How to Replace Leaking Valve Cover Gasket on 2.0L VW (MKIV Jetta, Golf, GTI)
Yep, It's Time for a New Valve Cover Gasket
First, while writing up another money-saving DIY article, let's give the stealership a call to see how much they charge for replacing a $15 gasket. Hold, please . . . Wow, the total estimate from my local dealership comes back as $560.00. No, I did not type that wrong: 560 big ones. So even if you pay for the tools, gaskets, pizza, beer, and an extra roll of duct tape, you will still be saving $500.
I would like to apologize ahead of time for not having taken pictures of every single step, but as I mention, this is a very straightforward and simple DIY. I also mention below that it takes "a few hours." Realistically the whole job would probably be about an hour for a first-timer if you just get in there and get it done. Myself, I waste time and drink a lot, and my wife always fights back during the duct tape application. I would also recommend changing the spark plugs while you are in there and already have the upper intake manifold off. They can be changed without removing the manifold, but it is so much easier with it off. All my tools and all my part numbers for gaskets, spark plugs, and so on are listed below.
When I picked up this 2000 Jetta 2.0L a couple years ago, I saved a pretty penny by pointing out to the seller the fact that it had to be leaking oil from somewhere, as the top and bottom of the engine were caked with what I believed to be 16 years worth of spills from oil changes. And for the most part, I was right about the source of the oil. Clearly, whoever did the last oil change did not fully screw on the oil filter, which is why oil was all over the bottom of the car as well.
For a few months, I very lazily wiped off what I could, closed the hood, and pretended the mess wasn't there, knowing that eventually the day would come when I would have to spend a few hours to change out the valve cover gasket.
Don't get me wrong, it is not a hard job, it is just that I'm lazy. After fixing everything else on this car, including the timing belt, water pump, exhaust, door locks, and the list goes on, the last thing I wanted to do was get my freshly manicured nails dirty tinkering with it again. What's a little bit of sprayed oil here and there?
But the time had come. Apparently, my stale, dried-up gasket decided it didn't have another season in it. Or it was the combination of age and a clogged PCV hose? For whatever reason, the job had to be done.
Signs of a Bad and Leaking Valve Cover Gasket
On the 1.8T it's easy to see when and where your gasket is leaking. On the 2.0L, however, with the intake manifold hiding much of the valve cover (which is already black), the leaks do not stand out as much.
If you have dirty oil over and up the sides of the valve cover, coating the front wall of the engine block, and running down the heat shield, that's a pretty good indicator that the gasket needs to be changed. If you are like me, lazy and willing to ignore the obvious, another good indicator is the smell. This winter, the smell of oil burning on the heat shield or dripping onto the exhaust was the final straw.
A clogged PCV hose will also lead to the gasket blowing out as the pressure there needs to be released. So, it does not hurt to clean out your PCV hose as well during this valve cover gasket job.
Part Numbers: 2.0L Gaskets, Hoses, Spark Plugs
The only part needed for this DIY is the valve cover gasket. All the other part numbers are for reference. Most of the gasket kits include a second gasket that goes between the upper and lower intake manifold. It is good practice to replace any and all used gaskets as opposed to reusing them. This DIY was done on an AEG engine, so if your engine code is different, the numbers for the spark plugs, PCV parts, and valve cover gaskets could be different; double-check the parts numbers for your car. The Felpro number shows up for all engines.
Gasket Part Numbers
These part numbers are for the AEG engine; if your engine is different the numbers will likely be different.
- Felpro: Part # VS50528R-1. Includes both the valve cover gasket and the upper intake manifold gasket.
- Victor Reinz: Part # VS18393A. Includes both the valve cover gasket and the upper intake manifold gasket.
- OEM: Part # 051 103 483A. Valve cover gasket only.
- Eristic: Part # ET165351. Includes both valve cover gasket and upper intake manifold gasket. This is the gasket I used, but I would not recommend it as the half-moon seal seemed to be off about half a centimeter.
- Victor Reinz: Part # MS19273. Upper intake manifold gasket.
