Guess Why Gasket Was Leaking…

The valve cover, inside, at the leak site:

190 E Valve Cover Gasket at Leak Site

190 E Valve Cover Gasket at Leak Site

Yes, I’m off to order a new gasket…

One of the 8 hold down bolts was missing and a grommet with plugging screw was in that hole, so I’ll need a new (“special”) bolt too. It was exactly opposite the leak site, but looks to have had no real effect. Still, it’s just wrong… I’m also thinking I won’t be needing that permatex…

This tells me that my mechanic, in getting the car tuned for smog, never took the valve cover off. He’d have fixed this in a heartbeat and complained about sloppy work. It also tells me the prior owner had maintenance done by a schlock shop…

So, couple of days for parts to get here, then another hour to put it all back together and clean up, and I’m done.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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15 Responses to Guess Why Gasket Was Leaking…

  1. u.k.(us) says:

    Pinched gasket, it is not like it is under pressure, just need it tight enough to stop leaks.
    Right ??

  2. ossqss says:

    What caused the indentations in the gasket? Am I seeing that right?

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes, you are seeing that right! Flat grooves in the rubber. Those reflective spots are significantly depressed. You can click on the photo to embiggen it ;-)

    What caused it? No idea. My best guess would be somebody let it touch a hot surface (like an exhaust manifold) taking it off a hot engine and didn’t want to admit they dropped it. (or were lousy enough to not even notice). Likely also when they lost one of the bolts.

    Hard to get a seal with a flat rubber surface that isn’t flat and has a tunnel in it ;-)

  4. Power Grab says:

    Oh. My Gosh.

    How much did it cost someone to get it to end up that way?

  5. H.R. says:

    Did you consider buying a lottery ticket today?

    Things are rarely this simple and tidy. It’s your lucky day!

  6. ossqss says:

    Upon closer inspection, it looks like that may be where your missing bolt was at tightning time. Sure looks like a thread pattern on the right most indentation. At least is is an easy fix. BTW, I am certain you can get an applicable bolt locally. Check thread pattern and hit lows or a parts place,,,,, or a grave yard! ;-)

    I have used one of theses items for years and it has saved me much anguish…..

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m going to ask my mechanic if he has one. He’s got a pretty good junk pile… It has a captive washer on it so not just a regular bolt. There’s always Pick’nPull…

    The missing bolt has finer threads and narrower diameter. I think it is from hot manifold fittings…there’s a melty look to it…


    Lotteries are a tax on folks who can’t do math….

    But yes,lucky. $26 for the new gasket and about an hour including cleanup.

    @Power Grab:

    Likely a few $Hundred…

    For a hack job.

  8. ossqss says:

    A convenient captive washer on a bolt is just a washer on a bolt in the end EM. I wish you luck on your quest either way.

    Anyone remember this Quest? ;-)

  9. ossqss says:

    Sorry,,,, Bold/bolt, such is voice to text in a noisy mobile environment. Oh well.

    [Reply: Fixed it for you! -E.M.S.]

    LOL, I just wonder what my Echo Dot has been recording being under my porch TV for the last year!

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    After two weeks of chasing an over hearing problem in M’lady’s car I have found the problem’s cause. A cracked plastic tank flange on the radiator. Some mechanic where she had collision damage repaired dumped a jar of Bars-Leak in after installing a new radiator that leaked. As the car heated and cooled over the last 6 years the cracked crawled but the Bars-Leak kept sealing the growing crack until 2 weeks ago when in the hot weather the car would lose coolant and overheat but upon checking no leak could be seen just low coolant. Last week I saw it blow all the coolant out, it was hot! after it cooled, refilled and no leak! 2 days ago I caught it leaking, Finally! I need to order a new radiator. I hate to redo professionals work. A week after the Collision work was done an improperly done connection of the transmission to the inter-cooler in the radiator popped off and blew all the transmission fluid all over the road. Lucky it was a mile from home, I walked home, got the pickup and towed the car home. after it cooled and I figured out the problem. I popped it full on and refilled the fluid. Lost half a day, took 15 min. to fix. Several other problems have surfaced from that guys work. I hate wrenching and I am very good at it. Even quite a job as an Electrician, the boss demanded that I go work in the shop wrenching on their heavy equipment. The shop foreman knew I was the best mechanic in town and asked for me. Did I say “I hate wrenching” been doing it since I was old enough to pick up a wrench. My father and his brothers were all mechanics, very good ones. Fast cars and Fast Boats. I was their apprentice or flunky with no choice in the matter. Oh well, This internet is a wonderful way to get parts…pg

