Replacing the valve cover gasket on your Honda Accord can cost between $189 and $224 on average. As an expert on Honda engines, I can guide you through the symptoms of a bad gasket, what’s involved in the replacement process, and tips to get the best value on this common repair.
Read on to learn why the valve cover gasket is so prone to leaking and how to evaluate if paying a professional or DIY is better for your Honda Accord valve cover gasket replacement.
What Is The Valve Cover Gasket And What Does It Do?
The valve cover gasket on your Honda Accord engine creates a critical seal between the valve cover and cylinder head. Its purpose is to keep oil from leaking at this point during engine operation, as thousands of small explosions occur in the combustion chambers.
This gasket is typically made of molded rubber to allow for some flex and conformity to any minor irregularities in the mating surfaces. Because the spark plug tube seals are incorporated into the valve cover gasket in some engines, they must always be replaced together.
Why Do Valve Cover Gaskets Commonly Leak On Honda Accords?
The valve cover gasket on a Honda Accord engine is subjected to extreme temperatures. While it is designed to withstand these conditions, the gasket material eventually breaks down after tens of thousands of miles, resulting in sealing failures.
One of the primary causes of premature valve cover gasket leaks is that the gasket material dries out over time. Honda’s rubber or cork gasket material shrinks slightly as the oils evaporate and loses its flexibility. Small gaps then form, allowing oil to seep through.
Furthermore, normal engine operation’s long-term heating cycles can cause very slight warping or distortion of the valve cover and cylinder head surfaces. These small surface deformations, which are not visible to the naked eye, prevent the gasket from maintaining a consistent seal. This creates new pathways for oil to escape.
The high pressures and temperatures inside the engine combustion chambers put a lot of strain on the gasket material. After years of operation at temperatures of up to 200°F and pressure spikes of over 1000 psi during combustion, the gaskets reach their limits and begin to leak oil. This fatigue failure process is accelerated by heavy use.
Small rubber grommets used around valve cover retaining bolts are another common leak point. Grommets wear and age, losing their flexibility and sealing capability. Cracks form as a result, allowing oil to leak around the bolts.
Finally, over time, the spark plug tube seals built into the gasket shrink and become brittle. Small leaks in this area can cause oil to drip directly onto the spark plugs and wires.
Symptoms Your Honda Accord’s Valve Cover Gasket Needs Replacement
There are some clear warning signs indicating the valve cover gasket on your Honda Accord is failing and allowing an oil leak:
- Oil Drips/Seepage
- Oil in Spark Plug Wells
- Leakage at Grommets/Bolt Holes
- Oil Splatter on Engine
The most obvious symptom is oil droplets or seepage from the joint where the valve cover meets the cylinder head. Oil will run down the sides, leaving a distinct trail of splatter marks. Pooled oil collects at the lowest point of the valve cover or head. This location is a magnet for oil leaks.
Oil In Spark Plug Wells
Oil can leak directly into the recessed spark plug wells in the cylinder head if the spark plug tube seals fail. This oil clogs the spark plugs and ignition wires, resulting in misfires. Oil stains near the spark plugs indicate a valve cover gasket or tube seal leak.
Leakage At Grommets/Bolt Holes
Carefully inspect where the valve cover bolts cinch down and look for any oil residue. Leaky grommets allow seepage from the underside of bolts. Also, check regions where other components, like PCV valves, mount through the gasket for leaks.
Oil Splatter On Engine
If the valve cover leak is significant, oil can splatter onto pulleys, belts, hoses, and other nearby engine parts. Oil on components that aren’t normally lubricated is a symptom of an external leak.
Replacing The Valve Cover Gasket
Replacing a leaking valve cover gasket involves removing the valve cover, cleaning the sealing surfaces, installing a new gasket, and reinstalling the valve cover. Here are the key steps:
- Remove the Engine Cover and Components
- Take Off the Valve Cover
- Install New Gasket
- Torque Valve Cover Bolts
- Confirm No Leaks
Remove Engine Cover and Components
First remove the plastic engine cover if equipped. Detach or reposition any electrical parts, emissions tubing, or linkages blocking the valve cover. This provides access.
Take Off the Valve Cover
Unbolt and remove the valve cover. Inspect the sealing surface for warpage using a straightedge. The cover must sit flat for a leak-free seal.
Install New Gasket
Apply fresh rubber grommets on the cover bolts. Carefully fit the new valve cover gasket, replacing any spark plug tube seals at the same time. Seal corners with RTV sealant.
Torque Valve Cover Bolts
Reinstall the valve cover using an inch-pound torque wrench to tighten the bolts to spec. This prevents over or under tightening.
Confirm No Leaks
Start the engine and check for oil leaks. Repair any leaks before completing the repair.
What Is The Average Cost To Replace The Valve Cover Gasket On A Honda Accord?
Based on my experience as a professional mechanic, here are the typical costs to replace the leaking valve cover gasket on a Honda Accord:
- Parts (gasket kit): $84 – $91
- Labor: $105 – $132
- Total average cost: $189 – $224
This assumes an hourly shop labor rate of $70-$110. No other repairs are included.
On a 6-cylinder model, expect costs to run higher due to increased labor times.
Professional Replacement VS DIY on Your Honda Accord
Replacing the valve cover gasket on a Honda Accord is within the ability of a skilled DIY mechanic. But there are a few advantages to having a professional shop complete the repair:
- Cleaner job – Pros have specialized tools for containing oil drips and leaks during gasket removal. The average home mechanic can make quite a mess.
- Experience finding all leaks – Technicians know all the likely leak points to watch for on Honda engines. You don’t want to miss a secondary leak source.
- Proper torque specs – Achieving the right torque on the valve cover bolts is critical to getting a leak-free seal without damaging threads. Shops have calibrated torque wrenches.
- Comeback warranty – Reputable shops will warranty their work if the new gasket leaks. DIY repairs have no recourse if it leaks again shortly after.
- Time savings – Even experienced home mechanics usually need 3-4 hours for a valve cover gasket job. You can avoid hours slaving over your Accord.
Evaluate your own mechanical skills and weigh the time investment to decide if DIY or professional repair is the better choice. Either way, address that leak promptly to avoid additional engine damage.
Regular maintenance and responding quickly to leaks keep minor gasket repairs from becoming major engine damage. While prices near $200 for a small gasket may appear exorbitant, the parts and skilled labor ensure your Accord runs reliably for years to come.
Following the advice in this article will assist you in obtaining a low-cost valve cover gasket replacement from a reputable shop. Alternatively, consider whether tackling this intermediate level repair yourself makes sense. In any case, addressing any oil leaks caused by failed valve cover gaskets should give your Honda Accord another 100,000 miles of trouble-free performance.
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