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How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the heads

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How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the heads

Postby Hoagie90 [OP] » Jul 25 2017, 6:05am

In this write up I will show you how to replace your valve stem seals without removing your heads. You're going to be using compressed air fed directly into the cylinder via the spark plug port to hold the valve's up while you replace the seals.

To start off, yes my engine bay is dirty. I understand that probably bothers some of you, but I use this truck way too often for it to look anything but dirty. Also I am writing this how-to describing the full procedure in replacing all of your valve stem seals, however I am using only the drivers side head as an example as I only performed this task to replace my #3 cylinder Valve stem seals. The procedure for both the passenger and drivers side valves are the same.

REQUIRED TOOLS
- Air Compressor (capable of at minimum 100 psi)
- Air Valve Holder Hose
- Valve Spring Compression Tool
- Extendable magnet tool
- Torque Wrenches capable of 22 ft lbs. and 106 in lbs.
- Breaker Bar
- Ratchet
- 5/8 Spark Plug Socket
- 28mm, 10mm, 8mm sockets

REQUIRED PARTS
- Valve Stem Seals
- Valve Cover Gaskets
- Valve Cover grommets

Step #1) Start off by organizing your engine bay. You'll want to unplug any wiring that will allow you to push the large wire loom up and out of the way. Specifically you will want to unplug your fuel injectors and the primary connection to your ignition coil rack.

IMG_20170724_092340.jpg


Step #2) Next you will want to remove your spark plug wires and your #1 cylinder spark plug, but leave the rest of the spark plugs installed.

Step #3) Now, using a 10mm socket, remove the ignition coil rack from the top of the Valve cover(s). Place the rack aside, now remove the valve cover using the 8mm socket.

IMG_20170724_093220.jpg

IMG_20170724_093314.jpg


Step #4) Here I would suggest that you start your air compressor to allow it to build up to the required minimum of 100 psi.

Step #5) As the air pressure is building, you'll want to take your breaker bar and 28mm socket (your balancer/crankshaft bolt might be a different socket size) and find Top Dead Center on the cylinder you're working on. You'll want to do this just in case your compressor looses power or there isn't enough pressure to hold the valves up. If the valves do drop due to lack of pressure in the cylinder, with the piston at TDC, the valve's will only drop an inch or two and you will be able to pull them back up without having to remove the heads.

To find Top Dead Center on a cylinder, cover the spark plug port as best you can with any of your fingers. With the breaker bar on the crankshaft pulley, start rotating the engine. You're looking for the compression stroke which can be identified by air being pushed out of the spark plug port. You'll want to keep rotating right up until you no longer feel air being pushed out of the port. You've found TDC, you're going to want to do this to every cylinder when you are replacing the valve seals.

Step #6) Now, remove the valve rocker arms using the 8mm socket and put them aside. Remember to place them in order of installation, you do not want to swap the parts by accident. Once you've removed the rocker arms, thread your valve holder hose into the spark plug port and attach the compressor air hose to the other end. If there are no issues the compressor gauge should hold a constant reading.

IMG_20170724_102714.jpg


Step #7) Attach your compression tool to the first valve spring that you would like to remove. Make sure that the compression tool is seated properly on the valve spring as you tighten it down. It is possible that a valve spring could come dislodged from the tool so keep an eye on it.

IMG_20170724_103056.jpg

IMG_20170724_103050.jpg


Step #8) The valve springs will slowly compress but will most likely stick to the keepers at the top of the stem. You'll want lightly tap the top of the compression tool so that the valve spring will dislodge itself from the keepers. Once you have done that you will see the two keeper pieces fall loose at the top of the stem, here you will want to use your magnet tool to remove the keepers as they are quite small and could be lost very easily. I would suggest you use a very strong magnet to remove the keepers.

IMG_20170724_104849.jpg


Step #9) With the keepers removed remove the compression tool with the valve spring and set it aside. Now you can clearly see the valve stem seal. Carefully pry or pull off the seal using a flat head screwdriver or pair of pliers.

(it is probably best to place the compression tool well away from where you are working just in case the valve spring breaks free of the compression tool.)

