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Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

Symptoms:

A smell of burning oil in the cabin is usually an indicator of a leaking valve cover gasket or cam chain tensioner gasket (for B5 Passats, at least). There may also be an accumulation of oil on the belly pan and various engine components (illustration). Note that if there is a smell of gasoline in the cabin, it may be time to replace fuel injector seals.

Problem:

The valve cover gasket seals the surfaces of the cylinder head to the valve cover, which houses the engine's camshafts (illustration). Oil leaks usually occur at the rear passenger corner of the engine (for the 1.8t), most likely due to the orientation of the engine. The commonly leaky cam chain tensioner gasket is also here at the rear of the engine.

Replacing the valve cover gasket is a straightforward procedure. Besides the cost savings of replacing the gasket yourself, you can be assured of a correct installation. Many of the stories of repeated visits to the dealership for gasket replacement can likely be attributed to hurried technicians incorrectly tightening the valve cover fasteners.

Part Information & Sources:

Part numbers:

'98-05
1.8t    058 198 025 A
V6 078 198 025 (two sets required)

OEM Pricing: ~$35-$40
Adirondack Auto Brokers: $23 + shipping
DriveWire: $23 + shipping

Tools & Materials:

  • Torque wrench
  • Deep 10mm socket
  • 5mm hex driver (Allen) - must be socketed.
  • Mineral spirits (paint thinner, acetone, etc)

Due to the sensitive nature of gaskets in general, it is essential to have a good quality torque wrench available. If you enjoy working on your car, a torque wrench is a wonderful investment. A good compromise is to purchase a high quality torque wrench designed for low-torque applications (up to 20 ft-lbs or so) and a second, less expensive torque wrench for the high torque applications (up to 150 ft-lbs works well), where the wrench can be less accurate without causing problems. Expect to spend $70 or so for the low range torque wrench and $15-$30 for the high range torque wrench.

Time Required: 1-2 hours, depending on individual pace.

Valve Cover Removal:

  1. Begin by removing the plastic engine cover.
  2. To access all valve cover fasteners, the breather hose and heatshield on the passenger side of the engine need to be moved aside. The breather hose is held in place to the valve cover with a bolt - remove this. (illustration).
  3. The end of the breather hose is held onto the air intake assembly by a hose clamp - loosen the hose clamp and you'll be able to pull the end of the breather hose free. Move it aside to access the heatshield. (illustration)
  4. The heatshield is held in place by two philips screws - you may need to use a socket wrench with an angle adapter and philips bit to access the screws. Remove the heatshield.
  5. Unscrew the coilpack ground strap from the valve cover. (illustration)
  6. Using the 5mm hex driver, unscrew the coil pack fasteners. There are two bolts per coil pack. (illustration)
  7. Remove the coil packs, taking care not to bend wiring sharply or excessively flexing the coil pack's spark plug connector. (illustration)
  8. The upper plastic timing belt cover also needs to be removed to gain full access to the valve cover. Remove the two clips securing the cover and pull upward. You'll also get a chance to examine part of the timing belt at this stage for damage, though visual examination will not reveal impending failure due to age or wear.
  9. The valve cover is held in place by several nuts on bolts threaded into the cylinder head. Remove the nuts. On a few of the fasteners, the nut may be locked onto the bolt, causing the bolt to rotate with the nut during removal - as the bolt is threaded into the cylinder head, the bolt is now being unthreaded from the cylinder head. To prevent this, hold the bolt while unscrewing the nut, using padded pliers to preserve the bolt threads. This occurred on two of the bolts during this removal.
  10. With the nuts removed, grab the valve cover and pull on it vertically. The valve cover will stick at first due to the gasket seal, but it will loosen as you pull on it. It's important to pull the valve cover from both ends at the same time, to prevent warping the cover or damaging the mating surfaces. Also, as tempting as it is, do not pry the cover apart from the cylinder head. The mating surfaces need to be kept perfectly flat to ensure a good gasket seal. Set the valve cover aside. (illustration)
  11. The valve cover gasket is made up of the perimeter gasket and spark plug gasket. Pull and remove these gaskets. (illustration)

