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mattmoreland

Valve Cover Replacement

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I have a 1996 Lexus LS 400 and was told that I need to replace the valve cover gaskets by my local Lexus dealer. How important is this, does it need to be done immediately or can it wait a little? Also, I would like to attempt this task myself but need help finding site with instructions on how. Any advice to make it easier would be appreciated also.

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I have a 1996 Lexus LS 400 and was told that I need to replace the valve cover gaskets by my local Lexus dealer. How important is this, does it need to be done immediately or can it wait a little? Also, I would like to attempt this task myself but need help finding site with instructions on how. Any advice to make it easier would be appreciated also.

Welcome matt. The valve cover gaskets are not super critical so unless they are leaking badly, you can wait for warmer weather or more money in the bank account. And yes, you can DIY.

Here is a tutorial for the 90-94 models. Yours may be a little different but this should be close enough to get you started -> http://www.lexls.com/tutorials/engine/valvecover.html

Cheers :cheers:

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Landar,

That's great news (can hold off) because I think I have a similar problem.

I had the hood up today and noticed about a half an inch of seepage that was all along the seam of the driver's side valve cover, in that area that faces the engine dipstick. The oil did not look new, although that's probably not that easy to judge. It looked a little dark with some dust caked on. Closer to the firewall, the border of oil increased to maybe an inch high...not positive. I would have to take a flashlight to see better. I wiped it down as best I could and will watch it over the next few weeks.

I also checked the engine oil following SOP, and to my surprise, it was low. I had it changed at the end of December. At the time, I told the tech to be sure not to overfill (some do that, and it's not good for the engine) and so now I don't know if he, in an effort to do as I said, underfilled or just what. Or, whether leaking valve cover gaskets are causing oil loss. I plan to top off the oil tomorrow. This car has never burnt oil or lost oil, ever.

Would valve cover gaskets leaking have any impact on smog testing? As long as this doesn't eat up engine oil or effect smog testing, I would prefer to wait on this repair.

Thanks for any followup.

I have a 1996 Lexus LS 400 and was told that I need to replace the valve cover gaskets by my local Lexus dealer. How important is this, does it need to be done immediately or can it wait a little? Also, I would like to attempt this task myself but need help finding site with instructions on how. Any advice to make it easier would be appreciated also.

Welcome matt. The valve cover gaskets are not super critical so unless they are leaking badly, you can wait for warmer weather or more money in the bank account. And yes, you can DIY.

Here is a tutorial for the 90-94 models. Yours may be a little different but this should be close enough to get you started -> http://www.lexls.com...valvecover.html

Cheers :cheers:

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I was researching this repair earlier, and hopped on over to lextreme.com (the lexls.com tutorial has a link) to look at a discounted valve cover gasket ' package'...all OEM. Very reasonable. I guess most of the cost for this job is in the labor. My dealer charged me five hours when the same repair was done in 2004. That was before I found a Lex-trained indie mechanic with better rates.

I have a 1996 Lexus LS 400 and was told that I need to replace the valve cover gaskets by my local Lexus dealer. How important is this, does it need to be done immediately or can it wait a little? Also, I would like to attempt this task myself but need help finding site with instructions on how. Any advice to make it easier would be appreciated also.

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you might even try to snug the bolts up, if its not leaking too bad, just dont over power them and crush the gaskets. it worked on mine for over a year, until I was ready to get to it..

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The few times I have taken my vehicles to a shop for an oil change, I ALWAYS immediately pull the car into a parking space, shut off the engine and pop the hood. I check the oil level and have a peak at the oil filter to make sure 1) it was replaced 2) is not leaking.

I am a trusting sole in that way..not. ;)

I cannot see how a leaking valve cover gasket would affect tailpipe smog output. It might produce 'smog' around the exhaust manifold but thats it.

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@Landar,

Funny you mention that, because during the oil change I stood off to the side, watching (like a hawk), because I wanted to keep an eye on what was being done, and at one point he walked off carrying the (old?) filter, went around the corner of the building for a few minutes, then returned (still carrying that filter). I was not able to see what filter he put on (view was blocked). Plus he glanced over at me (guilt?) just before he walked away. Whatever was he doing?

Anyway, yes, I checked the oil level before I drove off, and it was kind of hard to read, because it was higher on one side of the stick than the other. I didn't know which level to read! He looked at it as well and assured me it was fine.

The only reason I haven't checked to see what filter is in there (don't think I didn't want to) is because there is a large cover (a flat pan) that covers all that area under the car, and (I think) to see anything you have to unscrew quite a few bolts and take the cover off. Which I am not equipped to do

I had an oil leak once before because someone did not put in a new gasket, but I never saw any oil under the car because it was being caught in that pan. If it had been a heavier leak, I might have seen it 'eventually'. The only way I found out about it was during a subsequent service for another matter, the mechanic pointed it out (and ask who the heck had done my last oil change).

I've also been noticing more of an engine knock (light) and sometimes a kind of chatter or growlly noise on both acceleration and deceleration for awhile now. I thought that would go away with the oil change, but it hasn't.

I will be topping off engine oil today so will know soon enough if low oil was causing the knock. Might have the original shop do a quick review of the work for peace of mind. If the filter was not changed, I will know, because the last time I supplied them with an OEM. If that OEM is still on there...someone's in trouble.

Whatever it is, it's obviously not a big leak of any kind. It's been five weeks since the oil change and the level on the dipstick has dropped maybe 1/2 inch? I don't know how that correlates to quantity of oil.

Good to know re the smog issue, thanks.

@billypowell

That's a good idea, and I will definitely try that. Much appreciated.

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Can someone tell me what labor charge from a lex-trained indie mechanic should be? Ballpark is fine.

On the lexls.com tutorial, he said it took him two days (!!) if I am not mistaken (though he was taking pics and doing other things).

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There is a lot of stuff to remove to get at the valve covers. Plus add some time if you want the spark plug gaskets replaced.

I would ballpark it at 5 hours. Sounds high but does take some doing depending on the mechanics familiarity with the LS400.

5 hrs x $50/hr = $250 + parts = $300-$350 (ballpark)

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