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Advice on replacing valve cover gaskets?

I am the original owner of a 1986 Ford Bronco II. The valve covers [rocker arm covers, says the book] leak a bit - not very much, only about 1 quart/year so I have ignored it. For the last few years this has been my ‘spare’ vehicle and I thought about doing the repair but the valve covers are literally buried under hoses, wires, etc. so I procrastinated. Now I am going to finally stop the oil leak but I want to do this only once.

I ordered new gaskets. What do I need to be aware of to avoid screwing this up?

torquing the bolts is number 1, Take many pictures so you make sure the connections for things get put back in the proper place.

Have you checked the bolts holding the valve covers to make sure they’re snug? It’s common over time for a gasket to crush down a bit and thereby loosen the valve cover bolts. Snugging the bolts may help.

I would say avoiding breaking anything when taking the covers off,things must be pretty brittle. If you do decide to do the gaskets glue them to the cover only,that yellow glue works good,on both the cover and the gasket.

i had an old '86 ford beater too.

it needed a snugging of the valve covers about every five years. just a little snug.

since you got new ones, go ahead. but, if you haven’t got them yet, try just snugging them up.

you don’t have to honk down on them, just a bit. you will feel them loose as a goose when you first touch them.

I took the heads off of an engine a few years ago and every bolt, hanger, vacumn hose, etc. that I removed, I put in a zip lock plastic bag and labeled it with notes. This included detailed notes as to where each bolt and washer went. As I took everything apart, I placed it in a box and labeled the box accordingly as well (i.e. “left side of block” or “intake manifold”). Probably an overkill, but I didn’t have any problem putting things back together.

make correct torque all bolts and make sure sequence the bolts to balance tightness the cover from being warp if you know what I mean!

The less things (hoses, wires and such) you disconnect, the fewer you’ll have to re-connect . . . or possibly crack or something like that. If the valve covers are somewhat accessible, I’d try to “wire-up” or hang as much up away from the valve covers as I could . . . without disconnecting or removing them. You’d be surprised how much this stuff can move out of your way, just enough for you to get that valve cover off, clean it, and install the new gasket. One more thing that works for me . . . wheel bearing grease, a dab or two on a few points of the gasket, will allow it to “stick” to the valve cover while you’re putting it back on. If you have limited ability to see where the cover meets the head, and the gasket slips off, even slightly, you have a leak. The grease will allow the gasket to stick to it when it’s out of the car, so you can see what you’re doing, and then it sticks when you flip it over and re-install the cover. Good luck! Rocketman