What is a Camshaft Cover And Why is It Important?

The camshaft cover sits above the cylinder head of an internal combustion engine, preventing oil from leaking to the outside. It also keeps contaminants away. These functions make it one of the most crucial engine components. Here, we explain what it is, including how to know if it’s damaged and leaking oil.

What is a Camshaft Cover?

It means the metal or plastic part that attaches to the top of the cylinder head. It’s also called the valve cover. In older engines with rocker arms, it goes by the name rocker cover.

A gasket between it and the cylinder head seals the joint shut, making the connection leak-proof. The gasket can be made of various materials, including cork, plastic, or rubber.

In some engines, silicone is used to seal the joint. Let’s now talk about the part’s location and function away from the definition.

Where is the Camshaft Cover Located?

It sits above the cylinder head. The cylinder head contains various parts like the valves and the valve train, ignition components, and the cam in most engines.

Straight or inline engines have one, while V layouts have two, one above the cylinder head on either side. In this location, the part ensures the oil does not leak.

Why Does a Camshaft Cover Do?

It shields the cylinder head, ensuring oil doesn’t leave the engine. The engine has many moving parts, such as pistons. These parts require a constant oil supply for lubrication and cooling.

Without the cover, this oil would leak through the top of the cylinder head. That would, in turn, reduce the oil level, leading to catastrophic wear and temperature rise.

Additionally, it prevents contaminants from reaching various parts, such as the valve and cylinders, and wearing them. As such, ensuring it’s always in good condition is advised.

It should not crack, for example, or get damaged in any other way. The gasket should remain intact, too, to prevent joint leaks.

But that’s not guaranteed. Over time, the part may give into vibrations, heat changes, and other causes of damage. Next is a look at how to know if yours is cracked and leaking.

Valve cover leaking oil
Valve cover leaking oil
Resource: https://stangnet.com

Symptoms of a Cracked Camshaft Cover

The valve or rocker cover can crack from extreme temperature changes and vibrations or during removal when servicing components. Symptoms that show its damage include leaks, low oil levels, and the smell of burning oil.

Oil Leaks

There’s visible oil on the surface, indicating the presence of cracks or a faulty gasket. Over time, it may absorb dirt and become even more noticeable.

Sometimes, the cracks are too small, and the leak is barely visible.in such situations, it’s vital that you inspect the surface and edges more closely.

Burning Oil Smell

Another sign of cracks or other damage is the smell of burning oil. It indicates that oil has escaped and landed on hot surfaces on the outside. This smell can have different causes, so inspect the part properly to confirm.

Low Engine Oil Level

The oil level drops and you frequently need to top it up. This problem occurs due to the presence of cracks or a leaking gasket. It’s important to note that low oil levels can cause your engine to overheat and parts to seize, not to mention the increased wear.

Valve cover, Chevy Cruze
Valve cover, Chevy Cruze
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsH_0YyQ1vM

Can You Drive With a Cracked or Loose Camshaft Cover?

You must not drive your car if it has a leaking valve cover. You risk getting the engine damaged from overheating. Some components may even seize from the expansion caused by the temperature increase.

With the reduced lubrication, you risk causing moving parts to wear too quickly, damaging the engine. Therefore, change the part as soon as you notice the first sign of damage.

Camshaft Cover Replacement

Loose bolts can be tightened, and a leaking gasket can be changed. But if it leaks due to cracks, the only solution is to replace it and avoid ruining the damage.

You can replace the part yourself or seek the assistance of a professional. The replacement steps are straightforward and DIY-cable. You only need to remove bolts from the part and a few components out of the way.

Have with you the necessary tools. More importantly, tighten the bolts with a torque wrench to avoid pinching the gasket and causing it to leak. Remember to change the gasket, too, especially if it’s old and likely to leak.

New vs. damaged camshaft valve cover

Resource: https://forum.ih8mud.com

Camshaft Cover Replacement Cost

The replacement cost depends on the vehicle type and its make or model. It also depends on the kind of material used to make the part. This part is usually available in either metal or plastic.

Plastic types are less costly, weigh less, and will not corrode. But they’re more likely to crack and, therefore, less durable. Metallic types cost more. They’re also heavier and can give in to corrosion. However, they resist cracking and last a long time.

Generally, you can expect to pay between $150 and $500. These car parts barely cost more than $100. If you’re replacing them yourself, you can significantly reduce the replacement cost.


The camshaft/valve cover keeps oil inside the engine. Its presence also prevents materials from getting inside. A damaged one can be disastrous to the engine, causing it to run low on oil and wear down or overheat, and must be promptly replaced.

WanTuo can help you find the camshaft or valve covers for your vehicle or auto parts business. We use the best quality materials to manufacture them, ensuring they will withstand damage and offer a long service life. Source your covers from us for guaranteed engine protection.


I'm Louis, a seasoned writer specializing in auto parts, particularly the science behind components like cylinder heads and pistons. With over a decade of experience and a background in mechanical engineering, my articles reflect a commitment to professionalism, blending technical insight with engaging content.

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