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Old 08-25-2016, 01:34 AM   #1
Bikelok
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Default How to change a valve cover gasket, DIY leaking valve cover gasket WRX/STI

Part 1.








How to replace a valve cover gasket for the turbo 2.0 EJ (and similar EJ types). DIY.



Both of my valve cover gaskets were leaking. Especially the right passenger side, causing the common problem of "I have smoke coming front the passenger side of the motor". The passenger side sits right over the up pipe, so when it leaks, you get smoke.







I know this has been done, but hopefully I've added something that's been missing.







This is on my 02 WRX.







Tools:



•3/8" drive ratchet



•10mm and 12mm sockets



•10mm ratcheting box wrench (swivel head is a plus)



•assorted extensions (locking ones are a big plus)



•5/8" or 16mm spark plug socket



•flat head screwdriver (for hose clamps)



•pliers, long needle nose worked well for me.



•hose hook, like this: https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Rad.../dp/B007Q3HCL4



•brake cleaner/carb cleaner



•RTV sealant (Fuji Bond, or Honda Bond HT, or Permatex Ultra Grey Rigid High-Torque RTV Silicone Gasket)



•Tarp to lay below to catch the leaking oil



•torque wrench. You might as well know it will never fit on the lower valve cover bolts, unless you are pulling the motor.







Edit: I might add here, that if your motor is really dirty, you should clean it off as best as you can before you take off the valve cover. It's very easy to get crud in the heads if everything is a mess.







Relevant torque specs.



•Valve cover bolts: 3.6ft/lbs.



•oil separator bolts: 4.7ft/lbs.



•oil filler bolts: 4.7ft/lbs.



•Spark plugs: 15 ft/lbs.



•coil pack: 12 ft/lbs.







Here are the parts needed for my 02 WRX. OEM gaskets are highly recommended:















Close ups:















This is where I cheaped out and did not go OEM. They are made in Japan. They are slightly different than OEM, but worked great. Again, I STRONGLY suggest you go with OEM gaskets. Especially the main cover and spark plug ones.







OEM left, Beck/Arnley on the right











This is the RTV I used (I really like this stuff).










About the RTV sealants, the Honda Bond HT and I believe the Fuji Bond have long cure times. The Honda Bond HT is a 18 hour cure time. I don't remember the Fuji Bond cure time, but I think its similar. The Permatex Ultra Grey Rigid High-Torque RTV Silicone Gasket) has the shortest cure time (sorry I don't know what it is).



I mention the cure times, because ideally, you should not use or start the car till the RTV has cured.



So if you can't leave your car alone after the work, then find the shortest cure time that works for you.
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Last edited by Bikelok; 03-28-2017 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:35 AM   #2
Bikelok
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Default How to change a valve cover gasket, DIY leaking valve cover gasket WRX/STI

Part 2.

To gain access to the valve covers you need to remove the following components:


I won't go into this in detail, as these are simple to remove.
•Battery, you should know how to do this part!!!!!
•Snorkus is two bolts and it pops out.
•Air cleaner assembly is two clips and two bolts way down low. When reinstalling, be sure the two lower tabs of the air box top are well seated in the slots of the lower box.
•MAF and elbow are hose clamps.
•Washer tank, unclip wire harness to washer pump(s), squeeze tab(s) and pull up on connectors, remove the two bolts, then lift up. Pop off the washer hose (2 hoses for a wagon). The washer fluid will start pouring out once the hose(s) are removed.
You should now have enough room to get at the valve covers (barely).

Right side (passenger side) will look like this:


Left side (driver side) will look like this. You need to remove the 10mm bolt that holds the wire loom bracket and pull it all back. The bracket is bolted to the body, just behind where the battery sits. The loom is held up with clothes hanger wire:


WARNING!!!! You are now going to be working on aluminum engine components! Do not gorilla anything!!!! TAKE IT EASY!!!!
I MEAN THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Right (passenger) or left (driver) side are the same for this part.
Remove the spark plugs.
Unclip the wires that lead to the coil packs. Press clip and slide out. Be careful not to snap the little "clip nubs" (the little wedges on the coil pack, that the clip actually clips on to) on the coil packs. If they break off, the clip can slide off the coil pack while you drive, disconnecting the coil pack.
Here is a picture of a "nub" (clip wedge):


Edit: some people find it easier to unbolt the coil packs first, then unclip the wires.

The white clips are at the front and the black are at the rear. Loosen the 12 mm bolt that holds the coil pack to the head. Pop the coil packs out.
To remove the plugs you will need the spark plug socket and an extension (I strongly recommend a locking extension). A 3" long one works great for me.

