I recently did a Valve Cover replacement on a 2002 Toyota Camry. This job was fairly easy and I'm sure that anyone with a working knowledge of basic hand tools should be able to do this. You really just need;
- A new Valve Cover Gasket, obviously!
- 10mm socket
- 3/8 inch Ratchet
- A few short 3/8 inch Extensions
- Knipex Pliers
- Acetone (nail polish remover)
- High Tack – Gasket Sealer
- RTV sealant
- Mechanix Gloves
- Magnetic Parts Dish
- Fender Cover
Basically you just remove the black plastic cover on the top of the engine which is only two bolts. If it has never been removed you might need to apply some force but be careful as it is plastic. Around the top of the engine there are are 8-10 bolts and a set of nuts which are easily removed with the a 10mm socket and ratchet. I like using magnetic parts dishes to keep all bolts, nuts, and crews from going anywhere. There are also two hoses connected to the valve cover and you will need to use pliers to clamp down on the clips holding the on. You also need to undo two brackets that are attached to the Valve Cover. Once you get off all the nuts and bolts off the Valve Cover, and make sure nothing is attached, you can take it off.
One thing I found while doing this Valve Cover Replacement on this 2002 Toyota Camry was that it looked deceptively easy but… as usual it gave me a few problems. 🙂 First the Valve Cover was being a bit stubborn coming off, so I had to use a block of wood and gave it a few late taps when against the Valve Cover. It also was a bit difficult maneuvering the Valve Cover off the top of the engine as there is plastic clip bracket for the fuel injector wiring on the Driver's side. On the passenger side there is a wiring harness that runs from the alternator over the top of the engine. While you can loosen a bracket bolt connected for this 2-gauge wire for better clearance, it's still a huge problem for getting the Valve Cover off and back onto this Camry engine block. My recommendation for getting the Valve Cover back on is to take your time and start with getting it back on the driver's side sliding it under the plastic clip.
Before you attempt putting the new gasket back on though, make sure to compare if you have the correct one for your car. This picture shows the new one that fits in perfectly and the old gasket, below the Valve Cover, which you can see was brittle and hard to the touch definitely needed to be replaced.
Also you need to clean both mating surfaces of any oil, dirt, or grime. That means the engine block itself and the Valve Cover. For this just take the Acetone (nail polish remove) and pour it onto some shop rags and start rubbing each surface. Take time with this step as you need to get it clean before installing the new Valve Cover gasket. I do NOT recommend using paper towels as they will tear and can potentially leave bits in your engine. I see too many people that use paper towels.
You might have noticed above I recommend a product called High Tack. This so that when you are placing a new part into position the gasket doesn't move. It's a red, sticky, and kind of smells like old BBQ but it works and was really helpful for completing this job. While I was trying to maneuver the Valve Cover into position with the new gasket it kept falling out making it annoying. I ran to the auto parts store and bought a can of High Tack Gasket Sealer and while it is expensive for a 4 ounce bottle it was definitely worth the price to complete this DIY auto repair job.
Before installing the Valve Cover gasket make sure to use a little RTV sealant on the two large surface areas near the timing chain. This is specified since I assume there are higher stress and wear areas on the gasket. I got the Valve Cover position on the engine and once I was comfortable that it was in the right place I put the RTV sealant on.
After that you just put all the nuts and bolts back on and tighten them down. You should be able to get away with hand tightening without a torque wrench. Just make sure to go in a star pattern to distribute the pressure evenly when you are installing the bolts and huts.
If you are reading this and need to do this Valve Cover Replacement, something to keep in mind about gaskets is that it's good to replace them sooner rather than later. This stops any oil leaks and keeps your engine compartment clean for future auto repair jobs. In addition you don't risk loosing oil or oil pressure and damaging other vehicle components.
Another thing, the Fel-Pro gasket I used for this Toyota Camry Valve Cover replacement, I wasn't all that impressed with it. It's thinner than the factory one that came out of the car and while it fit perfectly and worked fine… in retrospect I probably should have opted for a Toyota gasket from an online part dealer. It wasn't that much more expensive actually only about $2 or so dollars. Since you save money doing it yourself, why not put that money toward better parts? 🙂
Anyway, if you have any questions or comments about doing doing this feel free to leave a comment below. I'll be sure to answer them as quick as I can and to the best of my knowledge and ability. I hope this helps you fix your own Toyota Camry.