  11. Larry Ledwick says:

    Makes you want to set the Echo Dot in a spare room and tune a radio to Info Wars, another to Rush Limbaugh, and a third to some Spanish soap opera doesn’t it.

    I used to use a talk radio station to keep my dog from feeling so alone if I had to leave her unattended in the house. With the background noise of human voices she would just snooze on the couch. Without it she would investigate every stray noise she heard to see if it was me coming home.

  12. Seth Roentgen says:

    EM, maaaaate. That’s a nasty case of grass-under-the-bonnet you have there. Maybe it will run better if you try a spot of weeding :)

  13. H.R. says:

    OK, Seth. That made me laugh. I admit it.

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    Don’t cha kno that in California we’ve legulized Grass? Unner th’ bonnet ur otherwize…

    @Larry L:

    Once Upon A Time I had a cheap apartment in Sacramento. Walls 2 x 1/2 inch sheet rock thick. Neighbor ran the radio all night long and into the day. I went to work. Next night, same thing. Despite some pounding on the door, no response. Another night not able to sleep due to Talk Radio too loud in my bedroom from theirs… Next day, I picked the lock. Walked to their bedroom and unplugged the radio from the wall. Relocked their door and went to bed…

    A week and a half later they came back from vacation. Seems they thought leaving the radio running would keep burglars out… I never talked to them. Don’t know if they ever asked the “Manager” about it…

    FWIW, I was about 5 when I picked my first lock. Dad’s desk. Simple one lug key. About 12 I could start my Dad’s Chevy Impala without a key. In college I was able to do the 7 pin Schlage locks they used… Useful when someone on the floor locked themselves out. Tools? 2 bobby pins will do it… Shaped with needle nose pliers helps. I’ve sometimes thought a lock pick set would make it easier, but where’s the fun in that? ;-)

    I think it would be fun to put an Echo Dot and an Alexa in a room together with talk radio and just record all the interactions…


    The REST of the story…

    I went to my mechanic today to ask for a bolt. Described the “issue”. Sheepishly he admitted it was likely his fault there was a leak. There’s this little wire bundle / harness near that spot. It had been trapped in the gasket (causing the depressions / lines) by the prior owner. My mechanic saw it, loosened the cover enough to remove the wires, then tightened it back down. Didn’t check the gasket status… Nor did he fix the prior guy’s kludge of a plug in one of the bolt holes.

    As of now, I’ve fixed it all. Gasket was $25 (out the door w/tax $29 ) and about an hour cleaning and putting it all back together. No leaks. All done.

    But at least I got the replacement bolt for free! He was too embarrassed to charge for one ;-)

    I know. It’s not really his fault he didn’t fix every thing the prior owner had cheeped out on. Also, since the car had not passed smog, it had not been run long enough for the leak to manifest. Near as could be told, just tightening it was enough. Only after 400 miles did I figure it out.

    But now we know the full story.

    With that, the Story Of The Gasket comes to a final end…


    Yes, I remember that Quest (Johnny)…

    Trying to make sure you have all the parameters right for an engine bolt (pitch, coarseness, number of threads – not all are one thread – diameter, material – hardened or not? – etc. etc.) is a royal pain. I’d rather just score the right bolt and be done without future worries….

    My mechanic just spun one out of a junk engine in his parts pile.

    In conclusion:

    Car has had the oil topped up, driven around the block a few times, no leak seen. Looks like it’s all done and good. I’m happy now ;-)

  15. Another Ian says:

    Re your bolt – welcome to the wonderful world of “metric standard threads” which doesn’t warn you of how many there are for each size.

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