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Valve cover gasket replacement 3.4 V6 tips

Discussion in '1st Gen. Tacomas' started by TRD 2001 4X4, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. Nov 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM
    #1
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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    Took my 2001 Tacoma 4X4 TRD with 130K to the dealer to have the shocks replaced (didn't want to hassle with the front ones) and have them check the oil leak. They said the valve cover gaskets were leaking and wanted $540 to replace them (4.5 hours). Far too much in my opinion, so decided to do it myself. I finished installing the new ones last night and learned some things along the way. Probably took a total of 5-6 hours (not counting the parts runs). It's not that hard, but takes some time.

    First of all, if your valve covers are leaking the first thing I'd try is tightening the bolts you can reach, but don't crank them as tight as you can. When I took them off I was surprised at how loose some of them were. If it still leaks oil, you need to replace them.

    Tip #1 - Buy all of your replacement parts at the dealer. I went to Autozone for the gaskets and the spark plug seals and the seals in the kit weren't like the originals. The originals were heavy and the replacements were flimsy.

    Tip #2 - Replace the intake plenum gaskets. You'll read online that they're reusable, but at $12 each it's cheap insurance to replace them. The ones I originally ordered through O'Riely's were a different material (not metal), so I had to get them from the dealer and take the O'Riley ones back.

    Tip #3 - Replace the PCV valve, valve cover grommets (didn't come with the kit), cam seals, spark plugs and ignition wires (you'll need the boots too for the passenger's side). You're already in there, so you might as well knock out any future problems before they happen. Replace the PCV valve and grommet when the cover is off. I did it when it was on and most everything was put back together, and the old grommet cracked and fell inside. I was able to pull it out, but a few colorful words were said thinking I'd have to take the cover off again.

    Tip #4 - The valve cover bolts are torqued at 52 inch pounds. That's only 4.3 foot pounds and there wasn't an auto parts store in town that had one in inch pounds (NAPA wanted over $200 to order one). I wound up using the old style needle torque wrench Ace Hardware had, but it was my only option and if I were to do it again I'd order one online. If you get one from 20-200 inch pounds you can use it for the intake plenums too (144 inch pounds). You can find these pretty cheap on eBay.

    Truck doesn't leak now and it's tuned up for winter. If I do this again it would take half as long, but a complete novice may destroy the engine if something gets dropped inside when the plenums are taken off. Best to block the holes with rags as soon as you take the plenum off and take pictures as you go. Also, the Toyota repair manual was next to worthless. I'm sure the information is in there in various places, but they don't even list "valve cover" in the index. The web was most useful and a search for your engine will probably tell you what you need to know.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  2. Nov 7, 2013 at 4:47 PM
    #2
    thatSchusterguy

    thatSchusterguy Common Sense Ninja

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    Do you happen to have the part number for the intake gaskets? I've had the VC gaskets for a few months but haven't put them on yet bc I wasn't sure what exactly I needed gasket-wise.
     
  3. Nov 7, 2013 at 6:55 PM
    #3
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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    17176-62040... 12.79 each.
     
  4. Nov 11, 2013 at 6:58 AM
    #4
    thatSchusterguy

    thatSchusterguy Common Sense Ninja

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    Much appreciated!
     
  5. Mar 14, 2014 at 7:20 AM
    #5
    Corn

    Corn Active Member

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    Do you know the torque spec for the spark plugs?

    Also, (novice) what are the "boots for the passenger side" you are referring to?
     
  6. Mar 16, 2014 at 7:35 AM
    #6
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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    The passenger side requires three rubber boots that's different from the driver's side. If you go to the dealer and just buy the replacement ignition wires they'll know what you need. Regarding the spark plugs, I just tightened them down and didn't use a torque wrench. I've been working on cars since I was 16 and think I have a feel for how much is enough. You don't want to crank on them, but just seat them and turn them a little more until their snug. If you want to torque them down, a quick google search came up with 13 foot pounds.
     
  7. Mar 16, 2014 at 12:33 PM
    #7
    Corn

    Corn Active Member

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    So, if my wires have 15,000 miles on them, I dont need to worry about replacing the boots? Honestly, Im still unclear as to what the boots are.
     
