DOHC - 2.3L Duratec / Mazda L Engines Discussions and Topics specific to the Duratec 4 cylinder engines

Valve Cover bolts and grommets

  #1  
Old 07-18-2017
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Valve Cover bolts and grommets

Noob here with a new-to-me 2003 Ford Ranger XLT 4x2, Duratec 2.3L, 235K mostly hwy miles. Got a simple question, I think. I'm doing the valve cover gasket, and all went well until it came time to reinstall. My goal is to torque the cover down to specs and have it *stay* that way.

The problem is with the original rubber/neoprene washer thingies on the bolt/grommet assembly… a bunch of them are cracked or missing chunks. I can’t find that specific piece online, or at my Napa or Advance Auto parts stores. So my question is what do you folks do, and does the valve cover stay sealed as long as you expect it to?

Here’s the new gasket on the valve cover (Felpro part nimber VS 50638 R). https://www.ranger-forums.com/member...810-17576t.jpg

This pic is of an original bolt showing shape of an undamaged portion of the seal. Notice the lip that sticks down a bit, and how the seal sort of nests in the cupped metal washer. https://www.ranger-forums.com/member...812-17577t.jpg

Chunks of that lip are missing on a lot of them, like where the needle is pointing in this pic (and others are cracked all the way through but I don’t have a pic of that). https://www.ranger-forums.com/member...twk-17575t.jpg

Napa guy shrugged and said the gasket makes the seal so just put in the originals and ignore the damaged ones. My guess is that’s a recipe for loosening and leaking as they degrade more. Advance Auto Parts guy said I could try using Felpro valve cover grommets that are not specific of my truck (part No ES 72180). These are not the same fit in three ways… without being compressed by torqueing down the cupped metal washer sits on top of the sale, instead of the seal nesting in the cup like in the next pic. https://www.ranger-forums.com/member...813-17578t.jpg

And the next pic shows how that seal doesn’t have the lip that sticks down and the inside diameter of the hold is much larger than the original. Seems like this could make for a sloppy fit? https://www.ranger-forums.com/member...mg-6815-17579/

The Felpro gasket is a "permadry" type, and their instructions say don't use sealants. Sure, I could try different approaches to see what works, but I'd rather do this just once.

Ideas, anyone? Thanks!
 
  #2  
Old 07-22-2017
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Hi These grommets come with the entire bolt assembly with the torque limiting sleeve.

The problem is Ford or Mazda stopped making these bolts, When they did sell them these parts were bend over and grab your axles expensive.

I researched the part numbers for these bolts and I was able to locate a few of them on eBay as new old stock.

These grommets are needed to properly torque the valve cover gasket down.

The guy at Napa is a idiot for suggesting otherwise.

I found that the new old stock bolts with grommets on eBay were way too expensive plus they did not have all that i needed.

So what I did was, find grommets that had the inside diameter that I needed but they were too large on the outside diameter and too thick.

I cut the grommets down to size I needed then installed them. They worked fine and the valve cover no longer leaks.

You may get lucky and find better fitting grommets with no modifications needed with a little time spent at a parts store.

I just used what I had in stock at the time.

Here is a link to the eBay parts I found

This is the part number LFBL-10-237

It seems these bolts are more available through eBay then when I did my VC and slightly less expensive but it will still cost a lot to replace them all

Some of the bolts have studs sticking out secure harnesses but if you buy the normal bolt without he stud you can transfer over the grommet from the new bolt to your old bolt with the stud



OEM LFBL-10-237 Engine Valve Cover Bolt with Grommet for Mazda 3 CX-7 Speed 6 | eBay

BTW the bolt torque limiting sleeve also serves to hold the valve cover gasket in place.
 

Last edited by EaOutlaw; 07-22-2017 at 05:35 AM.
  #3  
Old 07-22-2017
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Thanks EaOutlaw, trying to just match inside/outside diamater was my Plan B. Of course they won't have the little lip that sticks down into the sleeve, so I'm glad to hear your job has held up.

FYI, I also got a reply from fel-pro

Talking about their gasket part No VS 50638R (for our engine) they said "We will look into adding grommets to this set if the grommets are often in bad shape," We gotta convince them there is a need. So people! Add your comments to the FelPro thread
 
  #4  
Old 07-23-2017
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Originally Posted by Sparky-WIshItWas View Post
Thanks EaOutlaw, trying to just match inside/outside diamater was my Plan B. Of course they won't have the little lip that sticks down into the sleeve, so I'm glad to hear your job has held up.

