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Our '98 Corolla CE has been experiencing some oil loss/leakage on top of the valve cover and in the spark plug tubes for an unknown period of time. The dealer quoted me for around $200 for the fix, so instead I purchased the valve cover gasket (from Texas Toyota parts website) and a set of NGK spark plugs (from Advance Auto Parts) and did the install myself this morning for about 3 hours. Most of that time was spent cleaning up the oil mess/residue on the valve cover and around the engine bay area. I had to use Simple Green spray, a small wire brush, a water hose and plenty of rags to get the cleaning job done for the valve cover (of course I only used the rags for the engine area to wipe down so as not to distribute any chemicals and what not into the engine).

Anyway, here are the before/after pics of the valve cover and engine. Before:




After:





For those who are curious, the car had around 109,560 miles at the time of repair. The valve cover gasket was totally dried out near the area where the spark plug holes sit, so I had to break it in pieces to remove (no wonder there's leakage issues). I got the gasket for $16 plus shipping, and the spark plugs for $4 each (needed 4 total). So compared to the dealer cost, I saved myself a couple hundred easy, and I know that I did the job right :D

BTW, this is a very easy job, almost on the same level of difficulty as changing your oil except you don't need to get under the car. The gasket replacement job just involves removing the bolts and hoses around the valve cover, that's that. I strongly recommend that anyone whose Corolla has over 100K miles should take a look at their valve cover and/or pull out the spark plug tubes and see if there's any oil leaking. I believe my gasket has never been replaced once from the factory for 11 years! :disappoin
 
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Wow! What a difference. Looks like it is pretty dirty in there - maybe a couple of short oil change intervals to help "flush" all that crap away may be in order.

I would also add - at this time, might be useful for some to go ahead and double check the valve clearance once you have the valvecover off. Also don't forget those little dabs of sealant (two places) right where the timing chain cover meets the cylinder head - to make sure there is no chance for oil to leak out there.
 

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Wow, that looks almost exactly like mine did about 2 weeks ago when I had to replace the valve cover gasket. Ran an engine flush through it after cleaning off the valve cover, just for good measure.
 

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Lex and 101, how often do you change your oil? Do you keep it topped off? Reason I ask is because thats how mine looked like back when I didnt know these burned oil so it wasnt topped off to where it ran low for the first 30k miles, plus I was changing the oil every 7k miles back then. I seafoamed it which really helped clean all that up and now I keep it topped off and change the oil at 5k miles and it doesnt look like that anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
^ I change my oil every 3K miles or 3 months whichever comes first.

One thing I forgot to mention from my original post is that when I pulled the 1st spark plug tube (the one closest to the passenger side) out, there was oil heavily filled around the end of the tube. I looked down where the plug sits, and lo and behold, there was a good-sized pool of oil around the plug. I removed the oil by soaking it with paper towel sheets. After removing the plug, I find that some of the oil residue was BLACK, not dark brown. This is probably a sign that the valve cover gasket has been leaking even before I bought the car 3 years ago (which of course the previous owner failed to mention). Kind of a far-fetched task when it comes to car shopping but it may be smart to check for signs of oil leak by inspecting the spark plug tubes ;)
 

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I change the oil religiously every 3k miles. I do an engine flush every 4th oil change. To be honest, I rarely if ever have to add oil between changes though. I do check it frequently, but it's usually always right where it needs to be. Perhaps because I don't flog this car like I do my other one? Not sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
^ Yes I am, one of the moderators on the CL site (though I haven't been on there in a long while since I own a G35 and visit the G35Driver.com site more often).
 

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Only other thing I could think of is using cheap oil filters without low beta ratios. Ever since I switched from toyota filters to the wix 51396 that filters 6+microns and started keeping the oil topped off I didnt have that problem come back in my case so I'd say consider trying a better oil filter and see what happens.
 

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2003 Matrix Valve Cover gasket torque value

Anybody happen to know the torque value for a 2003 Matrix (XRS) Valve Cover /gasket?
 

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Curious if you can clean these out like you do on hotrods by spraying the cams, and everything in there with brake cleaner.. allowing it to dry, and lubing the cams with oil before you put the new gasket on and torque everything down..
 
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