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Pelican Technical Article:

Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$20

Talent:

***

Tools:

5mm Allen wrench, 10mm socket

Applicable Models:

 
Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi A4 Quattro (1997-01)
Audi TT (2000-04)
Audi TT Quattro (2000-04)
VW Beetle (1999-02)
VW Golf (2000-02)
VW Jetta (2000-02)
VW Passat (1996-00)

Parts Required:

Valve Cover Gasket Set

Hot Tip:

Change the gasket with the engine cold.

Performance Gain:

No more oil leaks

Complementary Modification:

Change spark plugs

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About the only reason you'd need to change the valve cover gasket as a stand-alone job would be if the gasket was leaking oil. However, any job that requires removing the valve cover also requires changing this gasket. This includes everything from removing the cover to paint or powder-coat it, to changing cams, servicing valve lifters, servicing the timing chain that connects the two camshafts, and so on.

The first challenge of this job is to move everything out of the way that you need to in order to lift the valve cover. The second is to prevent anything from falling into the exposed valve train area while you've got the cover removed, particularly as you work to clean off the gasket mating surface, removing any remaining bits of the old gasket.

One note; in a modern overhead-cam engine like this one, this cover is really a cam cover, not a valve cover. Because everyone still calls these things valve covers, however, that's the term I'm sticking with here.

Before starting in on the valve cover, you will need to remove the plastic engine cover, as well as the upper timing belt cover.
Figure 1

Before starting in on the valve cover, you will need to remove the plastic engine cover, as well as the upper timing belt cover. The engine cover has 3 screws that you loosen 1/4 turn and then you can lift the cover up and away. The timing belt cover has two metal clips holding it in place - you can see this in more detail in the timing belt project. You also need to remove the spark plug coils, again covered in more detail in the spark plugs project. You don't have to remove the spark plugs themselves - those are secured to the cylinder head. After you do all of this, your engine should look like this.

Remove the three 5mm Allen-head bolts that secure these tubes that run alongside the engine.
Figure 2

Remove the three 5mm Allen-head bolts that secure these tubes that run alongside the engine. Two of them are visible here.

And this is the third 5mm Allen bolt, located on the backside of the engine.
Figure 3

And this is the third 5mm Allen bolt, located on the backside of the engine.

On the backside of the valve cover, next the third Allen bolt, is this metal tab, to which some wiring is secured with a plastic zip tie.
Figure 4

On the backside of the valve cover, next the third Allen bolt, is this metal tab, to which some wiring is secured with a plastic zip tie. Cut the zip tie to separate the wiring from the valve cover.

The wiring that runs to the coils needs to be moved out of the way, as does this ground connection.
Figure 5

The wiring that runs to the coils needs to be moved out of the way, as does this ground connection. The wiring is secured by black plastic clips, which can either be opened to release the wiring or pulled straight upward to remove them from the valve cover as shown.

Use a 10mm wrench or socket to loosen the bolt holding the ground wires to the valve cover and then move them.
Figure 6

Use a 10mm wrench or socket to loosen the bolt holding the ground wires to the valve cover and then move them.

There are nine 10mm nuts holding the valve cover in place atop the cylinder head.
Figure 7

There are nine 10mm nuts holding the valve cover in place atop the cylinder head. Seven of these can be removed with a 10mm socket and ratchet, but two of them are mounted on long studs that prevent the use of a standard socket. For these you will need a deep socket or a wrench. The first one is on the front passenger side.

The second is on the passenger side at the rear.
Figure 8

The second is on the passenger side at the rear. To get the wrench on the nut I had to remove the two 8mm bolts holding the nearby heat shield in place (you can see the shield and one of the bolt holes behind my hand in this photo) and bend the shield out of the way.

This overhead view shows the remaining seven nuts that you must remove, indicated by the green arrows.
Figure 9

This overhead view shows the remaining seven nuts that you must remove, indicated by the green arrows.

Once you have the nuts loose, you can use a thin putty knife or something similar to break the seal between the valve cover and the cylinder head.
Figure 10

Once you have the nuts loose, you can use a thin putty knife or something similar to break the seal between the valve cover and the cylinder head. Be careful not to scratch or gouge the mating surface, as this will surely cause a leak later on.

Once the valve cover starts to lift, it should be easy to remove the rest of the way.
Figure 11

Once the valve cover starts to lift, it should be easy to remove the rest of the way. If it's not, double-check to be sure you've removed all nine securing nuts.

