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Replacing Head and Valve Cover Gaskets

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Hey guys,

I have a week off coming up in February and thought I'd replace my valve cover gaskets and fix this damn oil leak. When I checked the oil the other day, it was a half qt low. I went to put oil in and what do you know, milky looking something on my oil fill cap. I asked a friend what that is and he said you've got antifreeze leaking into your oil, time to replace the head gaskets. So now in February, I'll be doing both valve cover and head gaskets. I looked on youtube at a guy doing just valve cover gaskets and it did not appear that he was having a hell of a lot of fun. I've fixed and replaced A TON of things on this truck. With help from all of you, they've all been successful and are maintaining. This is going to be by far the deepest I've dug into this beast and if anyone can tell me any shortcuts or tips, I'd really appreciate it. I'm nervous about it already. Are there things that I need to be looking out for? I read somewhere that digging in this deep will require a timing chain replacement? That didn't sound right but please let me know!! That, from what I've heard, is territory I don't think I should tread into. Is there a thread with step by step instruction on the best way? Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, you guys can tell me to help me on this fun little excursion would be great!! I'm going to order fel-pro gaskets and if there's anything I need with them, talk to me! I changed valve cover gaskets in my 99 Trooper and the vc gaskets took no RTV. I'm guessing these are the same? I think it's the head gaskets that I'm nervous about. I'll start posting on here I'm sure after day 1 begging for help.Thanks in advance!!

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Is it losing coolant too? It is possible to get milky schmoo under the oil cap just from short trips and that don't get it warmed up properly. I'd want to do some investigating before blaming the head gaskets, just to be sure I wasn't chasing my tail taking it all to bits.


The factory service manual is a good place to start. You can download yours here. I'm honestly not sure what the difference is between the '01 and the '01.5--hopefully someone with an R50 can chime in on that. Either way, the EM section will be your friend on this job. (I recommend downloading the whole manual while you're there so it's handy when you need something else later.) The manual shows where sealant is needed, how things go together, and what the torque specs are, and should help you build a list of the other stuff you'll need. This walkthrough is for applying threadlocker to the power valve screws to prevent them from falling in as they sometimes do, and includes gasket part #s and tips for at least the upper part of what you'll need to mess with. (It's also a good thing to do while you're in there.)

Hopefully your oil loss is just a leak. The VQ in my dad's '03 didn't leak externally (that we could find) but it burned oil like crazy.

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Slartibartfast, this baby has been leaking oil externally for many moons. Im going to need about 5 gal of degreaser to be able to do anything with it. Oil leak has ruined two alternators and power steering pump. Gotta at least get valve cover gaskets done. Good tip to see about antifreeze. If i don't need to mess with the head gaskets, i'd be a happy man. Im kind of excited about replacing the valve cover gaskets. Working on that truck is the one place where i seem to have some peace in my life🤣. I sometimes have to sabotage the thing just to get ot of the house. I'll download the manual and let you know how things go. Im sure I'll have more questions in the next few weeks, but thanks much for the tips! 

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I don’t know about the VQ but I did head gaskets on my VG and it sucked. If I could go back I’d have just put some blue devil in it and drove it till it died. They say the HG sealer products, especially blue devil, work very well with seeping HGs or HG failures that are not very bad yet..

If you’re not a dumba$$ like me and manage not to destroy you’re transmission then you might just have a great time, even a fun time, doing the HGs.

The thing was, for me at least, when I got into the heads I found that my cams and heads themselves were badly worn causing me to have to find replacements. Luckily I had a spare engine that I destroyed the year prior, did I mention I’m a dumba$$? Another thing for me was that every valve needed to be lapped something fierce and it was all more than I bargained for.

You can do it, for sure.. but if you can find a nice junk yard motor for cheap it’ll be WAY easier to just swap it in. However I will admit having put this much work into my motor makes me love my vehicle even more..

Last thing, you are right to do this sort of thing while you’re off work. I had a huge project going on during my HG job and I about lost my mind between the two..

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