PCV and Breather Hose Part Numbers
- Dorman PCV Breather Hose: Part # 55554
- OEM PCV Breather Hose: Part # 06A 133 240
- OEM Pressure Control Valve (PCV): Part # 06A 103 465. A quick Google search of this part number will locate cheaper aftermarket versions.
Spark Plug Part Numbers
Many different spark plugs can be used. I listed below the NGK plug that comes stock in the car, and the AC Delco plug I have been using, which seems to perform just as well. The AC Delco, being about a third of the price, is my new go-to plug for this car. AC Delco is a GM stock plug, supposedly made by NGK (you can do your own research on that question if you're interested, and please leave your findings in the comments).
- NGK Copper: Part # BKUR6ET-10 (or # 2397)
- AC Delco Copper: Part # 41-602
Valve Cover DIY Tools
Tools for the Job
Just a few basic tools are really needed, although a few more are recommended to make your life easier, such as the 5 mm Allen head (hex) "T" tool. Keep in mind all these tools could probably be purchased at Harbor Freight for about $30 and will serve their purpose for years to come (or at least for the duration of the job, then they will probably break). In these DIYs I promote the heck out of Harbor Freight. No, I do not work there, but their prices are cheap and most of their standard hand tools work just as well as others for the DIY'er and hobbyist.
- 10 mm socket (deep or standard)
- Socket wrench (duh)
- 1/4" torque wrench (optional): 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2." Torque wrenches can be purchased for around $10 each from Harbor Freight (don't expect Snap-On quality, but they work as intended, usually). I'm recommending the 1/4" torque wrench, as it goes low enough to do the bolts for the valve cover and just about high enough to do spark plugs, etc. Keep in mind that the 1/4" torque wrench is in in/lbs as opposed to ft/lbs. This DIY is using ft/lbs, so you will need to convert the numbers.
- Socket wrench extension: Just a few inches should be good.
- Vise grips: These things make your grip as tight as a vise!!
- 5 mm Allen head (hex) key
- 5mm Allen head (hex) "T" Handle tool (Item #37862 at Harbor Freight.) It's optional. If you can find a long (at least 5-6 inch) 5 mm hex key, it will make your life a hundred times easier when it comes to unscrewing and screwing in the two hex bolts hidden under the intake manifold.
- 6 mm Allen head (hex) key or socket (the socket is a lot more convenient).
- RTV Silicone Gasket Sealant (Item #90026 at Harbor Freight). Optional. I personally place a thin bead down when changing a gasket. Is it required? No, but in my mind it's extra insurance against leaks. Some use it, some don't. Some apply it to the whole gasket, some just the corners. It is your choice.
- Also optional, but in the picture above: long, bent needle-nose pliers. They are essential if you are changing the spark plugs without using a spark plug boot remover tool, and a life saver for holding the hex bolts in place under the manifold when screwing them back in. For four dollars, why not grab a pair?
- Duct tape: Whatever color your wife prefers.
- Beer of choice.
AEG 2.0L Valve Cover DIY
This method, where I didn't fully remove the upper manifold from the car, seemed to give me plenty of room to work. If you chose to fully remove the manifold, you will either need to disconnect the coolant lines hooked to the throttle body (messy) or remove the throttle body from the upper manifold, which involves four 5 mm bolts, along with the vac lines connected under the manifold.
Please bear with me on the pictures. All bolts that need to be removed are circled in green, hose clamps are circled in blue, and other circles and colors are for help and reference if needed.
1. First, grab a beer and rip the top off with your vise grips, yeah!! Now that you already have your grips out, pinch the large clamp holding the intake hose to the throttle body (TB) and wiggle it over so that you can pull the hose off the TB. Do the same for the hose connected to the PCV (what your oil cap is sitting on) (all circled in blue). Might as well check this hose for any deterioration, clogs or tears. If there is built-up gunk in there, you might as well fully remove it and give it a cleaning along with the rest of the parts. Or quit being a cheap-a** and buy a new one (I used duct tape to repair the rip in mine).
