This DIY covers how to replace the valve cover gasket and PCV on a Volkswagen VR6 engine. Shown specifically in this video is how to replace the valve cover gasket on a Mk5 VW Golf R32 with the VR6 engine, but this applies to the Golf GTI and VW Jetta as well.
Keeping the oil where it is supposed to be in an engine is an important job. To run smoothly, an engine requires a certain amount of oil, and that amount of oil needs to be inside the engine at all times. A leaking seal or gasket is a direct cause of a loss of oil. The leak may not be bad enough to cause immediate damage, but it will eventually cause an issue. A faulty PCV valve can cause these types of leaks. The PCV's job is to help any excess pressure leave the engine safely. When the vale gets stuck or breaks, pressure builds, eventually finding its way out. The pressure won't cause any catastrophic damage, but it will push past seals, o-rings, and gaskets.
Getting to the valve cover gasket and PCV housing will be tedious as the vehicle's nose must enter the service position before any engine work can begin. However, this job is achievable in a driveway with hand tools. No special tools are required, just sockets and screwdrivers.
Volkswagen models and years applicable:
Symptoms of a failing PCV or valve cover gasket on a Volkswagen VR6:
- Oil build-up around the intake manifold
- Whistling sound while the engine is running
- Murky film on top of the oil
- Sludge build-up
- Engine misfire at idle
A leaky valve cover gasket is easy to diagnose. Examine the area around the valve cover and check for any oil build-up. If there is oil, the chances are that the gasket is leaking. The cause of a leaky gasket can be that the gasket is old and has become brittle. Otherwise, there's a chance that the PCV system is causing an issue.
The positive crankcase ventilation valve, or PCV, is in charge of keeping the internal engine pressure where it needs to be. PCVs break when they become stuck open or closed. Oil is a large part of the air that the PCV regulates and is usually a stuck valve's culprit.
When the valve is stuck open, it creates a vacuum leak in the engine. This vacuum leak will cause an engine to run too lean, leading to misfires and general rough-running. A stuck closed PCV cannot help regulate the engine's pressure and clear the oil of any excess moisture. Engines create water as they heat up and cool down, and it's the PCV's job to help eliminate the water from the oil. If water does mix with oil, you'll find a murky mixture sitting atop the oil, reminiscent of a chocolate milkshake.
How much will it cost to replace the valve cover gasket and PCV on a Volkswagen VR6?
The valve cover gasket kit costs $115. The kit includes every seal, bushing, and bolt you'll need to replace the valve cover gasket on your VR6 engine. A PCV costs $105. For that price, you will receive just a new PCV housing/valve.
PCV failures aren't uncommon on VW's VR6 engines, and the process to reach the PCV housing is identical to the one required for a valve cover gasket replacement. Doing the gasket and PCV at the same time will save you a bunch of time and possible future headaches.
How long will it take to replace the valve cover gasket and PCV on a Volkswagen VR6?
The easiest way to give yourself enough space to work on this engine is to put the nose in service mode. Placing the nose in service mode involves removing the front bumper and partially unbolting the vehicle's nose to allow it to tilt away from the engine, creating space.
Service mode adds some time to the job initially but makes up for it in the ease of engine disassembly and reassembly. Still, many things need to be removed for the job, so put aside a full afternoon to ensure that everything is right the first time.
Parts required to replace the valve cover gasket and PCV on a Volkswagen VR6:
Tools required to replace the valve cover gasket and PCV on a Volkswagen VR6:
- 10mm Socket
- 16mm Socket
- 5mm Hex-bit Socket
- 6mm Hex-bit Socket
- 10mm Triple-square Socket
- T20 Torx Socket
- T25 Torx Socket
- T30 Torx Socket
- Various Screwdrivers
- Ratchet Extensions
- Torque Wrench
- Impact Gun
Steps required to replace the valve cover gasket and PCV on a Volkswagen VR6:
Step 1: Put the nose into service position
The first step in placing the nose into the service position is to remove the bumper. Jack the front of the car up and remove the eight T25 fasteners that mount the bottom of the bumper to the bottom of the radiator support.
Next, head over to either one of the wheel wells. Turn the wheel to the other side of the car to access and remove the three T25 fasteners that secure the bumper to the fender and the chassis.
Use a T20 Torx-bit socket to remove the two lower grilles from the front bumper. Reach your hand through the grille openings and unplug the connections for the side marker light.
Behind the lower grille on the passenger's side is the washer bottle tank. The suction hose from the tank needs to be disconnected to put the nose in the service position. Have a drain pan ready to catch the escaping windshield washer fluid or have something ready to plug the line after disconnecting it.
Use a pick to remove the locking clip from the connection and then pull it apart.