Cleaning and replacement:

  1. The mating surfaces of the valve cover and cylinder head need to be cleaned before placing the new gaskets. Simple Green (a nontoxic, mild degreaser) with a cloth towel worked well here. There will usually be some hard deposits along the mating surfaces - it takes some time to remove these. Other solvents may remove these deposits more quickly, but keep in mind that solvents should be kept away from the camshafts, lifters, etc. For the valve cover itself, there may be substantial buildup on the underside. Soaking the entire valve cover in diluted Simple Green followed by some scrubbing removed much of the material. I suspect that much of the deposit occurred with the previous owners, who had used conventional oils. Note that this photo was taken before cleaning. (illustration)
  2. The area surrounding the camshaft chain tensioner should also be cleaned and sealed before applying the new gasket. RTV sealant works well - only a small amount is needed at the corners where the camshaft chain tensioner meets the cylinder head mating surface. (illustration)
  3. Install the new gaskets.
  4. Guide the valve cover over the cylinder head bolts and lay the cover over the gaskets.
  5. Begin tightening the valve cover nuts. This is the step to take your time. To ensure a good seal, the gasket need to be compressed equally during tightening. After threading the nuts onto the bolts, begin tightening the nuts a turn or two at a time in a star pattern, as you would with car tire bolts. Be sure to include the spark plug gasket bolts in this sequence. Tighten to 84 inch-lbs / 10 Nm.
  6. Replace the coilpacks. Tighten the coilpack bolts to 84 inch-lbs / 10 Nm (as with the valve cover nuts).
  7. Reattach the ground strap - the torque isn't critical.
  8. Reattach the heatshield - again, the torque isn't critical.
  9. Reattach the breather hose bolt and hose clamp - and yet again, the torque isn't critical.

That's it! Check over the engine components to ensure you haven't missed anything, remove all tools from the engine bay, and start it up. If a leak again develops after a few days in the same location as the original, there is a possibility that the valve cover is warped. Fortunately, if this is diagnosed as the problem, a new valve cover is not outrageously expensive.

Comments:

  • Indispensable! So much clearer and comprehensive than the Haynes manual. This operation was desperately needed on my sons 2002 Passat 2.0lt. Thank you so much for posting this.
    Gene. England - Jun 2, 2014 @ 6:29 am
  • I just replaced the valve cover gasket per the process described (great write-up) on my 2000 Passat 1.8t ATW (140k miles). The gasket was the original and had become severely degraded (brittle and not compliant). I started out looking for the cause of a misfire diagnostic (P00304). I checked the usual suspects; i.e. fuel pump, fuel filter, fuel pressure reg, etc. All were negative. Finally, I decided to check the ignition components and pulled the coil pack on the offending (#4) cylinder. When I pulled the coil pack, the plug well was full of oil! The level was high enough that the oil had compromised the coil pack. That's when I decided to change the valve cover gasket. I got the OEM replacement gaskets (perimeter and spark plug) and a tube of the high-temp RTV sealant from ECS Tuning.
    Ross CT USA - Jul 25, 2012 @ 10:36 am
  • Thanks for the great help. I had a freak event during the job, and would encourage other people to DISCONNECT THE BATTERY before starting.

    We were putting the passenger side valve cover back on, when a bunch of sparking started underneath the engine. This made no sense, since we were doing nothing electrical. I finally jiggled the dip stick tube (which had been moved to the side) and the sparking stopped, then started again soon. We disconnected the battery for the remainder of the job. When we took the fairing off and got a look underneath, it seemed that the dip stick tube had been touching part of the alternator and was shorting out, probably to the oil pan. The dip stick tip got melted and was very hard to pull out.