FYI, I also got a reply from fel-pro

Talking about their gasket part No VS 50638R (for our engine) they said "We will look into adding grommets to this set if the grommets are often in bad shape," We gotta convince them there is a need. So people! Add your comments to the FelPro thread
That is a good idea
 
  #5  
Old 07-23-2017
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OK I read some new stuff. If I understood it these things aren't really grommets. They are plastic "isolators" that are supposed to isolate your delicate ranger parts from overtorquing By king Kong type mechanics. That's why they were only available by purchasing the entire isolator bolt. Since they are not part of the oil seal itself I'm going to try reinstalling the old ones even though that little lip is busted off a bunch of them . Guy at parts store ripped one of them apart and then sold me the substitute I mentioned in a prior post in the thread . Elsewhere I found the Fel-Pro part number cross referenced to another manufacturer and The other one list their version as a substitute for the Rangers valve cover " grommet" even though it's really an isolator. So I'll use one of those, torque it to spec with the other 13 originals and report back. the covert might have A slight warp too will see how it goes
 
  #6  
Old 07-24-2017
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My guess is your original gasket is still good these grommets are the cause of the original leak not a failed gasket or warped cover.

All I can tell you is that if you found a substitute that works, replace them all.

The part of the bolt that limits the torque is the metal sleeve, not the grommet or bushing.

The grommet or bushing is what puts the downward force on the valve cover.

If they all are not the same thickness you will not have a evenly torqued valve cover, it will leak or will eventually leak well before the gasket is dry rotted or saturated with oil.

That bushing or grommet is not made of plastic, it is made of rubber.

Over the years of heat cycling they get hard and brittle.

This job is a pain in the *** to do, do it once do it right or you will regret it.
 
  #7  
Old 07-25-2017
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Thanks for the correction. One thing I don't understand. If one bushing is 4mm thick and another is 7mm, but the bolts on each are torqued to 89 inch pounds, that's even torque, despite the different thickness.... isn't it? The new one is squishy the old ones hard and somewhat cracked. I'm more concerned with how they stand up to time and use. Will they keep putting the right "downward force on the valve cover"? I also noticed the cover has a very slight warp. I heard you when you said "replace them all" if I have something that works. Trouble is, I don't know if the possible substitution works. So I'm reusing the old ones except for one of the suggested substitutions to see how it goes. Since I'm experimenting, I'm kinda expecting to have a leak, but we'll see how it goes. Note to self.... look for leaks at fill up, and recheck torque on easy access bolts at each oil change then do them all if any are loose.

Side story. I tell myself I know how to use a torque wrench. I have a good one with a real release when you get to the desired torque. I didn't have one for the lower range, so went out and invested in a Craftsman with the thunking sort of handle.... the ones you can keep cranking on if you're not paying attention. To learn the feel of it, I reinstalled all the bolts to 55, then 75, and finally started dialling in the final 89 inch pounds. Before getting there bolt 7 snapped. Well crap. But at least it was easy to turn the end of the bolt with my fingers (where it comes out the other side of the hole) and didn't need to drill it. Then the good luck continued. I have a paid admission u-pull junkyard nearby. For a couple valve cover bolts they let me in free, and I found a couple in the carcass of a bad head on wreck. I would have taken them all, and the cover if it was not warped, but it would have required jaws of life. On my way out, they just waved me good bye and didn't charge me anything.

Reminds me of the helpful attitude by everyone here! Thanks
 
  #8  
Old 07-26-2017
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When you tighten down these bolts to the desired torque, you are applying the torque to the torque limiting sleeves and the grommets.

The head of the bolt pushes down on the washer and the washer pushes down on the grommets.

The force applied to each grommet and the valve cover depends on how thick the grommet is.

This means all the new grommets will apply more pressure than the old grommets.

The old grommets if they are thick enough may provide enough pressure to prevent a leak.

The bolt you snapped could have been caused by corrosion to the bolt, previous damage to the bolt from over tightening or a number of other reasons.

If you have not looked into your PCV system now is a good opportunity to do so.

All the hoses need to be leak free and not collapsed, the PCV valve should be replaced and the oil separator should be cleaned.

