Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Valve Cover Gasket

To make the engine work, it is a must to ensure that the engine is tightly sealed. The valve cover gasket is the part that keeps the engine altogether or sealed, so it can work as it is supposed to. As the gasket works as a seal, it takes the most pressure, and hence there is a fair chance that it wears and tears. If the gasket wears off, it directly impacts the engine’s performance and then the overall vehicle and its utilities. Thus, the gasket plays a very major role even if it is not very popular.

So, let’s see how you can recognize the symptoms of a failed gasket:

How to Recognize If a Valve Cover Gasket Fails

As the gasket is one most important components, it is kept there with all safety and protection. But since it bears the most abuse, it is prone to damage. By recognizing the possible symptoms, the component can be replaced before any major damage happens to the engine.

Burning Oil Smell

When you smell burning oil while driving the car, you can consider this as a sign. It happens when compressed oil escapes and it drips on the cylinder head or fuel intake. Since the car is still running and all the components are hot enough to burn that dripping oil, this produces the burning smell. In this case, you should take your car to a professional and become sure about the root cause.

Valve cover gasket
Gasket Functions As Seal To Engine And Keeps It In Place. Source: It Still Runs


Valve Cover is Dirty and Leaking Oil

If the valve cover seems dirty or surrounded by grime, this means there is a leak in the valve cover gasket. The dirt accumulates on the valve cover since oil attracts dust and debris and they form a structure there. Though you may not be comfortable to check the valve cover, any time you take your car for maintenance, ask the technician to check for any gasket issues.

Engine is Low on Oil

When you see low oil warning on the engine light, it can be a sign too. the leak in the gasket makes oil leave the pan. This means that there would be a lack of oil, and due to insufficient lubrication of the engine parts, you will see a warning in the engine light. This issue needs to be addressed immediately since poor lubrication leads to the heated environment inside and that means maximum engine damage.

Engine is Running Rough and Causing Misfires

It is not necessary that the leaking oil only causes the burning smell. Sometimes the oil escapes and goes even further to the spark plug galley. There it enters the spark plug tubes that may cause a misfire or you may notice decreased engine performance. Never let your engine suffer by reading the Maintenance Tips beforehand and solve any possible issue with your car.


All of these can be signs that there is a problem with the valve cover gasket. Did you install the gasket recently and seeing these signs? Let the professional recheck if the gasket is properly installed.