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Replacing valve cover gasket, is everything supposed to be this color?

Hi all, noticed my accord was leaking oil around the valve cover. Sure enough, the gasket was torn at one corner. Got a new gasket package, but I’m wondering about the color I’m seeing. It’s a nice mahogany, but I’m not sure that’s right. I watched a video of the valve cover of a honda integra with engine with 100k miles coming off, and everything was nice and shiny. Is the brown just because of my gasket leak? Ok otherwise? Do I need to clean this? Image links below. In the second you can see my mid-process efforts of getting the %*#% o-rings gaskets out.


The “shellac” is somewhat common, more common on engines with poor maintenance histories and plugged up PCV systems. That brown coating eventually causes rings to stick leading to a very rapid deterioration in performance.

There is nothing terribly wrong. Your engine parts are merely coated with dirty oil. At your next oil change you can run some engine flush through the system if you like and get everything all shiny.

Just to give you a point of reference so you don’t feel so bad, take a peek at some of the attached engines. Your looks pretty darned good.

lol, thanks mountainbike! And you other guys, too, glad it’s nothing I have to worry about.

I just changed the oil in this car, using full synth, hope that helps a bit.

One last question, noncritical but puzzling. The gasket package I got also contains gaskets for the 5 bolts that hold down that valve covers…but the existing bolts are flanged at the bottom, so there’s no way to take off the old gaskets, and of course, no way to slide on the new gaskets even if I had new bolts. Maybe they’re for a different model car.

It’s possible that the kit covers two versions of the engine. Manufacturers are constantly making seemingly minor changes, and things like gasket kits will sometimes be made to serve more than one version.

However, my feeling is that if the manufacturer got gaskets on the bolts originally, there is a way to remove and replace them. And I’d advise looking deeper into it. On many engines the gaskets/O-rings under the bolts determine the compression on the outer gasket, especially on those applications that use “shoulder bolts”. It’s important in those cases to replace the bolt gasket as well to ensure proper seatin gand compression of the outer gasket.

You didn’t say what the engine is or I’d try looking it up.

I don’t want to start the oil discussion again but that’s the way my engines looked when I used Pennzoil years ago. No matter how often I changed, the engines were coated.

The important thing is that in the photo I was unable to find any signs whatsoever of gumping up. To me it just looked like slightly used oil coating the surfaces. That’s a good sign.

The engine is the 99 accord 4 cyl.

And, trouble. I read that the valve cover bolts were sensitive to over-torquing…I did not realize HOW sensitive. I was trying to have a light touch but I broke one. And it is broken down in the block. Not sure what to do right now.

oh good news, my dad has a screw extractor set

A thumb and two fingers on the head of a 3/8 drive ratchet or put a 3/8 to 1/2 adapter on the top of the extension and grip it, no ratchet. This is all the torque you need. The ideal compression on the rubber gasket is 30%.