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  #1  
Old 10-20-2013, 12:46 AM
Bob K. Bob K. is offline
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1997 Ranger 4.0L Valve Cover Gasket Replacement Leak Troubleshooting (w/ Pics)

1997 Ford Ranger 4.0L. While performing the intake gasket TSB in 2007, I also replaced the valve cover gaskets with Fel-Pro Perma Dry gaskets. (The valve covers did not leak prior to this maintenance.) Following Fel-Pro's instructions, I placed a bit of RTV on the two cylinder head-to-intake junctions and left the rest of the gasket dry. I torqued the bolts to 7 lb-ft from the inside out. The gaskets held for about 4 years and 25,000 miles. Then they began leaking significantly along the short sides of the cylinder head on both sides. Tightening the bolts did not help.

I tore everything apart this weekend, cleaned everything thoroughly, and checked to make sure the valve covers weren't bent. This time when I installed a new set of the same Fel-Pro VS50368T Perma Dry gaskets, I looked closely at the mating surfaces to see if something might be interfering with a good seal. I noticed that the short sides of the cylinder heads still had significant machining ripples and began to wonder if these machining marks were interfering with a good seal. In fact, the short sides of the cylinder heads stand a tad taller where the machining marks are as compared to the rest of the mating surface. This can be seen in the pictures below where there are distinct borders between the taller portions where the machining marks are and the rest of the mating surface.

Passenger's side cylinder head short side near firewall
Click the image to open in full size.
In the picture above, these are the machining marks I noticed. The cylinder head-to-intake junction where I'm supposed to put sealant is at the 3 o'clock position in the picture...the junction between the shinier intake and the duller cylinder head. There's a bit of old red RTV near it.

I decided to sand down these machining marks a bit to see if that might help with a better seal.

Passenger's side cylinder head short side near front of vehicle
Click the image to open in full size.
In this picture, I've sanded down much of the rippling and shined the surface with some steel wool. I didn't make it completely flat. I, frankly, ran out of sanding patience, but it is significantly smoother than before. These short sides of the cylinder head still stand proud from the rest of the mating surface, which seems weird to me.

I applied red RTV to the same two cylinder head-to-intake junctions on each side and left the rest of the gasket dry as recommended by Fel-Pro. I installed the bolts to 7 lb-ft.

I'm not sure if these machining marks were the cause of my leaks, but thought I'd throw this out there for conversation and a possible leak solution.
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Old 10-20-2013, 09:56 AM
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Did you use the RTV recipe specified, thats compatable with engine oil & did you install the covers while it was still wet, so that it could conform to both surfaces????

Was the oil leak in the same general area as the silicone & or the machine marks????
Did the oil leak come about suddenly after some event, or slowly over time???

Is the PCV valve due for a change & have you changed it??? If its sticking closed, it'll cause excessive pressure that can pop the weakest link in our oiling system seals.

BTW, the top end looks nice & clean of deposits. Be sure to use a shop vac to remove any remaining sanding or metal debris, before buttoning things up & let us know how it goes.
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Old 10-20-2013, 04:27 PM
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It's interesting how the location of the leaks coincide with the location of the machine marks. Good idea to smooth them out.

I installed the same PermaDry valve cover gaskets on my 4.0L over 50K miles ago and haven't had any issues like you describe. But, the next time I have the valve covers off I'll check for those marks, just to be sure.
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Old 10-20-2013, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pawpaw View Post
Did you use the RTV recipe specified, thats compatable with engine oil & did you install the covers while it was still wet, so that it could conform to both surfaces????
I used Permatex Ultra red RTV and it was still wet when I installed and torqued down the valve covers.

Quote:
Was the oil leak in the same general area as the silicone & or the machine marks????
Yes, it seems the leaks were coming from the junction area and the areas where the machining marks are.

Quote:
Did the oil leak come about suddenly after some event, or slowly over time???
It started slowly leaking after about 3 years and increased in volume over time.

Quote:
Is the PCV valve due for a change & have you changed it??? If its sticking closed, it'll cause excessive pressure that can pop the weakest link in our oiling system seals.
The truck has 95K miles with the original PCV valve. I inspected and cleaned the PCV valve. It moved freely.

Rockledge--How much sealant did you put on your gaskets and where did you put it? I put about a 1/8" bead just across the 4 cylinder head-to-intake gaps where indicated in this picture. Did you use any other tricks or techniques when installing yours?
Click the image to open in full size.

I buttoned everything back up today and took it for a 15 min drive. When I checked the valve covers, I thought I saw a drop of clean oil (I just changed the oil 10 miles ago) beneath one of the valve cover bolts, as if it had just seeped out from around the bolt head. Since I cleaned off the block with engine degreaser just before the test drive, I don't know if the oil was leftover from the cleaning or if was fresh oil weeping.