Right side (passenger side) specific work:

Squeeze the hose clamp on the black plastic oil separator hose (back upper part of valve cover) and slide it up.
Use the hose hook and carefully work the hose off (don't break the plastic oil separator).

Left side (driver side) specific work:


Remove the three 10mm bolts that hold the oil filler to the valve cover. Then remove the oil filler.


Use the hose hook and work the oil separator hose free. No clamp on this side.

Again, right (passenger) or left (driver) side are the same for this work.

Now you can remove the eight 10mm valve cover bolts. You can use a socket for the upper bolts, but you will only fit a ratcheting box wrench on the bottom ones. IT'S A TIGHT FIT ON THE BOTTOM.
You can now pop the valve cover off and CAREFULLY wiggle it out. A good amount of oil will pour out.
Once the covers are out, remove the three 10mm oil separator cover bolts and remove the plastic oil separator cover.

Remove the half moons from the rear of the head with the pliers. The red arrows show the locations.


Now clean up up the valve cover and oil separator. Brake cleaner worked well for me.
Clean up the head surface. Be sure to remove the remaining factory RTV off the head surface. DON'T SCRATCH THE SURFACE! Brake cleaner sprayed ONTO a lint free rag worked great for me. I would recommend NOT spraying directly onto the head.

Last edited by Bikelok; 10-03-2017 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:35 AM   #3
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Default How to change a valve cover gasket, DIY leaking valve cover gasket WRX/STI

Part 3.

Once everything is clean you can start reassembly.

Install the oil separator and gasket onto the valve cover. New gasket and the three 10mm bolts. Snug the bolts down, but not too tight or you will crack the plastic.



Lay the gaskets firmly in the grooves of the valve covers. The gaskets go in dry on this side (no RTV).
This is a dirty cover just to show you the grooves.


Installing the half moons (cylinder head plugs).
Apply a thin layer of RTV on the curved section of the half moon and set it in the head.
Here are examples on my spare head without the RTV.




Now it's time to lay down the RTV sealant on the head and this is where things get funny depending on your source. My three sources are 02-03 Factory Service Manual (FSM), a Hanes manual and the way I do it.

I applied blue tape to the areas where the RTV is applied.

The FSM areas:


The Hanes areas:


And how I do it:


Take your pick I won't push any one method. Or make up your own.

APPLY A THIN LAYER!!!!! THIN!!!!!!!!!
The RTV is applied to the head, not the gasket. If you try to put it on the gasket, you WILL scrape some off as you install it so don't bother.

Follow the directions of your RTV choice. As to a wait time to join parts.
Honda Bond HT is about 1 minute or so.

Install the grommets onto the valve cover bolts.

CAREFULLY ease the valve cover (with the gaskets FIRMLY seated in the grooves) down onto the cylinder head.
Be careful not to catch the gasket and twist it or cut it on the sharp bits of the head. Go slow. It will fit even if you think it won't.

Once it's on, I like to push it and wiggle it slightly to evenly spread the RTV.

Hand tighten the bolts to hold on the valve cover.
Once you have all the bolts threaded on hand tight, then you can use tools.

Left side installed:


Right side installed:

Last edited by Bikelok; 03-28-2017 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:37 AM   #4
Bikelok
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Default How to change a valve cover gasket, DIY leaking valve cover gasket WRX/STI

Part 4.

The Hanes manual shows a tightening sequence pattern. I've seen mention that some FSM show a tightening sequence pattern. I for the life of me can not find one in either copy of my 02-03 FSM (I have two copies).
So here is the Hanes version.
Right side (passenger):


Left side (driver):


Now these have a very low torque spec (see part 1), so tighten to snug only!!!!! You will never get a torque wrench on them with the motor in the car.

Once they are all snugged down, you can reassemble everything in the reverse order. Time to put it all back together.

Edit: When installing the oil filler o ring, apply a thin coat of motor oil on it. Like you would an oil filter gasket.

One last note. As and older dude (who exercises regularly), this job was not difficult, but It WAS A BACK BREAKER though. I had to do the right side one weekend and the left the next weekend and recover in between. In my younger days I could have knocked them both out on the same day. Just a heads up for the creaky boned people out there.

