engine up a bit to get the covers off...But as shown in my DIY you dont need to. Just be VERY careful.

I have done countless work on my own car and know from experience, the less big bolts you need to remove, the better lol.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:33 PM   #5
Preludicrous
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Awesome. I have my gaskets sitting in the garage and really should get this done soon. Thanks in advance for showing me how easy it really is.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:10 PM   #6
paimon.soror
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No problem at all, feel free to shoot me a message or email me if you have any questions. The email i have registered here goes right to my cell so I can hopefully get back to you quick.

I need to do an "E" level service on the car next, so hopefully I can get another detailed DIY for you guys.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:20 PM   #7
97cv
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Love this and am looking forward to the next one!
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:59 PM   #8
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good write up i have my version coming out soon for the LGT.com crowd
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Old 04-26-2013, 06:49 PM   #9
paimon.soror
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For those of you that enjoyed this DIY, expect another (hopefully quality) DIY for ya by the end of the weekend

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Old 04-29-2013, 05:16 PM   #10
evilWagon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paimon.soror View Post
Thanks for the kind words. Just to comment on something that I read on previous DIYs ...

Yes: it will be a hell of a lot easier to undo the motor mount and bring the engine up a bit to get the covers off...But as shown in my DIY you dont need to. Just be VERY careful.

I have done countless work on my own car and know from experience, the less big bolts you need to remove, the better lol.
Good write up. In my case I couldn't get the driver side valve cover off without undoing the engine mounts, and the passenger one proved impossible to get back in place with the gasket still in position on the head (without the engine lifted).
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:05 PM   #11
paimon.soror
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I completely agree with you. To be honest I dont even know how i got it back without trashing everything along the way lol. I must have been good at jigsaw puzzles as a kid? lol
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:55 PM   #12
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wow, keep up those oil changes ! cleanest head i've ever seen on these forums!
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:08 AM   #13
paimon.soror
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All thanks to a healthy diet of M1 0w40 or Rotella T6, w/ m1 filters or subie genuine
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:58 PM   #14
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Is there much to be gained by doing this job at the same time as a timing belt? I've got a 2007 w/ 77K that's leaking some past the tubes, but not terrible. I'm sorta thinking I'll put it off until it's time for the TB replacement.
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:57 PM   #15
paimon.soror
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Well you pretty much go through the same steps to prepare for the job, so surely it will save you some time. It might also make it a bit easier to slide out the covers without having to jack up the engine like some others have done. I just don't know the affects of letting it go for another 20K miles or so until you change the TB since I did this as soon as I found out about the leak.
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:16 PM   #16
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One point (that I wish I'd done) is that before undertaking this job take a close look at whether or not you have a headgasket leak as these need to come off for that job. In my case I did but only noticed it after I finished when I was checking for valve cover leaks, so two months later the valve covers came back off.
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Old 07-11-2013, 10:02 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paimon.soror View Post
I just don't know the affects of letting it go for another 20K miles or so until you change the TB since I did this as soon as I found out about the leak.
In an ideal world I'd get to it right away, but we all know how that works. The one thing I inadvertently addressed by installing new plugs is draining any accumulated oil in the tubes. That could be the stop-gap measure every couple thousand miles going forward, and a quick way to check and see if the leak is getting worse.

Some might suggest I should just bite the bullet and do the timing belt now; that's a fair argument, but obviously a bigger job. But perhaps by the time the timing belt is really due, the head gasket(s) will be leaking and I'll just pull the engine and do EVERYTHING at once.
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Old 09-25-2013, 01:09 PM   #18
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Thanks for the nice write-up.
I changed my valve cover gaskets and spark plug tube seals yesterday and will be keeping a close eye on the oil level and the ground to see if I did a successful job. It took me a lot longer than I was hoping due to the lack of space to access the bolts on the bottom of the back (firewall side) of the valve covers. Two more inches of access space and it would have been a breeze. I still can figure out how it would be possible to use a torque wench on those 2 bolts. I had to use a box wrench to tighten them. The main reason I was changing them was because of the oil leaking into the spark plug tubes so I hope this has now been eliminated for good. One of the spark plug seals came out looking very strange. Not sure how that happened unless it was defective to begin with.

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Old 09-25-2013, 07:52 PM   #19
JoshP
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Those spark plug seals always leak like you said, I generally dont even replace them any more honestly. The oil doesnt seem to bother the boot or electrode or anything. BUT recently I pulled apart an 01 engine, with 170k miles and all 4 were bone dry! I was shocked..
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Old 11-12-2013, 12:38 AM   #20
07RezaWagon
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Just did mine today! Thanks for the write up. I didnt jack up the engine at all, but I'm sure it would have helped. It took a at least 5 minutes of maneuvering on each side to get the covers on and off lol
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:33 AM   #21
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Thanks for all the info! It helped a lot when I did mine today. Although I decided to do a valve adjustment while I was in there as well. I did the valve placements to spec via multiple other posts: .008 intake and .010 exhaust. I put the cylinders at TDC before adjusting valves as well. Now it sounds like rod 3 is knocking real bad. Any help with this issue?

97k miles

Last edited by DeviAnt985; 12-07-2013 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:17 AM   #22
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My Gf's 2.5i 09 is leaking a bit of oil into the spark plug chamber, I was looking online on what's the cause and how to fix it and I saw a (Japanese) youtube video… then I thought of Nasioc and found your write up. I'm very thankful, I'll be doing it by next weekend. She only has 55k miles but that Subie was my autocross baby… it took some punishment…
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:01 PM   #23
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Default Plugs, Wires, and Bolts Question

Okay, please forgive my ignorance, but when the valve cover gaskets and the spark plug tube seals are replaced, what do you do with the spark plugs and wires?

The plugs and wires are relatively new in my case. Do I replace them with new ones, or clean them up and put them back?

Where can I purchase affordable valve cover bolts, in case I happen to break one in the process?
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Old 04-26-2014, 12:03 PM   #24
paimon.soror
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fullarmor00 View Post
Okay, please forgive my ignorance, but when the valve cover gaskets and the spark plug tube seals are replaced, what do you do with the spark plugs and wires?

The plugs and wires are relatively new in my case. Do I replace them with new ones, or clean them up and put them back?
You can just go ahead and clean them up and put them back in. Especially the wires if they are 'relatively new'. As far as plugs go, mind you I am a rotary owner so our cars live and die by poor plugs lol.... so i would say as long as there is no excessive carbon deposits on the electrode, just give it a gentle clean with brake clean (safe), and reuse.

Quote:
Where can I purchase affordable valve cover bolts, in case I happen to break one in the process?
I will have to defer this to the more knowledgable scoobie guys, but i usually get those "smaller" things from rock auto.
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Old 04-26-2014, 06:44 PM   #25
fullarmor00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paimon.soror View Post
You can just go ahead and clean them up and put them back in. Especially the wires if they are 'relatively new'. As far as plugs go, mind you I am a rotary owner so our cars live and die by poor plugs lol.... so i would say as long as there is no excessive carbon deposits on the electrode, just give it a gentle clean with brake clean (safe), and reuse.



I will have to defer this to the more knowledgable scoobie guys, but i usually get those "smaller" things from rock auto.
Thank you paimon.soror. Really appreciate your input.
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