    I don't think any lasting damage was done, but it would have been easily prevented by disconnecting the battery before starting.
    Stephen, Seattle - Jul 20, 2012 @ 2:22 pm
  • thank you for this great explaination. Had the dealer mechanic trying to tell me they did not have to torque anything to complete this job. I paid alot at the dealer ship, for something that was not done correctly, lost power and irregular timing, after the job, I had no problem, they found an oil leak. I am printing this write up and showing him to be very careful with his lies to a woman!
    - Aug 5, 2011 @ 4:24 pm
  • Just did my 2000 1.8t ATW valve cover gasket, noted the following:
    1. Step 3 - the metal breather tube would not part from the rubber hose in spite of much pursuasion. However, the lower junction between the hose and the valve was much more cooperative.
    2. Step 4 - my heat shield is held by two 10mm screws, not philips head screws.
    3. Step 13 - It is unclear in both my Haynes and this writeup where the RTV needs to go. There is a clear weak spot in the gasket at the point illustrated in both this writeup and the Haynes, but both also refer to "corners". I'm hoping you can't overdo this...
    Thanks.
    David - Jan 9, 2011 @ 9:09 pm
  • GREAT instructions with pictures! Made the job so much easier!! Just wanted to comment on the torque specs for both valve cover and coil packs - I think 84 inch-lbs is too tight, especially for the coil packs. I tightened them at 15 inch-lbs, and the valve cover at 20 inch-lbs as indicated in the Bentley write-up. So it might be worth to double check this.
    Marijn - California - Sep 8, 2010 @ 11:16 pm
  • Hi Nikhil,