I'll watch it closely. If the bolt heads are seeping, I plan to remove them one at a time and add a dab of RTV to each bolt. Frustrating.
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Old 10-20-2013, 10:01 PM
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Using the material while wet is preferred, as it'll wet & form to both surfaces, then it needs to cure at least one hour with at least 30% humidity to tac over & 24 hours to fully cure. We can hasten those numbers by letting a fan move lots of air flow over the RTV, to expose it to more humitity in the air, as it takes moisture to cure the product. The thicker the bead & the lower the humidity, less permeable the material, the longer it'll take to tack over, or cure.

Was it Ultra Copper product num 81878????
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:11 PM
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I have been running Cologne V-6s (2.8s,2.9s,4.0s) since the late 70s...........In order to keep valve cover gaskets from leaking (they all will eventually, no matter what you do) I learned to ALWAYS circle the bolts with sealant AND apply sealant to the bolts themselves when installing them. There used to be really good neoprene Fel-pro gaskets, back in the 80s that seemed to last forever on 2.8s, but I don't see them anymore.
I will be doing this on our 4.0 Explorer soon, it doesn't look NEAR as easy as it was on 2.8s and 2.9s.
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Old 10-21-2013, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Rockledge--How much sealant did you put on your gaskets and where did you put it? I put about a 1/8" bead just across the 4 cylinder head-to-intake gaps where indicated in this picture. Did you use any other tricks or techniques when installing yours?
I did what you did...added some RTV support in the "step" area, per the instructions. (See page 3 HERE). As for how much sealant, I can't recall specifically the amount, but I'd guess a 1/8 to 3/16 inch bead.

FWIW, it sounds to me like you've done (and previously did) everything by the book. I hope things work out a little better for you this time.
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Old 10-21-2013, 05:45 PM
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Thanks, Rockledge. I used your write up in 2007 and again last weekend.

A friend raised an interesting theory about the raised areas (with machining marks) that I found in my engine. Because this is no valve cover bolt on the short sides of the cylinder head, might those raised areas be present to provide some "up" pressure on the gasket and valve cover since there is no bolt in that area? The bolts, then, to either side of the raised area would help pull the short ends of the valve cover tightly down against this raised area.

After 15 miles of driving, it looks like my valve cover bolts are weeping a little bit of oil.
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
A friend raised an interesting theory about the raised areas (with machining marks) that I found in my engine. Because this is no valve cover bolt on the short sides of the cylinder head, might those raised areas be present to provide some "up" pressure on the gasket and valve cover since there is no bolt in that area? The bolts, then, to either side of the raised area would help pull the short ends of the valve cover tightly down against this raised area.
That theory is certainly worthy of discussion.

However, if that's the case, then wouldn't we see more of that kind of thing on other engines? I don't recall if I've ever seen a V-type engine that uses bolts on the short side of the valve covers (other than the corners). So wouldn't all these engines be susceptible to leakage in those areas, similar to our 4.0L Cologne? Or is it that "step" area which sets the 4.0L apart from these other V-type engines?

Just wondering out loud here.
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Old 10-22-2013, 01:26 PM
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Lets think about this some more, since the problem came about slowly over time & he has done everything as specified, maybe he has excessive blow by, causing high crankcase pressure, thats blowing past the weakest seal area. A pressure check can be done with a gauge that fits in the oil fill cap hole.

Just because a PCV valve with at least 95K on it, has been cleaned, inspected & is loose enough to rattle, doesn't mean its ok inside. It's seat/seal may be worn, or the piston may be worn & not be siting square in its bore, or the spring may be weak from 95K worth of flexing & not operating the valve correctly. In any case its time for scheduled maintenance replacement & they don't cost much, so maybe its worth a try????

More thoughts for consideration, keep us posted on your trouble shoot.
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:48 PM
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I replaced the PCV valve, pawpaw. I'll keep an eye on it to see if it changes the weeping.
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Old 01-01-2014, 07:41 PM
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OK, so the weep came back????
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Old 01-01-2014, 09:44 PM
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i did my valave covers about 6-7 years ago, had a bad fuel-rail gasket on the intake and the drivers side cover was leaking at that time, in the last year ive noticed my driver side cover has started leaking again, i remember back when i did that job the cover had kind of a bad spot at the bottom edge near the firewall end. gasket used were (i think) a fel-pro brand, all i really remember was that they had metal rings where the bolts went through to keep from crushing the gasket when you tourqued the bolts down. intresting thought on the pcv valve...min is original, truck has 160K+ miles on it, havent treid tightning bolts, really only notice the leak when i shut off the truck and i see the oil "smoke" creeping out from the joint between the hood/left fender. too damn cold right now to do much outside. (unless its a emergency)
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:58 PM
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I replaced the PCV valve, pawpaw. I'll keep an eye on it to see if it changes the weeping.
I installed a new OEM PCV valve and after 1,400 miles, I do not have any weeping or leaking around the valve covers. I'm not prepared at this point to claim there's a correlation between the stopped weeping and a new PCV valve, but I'm just happy the stupid thing isn't leaking any more.
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:33 AM
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OK, good feedback on replacing the PCV valve appearing to have stopped the valve cover oil leak.
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