I need some help

Hi all! Car is a 2002 Hyundai Sonata

I was having some car trouble, so I took my car to a mechanic, and in addition to diagnosing the problems I had, he did a “complimentary vehicle inspection”. During this inspection he found that I have an oil leak. He said it’s “definitely leaking from valves but possibly somewhere else as well”. Apparently the valve covers are near where the spark plugs are? Not sure how that works, but he said since the valve covers are “right there” then the valve cover gaskets, spark plugs, and spark plug wires should be done at the same time and said all that the spark plugs and valve cover gaskets would take about 3.5 hours at $115/hour… Apparently the wires will take about 1.5 hours just themselves for a total of 5 hours and over $550 in labor…

I’ve watched some videos on replacing spark plugs on 2000-2003 hyundai sonatas, and it looks like it will take a while because I have a v6 engine and removing the intake manifold plenum is a pain. A couple videos mention it taking about an hour. I watched the wires being replaced (again, on my year/model or same model with very close year) and it looks like you just pop one off and pop another of the same length back on so the firing order isn’t screwed up. I can’t imagine that taking an hour and a half. Haven’t looked too much into replacing the valve cover gaskets yet, but after reading some comments and forum threads it looks like it’s about a half hour job.

Comments and opinions on how long this work should take? I can imagine this taking ME 3.5 hours, probably longer, because my experience is limited to oil changes, filter changes, flat tire changes, and tire rotations, I’d very likely get frustrated, tired, and bored and would therefore take short Netflix breaks, and would be rewatching youtube videos on the process 50 times.

Anyway, Removing the intake manifold looks intimidating but I’d REALLY like to avoid over $500 in labor. So any suggestions/opinions/advice on process, difficulty level, tools, mechanic’s claimed time for repairs, etc would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s what it looks like when the spark plugs are replaced on your vehicle.


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The estimate I got from driverside.com is a lot lower


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I’ve been a fan of Haynes manuals for DIY help. Find one for your car and read up on the procedures, then decide if you want to do it yourself.

What car trouble were you having?

A valve cover gasket leak does not usually create a problem except a little dripping oil and the need to keep the oil level from dropping too low for the engine’s health. I think you are right to be skeptical and analytical.

I’m always a bit suspicious of oil leaks that the owner didn’t find. How much oil are you using? How many miles per quart?

Your estimate doesn’t include plugs and wires

This mechanic wants to do the valve cover gaskets while he has it tore down doing the plugs and wires

I know,you have to add $320 to remove the spark plugs.Horrible design!

That quote you provide is for a 2002 Sonata with the 4cyl engine.


No, a 6 cylinder


I don’t like oil leaks making a mess b/c then it makes problems that would otherwise be easy to spot not so easy, and generally makes future repairs and maintenance more difficult. So I’d have the leak fixed myself. Before proceeding full speed ahead however, I’d begin by cleaning the existing oil off, and then watch over time to make sure the leak was indeed from a valve cover gasket. There are dye kits you can put in the engine oil to make that job easier, using a UV lamp to inspect for leaks. V6’s have two valve covers , and you have a 50% chance that the one that is leaking is the easiest one to fix, the one nearest to the radiator; replacing that particular gasket may not require the intake manifold be removed, so the spark plugs aren’t an issue. But if the spark plugs are due for replacement anyway, your mechanic’s idea to fix the valve cover leak at the same time is reasonable. I’ve had to replace/fix the valve covers on my Corolla 2 or 3 times over the years for leaks. On that engine (an in-line 4 design) it doesn’t take much time, for diy’er me maybe 45 minutes.

The first time I did a brake job it took me 6 hours. 3, if you don’t count the 3 hours I spent banging on the back of the rotors with a mallet because I didn’t notice the rotor screws, and going back and forth between that and a BBS trying to get people to help me. :wink: I just did all 4 brakes on my summer car this past weekend in 45 minutes, and it only took me that long because my neighbor came over for a short chat.

In short, those time estimates assume that you’ve got a good deal of repair experience. If you don’t, at least double them.

Best practice for your job is to start early on a Saturday, so that if (when) you hit a snag, you’ve got time to figure it out before you need the car to get to work.


couple of things here @msdaniel924:

–If you are unsure about the amount of time involved here, do not be afraid to get a second opinion. If you have a current working relationship with this mechanic, and trust them- then it’s not outrageous; if the car needs the work. If you do go for a second opinion, don’t tell them what the first mechanic found- ask them to do an inspection and see if they find the same issues.

–Book time can be different than actual time. Book time may call for 3.5 hours, but if this mechanic does lots of these, they may be able to do it faster. You are not just paying for the mechanics labor, but their tools, shop, experience, and knowledge. These all cost money, and save you money, time, and energy from having to do the job yourself.

–If you feel you can do the work yourself, then go for it. It can be quite the learning experience. :slight_smile: