How to Replace a Leaking Timing Cover


There are only two reasons to replace the timing cover, which acts as the front engine cover, covering the timing chain and sprockets. Either the timing cover is cracked, causing a leak, or a permanently-installed front seal is leaking. Timing cover replacement procedures vary from vehicle to vehicle, depending on whether the engine is installed from front to rear, or transversely. If the engine is transversely mounted, removing the radiator is not required. In any case, follow all procedures outlined in the vehicle manufacturer's shop manual for timing cover replacement.

Things You'll Need

  • Drain pan
  • Tool kit
  • Manufacturer's service manual
  • Timing cover gasket
  • Gasket sealer
  • RTV silicone sealant
  • Replacement timing cover
  • Disconnect the battery cables by loosening the bolts holding them in place with a wrench.

  • Place a drain pan below the T-shaped petcock, which is located at the bottom of the vehicle's radiator.The radiator is located at the front of the engine compartment. Remove the radiator cap. Loosen the petcock with a pair of pliers, turning the petcock counterclockwise until it is completely open to drain the engine coolant from the radiator.

  • Remove all parts necessary to facilitate the removal of the old timing cover, such as the fan blade and fan shroud, the water pump, the harmonic balancer, or the radiator. What you need to remove will depend on the make and model of your vehicle.Refer to the vehicle manufacturer's service manual for exact instructions.

  • Locate the engine oil pan at the very bottom of the engine. Refer to the vehicle manufacturer's service manual for the exact location of the engine oil pan. Loosen the engine oil pan bolts and drop the oil pan down sufficiently to allow the front seal on the timing cover to clear the oil pan, if required by the engine manufacturer.

  • Remove the bolts that attach the timing cover to the engine. Remove the leaky timing cover. Use a gasket scraper to remove any parts of the old gasket that remain on the engine block.

  • Paint the new timing cover gasket with gasket sealant on the engine side of the gasket. Install the timing cover gasket on the engine, aligning the dowel-pin holes in the timing cover gasket with the dowel-pins in the engine block. Paint the timing cover side of the timing cover gasket with gasket sealant. Coat the surface where the oil pan seal and oil pan gasket meet as well as the surface where the oil pan seal and the front lip of the oil pan meet with RTV silicone sealant.

  • Position the new timing cover on the engine, aligning the dowel-pins in the engine with the dowel-pin holes on the timing cover. Bolt the new timing cover to the engine and torque all timing cover fasteners to specifications you'll find in the users manual. Tighten the oil pan bolts. Torque the oil pan bolts to the engine manufacturer's specifications with a torque wrench from the toolkit.

  • Reinstall all of the parts that were removed in order to facilitate the replacement of the leaky timing cover, in the order that they were removed.

  • Close the petcock. Fill the radiator with coolant. Connect the battery cables to the battery. Start the engine and let it reach operating temperature. Fill the radiator with coolant as needed as the thermostat opens. Inspect the front of the engine for both coolant and engine oil leaks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some engine manufacturers seal the oil pan to the front main bearing cap, rather than the timing cover, eliminating the need to loosen the oil pan bolts on these engines.
  • If the oil pan gasket is damaged, the oil pan must be removed and a new gasket installed.
  • If any part of the old timing cover gasket remains on the engine block, is likely that the new timing cover gasket will not seal properly.

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