With the intake off the oil separator is easy to get to and only will require a inexpensive rubber gasket to be replaced along with the valve and other hoses- elbows that may be worn.

If your PCV system is not functioning properly gaskets that may not leak with a good system may leak.

Torque wrenches especially cheap ones suck and are high maintenance.

Click type torque wrenches can be ruined if not set back to 0 or its lowest setting every time your done using it.

Just dropping them or handling them roughly can knock them out of calibration.

Torque wrenches especially cheap ones are often not calibrated out of the box or accurate.

Some inexpensive brands and high end torque wrenches will not torque the same amount each time or the amount of inaccuracy can vary throughout the torque range.

Who knows what happened to the torque wrench from the manufacture to your hands.

My point of all this is if your not going to invest in a good torque wrench test it for accuracy throughout it torque range once you get it, and keep it calibrated your better off using a regular ratchet or wrench and tighten the fastener by hand.
 
  #9  
Old 07-26-2017
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Thanks for more education! Was planning on doing the PVC and didn't think of the the oil separator. Thanks!

What do you think of this Craftsman torque wrench? Is there a way home mechanics can test torque wrench calibration?

Getting geeky here, I still don't get the bit about grommet thickness affecting downward force. The bolt's downward force is transmitted through the washer to the grommet. With the grommet under compression, there is an equal/opposite force up against the washer and down against the valve cover. That's true no matter how thick the grommet is. I suppose newer (squishy) ones have a certain amount of tensile resistance compared to the old dried out ones. As it resists sqooshing out to the sides that resistance would suck up some of the force used to torque the bolt, meaning a teensy bit less pressing down on the cover. But enough to matter? Hard to believe, but I'm just blowin smoke here. Thanks for the help.
 
  #10  
Old 07-27-2017
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You had to do a lot of work just to get to the intake right?

The old grommets are hard brittle and falling apart, in my opinion if they will cause a leak now or in the near future does not mater.

What matters is they lasted a long time already, they will not last as long as your new gasket is supposed to last.

Meaning lets say you got 150000 miles before you developed a leak

This means your new gasket job should also last this long right.

Why risk a possible leak ?

If you still do not understand that I am only trying to get you to avoid having to do the job all over again I am the wrong person to explain.

Trying to teach others and or convey the information that is in my head into a short post that is meaningful enough to understand requires a leap of faith by the reader.

Complete understanding may only come through research that you do on your own or the school of hard knocks.

However I think what is really going on is the truck is back together already and you need to justify in your head not replacing all the grommets.

If this is the case, just forget about the grommets.

Let time tell you if you made a poor choice or not by not replacing all the grommets.

If it does develop a leak again that will not be a poor choice you make again.


All my life I have been surrounded by people with a " that's good enough attitude "

For example years ago before hurricane Jean and Francis I spent I am guessing over $10,000 on new fencing for my back yard to keep my dogs contained and my many projects safer from dishonest people.

I rented a auger, I bought a cement mixer, cement, and everything else needed to make my new fence especially the post withstand hurricane force winds.

I purchased the 4 foot sections of white PVC fencing that Home Depot used to sell.

Choosing the 4 foot wide by 6 foot high sections was a lot more work and a crap load more money.

I had many of my friends at the time over that claimed they wanted to help
many of which I paid for this help.

I had planned on following the instructions to the letter but I chose to go above and beyond by using 3 80 pound bags of cement on each 10 foot post.

I wanted to have each hollow post with three pieces of 13 foot 1/2" steel rebar pounded into the ground and wet cement, then each post was to be filled to the top with cement.

Once the lay out was done and post positions were decided, every single hole
had what seemed like a impossible obstacle to overcome to get my 10 foot post in the ground 4 foot.

Each and every one of my friends one by one kept telling me over and over during each post, hey just cut the post shorter.

They all said 2 foot or 3 foot in the ground is " good enough ".

When I refused to yield to their persistence and the obstacles by the second day of the project I had to tell all of them I would do the job on my own.

What started out as a project that could have been done in three weekends of hard work with all my friends help took me and one good friend 3 months.

After my fence was complete and built to overkill standards we were slammed with two back to back hurricanes, jean and Francis.

My fence only sustained damage to one gate because of cheap hinges that came with the fence material.

Up and down my block every single fence new and old were completely destroyed.

In fact my brother came over with his crew to do hurricane clean up.

he helped me with his Bobcat level some dirt in my back yard to get ready for sod and a sprinkler system i was installing.