IMG_20170724_105012.jpg

IMG_20170724_103356.jpg


Step #10) Now find your new valve stem seal and slide it over the top of the valve stem. Using a deep well socket that will fit over the valve stem and the seal, press the seal down until it is completely seated to the top of the head.

There are two different seal types, one is for the intake valve and one is for the exhaust valve. You can tell the two apart very easily. Using the photo below, the valve on the left with the shallow base is the intake valve seal. While the valve on the left with the deeper base is the exhaust valve seal.

IMG_20170724_121847.jpg
Intake valve seal (Left) and Exhaust Valve seal (Right)


Step #11) Now that your new seal(s) is/are installed you can put everything back together. Place the valve spring back onto the valve stem and carefully push the keepers back into place. You can now decompress the spring.

- Once you have removed the compression tool, reinstall the rocker arm(s). Torque the rocker arms down to 22 ft lbs.

- Install the new valve cover gasket on the valve cover and place the valve cover over the top of the head. Replace your old rubber grommets on the top of the valve cover and then hand tighten the bolts that hold the cover. Torque the valve cover bolts to 106 in lbs.

- Replace the ignition coil rack

- Re-connect the wiring to your ignition coil rack and fuel injectors, along with anything else you might have unplugged.


Summary: The write-up may seem a little complicated, but in actuality the task itself isn't that difficult. This project could take a couple hours or more to complete, simply because of tasks such as; finding TDC on each cylinder, removing/replacing spark plugs to thread the valve holder hose, and compressing/removing the spring and keepers from the valve stem. Otherwise this is a very straightforward job.

I hope you liked this write up, if you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to shoot me a PM and ask.
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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby eurovic » Jul 25 2017, 12:40pm

Great write up
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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby ferraiolo1 » Jul 25 2017, 12:45pm

Awesome write up!

Something to add, if your cylinders have any type of blow by either from around the valve or the rings then this method will not work, since it wouldn't hold enough pressure to break the seat loose.. found that out the hard way on an old 350.
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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby diy_darryl » Jul 25 2017, 1:38pm

Great write-up! Thanks for taking the time to post it.
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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby nealinator » Jul 25 2017, 1:48pm

Nice write up Ty. How did you know to just go after #3? I think if I were going to tear into it...would have just done them all....or at least that one whole side.
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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby SparkyJJO » Jul 25 2017, 2:02pm

You make a very good point on putting that compressor down away from you, and I would also say when you set it down to set it down gently and not rest it on the spring. I had to replace the valve springs on my Camaro last year and I used that tool to do it. It can be surprisingly easy for the spring to launch itself from that tool. Usually if it is going to dislodge it is while you are compressing or releasing the spring since you're working the tool, but it could at any point. The spring is coated in oil after all, which makes it slick, and the spring coils are angled so they tend to want to slip off.

At least there is a LOT more room to work under the hood of these trucks than there is under the hood of the Camaro!
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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby Hoagie90 [OP] » Jul 25 2017, 2:07pm

nealinator wrote:Nice write up Ty. How did you know to just go after #3? I think if I were going to tear into it...would have just done them all....or at least that one whole side.
I've been having misfire issues on that cylinder for a while now. Kept finding oil on my spark plugs, but I have good compression on that cylinder and the lifters are brand new.

I will finish the job once my truck has passed smog today. I wanted to at least get those valve seals done to pass smog before I do anything else to the engine

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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby Hoagie90 [OP] » Jul 25 2017, 2:09pm

ferraiolo1 wrote:Awesome write up!

Something to add, if your cylinders have any type of blow by either from around the valve or the rings then this method will not work, since it wouldn't hold enough pressure to break the seat loose.. found that out the hard way on an old 350.
Thank you for pointing that out. I wrote this late last night and failed to add that this is for a 5.3L

You will also notice mistakes in my grammar in a few places that I didn't edit last night before posting.

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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby puppeteer » Jul 25 2017, 3:10pm

I did mine without using compressed Air. Just took the spark plug out and used the telescopic magnet in the cylinder to hold the valve up. Makes like a brace bar in the cylinder. Is a bit risky though. But did what I had to do... Great write up though.
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Re: How to replace Valve stem seals without removing the hea

Postby silentbravo » Jul 29 2017, 12:43am

Excellent, thanks
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