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Left valve cover leaking oil #5388115 03/28/20 05:03 PM
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NH73 Offline OP
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I took my 2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac in for my state inspection. They informed me that my left valve cover is leaking oil and that if it would be going on the exhaust manifold that it would be required to be replaced for inspection. Since that is not happening now, they could pass it as it is. Is this a common problem with these vehicle? Will this get worse vary quickly? Would a high mileage oil help this?


2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
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Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388125 03/28/20 05:12 PM
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Trav Offline
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Try giving the bolts a little tightening first (just snug a little don't go gorilla on them), as gaskets compress the bolts may loosen slightly..


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Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388132 03/28/20 05:21 PM
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Delta Offline
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They pop the hood on your PA inspection? Dang, I got off lucky... Anyways, it will get worse over time as the gasket gets more brittle, how long is up in the air. The valve/timing chain cover on my Tacoma has had a slow seep since I've owned it going on 10K miles now and hasn't really gotten worse up until a month ago when I seen one more drip from the corner of the valve cover.


'17 VW GTI 2.0T - 6MT - 21K - Motul X-Cess 5w40
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Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388145 03/28/20 05:32 PM
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slacktide_bitog Online Content
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valve cover gasket leaks are very common with older and high-mileage cars

I don't know how difficult the job is in your car. Sometimes it's a very easy 15-minute job, and sometimes you have to take half the engine apart to access them

Fel-Pro makes good gaskets

Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388269 03/28/20 08:08 PM
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Where in the heck in PA do you live? I have lived here almost 60 years of my life and have NEVER seen an inspection station do this....Lancaster, Huntingdon, State College! I think you should find another station to do your inspection work!


2019 VW Passat 2.0 liter gasoline DI engine, DI, 2,700 miles, Castrol Professional VW 508 0W-20
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Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: Delta] #5388327 03/28/20 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Delta
They pop the hood on your PA inspection? Dang, I got off lucky... Anyways, it will get worse over time as the gasket gets more brittle, how long is up in the air. The valve/timing chain cover on my Tacoma has had a slow seep since I've owned it going on 10K miles now and hasn't really gotten worse up until a month ago when I seen one more drip from the corner of the valve cover.


Passenger side front corner of valve cover? Yep, mine has it, too. Slight seep along both valve covers. Been doing it for at least 8 years, but it's never gotten bad enough to get on the exhaust. That's my breaking point. If it ever gets that bad, or drips onto another component that would cause a problem, or hits the ground, I'll fix it. Agree with Boomer - that's ridiculous that they looked under the hood. Here they just hook up scanner to make sure no CEL, and put a probe in the exhaust.

The station you went to probably had some overzealous new hire. Try a different location.


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Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388410 03/29/20 06:04 AM
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Olas Offline
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If the valve cover is leaking it is damaged and needs to be replaced. The valve cover is supposed to be a ‘cover’ that stops stuff taking into your valve train. Replace the valve cover immediately.

One possible alternative is that your valve cover is NOT leaking, but Your valve cover GASKET is compromised and needs to be replaced.

Remove and check both items and replace whatever is damaged.

Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388490 03/29/20 09:07 AM
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Loobit Offline
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It's a common problem for most older vehicles. The valve cover gaskets get as hard as a rock where it's closest to the exhaust. They eventually do get very bad, leaking all over the exhaust until you can smell it smoldering. I'd replace both sides and get it over with.

Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388498 03/29/20 09:23 AM
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I tried to do my valve cover gaskets a few years back, but ran into a snag. They were both leaking on my '02 Explorer. You could smell the oil when you stopped and shut it off. That involved pulling the intake manifold off in the process. Had it almost ready to pull the covers. Well, there a valve cover bolt on the drivers side at the rear of the cover that rounded off. Right up against the firewall. There's just about no space to get in there, at least with my big mitts. I put everything back together and took it to my friends shop and let them wrestle with it. It took a few hours, but the were able to get it out. If that didn't happen it wouldn't have been that big a job. Good luck.,,,

Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388511 03/29/20 09:44 AM
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aquariuscsm Offline
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Originally Posted by NH73
I took my 2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac in for my state inspection. They informed me that my left valve cover is leaking oil and that if it would be going on the exhaust manifold that it would be required to be replaced for inspection. Since that is not happening now, they could pass it as it is. Is this a common problem with these vehicle? Will this get worse vary quickly? Would a high mileage oil help this?


Maybe degrease and detail the engine, then go straight there while it's spotless and clean.


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Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: john_pifer] #5388520 03/29/20 10:01 AM
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NH73 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by john_pifer
Originally Posted by Delta
They pop the hood on your PA inspection? Dang, I got off lucky... Anyways, it will get worse over time as the gasket gets more brittle, how long is up in the air. The valve/timing chain cover on my Tacoma has had a slow seep since I've owned it going on 10K miles now and hasn't really gotten worse up until a month ago when I seen one more drip from the corner of the valve cover.


Passenger side front corner of valve cover? Yep, mine has it, too. Slight seep along both valve covers. Been doing it for at least 8 years, but it's never gotten bad enough to get on the exhaust. That's my breaking point. If it ever gets that bad, or drips onto another component that would cause a problem, or hits the ground, I'll fix it. Agree with Boomer - that's ridiculous that they looked under the hood. Here they just hook up scanner to make sure no CEL, and put a probe in the exhaust.

The station you went to probably had some overzealous new hire. Try a different location.
Here is the deal. The vehicle is still a 1 owner vehicle. Still have the free safety inspection at the dealership. Can't pass that up. The reason they probably popped the hood is they do there free multi point inspection as well. That is fine by me, because I did not catch it myself. They didn't fail it, so I can't hold them against for that. But yes, I can see what your saying, if they didn't pop the hood, them they wouldn't see it. If it is leaking unto the manifold, it looks like I should fix it anyways. All I was trying to see is what should I expect from this. I saw some good advice, but I plan on just to watch it for now.


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2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
2012 Gravely ZT XL 48 w/ Kawasaki FR730
Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: NH73] #5388642 03/29/20 12:52 PM
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Is it the 4.0 SOHC? If so valve cover leaks aren't uncommon on them. They are fairly straightforward to change out. Also check the big L shaped PCV hose. It might not be showing a problem but the 90 degree boots on either end are known to crack and leak.


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Re: Left valve cover leaking oil [Re: john_pifer] #5388729 03/29/20 03:00 PM
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Delta Offline
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Originally Posted by john_pifer
Originally Posted by Delta
They pop the hood on your PA inspection? Dang, I got off lucky... Anyways, it will get worse over time as the gasket gets more brittle, how long is up in the air. The valve/timing chain cover on my Tacoma has had a slow seep since I've owned it going on 10K miles now and hasn't really gotten worse up until a month ago when I seen one more drip from the corner of the valve cover.


Passenger side front corner of valve cover? Yep, mine has it, too.


Dang, you're good LOL

I have to refinishing the valve covers on mine as they're corroded so I might as well do all the gaskets while I'm there tearing stuff apart. I normally wouldn't worry about it, but it's driving me nuts for some reason...


'17 VW GTI 2.0T - 6MT - 21K - Motul X-Cess 5w40
'15 Camry SE - 2.5 - 26K - Edge 0w20
'09 Tacoma TRD Offroad 4x4 - 4.0 - 141K - RGT 5w30
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