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Old 01-22-2006, 01:59 PM   #1
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1995 SL2
Default MJO's guide to replacing valve cover gasket on Aluminum valve covers for S-series

Quote from Wolfman's original valve cover replacement Howto for S-series cars:
Two types of camcovers are used on these cars, the silver ALUMINUM covers used on ALL SOHC engines and DOHC engines until 1995, and the BLACK composite (plastic) covers used on DOHC engines after 1995.
Personally, I've replaced the valve cover gasket for the aluminum valve cover with the expensive dealer pre-formed gaskets and with 100% Silicon RTV and prefer the 100% Silicon RTV. Using the dealer-supplied pre-formed gaskets, you will have to stick them to the cover with RTV anyway and this will lead to layered gasket. Therefore this guide will tell you the proper way of replacing the gasket with 100% RTV for an ALUMINUM VALVE COVER that IMHO will last longer (the gasket will be more solid) and is cheaper to replace. I will give you the procedure I follow (including ALL the details) that will allow you to get it done right the first time with ZERO leaks.

1. Turn off the engine (duhh!)
2. Pop out the PCV valve and disconnect it from the intake hose. Clean it with solvent. You can do this by blocking one end of the valve with your gloved thumb, and soaking the valve in solvent while shaking the valve. Do this several times until the plunger rattles freely and all deposits and oil are removed.
3. Disconnect the EGR valve and EGR valve solenoid if you have the vacuum-operated EGR (<1995).
4. Remove the valve cover and clean off the top surface of the head with paper towel, a brand new razor blade and solvent so that you can see a machined mirror finish. The razor blade is for peeling off any varnish and/or gasket material. APPLY THE RAZOR BLADE FLAT AND NEARLY PARALLEL to the head surface. The solvent and paper towels are for removing any engine oil. Brake cleaner will work for the solvent, so will carb cleaner, mineral spirits, and acetone. I've found that pure acetone (paint department) works the best.
5. First, peel off most of the old RTV off of the cover from all 5 gasket mating grooves with your hands. Try to get as much off as possible using this method.
6. Then cut all the excess RTV and varnish out of the 5 grooves using razor blades and/or an exacto knife. Get it down to the silver aluminum (if you have an aluminum cover) or plastic (for a plastic cover). Try not to scratch the surface. Same guideline as previous step in regards to using razor blade. Be patient, this may take some time and will result in a flat, clean, solid surface the RTV will readily adhere to.
7. Bathe the cover in a solution of water and dish detergent, and scrub thoroughly with a rag until sparkly clean (5-10 minute job). This is also where you get the top of your valve cover looking brand new. Wash solution off using water.
8. If there is still some rtv/ varnish in the gasket grooves then try some solvent with a soaked brillo pad or steel wool.
9. Finally after your oil-free, varnish-free, RTV-residue-free cover has dried get out your RTV tube and spread a SINGLE BEAD of RTV in each gasket groove about twice the height of the gasket groove depth. Have the RTV FILL THE GASKET MATING GROOVE completely. Attempt to fill each groove in one long stroke. The height doesn't have to be perfect, just relatively uniform.
10. Allow the RTV to SKIN for 20-25 minutes at ROOM TEMPERATURE. Room temperature because RTV will harden faster when hot or slower when cold. What you will get is a thin, slightly tacky skin on the RTV bead that doesn't "bleed". The uncured RTV will reside inside the skin. You DON'T want it to harden solid.
11. Put the cover back on and first hand tighten the bolts in a star-pattern. The gasket isn't completely solid and will spread out flat against the top of the head like an inner-tube and form a very good seal.
12. Let the car sit for at least 12 hours and let the RTV harden. Don't start your car during this time.
13. Torque the bolts in a star pattern per Wolfman's instructions:
On SOHC engines install the two TORX head bolts and snug them down. Torque spec is a very “loose” 10~12 foot pounds, DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN!

On DOHC Engines, reinstall the bolts and tighten gradually from the CENTER OUT to 8 ft pounds. This will seem very loose…DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN
14. Reinstall clean PCV valve onto intake hose. Reinstall PCV valve into valve cover.
15. Reinstall EGR valve and EGR valve solenoid if your vehicle uses the vacuum-operated EGR valve.

Congratulations on your properly formed valve cover gasket!

Many thanks to Wolfman for the original valve cover howto and valve cover torque specifications.


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Old 08-04-2010, 09:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: MJO's guide to replacing valve cover gasket on Aluminum valve covers for S-series

Can this be done for the plastic cam covers on 2002 sl's?

2002 sl2 DOHC 126k miles


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Old 04-26-2011, 01:56 PM   #3
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1994 SC2
Default Re: MJO's guide to replacing valve cover gasket on Aluminum valve covers for S-series

Just did my Valve Cover this weekend - Zero Leaks with Pure RTV gasket

I would like to thank MJO and wolfman for the awesome input they provide on the forum!


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