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Valve Cover Gasket

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Sep 7, 2014, 12:56 PM

Post #1 of 6 (3231 views)
Valve Cover Gasket Sign In

Greetings all. I have a 96 Cherokee Sport 4x4 with the inline 6 4.0 liter motor. There is some oily gunk built up under the hood and I'm thinking about replacing the valve cover gasket. 2 Questions; A) What cleaner should I use under the hood to get rid of the grease (carb cleaner, brake cleaner, soap and water...)? B) The torque specs say 7ft pounds per bolt, is there a technique to do this by hand or do I need to buy a special wrench (they dont rent ones that small around here)? thanks

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Sep 7, 2014, 2:09 PM

Post #2 of 6 (3221 views)
Re: Valve Cover Gasket Sign In

If you're talking about washing the cover after it's removed, you can use some mineral spirits and a bruch, then rinse with water. You can use brakekleen on the engine.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Tom Greenleaf
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Sep 7, 2014, 2:57 PM

Post #3 of 6 (3217 views)
Re: Valve Cover Gasket Sign In

Notes: Cleaning off car best for under the hood insulation. Engine I strongly suggest NOT using something that you need water to rinse off or pressure wash rather see you wipe it down as best you can dry.

Torque: Some things you will ruin if not right on some close is enough. If in doubt use the tool and if you don't want to own it send that job out. Over tightened probably will wreck the job or worse cause more troubles. Make sure valve cover is true with a straight edge and not somehow cracked or defective itself not just the gasket. IMO most are caused by excessive blow by and pressure in crankcase rather than the gasket. It's a long engine so would be more subject to leak IMO than some others.

You didn't ask but I question how much of a mess unless there was some other reason a valve cover gasket could make and your observation (in between the lines) suggest this happened quickly so might not be the source problem but the result of another,


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Sep 7, 2014, 3:00 PM

Post #4 of 6 (3213 views)
Re: Valve Cover Gasket Sign In

Absolutely make sure that when you get the valve cover off that before you install the new valve cover gasket and bolts that you blow out the bolt holes. If those holes are full of cleaning solutions, oil, water, dirt, or whatever, you'll hydro-lock the bolts. Use compressed air to blow out the bolt holes.

You need a special tool called a torque wrench to properly torque the valve cover bolts. If you over torque, you can break bolts off, distort the gasket, or distort the valve cover sealing surface. Under torque and you'll have leaks or bolts falling out. Always a good idea to torque to manufacture's specifications.

I always suggest noobs to use a torque wrench on everything because they tend to overtorque stuff. As you get expirienced you get "the feel." I still always use my torque wrench when working on critical internal components or stuff that could be considered a safety concern.

Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

(This post was edited by Discretesignals on Sep 7, 2014, 3:08 PM)


Sep 8, 2014, 6:55 PM

Post #5 of 6 (3190 views)
Re: Valve Cover Gasket Sign In

Thanks for the replies. The oil underneath the hood might be coming from the "oil filter adapter O-ring" which is a pain to change. I want to change the valve cover gasket first and clean off the engine to see a leak before changing the O-ring. I was just wondering if I should clean off the engine using carb cleaner, brake cleaner etc. because there are wiring harnesses all over the place and there is too much surface contour to scrub everywhere. As for the torque specifications; I remember seeing on this site a few years ago a "trick" for tightening bolts a few foot pounds without a torque wrench (ie: 1/4 turn past mating surface = 5ft ppounds).

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Sep 8, 2014, 11:11 PM

Post #6 of 6 (3186 views)
Re: Valve Cover Gasket Sign In

Watch out for cleaning engines with anything. Carb cleaner and brake cleaners can strip away paint and greases from electrical things that are needed. Oil alone will slowly dissipate and would wipe dry and even air blow as needed but avoid too harsh of anything unless OFF the engine and away from painted items that you see.

Back to torque and valve cover for THIS exact engine. I can't know if this one is a steel or an alloy and it matters. Steel stamped valve covers and oil pans, trans pans plain seem to get overtightened and you'll see that when off vehicle with a simple straight edge. That type you can pound with a ball peen hammer against wood just right so the seal is back or job a waste of time up to leak worse. Alloys can snap off a corner or crack. Torque is as it's stated but tools take the guessing out for things like simple items an experienced hand can tell how much. I'll call most valve cover gaskets torque with no measuring tools turned tight as you would with a screwdriver and can with nut drivers.

Gasket should state (different types have been used from plain cork, cork rubber mixed, or a rubber type product w some paper in the mix) vary. Many like to be re-torqued after a warm up or at least checked again after some time.

Sealers are both good and bad up to suggested to use or warned not to. Dang you'd think something that should be so basic wouldn't have these variables. Easy on use of the gasket cement/sealers to use as little as possible such that it doesn't squish into crankcase area where it may move and be a real serious problem.

Let things dry and recheck as possible. Assorted torque wrenches available either cheaper or not and types. There's also order in tightening such things to pay attention to also. Many do or should come with that information with a new gasket.

You said this has something added to make oil filter easier! That's a place for real trouble so check that out well. Oil under pressure is more likely to spray out and hit your hood liner than a valve cover gasket and fatal to your engine is caught by surprise with inadequate oil to pump for the engine possibly too fast to notice in time?

Follow any directions with the product you choose. Aftermarket or non OE things AYOR always,


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