How to Replace a Valve Cover Gasket on a Saturn

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The valve cover (also known as a rocker arm or camshaft cover) is a long metal cover that sits directly on top of the cylinder head. Saturn vehicles are equipped with overhead cam engines, which means the camshaft is positioned directly over the cylinder head. The valve cover protects the camshaft and seals in the oil that is constantly circulating to lubricate the camshaft. If you notice oil seeping from directly beneath the valve cover, it is a sure sign that you need to replace the valve cover gasket.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench set
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Socket set
  • Masking tape
  • Marker
  • Gasket scraper or flat razor blade
  • Rubber mallet
  • RTV silicone
  • Replacement gasket
  • Torque wrench

Removing the Valve Cover Gasket

  • Disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal by loosening the retaining bolt and pulling the clamp off the terminal.

  • Remove the air cleaner. Use a Phillips screwdriver to loosen the steel band clamp that secures the air cleaner outlet duct to the air cleaner. Pull the duct off the air cleaner. There are two bolts on top of the air cleaner. Remove these bolts by hand. There is a third bolt near the outlet duct. Remove this with a socket. Lift the air cleaner assembly off the engine.

  • Use masking tape and a marker to label and disconnect any vacuum lines attached to the valve cover.

  • Use a socket to remove the two bolts and washers from the silicone insulators on top of the valve cover.

  • A steel tube is attached to the valve cover. This is the deaeration line, and it can stay attached to the valve cover. Use a wrench to disconnect the deaeration line from the outlet port on the cylinder head and the support bracket. A small amount of engine coolant may seep out.

  • Carefully lift the valve cover off the engine. If this is difficult, you may tap the side of the valve cover with a rubber mallet to loosen it. Do not pry between the valve cover and the mating surface on the head. Doing so can distort the mating surface and cause future leaks.

  • Remove the valve cover gasket. Clean the mating surfaces on the head and on the valve cover with a gasket scraper or a flat razor blade.

Installing the Valve Cover Gasket

  • Inspect the silicone insulators on the top of the valve cover. Replace them if they are overly worn or damaged

  • Place a thin bead of RTV silicone on the valve cover mounting flange. Do not place the RTV silicone on the cylinder head. Lay the new gasket on the valve cover mounting flange.

  • Apply two small beads of RTV silicone on the joints where the cylinder head meets the front engine cover. This is the only place on the cylinder head where you should apply RTV silicone.

  • Set the valve cover into position on top of the cylinder head.

  • Thread the two bolts that secure the valve cover to the cylinder head into their holes and tighten to 22 foot-pounds.

  • Using a wrench, reconnect the deaeration line to the port on the cylinder head and the support bracket.

  • Following the labels you made during disassembly, reinstall any vacuum lines that were removed from the valve cover.

  • Drop the air cleaner into position above the engine and reinstall the three bolts that secure it. Slide the air cleaner duct over the outlet port on the air cleaner box and tighten the steel band clamp with a Phillips screwdriver.

  • Reconnect the ground cable to the negative battery terminal by sliding the clamp over the negative terminal and tightening the retaining bolt.

Tips & Warnings

  • Applying RTV sealant to the valve cover instead of the cylinder head allows easy removal of the valve cover and reuse of the gasket.
  • While the valve cover is removed, do not allow anything to fall into the engine. Even something as small as a screw can cause serious damage once the engine is started.

References

  • "Chilton's Saturn Coupes/Sedans/Wagons 1991-98 Repair Manual; Matthew E. Frederick; 1998
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