Replacing Valve Cover Gaskets

I’ve had a fairly bad oil leak since I got the Subaru running. Turns out that the valve cover gaskets are a fairly common item to go out on this model, so I decided to replace them. As long as I had everything apart (the drivers side in particular isn’t easy to get to), I also decided to do plugs, wires, the fuel filter, and the inline ATF filter.

Here is the passenger side valve cover. You’ll need to remove the airbox to gain access to this. It is held on with 3 bolts(10mm) and a hose. Depending on the age of the car, the lubricant on the hose may be dried and powdery, or the hose may crack as you’re removing it. I was lucky enough to have both issues. Blah.

Dirty Valve Cover
Dirty Valve Cover

Carefully remove the cover by pulling straight away from the engine, and then upwards. You can throw away the grommets on the mounting bolts - your replacement gasket kit should have new ones.

Valve Cover Removed
Valve Cover Removed

To access the driver’s side valve cover, you will need to remove the battery and battery tray. You’ll also need to unmount the washer fluid reservoir, and set it out of the way (on top of the strut mount). Finally, you’ll need to disconnect the oil filler neck. All of these mounting bolts are 10mm.

Dirty Cover by Oil Filler
Dirty Cover by Oil Filler

Depending on the model year, you may also have an inline ATF filter that was added as part of a recall. If you do, you’ll need to unlatch the filter from its mounting bracket to get enough clearance to pull the valve cover off.

ATF Filter
ATF Filter

You can use any degreaser you’d normally use to clean up an engine to clean up the valve covers. I found that using a wire brush and small screwdriver helped get into the nooks and crannies. On the inside of the valve cover, q-tips work well to clean the groove the gasket rests in.

Dirty Cover Removed
Dirty Cover Removed
Cleaned Cover
Cleaned Cover
With everything cleaned up, insert the new gasket into the groove on the valve cover, and mount them back on the engine. The bolts don’t need much torque at all (41 in/lbs I read somewhere).

Cleaned Cover Reinstalled
Cleaned Cover Reinstalled