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The valve cover (also known as a rocker cover or camshaft cover) is a metal or plastic component located at the top of the cylinder head, just on top of the valve cover gasket. There is one valve cover for each cylinder head. The valve cover’s purpose is to protect the valves and related components while also preventing oil from leaking out of the cylinder head.

It’s important to pay close attention to your valve cover’s condition because it can loosen or crack due to frequent changes in temperature, prolonged lack of use, or contaminants.

What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Valve Cover?

Without a valve cover and gasket in place, oil can easily leak out of the cylinder head. Oil leaks from a cracked, pinched, or loose valve cover can potentially lead to a low oil level inside of the engine, resulting in internal engine damage. A bad valve cover can exhibit the following symptoms:

valve cover
The valve cover (also known as a rocker cover or camshaft cover) is a metal or plastic component located at the top of the cylinder head, just on top of the valve cover gasket.

Visible Oil Leaks in the Valve Cover Area

Oil leaks don’t always show up as black puddles on your garage floor. In most cases, you’ll need to perform a visual inspection of your valve cover to determine if it needs to be repaired or replaced. Some valve cover leaks may be too small to notice, so you need to be diligent with your inspection. Here are three things to remember when checking your valve cover:

  1. Examine the area for any missing screws or bolts.
  2. Check for cracks in the valve cover.
  3. Look for evidence of oil around the edge of the valve cover.

Low Oil Levels

Engine oil is the lubricant that lets parts smoothly slide alongside each other to prevent friction and breakdown. A lack of lubrication can cause the engine to seize up and overheat. You should check your oil level once every couple of weeks as part of your car’s maintenance. If you have a bad valve cover, you may end up topping off more often than normal.

Misfiring Engine

Gasoline engines have spark plugs that send electrical current from the ignition system to ignite the air-fuel mixture inside the combustion chamber. They’re located on the top or side of the engine head, near the valve cover. When oil leaks out of a cracked valve cover and falls into the opening of a spark plug, it can cause the engine to misfire or run rough.

Burning Oil Smell

Your vehicle’s engine compartment can get quite hot while the engine is running. The camshaft, rockers, and other moving parts inside your engine depend on oil for lubrication and cooling. If oil escapes your engine and falls onto your hot engine and exhaust components, it can produce a strong burning smell. This may indicate a damaged valve cover.

fixing valve cover
Expect to pay somewhere between $250 and $800 if you want to have a professional replace your valve cover.

Is it Safe to Drive with a Bad Valve Cover?

A leaking valve cover should be replaced as soon as possible. If enough oil is allowed to leak out of the valve cover, the engine oil level may become low enough to cause internal engine damage.

How Much Does a Valve Cover Replacement Cost?

If you choose to have a professional replace your car’s valve cover, you can expect to pay somewhere between $250 and $800 to get the job done. Of course, the exact cost will depend on a variety of factors, such as the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

The part itself often costs $100 or less. If you want to save money on repairs and maintenance, you should order aftermarket valve covers. There are plenty of affordable yet high-quality aftermarket parts that comply with OE standards in terms of quality, durability, and performance. Aftermarket manufacturers put their parts and accessories through rigorous quality control tests to ensure your comfort and safety while driving.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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