2. On the opposite side of the manifold there are three more vacuum lines that need to be removed (circled in blue above). The hose connecting the manifold to the fuel pressure regulator (FPR) can be removed from either the manifold side or the FPR (whichever slides off easier). Replace the hose with 3/16th fuel line if the hose looks rotten or cracked. Remove the vacuum hose directly an inch or so behind the FPR hose. Behind the manifold, in that same general area, you will see one more hose that will need to be disconnected. All of these hoses should use pinch-type clamps that you can wiggle down the hose out of the way, so that you can twist and pull the hoses off.
3. Two hidden 6 mm hex bolts on the back of the intake manifold (circled in green below) need to be removed. So go ahead and get that taken care of.
4. In the picture above, the hose circled in blue is for the brake booster. I had replaced the broken hard line with heater hose long ago and did not need to remove it for this DIY, although it may need to be pulled off if you are still using the original hard line (you will have to see for yourself).
5. There are a total of five 5 mm hex bolts, circled in green above, that need to be removed from the front of the manifold. The first three have easy access, like a front-clipping bra. The other two are located between the runners of the manifold. Looking straight down, you can see the notches in the runner, just wide enough for you to slide your hex key in. Placing a socket or the open end of your extension on the end of the hex hey will give you enough leverage to break the bolt free. This is when you are going to be thankful you bought the long T-handled hex tool to fully unscrew the bolt. If not, have fun unscrewing it a millimeter, adjusting your hex key, doing another millimeter, adjust, millimeter, you get the idea. Maybe all my Allen head keys are just too short. You can try to break the bolt free by just using the T-handled tool, but there is a good possibility the tool will break or bend, especially if you bought it at Harbor Freight.
6. At this point, you can lift up your upper manifold and remove the gasket between the top and bottom. Before going forward, place a strip of duct tape over the lower intake manifold runners (circled in violet) so you don't accidentally drop anything down there. With a little maneuvering, you can move the manifold (circled in aqua blue) back by the firewall, or tie a string or bungee cord around a runner and hook it to the hood to hold it up. If your car is driven by cable, you will more than likely need to pop the cable out of its little clips on the front of the manifold.
7. Pop open the two metal tabs (circled in red) that hold your timing belt cover on and just move it back a smidge.
8. There are now eight 10 mm bolts holding that valve cover on (circled in green). Socket, small extension if needed, socket wrench: do it! The little plastic piece next to the timing belt, and on the other side, the metal bracket holding up a bundle of wires can come off for cleaning. The two rails running along the valve cover can come off (unclip your spark plug wires from the front rail). Pull off your valve cover and peel off the old gasket. I would recommend cleaning all the old oil off this stuff. The PCV valve can be removed by turning it 90 degrees clockwise and pulling it up. I had all kinds of built up gunk in there.
9. Clean off the top of the head with rubbing alcohol (or whatever you prefer) and slide on your new gasket to verify the fit. If you choose to use gasket sealant, apply it now. Replace your valve cover, rails, wire bracket, and timing belt plastic thing, reversing the previous steps.
10. Starting with the middle bolts, then the outer ones, I like to get all the nuts tightened down while putting a little weight on the valve cover. With your torque wrench tighten all the valve cover nuts to 7ft/lb (84inch/lb if you bought the 1/4" torque wrench).
11. It would be wise to change out the spark plugs at this point, but just like the hip hop group Black Sheep would say, "The choice is yours."
12. Pull the duct tape off the lower intake manifold and remove any leftover residue.
13. Position your new gasket and lightly screw down a few of the hex bolts. Do the same with the two 13 mm bolts in the back so that everything is lined up. The manifold bolts need to be tightened to 15ft/lb. I'm not sure how to torque the two bolts between the runners so I just get them to what I feel is about equal tension.
14. Make sure all hoses are reconnected. and you are good to go. But if you used gasket sealant, read the sealant label: you may need to wait up to 24 hours for it to properly dry.
Enjoy yourself a sammich and a beer, cause you just saved over $500 and now your neighbors think you're a real man that can fix stuff!
Please feel free to leave comments and questions below. And check out my other money-saving Volkswagen DIYs, which you will see if you spend any time at all looking around this site.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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