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Rocker cover gasket - what is it?

rocker cover gasket replacement autobutler

The engine of a combustion vehicle is covered by an engine rocker cover, also called a valve cover. This cover sits on top of the engine and prevents oil from leaking out as well as air or dirt from getting in.
To function properly, there is a gasket between the engine cylinder head and the valve cover. Like the head casket, it works as a barrier but the rocker cover gasket is made from cork or rubber.
Its main function is to keep oil in, which is needed for the engine to run smoothly as it cools and lubricates the various parts. The gasket also prevents any oil from getting on the spark plugs

Why does a rocker cover gasket leak?

Simply put, rubber, which most rocker cover gaskets are made from these days, doesn’t like constant exposure to oil and heat. Over time, it can either shrink or become brittle, which can cause oil to leak. 
While a little oil leak seems minor at first, a leaking rocker cover gasket can lead to bigger problems and costlier repairs if left to its own devices. Oil leaks can damage the drive belt, for example, or parts of your driveway when dripping on the ground. In the worst-case scenario, an oil leak could even lead to an engine fire! 

To prevent this from happening you should have your rocker cover gasket replaced as soon as you notice any of the symptoms below. 

Rocker cover gasket leak symptoms:

  • There is oil on the upper part of the spark plugs. This is usually detected when the spark plugs are being replaced, in which case it makes sense to have the rocker cover gasket changed at the same time. 
  • Oil is leaking from the cover on top of the engine or you see oil on the ground below your car.  
  • You notice a burning oil smell when the engine is running. This happens when oil drips onto the hot exhaust manifold, which creates smoke. 
  • Oil usage increases unexplainably. In extreme cases, this can also cause the oil pressure indicator light to come on. 

How to change the rocker cover gasket?

Since the material costs are low, it usually doesn’t make sense to do a rocker cover gasket repair but rather have the whole part replaced at a garage. They don’t have to be replaced as part of a general inspection but only if you notice a leak or if you are doing other engine repairs and have an old gasket.

The mechanic will first remove the engine cover, dismantle any cables and take the old gasket out. Afterward, the whole area is cleaned before the new gasket is inserted and the cover can be re-installed. Sometimes a rocker cover gasket sealant is used for the corners, though most modern caskets will seal perfectly without. In the end, the mechanic will check your engine oil level, top it up if needed, and you are good to go.

You can also replace the gasket yourself. If you have a 4-cylinder engine, changing the rocker cover gasket is an easy job and you can buy a rocker cover gasket set online. However, you need some mechanical skills and the right tools. Since the rocker cover gasket replacement cost in the UK is low, you should let a qualified mechanic handle the job. This way you can save yourself a lot of hassle and the costly engine repairs an oil leak could cause.

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Prices on engine repairs, cleaning and replacement

The average prices and savings for the car brands shown are based on different models and years. You must therefore create a job and compare quotes to see your actual price and savings.
Make Compare and save* You save on average* Ratings
Audi £165 27%
5.0 (6)
BMW £147 28%
3.7 (3)
Citroën £220 28%
5.0 (1)
Ford £137 26%
4.6 (11)
Mercedes-Benz £146 30%
4.4 (5)
Mini £138 29%
4.0 (4)
Peugeot £150 27%
4.5 (8)
Renault £162 25%
5.0 (1)
Vauxhall £117 26%
5.0 (16)
Volkswagen £147 26%
4.8 (9)

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