Timing Belt Change and Engine Gaskets

My 99 Toyota Solara V6 had a timing belt change and an engine tune up less than 4K ago when it had about 60K miles on the odometer. I sent it for an oil change yesterday. My mechanci told me it had serious oil leak and needed the gaskets replaced. Should they have noted this when they did the timing belt change and the engine tune up? And would there be labor saving if they had replaced the gaskets at that time? My mechanic said there was no labor saving? Was he right? Thanks!

What gaskets need to be replaced? Specifically.

Valve cover gasket set. Part charge was $75 and labor charge was $517.

Yes. I Would Never Own A Car That Could Run Up $517 Labor For Valve Cover Gaskets.

This is more a problem with your choice of vehicle or with the cost of using this particular facility.

Have you called other shops to see what they charge for the same procedure?


Yes. I Would Never Own A Car That Could Run Up $517 Labor For Valve Cover Gaskets.

You must like to only buy straight 6 or 4 cylinders. Because V6s or V8’s these days with fuel injection could very easily incur a charge of $500 in labor. There’s a LOT to remove just to get to the valve covers.

Let Me Rephrase That. I Would Never Pay $517 To Have Valve Cover Gaskets Replaced. I Do Most Repairs And Maintenance Myself. I’ll Admit, I’m A Little “Out Of The Loop” On Costs.

I do like inlines, by the way.

I do try and buy cars that are not a nightmare to work on, though. Also, where I live labor isn’t outrageous. I can get a timing belt replaced right now on a Dodge Caravan for $120 labor, for example.


I do like inlines, by the way.

So do I.

I do try and buy cars that are not a nightmare to work on

I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THAT…But it’s getting harder and harder to find a car that’s easy to work on. $500 to replace a valve cover gasket these days is NOT that out of line…In fact on some vehicles it’s a down right bargain.

Should the mechanic have noticed the oil leak when he did the tune up and timing belt change 4k miles ago, and saved at least part of the labor when he replaced the valuve gaskets?

That Depends. Tell Us Exactly When The Leak Began. It May Have Not Been Leaking At That Time Or Not Enough To Present A Problem.

I’m going to say that it wouldn’t have made a difference in overlapping labor, unless somebody corrects me. I have installed timing belts several times, but not on a Toyota. Maybe 2 nuts that hold the top timing belt cover on a 4-cylinder I did shared valve cover studs, once. The labor difference would have been about zero. On the V-6s I’ve done, there’s no relationship.

Timing belts are covered and isolated from engine oil and fluids. Valve covers cover valve trains and cam shafts and are wet inside with oil. The gaskets keep the oil inside. So you see, the timing belt system is intentionally isolated from the valve train system.


If it had a bad leak at the time from other than the top end they should certainly have brought it to your attention since if you elected to have them repair it, it would have been more money for them.
It’s also possible that it was fine at the time but that doing the service disturbed something enough to start a leak later on.
Whether you could blame them for that or not is debatable. With cars and engines, touching one thing often ends up creating a cascade effect.
It could also be that the tune up was enough to trigger a leak. engines get ‘comfortable’. All the parts etc wear at the same rate. When you replace stuff you’ve got new parts working with old stuff and sometimes the old stuff cannot handle being with the new stuff.

Is oil running out of the engine? Or possibly enough oil is getting under the valve cover to run down to the exhaust manifold and smoke. And possibly, while filling the oil, the tech spilled a great deal of oil on an already oily spot and made note of the existing leak to minimize his clumsiness.Whatever… Quick change shop’s tickets have a list to check off and they seem to enjoy checking the line that says “oil leak.”

Thanks to you all for the comments, and the time you have taken to make them.