Two mechanics have told me that I need the valve cover gasket in my car replaced. I have all of the classic signs of needing one–the smoke coming from under the hood, the drops of oil on the pavement after the car is parked for a few minutes, etc. The problem is that I won’t have the money until around Memorial Day. I drive about 300 miles a week. How desperate a repair is this, and what are the signs that I need to have it fixed immediately?
I’d say that the smoke coming from under the hood is the sign that you need to have it fixed immediately. If it does get bad enough, you can get fire under there. You will also end up breathing it inside of the car as the fresh air intake will pull it in.
What are you being told in terms of cost? What year is it and do you know what engine is in it?
If you’re a hands-on type of guy, you may want to pick up a repair manual from the local parts store, read the procedure for changing the gasket, and give it a try. The gasket itself is cheap, and the only real risk is crossing wires or vacuum lines. That can be avoided easily by labeling and even taking photos for reference while you proceed. You’ll save lots of money and might even find you enjoy it. You can check the oil returns and change the PCV valve while you’re there. The manual will describe it all to you.
It all depends on the car. What kind do you have? If it’s a four cylinder, it won’t be too tough, but if it’s a V6, the back one “might” be a bit of a challenge. Oh, never mind, I see. Apparently, ALL Diamante’s arae V6 equipped, so the rear cover “might” be a bit of a challenge. Like TSMB said, pick up a handbook and see if you can do it yourself. If it’s generating a lot of smoke, you might actually want to avoid parking in an attached garage until it’s fixed.
If you register an email address you can actually get access to free repair info at Autozone’s website. That might be an easier way to get an overview of the task.
Between now and the time you replace the gaskets, keep an eye on your oil level. Check it at least every time you get gas. A leaking gasket won’t do any harm to the engine as long as you don’t run low on oil.