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Valve Seal Replacement

Contributed By: Lindel Easley

Valve Seal Replacement for the Monetarily Challenged

Items needed for the valve seal change. Engine: 1 (unless you're extraordinarily masochistic); valves, valve springs, rocker arms: appropriate for the engine at hand; valve spring compressor: 1; assorted sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers and tweezers, plus any other desired weapons of destruction; time: lots; and one final tool of destruction: small diameter woven cotton rope (commonly called clothes line in Texas).

Start with a cool engine (much easier to work on); remove the valve covers with a 3/8ths socket (depending on year of the vehicle, you might have some more work to do, especially if the emissions are intact). Take the time now to clean the valve covers and sealing surface on the heads. You'll be too tired to later on. Remove all the spark plugs, if in good shape, you can reinstall later, if not get new ones.

Starting with cylinder number 1, put the engine a little before, or after Top Dead Center. This is easier to find without the distributor cap (rotor installed). Start feeding the rope into the cylinder through the spark plug opening (much easier said than done, you guys with air compressor don't have to deal with this step, just fill the cylinder with air at Top Dead Center) until you can't get anymore in. Rotate the engine to Top Dead Center to lock the valves at upper limit, this will allow you to remove the springs without fishing for the valves later. Using the valve spring compressor (I got mine at Auto Zone, it looks much like suspension coil spring compressor), hook the lower arms at the lowest part of the spring possible, and turn the attached screw clockwise to compress the spring. You'll probably have to tap on, or force the spring all the way down (they like the spring keepers, and grow quite attached to them). Use the tweezers to remover the keepers carefully, they can be hard to find, assuming they make it to the floor. Now you can remove the spring, and get to the valve seal.

I used neoprene, although the nylon ones are still available. The neoprene ones are a lot easier to install, and they won't get brittle like the nylon ones do. Pull the old ones off, and install the new. Takes almost a minute, depending on how long you fumble with the bag. Reinstall valve spring and keepers, then repeat 11 or 15 more times, depending on your flavor of engine. This will cure the cloud of smoke at start up, and mild oil consumption (1 quart every 1000 miles). Assembly of engine in the reverse of tear down (how many times have we heard/read this?)

Lindel Easley

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