Open sesame! I probably should have cleaned the dust off of the injector wiring above the intake manifold to prevent contamination of the valve train.
Figure 12

Open sesame! I probably should have cleaned the dust off of the injector wiring above the intake manifold to prevent contamination of the valve train. In any case, at this point you need to be careful not to allow any debris to fall into the engine.

Start removing the old gasket.
Figure 13

Start removing the old gasket. On the two short ends, the gasket is flexible where it goes over an arch and fits into a groove in the cylinder head. Peel this portion of the gasket out of the groove.

On the long sides, the gasket is flat and has a metal support within it, so those portions are more rigid.
Figure 14

On the long sides, the gasket is flat and has a metal support within it, so those portions are more rigid. The portion that fits over the spark plug holes is also flat and rigid.

Here's something you don't see every day--three intake cam lobes.
Figure 15

Here's something you don't see every day - three intake cam lobes. The 1.8T engine has 20 valves: has five valves per cylinder, three on the intake side and two on the exhaust.

Carefully clean off the mating surface of the cylinder head where the new gasket will go.
Figure 16

Carefully clean off the mating surface of the cylinder head where the new gasket will go. Make sure any remaining bits of the old gasket are removed. You can do this with a rag, a mild Scotchbrite pad, or a gasket scraper for particularly stubborn pieces. Again, make very sure none of these bits of old gasket get into the engine. Clean up around the spark plug wells also.

Put the gasket for the spark plug wells in place first.
Figure 17

Put the gasket for the spark plug wells in place first. The tab goes toward the front of the engine - it would be difficult to install this incorrectly. The top and bottom of the gasket should be the same.

Before you install the new perimeter gasket, put a small amount of gasket sealant at the points where the arches in the gasket meet the flat portions.
Figure 18

Before you install the new perimeter gasket, put a small amount of gasket sealant at the points where the arches in the gasket meet the flat portions. There are four of these spots, two on the front of the engine and two on the back. Use the sealant sparingly and remove any that squeezes out when you press the gasket in place, particularly on the inside.

Lay the gasket in place and press the arched portions into the groove in the cylinder head.
Figure 19

Lay the gasket in place and press the arched portions into the groove in the cylinder head. Press it down in the corners where you placed the gasket sealant.

Take care to seat the gasket properly in the groove behind the cam gear.
Figure 20

Take care to seat the gasket properly in the groove behind the cam gear.

There, the gasket is in place.
Figure 21

There, the gasket is in place.

Time to reinstall the valve cover.
Figure 22

Time to reinstall the valve cover. It will go on more easily if you keep it parallel to the cylinder head as you lower it into place. You'll note that the valve cover is a bit cleaner than before; it's a good time to clean it up when it's off the car.

Secure the nine 10mm nuts, tightening them down as far as you can by hand.
Figure 23

Secure the nine 10mm nuts, tightening them down as far as you can by hand.

Tighten the nuts down to 84 in/lbs, working from the inside out and from side to side diagonally.
Figure 24

Tighten the nuts down to 84 in/lbs, working from the inside out and from side to side diagonally. Here's one pattern that will work.

Rather than disconnect this tube in order to get it out of the way to allow the valve cover to be removed, I used some locking pliers to bend this tab.
Figure 25

Rather than disconnect this tube in order to get it out of the way to allow the valve cover to be removed, I used some locking pliers to bend this tab. Bend the tab back in order to replace the Allen-head bolt that holds the tab to the valve head.

Put the spark plug wiring back into place and secure the ground wires again.
Figure 26

Put the spark plug wiring back into place and secure the ground wires again. Use a new zip tie to replace the one you clipped to free the wiring at the back of the valve cover. Finish up by reinstalling the coils and connecting the wiring.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Dassie Comments: Thanks for the info very informative
May 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Brian Comments: I have a 2004 A4 1.8T. The dealer advised that the valve cover gasket is leaking and needs repalccement as does the associated breather tubes and 2 vent tubes and "O" rings. The price to repair is $1,500. After reading your article for the 2002 engine I think that this may be a "do it yourself project. Is there additional info to perform this on a "2004 engine? How much will all the replacement parts cost?
March 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This article applies to:
Audi A4 (1997-02)
Audi TT (2000-04)
VW Passat (1996-00)
VW Golf (2000-02)
VW Jetta (2000-02)
VW Beetle (1999-02)

We do not have one covering the later models.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
amm0503 Comments: I have a 2003 1.8T that I need to do this with. I noticed that in the models included only went to a 2002. What is the difference between the two years and would I be able to follow these steps in replacing my gasket?
September 4, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is similar, you could use this article as a rough guide. If you are unsure and need specific guidance, grab a repair manual. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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