Valve cover gasket leaks


#1

I have '99 BMW 540, 76,000 miles, good condition, regular service by the manual. Just told by dealer that valve cover gaskets leak, they could see leak on engine block. Estimated repair charge $1,000.



We don’t see oil on garage floor, nor did any engine oil warning light come on. Dealer said oil was “a little low”. This dealer has always been pretty good on service and I don’t know any other mechanics in the area that I trust.



Is it reasonable that valve cover gaskets are leaking in this model at this mileage? We have never had any real problems with this car.


#2

I can’t answer with specific info about this car - though in general a valve cover leak could happen within the mileage - but especially age - you’re looking at 10 years.

As for an oil light or oil on the garage floor, you wouldn’t necessarily get that with a valve cover gasket. Eventually you would get an oil light if you let it go long enough - but that would be really bad news. Oil from the valve cover also has a really long way to go to make it to the floor and very often won’t. It pools up in nooks and crannys, mixes with dirt & other stuff, gets sort of dried up and sticky and becomes part of the general “grime” in various areas of the engine.

I do confess to never even having popped the hood on a BMW, but $1000 might not be all that expensive. I’m sure you’ll get some more knowledgeable answers, but I’ll have to assume that a) you have more than one valve cover; b) removing it requires disassembling a lot of other stuff - like the entire intake manifold among many other things.

If I were you I would probably at least go for a second opinion - just to find out how critical the work is. This is a nice car, so it probably ought to be fixed, but I’ll bet you that a very large %-age of cars on the road (BMWs included) are running around just fine oozing something from the valve cover.


#3

Valve covers are usually often located on the top of the engine, either 4 or 6 or 8 cylinder cars. I think $1,000 is too much just for changing the gasket. Try another dealer or an independent mechanic specializing in BMW. Have you tried tightening the bolts on the cover? Sometimes they are just loose.


#4

thanks for your reply and info.