Last edited by Bikelok; 03-28-2017 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 08-25-2016, 08:38 AM   #5
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Good thread bud. I did this twice on my 2.5 when my passenger side didn't get seated right. This same process will work for a 2.5 just be aware that there will be 2 breather hoses on each head and you won't run into any bolt seals or those longer black seals on the 2.5. everything is pretty much the same.
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Old 08-26-2016, 08:20 AM   #6
roccotrapani
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bump .. I want to do the gaskets on my forester.
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Old 08-27-2016, 12:37 AM   #7
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Great write up!
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Old 08-27-2016, 01:52 PM   #8
Bikelok
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dev6565 View Post
Good thread bud. I did this twice on my 2.5 when my passenger side didn't get seated right. This same process will work for a 2.5 just be aware that there will be 2 breather hoses on each head and you won't run into any bolt seals or those longer black seals on the 2.5. everything is pretty much the same.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nettalp View Post
Great write up!

Thank you.
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Old 08-27-2016, 05:45 PM   #9
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Default Stuck valve cover bolt

I am having trouble getting the number 2 bolt shown in the picture off for the passenger side. The head of the bolt is no longer salvageable as a result of a few unsuccessful bolt removal techniques. It's right where the body of the car starts to limit room down to about 2 inches. I was at a loss so I tried locking pliers, with no success. I'm surprised because none of the other bolts were nearly as tight as this one. Any suggestions? Are there bolt removal methods that work better than others for this situation?
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Old 08-27-2016, 08:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WORXstd View Post
I am having trouble getting the number 2 bolt shown in the picture off for the passenger side. The head of the bolt is no longer salvageable as a result of a few unsuccessful bolt removal techniques. It's right where the body of the car starts to limit room down to about 2 inches. I was at a loss so I tried locking pliers, with no success. I'm surprised because none of the other bolts were nearly as tight as this one. Any suggestions? Are there bolt removal methods that work better than others for this situation?

You might have to cut the head off with a Dremel. Then when the cover is off, back it out with locking pliers.

Good luck.
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:30 PM   #11
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Good job!
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Old 09-24-2016, 04:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark2GT View Post
Good job!

Thank you.

I added a couple of edits to hopefully make things clearer and easier.
I'll continue to do so if I think of something I missed.
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Old 10-31-2016, 03:45 PM   #13
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Wish I would have found this thread 2 weeks ago. I just did mine and I'm still leaking. Autoparts store guy said I don't need to use any sealant. However I did find some sealant around the halfmoon plugs (now I know what those are) and picked off the globs that were on the inside. Thought it was odd the guy said not to use it when I found sealant where the gasket is going.

Plus, against my better judgement, I tightened everything down in a circular pattern. As I was doing it, I was thinking 'shouldn't I do this like tightening the lug nuts on a wheel in sort of criss cross pattern?'

Hard lesson learned. Luckily it's not my daily driver. Looks like I'm finding sealant and bolting the covers on correctly.

This time I'm going to replace my spark plugs while I'm at it. They looked worn.
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:35 AM   #14
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Old 01-12-2017, 12:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2ltrho View Post
Autoparts store guy said I don't need to use any sealant..
Never listen to the Auto parts Store Guy. Most times they can't even look up the correct p/n, even if you give it to them.
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Old 01-12-2017, 12:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikelok View Post
Part 1



How to replace a valve cover gasket for the turbo 2.0 EJ (and similar EJ types). DIY.
Where were you six months ago when I needed you

Excellent write-up by the way !
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Old 01-12-2017, 08:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tim_U_33 View Post
very awesome write up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai Jack View Post
Where were you six months ago when I needed you



Excellent write-up by the way !


Thanks!
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:27 PM   #18
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great write up. thank you sir
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Old 02-19-2017, 04:11 PM   #19
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New photo and edit added.
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Old 03-08-2017, 04:32 PM   #20
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good post
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Old 03-25-2017, 04:38 PM   #21
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Can you put the photos back up please?
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Old 03-25-2017, 05:20 PM   #22
Bikelok
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billybong78 View Post
Can you put the photos back up please?


They are showing on my mobile app but not on the web view version. I don't know why that is.

I'll ask a moderator what the issue is.
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Old 03-28-2017, 11:37 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billybong78 View Post
Can you put the photos back up please?


Photos fixed.
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Old 03-29-2017, 12:58 AM   #24
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Thanks! I just finished this today, dropped a bolt in the engine bay but found it finally. The rtv is curing now, i just slathered a "thin" layer on with my finger, i hope no more leaks/smoking...
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Old 03-29-2017, 01:34 AM   #25
Bikelok
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billybong78 View Post
Thanks! I just finished this today, dropped a bolt in the engine bay but found it finally. The rtv is curing now, i just slathered a "thin" layer on with my finger, i hope no more leaks/smoking...


Cool, I hope it all works out for you.
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