  8. Mar 16, 2014 at 1:07 PM
    #8
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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  9. Mar 16, 2014 at 3:27 PM
    #9
    jdkilroy

    jdkilroy Well-Known Member

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    I don't think you ever need to replace the coil pack boots. If you really need new boots you likely need new coil packs. If you buy a set of coil packs they come with the boots.

    The boots are made out of a silicone type rubber that is very durable and shows no sign of wear or breakdown after 100K miles. The boots have spring conductor cores that serve to conduct energy from the coil pack to the spark plug and the materials inside the boot are not so subject to wear and tear like the wires are.

    If you are set on replacing the boots then I recommend the Denso's sold on Amazon for $38.00. Cheaper than OEM and the manufacturer of OEM.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  10. Mar 16, 2014 at 3:35 PM
    #10
    jdkilroy

    jdkilroy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the installation tips OP, helpful to anyone getting into this.
     
  11. Mar 16, 2014 at 3:41 PM
    #11
    BamaToy1997

    BamaToy1997 ASE Master Tech Vendor

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    So I was reading your OP, (Granted it was from last year) and you stated that you thought $540 was too much. I am curious if you meant it was too much for your budget, or you thought their asking price was too much. I am assuming since you stated "in your opinion" that you mean the latter of the options. Assuming an approximate cost of $60 for just the valve cover gaskets and plenum gaskets, we are looking at $490 for a listed 5.4 hours of labor. This drops to a little less than $91 per hour. Very average and acceptable labor rates actually. How do you figure this is too much? Just curious your opinion.
     
  12. Mar 16, 2014 at 4:02 PM
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    jdkilroy

    jdkilroy Well-Known Member

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    My local (independant) mechanic gets $92.00 per hour and I am happy to pay it for all the stuff that I either have no time, am unable or unwilling to do myself.

    That said, if a job only takes him 20 min then he charges me accordingly and that's why I keep supporting him. If a job takes longer than expected, he again, charges accordingly.... he has earned the trust of the locals that use him over time with this policy.

    There are jobs like this (OP's) that take an experienced mechanic minutes on the hour to perform and the extra time is utilized to perform another job on another vehicle at book rates. I am in no way suggesting that a good mechanic should not be paid well but to be paid with my dollars for working on someone else's vehicle just seems wrong.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  13. Mar 16, 2014 at 6:16 PM
    #13
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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    I agree with this response. I'm not saying the standard at 4 hours is too much for four hours of work, but it shouldn't take an experienced mechanic over two hours to change the valve cover gaskets. I paid to have the shocks replaced because I don't have a spring compressor and it is somewhat dangerous for a novice. When I asked the dealer why it was so much, they said "you have to take the intake plenums off." It's not like taking the plenums off is rocket science.
     
  14. Mar 17, 2014 at 10:41 AM
    #14
    BamaToy1997

    BamaToy1997 ASE Master Tech Vendor

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    While I do see you point behind your arguments, I disagree. Standard shop rates have been in place for many, many years. Dealerships pay their tech by a labor time guide, not physical hours. They also charge customers based on the labor time guide. It is there for a standard and a reason. Look at it this way if you don't mind having an open mind:

    Tech A has 40 years experience and Tech B has 10. Tech A has learned more tricks to get the job done than Tech B and can complete his work in 2/3 the time it takes Tech B. Both techs are ASE Master Certified, and both earn $22 per labor hour they flag.

    Why should Tech A work faster, and use his tricks to do the job faster, and turn out more vehicles than Tech B, if he is going to get the exact same paycheck? He gains nothing from doing the job faster. However what if Tech B works slower and takes more time to do his repairs? End of the day BOTH techs make the same amount of money. However Tech B will have produced less work. Doesn't sound fair.

    Enter the Flag Hour work. Job 1 is a flag of 4.5 hours. Now it doesn't matter if Tech A or Tech B does the job, because BOTH would get paid the same 4.5 hours of labor. Customer pays the SAME amount for EVERY identical job. No more price variation. It just happens that since Tech A can do the same job faster, he can earn more money than Tech B who is slower. THAT is fair.

    When you look at it you are NOT paying someone to work on another person's vehicle. You are paying a FLAT cost to have the job done. Doesn't matter if the 2005 Tacoma is owned and brought in by Joe, Steve, Bill, or Bobby. A valve cover gasket job is $540. Period. Which is EXACTLY what it should be. (not the $540 price, but the fast that it should be the SAME price, no matter WHO at the shop works on it)

    When you go to a store and buy a computer, there is a set price. They don't price it cheaper because the guy at the warehouse can build them faster than the other guy, and get it to you faster. They are priced a set price.