The main grille piece uses four fasteners that sit under the lower grille pieces. Use a T25 Torx socket to remove these fasteners. Then, use a T20 Torx socket to remove the two fasteners inside the main grille opening.
The last two fasteners for the grille are at the top corners next to the headlights. Use a T25 socket to remove them. Pull-on the two tabs on either side of the hood latch to free the grille from the bumper.
Behind the grille is two more T25 fasteners securing the bumper to the bumper beam. Remove them and then remove the bumper.
Start at one corner of the bumper, pulling it forward, away from the fender. Then, repeat that process on the other side. Set the bumper aside to prevent any damage to it.
Pull slowly to avoid hurting any wiring or lines that may get caught during the bumper removal.
Now, move onto unbolting the radiator support. Behind each headlight are three fasteners. Remove the two rear-most fasteners on either side with a T30 socket.
Next, unclip the hood cable from the back of the radiator support behind the driver's side headlight. Lastly, loosen the bumper support beam bolts.
The eight bumper support beam bolts are the last fasteners holding on the nose to the chassis. Use a 16mm socket to remove the top four bolts and loosen the bottom four bolts nearly all the way.
With the support beam bolts removed, slowly pull the top of the radiator support away from the engine. This will tilt the nose forward and grant you much more access to the engine.
Step 2: Remove the intake
Start by disconnecting the MAF sensor, then loosen the clamp for the intake tube to throttle body.
The stock airbox mounts into the chassis with clips and tabs. Undo the clips and lift the airbox out of the engine bay. If you have an aftermarket cold-air-intake kit installed, we were able to remove ours in one piece.
Step 3: Clean off the engine
Bolted to the driver's side of the engine is a nest of wires, sensors, and hoses. Start by removing the bracket at the top of the cylinder head. Use a 10mm socket to remove the nut and stud towards the back of the bracket and a T30 Torx-bit socket to remove the bolt at the front of the bracket.
Follow the harness on the bracket towards the throttle body and disconnect its three electrical connections. Then, unclip the harness from the engine and move it over to where the intake would normally sit.
Next, start on the ignition coil wires. Use a pick to lift on the ignition harness connectors' tabs and then pull the connectors off of the ignition coils.
Remove the black cover from the harness with a pick, and then lay the harness off of the engine on the driver's side.
Next, disconnect the main PCV breather hose. Use a flathead screwdriver to walk the hose connection off of the top of the valve cover.
Reach behind the intake manifold to feel the four vacuum connections attached to it. Use your fingers to pull the lines off of the manifold. Along with disconnecting the lines, there is a bracket that you must remove.
Use a 10mm triple-square bit socket to remove the bolts that fasten the bracket to the back of the engine.
Next, use a 5mm Allen-bit socket to remove the four bolts securing the throttle body to the intake manifold.
Then, use a 10mm socket to remove the bolts for the fuel line bracket on the passenger's side of the engine.
Next, remove the bolt on either side of the intake manifold with a 10mm triple-square socket.
There are two brackets mounted to the intake manifold, against the radiator, for the oil dipstick tube and a group of sensors. Use a T30 Torx-bit to remove the bolts that secure the bracket to the manifold.
Lastly, pull off the vacuum line to the variable intake solenoid.
Step 4: Remove the intake manifold
Use a long, ball-headed, 6mm Allen-bit socket to remove all nine intake manifold bolts. All of the bolts are at the front of the engine.
If you can't find any of the bolt locations, look at the new intake manifold gasket. All of the bolt holes are present on the gasket, which should help you figure out which needs to be removed.
With the manifold loose, use a flathead screwdriver to pry out the ignition coils from the cylinder head.
Pull off the manifold after you remove the coils. Rock the manifold forward to break the seal of the gasket. Then, pull it up and away from the engine.
Step 4: Replace the valve cover gasket and PCV
Use a 10mm socket to remove the eleven valve cover bolts. Start by removing the outermost bolts before moving to the inner bolts.
Remove the valve cover from the engine and set it down on a work surface. Then, peel off the old valve cover gasket and the spark plug tube seals. At the front of the valve cover is the PCV housing. Use a T20 Torx bit socket to remove the five fasteners securing it into the valve cover.
Use a flathead screwdriver to break the seal of the old PCV housing gently and pop it out of the valve cover.
Rub some oil onto the gasket on the new PCV housing and then place it into the valve cover. Firmly but gently, press the housing into place and secure it with the five T20 Torx screws.
Next, start laying on the new gaskets. Start with the valve cover gasket and then move to the spark plug tube seals.
Then, head over to the engine and prepare the mating surface. Spray some degreaser onto a rag and wipe down the top of the cylinder head. Wipe away from the inside of the engine to stop any debris from falling inside. There will be some silicone on the gasket's mating surface where the front timing cover meets the cylinder head. Use a razor blade to scrape off the old silicone.
