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Andrew Bayley

Which gasket is leaking oil : Head / Valve Cover / Both?

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Here’s one for the all the SBC guru’s that is currently stumping me. Pulled the engine and trans out last week for some much needed cleaning, maintenance and upgrades. While removing the engine, I noticed the rear passenger side of the oil pan had a significant amount of oil running down its side. Mind you, I never noticed this while the engine was running since the clouds of transmission smoke that would trigger alarms at the local EPA office would “Mask†all other leaks / burning oil.


Upon close investigation, I’ve narrowed down the source of the oil leak to one of two places:


1) The valve cover gasket


2) The head gasket


I’m 99% that the valve cover gasket is indeed leaking, I’m just curious if the head gasket is ALSO leaking in since I can see significant buildup of oil between the head and block just below the exhaust port. I’ve blown through my fair share of head gaskets before but I’ve never seen one that has leaked oil between the head and block. I’m sure its possible, but how common is this? The oil looked fine and my coolant level hadn’t dropped.


I’m wondering if I should pull the heads now since I’ve already got the engine out of the car and slap some new gaskets in, or if I’m making a big deal out of nothing. New head gaskets and bolts (probably switch to studs) will probably set me back at least $100. Is it worth it for a piece of mind or am I just paranoid (people think I’m insane because I am frowning… all the time!)


I guess on the plus side, if I pull the heads off I can hit the ports with a die grinder in the shop after work.

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HG doesnt carry any pressurized oil so if theres no water consumption/white smoke and the compression is good then theres probably no problem


just to be sure I'd change the valve cover gaskets, clean the area real good, wait a week or so and if theres no more oil then thats it

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