    Hopefully I made my point.

    Now don't get me wrong, I understand flat rating a job that takes 20 minutes, but we are talking 4.5 hour jobs here.
     
  15. Mar 17, 2014 at 12:04 PM
    #15
    Rons01TRD

    Rons01TRD Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure it took me 4 hours and I painted both my intake plenum and valve covers but I didn't rush and I made sure I marked everything.

    BamaToy said it best. If you don't think you can do the work then you gotta pay the mans rates. I know my limitations and when my truck goes to the shop I give them an opportunity of giving me a price if I'm not happy with that price I look to see if it's something I can do myself. If not I get a second quote from a reputable shop I know and I pick the better of the two prices.
     
  16. Mar 17, 2014 at 1:05 PM
    #16
    mwrohde

    mwrohde Well-Known Member

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    Do you think it's easier to replace the cam seals with the valve cover replacement or with the timing belt replacement? I have both on my "to do" list.

    Thanks
     
  17. Mar 17, 2014 at 2:36 PM
    #17
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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    Valve covers. One thing to note is the direction they go in. Take a lot of pictures just in case.
     
  18. Mar 17, 2014 at 3:04 PM
    #18
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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    I see your point, but regardless of what the standard rate is, what you're paying for is time it should take to do the job. I understand that taking it to any Toyota dealer will probably get you the same job rate, but if you know a Puddy mechanic that quotes you two, it's worth it to have them do it. A lot of jobs take special knowledge and experience, but IMO changing the valve cover gaskets on a Toyota V6 is fairly simple.

    Case in point, my son's 94 Nissan 4X4 blew a head gasket. He took it to a shop and they quoted him $4000 to change both head gaskets (he paid $4000 for the truck). After poking around the web, I figured buying a JDM engine would be less risk as the head may have warped when it overheated. My friend bought a JDM engine for his Toyota truck. He got it installed and it wouldn't work because of a sensor problem with the exhaust. He was tired of working on it and paid a guy $350 to figure it out and get it running and was very happy with the work. I called the place and got a labor quote for $1300 to change the engine in my son's truck. I called back a few days later (about 5PM) to set it up and the guy was hammered when I spoke to him. I changed my mind and decided to install it myself. I can do it, but I really don't want to. In the end, some would say you get what you pay for and having the dealer install it should be the least risk in having it done right. I'm ok with paying for this expertise and experience, but if you can do the work, then sometimes it's better to just do it yourself. Engine gets delivered tomorrow and I know what I'll be doing for the next week in my spare time.

    In the above scenarios regarding rates, I always assumed mechanics get paid for the work they do by the job standard. If mechanic A does a 4 hour job in 1 hour, he still gets paid four hours, regardless of mechanic B taking 3 hours. Not sure how this works at dealers, but I'm pretty sure it's how it works for some shops. My buddy is a mechanic that works on BMW's. He said one job changing a timing chain paid something like 6 hours. He figured out a way to cut the chain and remove it, install the new one in under two, so he was always stoked about getting that job because he could make extra money. This was years ago, and in the end if his expertise allowed him to do the job quicker I don't think the customer is getting ripped off, because they're getting what they're paying for. If a novice can change the valve cover gasket for the first time in 5 hours, then paying someone to do it in 4 doesn't make sense. JMHO, but 4 hours to too much to pay for this job and it really is simple.
     
  19. Mar 17, 2014 at 3:16 PM
    #19
    BamaToy1997

    BamaToy1997 ASE Master Tech Vendor

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    That is exactly how a tech in the dealership is paid. Flat Rate time or "piece work". I was under the assumption as mentioned that if a guy could do the job in 2 hours, that you expected to only pay him 2 hours of work. Perhaps I misunderstood the wording.
     
  20. Mar 17, 2014 at 5:12 PM
    #20
    TRD 2001 4X4

    TRD 2001 4X4 [OP] Member

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    Then I guess where we disagree is the job rate to change the valve cover gaskets in 4 hours, because it doesn't take that long for someone who has done it even once.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
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