Just before you install the valve cover, place a dab of oil-resistant silicone in the two spots you scraped away. Additionally, you can place small dabs at the front corners of the timing cover, around the two studs.
Lastly, place the new bolts into the valve cover. Then, install the valve cover back onto the engine. Use a 10mm socket to tighten the bolts down in a crossing pattern. Start the pattern on the middle bolts moving to the outer bolts.
Use a torque wrench and a 10mm socket to torque the bolts to 10Nm.
Step 5: Reinstall the intake manifold
Use a pick to pry out the old intake manifold gasket from the manifold.
Clean off the gasket surface on the manifold with a rag and then press in the new gasket. Then, wipe down the gasket mating surface on the cylinder head.
As you reposition the manifold back onto the engine, ensure that no wires or brackets are going to get in your way. Thread in all of the intake manifold bolts by hand before tightening anything down. Threading by hand ensures that nothing cross-threads and that all of the bolts are properly aligned. Use a 6mm Allen-bit socket to tighten the bolts. Starting with the middle bolts and moving to the outer bolts, torque them to 13Nm.
Once the manifold is tight, reinstall the two brackets to the manifold. Use a T30 Torx bit socket to tighten the bolts. Then, reattach the vacuum line to the variable intake solenoid.
Step 6: Redress the engine
Take the ignition coil harness and lay it over the intake manifold. Look at the coil pack connectors to determine which side the tabbed side goes on as you install the coil packs. Then, install the coil packs and plug the ignition harness into them.
Then, refit the plastic cover over the ignition harness. Next, reinstall the bolts on either side of the manifold for its mounting brackets. Use a 10mm triple-square socket to tighten the bolts.
Next, head over to the driver's side of the engine and reinstall the wiring harness bracket to the cylinder head. The rearward bolt hole gets the studded nut for the ground wire, and the forward hole just gets a bolt. Use a 10mm socket to install the bolt and studded nut.
While you're on that side of the engine, reconnect the main PCV breather hose to the valve cover. Then move to the other side of the engine and reattach the fuel line bracket. Use a 10mm socket to tighten the two bolts for the bracket.
Next, reattach all of the vacuum lines to the back of the intake manifold. Then, reattach the single bracket behind the manifold to the manifold using a 10mm triple-square socket. Take the wiring harness from the driver's side bracket and lay it over the back of the manifold, where it belongs.
Then, refit the throttle body to the intake manifold. Thread in the four bolts by hand before tightening them down with a 5mm Allen-bit socket. Plug the wiring harness into the throttle body after you tighten the bolts.
Take the intake assembly and refit it to the engine. Fit the intake tube onto the throttle body and then rotate the assembly down into position around the engine. First, clip and fit the airbox into place. Then, tighten the throttle body to intake tube clamp. Reconnect any vacuum lines and plug the wiring harness back into the MAF sensor.
Step 7: Take the nose out of service position
First, lift the front end back into place. Thread in the four T30 bolts behind the headlights to hold the nose in position. Then, thread in the top bumper support beam bolts by hand. Tighten down all of the bolts with a 16mm socket.
Now, go back to the bolts behind the headlights and tighten them down with a T30 Torx bit socket. Then, refit the bumper cover to the car. Line up the bumper, thread in, and tighten down the two T25 headed bolts that sit under the grille.
Next, refit the side marker light in the bumper cover. After that, reconnect the windshield washer bottle hose.
Then, reinstall the center grill. First, push it into the bumper to lock in all of its tabs. Then use a T25 Torx-bit socket to install the fasteners in the lower corners of the grille. Then install the two bolts in the lower grille opening with a T20 Torx-bit socket.
Next, install the lower corner grille pieces. Push them into place and secure them with their two screws. Use a T20 Torx-bit to tighten the screws.
Finish installing the grilles by tightening down the last two bolts. They sit at the top corners of the center grille, near the headlights. Use a T25 Torx-bit socket to tighten them.
Next, jack the car up and fasten the bottom of the bumper cover to the bottom of the radiator support using a T25 Torx-bit socket.
Lastly, head into the wheel wells and install the three fasteners on each side.
Volkswagen VR6 Valve Cover Torque Specs:
- VW Valve Cover Bolts = 10Nm or 7.4 ft-lbs of torque
- VW Intake Manifold Bolts = 13Nm or 9.6 ft-lbs of torque
There you have it, a fresh valve cover gasket to prevent leaks and a new PCV to fix the crankcase ventilation system. If you're interested in more DIYs for your Volkswagen, you can visit vw.fcpeuro.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you have any questions about this DIY, leave them in the comments section below.
Owner of a flat-six swapped 1998 Impreza 2.5RS and a 1973 Porsche 914. Horizontally opposed views, only.