Many people put off replacing their valve covers and gaskets out of fear about the expense. Dealerships and repair shops usually charge an arm and a leg to get the job done.
If you're a Volkswagen owner, we have good news: replacing your valve cover and gasket doesn't have to cost a fortune. It's something you can do at home with a few basic tools. It's actually a simple and straightforward process that will save you hundreds of dollars.
A Couple of Tips
1. Change Your Spark Plugs Too
We recommend changing your spark plugs while you have the upper intake manifold off. It’s a great way to kill two birds with one stone, even if your spark plugs seem to be working fine. Spark plugs are supposed to be replaced every 40K miles or so. They’re pretty cheap, so you might as well replace them now if they’re pushing 40K miles. VW's have relatively short recommended change intervals for spark plugs. One reason is that many VW's have turbos, and spark plugs don't last as long in turbocharged engines. Another reason is that spark plugs are much easier to remove at lesser mileage. Many VW's use aluminum heads, and if a spark plug is seized when you try to remove it, the head might be damaged. Since spark plugs are cheap and heads are expensive...
2. Order OEM Valve Covers and Gaskets Online
Dealerships charge a pretty hefty markup (about 30%) on OEM parts. They’re also likely to rope you in and make you pay them about $100 per hour in labor to get the job done. It’s just cheaper to order an OEM part online and replace it yourself.
At RealVolkswagenParts.com, you don’t have to pay a fortune for genuine OEM Volkswagen parts. We offer wholesale pricing to the public, so you would be hard-pressed to find a better deal elsewhere. Take a look at these links to our catalog to see how much money you’ll save by ordering from us:
If you’re a Volkswagen Beetle owner, you may benefit from this list of our best selling VW Beetle valve covers and gaskets:
- Part No. 051-103-483-A (gasket): For 1998-2000 Beetles
- Part No. 03L-103-483 (gasket): For 2013-2015 Beetles
- Part No. 038-103-469-E (cover): For 1998-2003 Beetles
- Part No. 03L-103-469 (cover): For 2013-2015 Beetles
How to Know if You Have a Bad Valve Cover and/or Gasket
Basically, you know that your valve cover or gasket is bad when there’s a leak. Some of the symptoms of a failing valve cover or gasket are:
- Burning oil smell
- Valve cover caked in oil, dirt, and debris
- Engine constantly running low on oil
- Reduced engine performance
When you have a leaking valve cover or gasket, your engine oil level will drop faster than normal. And of course, running with low oil levels can lead to serious engine damage. That’s why it’s important to confirm a leak in the valve cover or gasket and then replace it as soon as possible.
Here’s a good write-up on confirming a leak in the valve cover or gasket. Are you pretty sure that you have a leaking valve cover or gasket? You may want to get replacement parts before diving into the engine so you can replace the part(s) right there and then. If it turns out that your valve cover and gasket are in good shape, you can always return the replacement parts you bought.
Tools That Will Make This Project Much EasierYou just need a few basic tools to replace your VW Bug valve cover, but we recommend having a few extra tools to make the project much easier for you. Here’s a complete list of recommended tools. The ones marked by an asterisk (*) are necessary.
- 10mm socket*
- Socket wrench*
- ¼” torque wrench*
- Socket wrench extension*
- Vise grips*
- 5mm Allen head key*
- 6mm Allen head socket*
- Duct tape*
- 5mm Allen head “T” handle tool
- RTV Silicone Gasket Sealant
- Bent needle-nose pliers
Most VW valve cover bolts should be torqued to about 7 to 10 ft. lbs. (Check the spec for your specific engine.) This is lower than a standard torque wrench can accurately measure. If you don't have a 1/4" torque wrench, see if you can borrow or rent one. Properly torquing the valve cover is important to getting a good seal.
Without further ado, here's the tutorial...
VW Bug Valve Cover and Gasket Replacement Tutorial
- When your Beetle is cool enough, open the hood.
- Remove the large clamp attached to the intake hose and the throttle body.
- Pull the intake hose off the throttle body.
- Remove the clamp holding the hose attached to the PCV.
- Pull the hose off the PCV.
- Check all of the hoses for cracks, clogs, or tears and then clean or replace them if necessary.
- Remove the three vacuum lines on the opposite side of the intake manifold.
- Disconnect the brake booster line from the intake manifold.
- There are two 6mm hex bolts underneath the brake booster line. Remove them both.
- In the front of the manifold, there are five 5mm hex bolts. Remove them all. If you have trouble finding the last two bolts, they’re hidden between the manifold runners.
- Lift your upper manifold and then remove the gasket underneath. You may need to tie a string or something to hold the upper manifold up.
- Cover the lower intake manifold runners with duct tape to keep anything from falling down there.
- There are two metal tabs on the left side of the timing belt cover. Pop these open.
- Remove the eight 10mm bolts holding the valve cover in place. Underneath is the valve cover gasket.
- Thoroughly clean the valve cover and head gasket mating surfaces.
- Apply the sealant to corners and bends in the valve cover and then place the gasket in the cover. The sealant will help keep the gasket in place when you turn the cover right side up to install it. Also apply sealant to the corners and bends of the gasket.
- Put the valve cover in place. Snug up the mounting bolts by hand.
- Check online for a valve cover tightening diagram that is specific to your engine. The valve cover should be carefully tightened to prevent leaking.
- Replace your spark plugs too if you want.
- Reattach everything in the reverse order. Don’t forget to take the duct tape off the lower intake manifold!
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments about this process.