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Discussion Starter #1
My car is leaking engine oil. I have been ignoring for quite some time, but at the moment i currently have it on 2 jackstands, and have the axle standing on a floor jack since im doing rear suspension work. Anyway, i got a set of valve cover gaskets (318 5.2) and im tempting to change them out myself. But im confused becasue i also heard that the engine oil pan can also be causing the leak. This car is i would say Grandpa's condition. Eventually the who entire drivetrain is going to have to be overhauled or replaced but i want to keep and do some mods to it. Any tips for changing the Gaskets out? i already have the sealant agent, and gaskets, all i need is a socket extender and im good. btw what's the bolt size for the valve covers?
 

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Well, welcome to the forum. The 318s are long lasting engines, so don't jump to conclusions of replacing it just yet. As far as the valve covers go, if you have to take pictures to show the routing of the different items crawling all over the place, take them, it helps the first time. Old gaskets leak, and when they leak they make a mess, so clean the area before you remove the covers, it helps all the way around.

After the covers are off, clean the surfaces really good, a solvent is good to cut the grease to have clean metal, RTV sticks better to clean metal than oily metal. If the bolts (3/8ths and 7/16ths) have been tightened, when you remove the valve covers and have cleaned everything, run some 320 grit and a flat something along the valve cover gasket surface. If you see there is mostly shiny around the bolt holes, dimple them so the bolts squish the gasket over a larger area than just the bolt hole. I usually use a 2X4 or other soft block of wood and then use a bolt one or two sizes larger than the valve cover bolt holes, place the board under the outside edge of the bolt hole, use the bolt over the bolt hole and give it a good wack so the metal now squishes the gasket along the valve cover lip, not right at the bolt hole.
 

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It's bit of work to replace the valve cover gaskets simply because there's so much stuff in the road on those engines in that car. It should be easy to determine if the valve cover gaskets or the oil pan is leaking, since one is at the top and one is at the bottom. I'd bet you will find the old valve cover gaskets have hardened and aren't sealing. That is common on these cars of that vintage. Hopefully you bought some good quality gaskets - the cheap replacement ones sometimes don't work real well.
 

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I suggest that unless the working height is better for you with the car up in the air, that you can do this service on the ground.

There are only five bolts that hold the valve covers to the cylinder heads. As others have said, there's a whole bunch of other stuff on top of those valve covers or inserted through them though, which for me, means taking pictures and getting some cheap steel wire or the like to hold stuff up out of the way while working.

Once you're certain that the valve cover gaskets are the actual problem, the parts are cheap, but if the valve covers were ever tightened down again they could be warped from overtightening. That distorts down the thin sheet metal at the bolts, effectively lifting it between bolts. When they're off and once you've cleaned them up, take a ruler or other straight edge and check the bottoms of the edges and see if they're straight. If they aren't, use a flat surface like the edge of a counter, put them upside down with the edge of the cover on the edge of the surface, and lightly tap them with a finishing hammer or some other smooth hammer to attempt to straighten them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I didnt fully understand what you was saying about cleaning the area up before I remove the valve covers...this engine is pretty dirty...theres dried up oil seeping through the valvle covers where the bolts are...so your saying to remove all that oil gunk before I start un screwing things?

Thx for the advice..and lol im working on a fixed budget...embarrassingly I got the valve covers from auto zone like 5 months ago they have been sitting in my room...if im correct they are called felpro gaskets. They cost like 12.99 haha!
 

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I think that keeping as much grit and grime from falling into the engine is important when lifting the valve covers off.
Any cleaning that you can do before you start is good.
As mentioned, flat, straight sealing surfaces are important. Too many times I have found v/c bolts tightened down too much to try and stop a leak, but it winds up bending the v/c at the bolt holes.
Chrysler experimented with different gasket materials to see which lasted the longest. There were orange soft rubber, black firm rubber and a black rubberized cork. I don't know what the aftermarket provides, but you want a premium, name brand quality gasket set. Don't skimp here.
 

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I usually degrease with Simple Green applied with the low- Pressure setting on my pressure washer. It does a good job of cutting the grease and getting all the crap out. I usually cover my alternator and distributor with a plastic bag to keep water out. Then I do a rinse with regular water. It helps to do the wash while the engine is warm. but if you can't do that, cold is better than nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok so I can use a house water hose with a spray nozzle, cover my altenator, and distributor with a plastic bag, and use simple green degreaser to scrub around my valve covers, and directly rinse the sludge off around it? Its not going to hurt anything is it?
 
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