    I did exactly as instructed and completed the repalcement. Need to see how it works now. But thanks a lot for step by step instructions on how to. It very much helpful.
    Madhan (USA) - Jul 17, 2010 @ 6:40 am
  • hi i would like to know where i can get a skid plate for my passat 2000 am in mauritius and also need some other stuff like door handle interior and main switch driver\'\'s side
    wayat - Jul 3, 2010 @ 11:22 pm
  • Great write up!!! a 10 on 10
    John Smith - Jun 14, 2010 @ 8:11 am (website)
  • This is perfect! thanks so much!
    James (Louisiana) - May 25, 2010 @ 4:30 pm (website)
  • Excellent write up.. thanks a lot. I have to replace my passat\'s valve cover gasket.. was looking to buy the bentley\'s.. but your site made me not to buy it.. thanks again..
    Madhan - May 9, 2010 @ 7:16 pm
  • Excellent write up, I\'m going to do this next weekend once I order the parts online. This will save a ton of money, plus help us all to get to know our cars better.
    Damon, NJ USA - Apr 24, 2010 @ 3:04 pm
  • To the previous comment: The original interval for the v6 was 105,000 miles but they lowered that to 65,000 miles. So even if your first one was replaced on time the second one is due now. If it is still on the first belt then I\'d seriously consider ordering the parts today or driving straight round to your local shop if you don\'t want to lose a weekend. By 172,000 I had killed two water pumps, two serpentine belt tensioners, one power steering pump and the air conditioning compressor clutch. So either be prepared to buy more bits than the bare belt change or consider spending a lot more with the shop than the bare change costs. Yes, it is an interference engine. If it breaks the belt you may well trash a dozen valves or more.
    Chris, CA, USA - Mar 29, 2010 @ 3:04 pm
  • I have a 2001 passat with a v6 2.8 liter engine do you know when its recommend to change the timing belt? There is 165,000 on it now. Do you know if this engine is an interferance engine?
    Tristan Canada - Jan 11, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  • Nice write up, one of our customers showed this to us and then he orderd the Volkswagen parts from us. Thanks, i think you earned us the sale:)
    Chris - Nov 9, 2009 @ 11:05 am (website)
  • Great write up, thanks, saved me a ton of $$$. The cam chain tensioner tool to compress the tensioner was a must for my removal and replacement of the (W0133-1641497) tensioner gasket kit. the half moon tensioner gasket was brittle around the circumferance and falling apart. Also replaced the suction valve pump (058133753D PUMP) from 1stvwparts.com , it was clogged and allowed build-up of pressure in the crankcase blowing out the gaskets. Thanks for the help!
    Mike - 99 passat1.8t USA - Sep 5, 2009 @ 1:51 pm
  • Your entire website is sooooo helpful. It has me, a relative novice, other than doing oil changes, topping off fluids, etc., actually looking forward to doing the procedure- whichever one. Changing tranny fluid tomorrow.
    Thanks, thanks, thanks!
    Richard Rhodes - Mar 31, 2009 @ 9:13 pm
  • This is great, very easy to follow. Great job!!
    Arek Canada - Mar 11, 2009 @ 12:20 am
  • I have a 1996 Toyota Previa Minivan & need to replace the valve cover gaskets & the oil pan gasket.This may be more involved because I\'m not sure of the best way to do this.Is there any info you could send to me or direct me to to accomplish this? I had this diagnoised by a mechanic due to oil leaks.Thank you.
    Johnny--USA - Mar 8, 2009 @ 1:10 pm
  • I\'m actually attempting to replace bent valves due to a timing belt breakage. I find this site straightforward and easy to follow. The photos with comments help. I would ask that the bolts on the cover be circled in the photo such that people with less ability,i.e. yours truly, know where the bolts are. Right now my valve cover won\'t come off,hmm. Nonetheless a VERY good site.
    kim ,California - Aug 23, 2007 @ 12:32 am
  • Do you guys have a procedure for replacing the altenator? The alt. is easy, but I\'m stuck on the fan blade and assemblt part. It\'s the mech fan that I\'m having the issue with.
    Don USA - Aug 17, 2007 @ 11:34 am
  • Couldn\'t have done it without you!
    Kevin - USA - Nov 11, 2006 @ 8:27 am
  • both my valve cover gasket and cam chain tensioner gasket had to be replaced, great write up :)
    - Nov 2, 2006 @ 11:01 pm
  • Thanks for this wonderful effort. Most manuals are hopelessly confusing when trying to coordinate the text with visual aids. You are so successful in creating a nice linear resolution to the problem at hand. Your discussion is clear, direct, and sensible. I feel as if anything is doable when presented in your format. Congratulations. Now..I am about to do this valve cover thing... with confidence.
    marshall peck - Sep 22, 2006 @ 8:03 pm
  • Just like to say i\'ve been looking for a website just like this with photos/write ups etc..Very imformative i have to say..
    Matt Crossman- CANADA - May 5, 2006 @ 3:23 pm
  • EXCELLENT procedure layout with really nice photo shots....thanks so much!
    charlie lupo - Mar 28, 2006 @ 11:19 pm (website)
  • Can you provide this same information to replace the VC gaskets and cam tensioners gaskets on a V6?
    Peter Matthews - Feb 13, 2006 @ 12:06 pm
  • What is the VW P/N for the cam tensioner gasket for \'99 1.8T AEB engine?
    What mfg brand or VW P/N for the gasket cement should be used? (Or what exact RTV sealant? ie. RTV 105, etc.)
    alooke - Dec 7, 2005 @ 3:44 pm
  • Hi,

    I followed your instructions for changing the fuel injector seals (as posted on clubb5.com). However, I am now getting check engine light. The gasoline odour in the cabin is now higher than before I replaced it.
    Any possible reasons?

    thx
    BA - Apr 25, 2005 @ 11:14 pm
  • Great write-up! Just add the cam seals and cam tensioner gasket to the list and kill two birds!
    lotar_6 - Jan 21, 2005 @ 2:22 pm
  • Better than a bentley
    hradek@yahoo.com - Nov 15, 2004 @ 10:40 am
  • Great write up and pics. I am gonna do mine as soon as I score that torque wrench.
    Jerry - Aug 11, 2004 @ 1:25 pm

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