He backed into my fence post with his Bob Cat at a pretty good click, my fence post stopped him dead in his tracks. LOL

My point to all of this is, I am the type of person that will always go above and beyond to do any job right the first time. ( at least what I consider right )

For this reason many people that I try and help will resist because their opinion differs from mine as to what is right.

This is fine unless they are helping me with a project LOL ( but this does not mean I am right and everyone else is wrong )


As far a Torque wrenches search you tube videos for the brand you want and the range you want and see if you can find completed accuracy test for that brand and range torque wrench.

If it is accurate it would be safe to buy, as far as testing what you purchased

there are many methods from buying expensive test equipment to using simple free weights.

Your budget and determination will guide you to what is best for you.

Yet when getting to know your torque wrench and breaking it in you have to use common sense and practice with fasteners locked in a vice.

I like to spend a lot of time with any new torque wrench, breaking it in checking and calibrating it to where I know it is stable and reliable before I use it on anything critical.

If you do this you will find most torque wrenches have a sweet spot, where through out a certain range it is most accurate.

Meaning just because a 1/2 inch drive may have settings from 30 foot pounds to 200 foot pounds I would not use the half inch for anything below
60 foot pounds or over 140.

I would go up or down a size of torque wrench depending on the setting I m looking for. based on my accuracy test.

If you do a lot of precision torquing of varying torque ranges you will want 1/4-3/4 inch torque wrenches
 

Last edited by EaOutlaw; 07-27-2017 at 06:15 AM.
  #11  
Old 07-28-2017
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Thanks for the help! No, the truck is not back together. Waiting on the oil separator gasket you suggested earlier. None of the parts stores near me stock all of the gaskets and other parts I need, so I ended up getting some at Amazon and some thru Advanced Auto Parts by mail. Should arrive today along with a weekend of rain. One thing I regret before starting the job was not degreasing the engine. Besides the valve cover there's also a rear main seal leak, which I'll worry about later. When I return to the truck I'll do the cleaning I should have done in the first place (being careful to keep water and crud out of the open ports). And THEN I'll remove and clean the separator/pcv parts and start reassembly.

I apologize for pushing on the geeky tech questions. I'm a tinker scientist/engineer at heart. Us types sometimes annoy the buggers out of the folks that just want to do the job (right) and be done with it. I just want to know the why of things, not trying to argue. Sometimes that means doing an experiment for its own sake, so stuff that is "work" for some is just a necessary part of the experiment for others. And so with the grommets.... no one has a really good answer. You said if I found a substitute that will work I should use it! I found a possibility but the problem is, there is no report of anyone having tried it, so I don't know if their sloppy fit and hard/softness or material will "work". Fact the old ones are worn is indeed a possible cause for leaking. I agree!! On the other hand, I have no positive reports that the sloppy fitting substitutes are any better!! I was hoping someone here would have already been down this road, but it looks like I get to do the comparison myself. Yes I know I'm asking for another leak. I'm trying some of each, with knowledge I'll probably re-d0 the job, but at least I'll have some experience on which to base the next effort. If I'm taking a shortcut its ignoring the slight warp in the valve cover, since that will cast doubt on the experiment's results.

I did find some free weight/vise vids for torque wrench testing. I'll have to try 'em out when the rains arrive.
 

Last edited by Sparky-WIshItWas; 07-28-2017 at 08:49 AM. Reason: they at least had the vc and iM gaskets
  #12  
Old 07-29-2017
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The grommets I used on my valve cover bolts were surplus GM bushings.

These GM bushings I purchased for my wife's old 2010 Chevy HHR, the original use was for securing the Air filter housing in place to the intake.

Only a few of my grommets were in bad shape or missing entirely.

So I made sure to postilion my replacement grommets on the front side of the engine, where I thought I could get them out later if needed.

These GM bushings had the same size inside diameter a larger out side diameter and was much taller with a grove in the center for the air filter housing tabs.

Cutting off one side of the bushing left me with the same shape bushing as the original ford grommet. after that all I had to do was trim the outside diameter to fit in the washer as the original grommet fit.

After I installed the valve cover and rigged grommets I noticed I had one bolt with a built in stud to secure the harness in the wrong place, so I tried to remove the bolt and put it in the right place.

Perhaps my back and neck was too sore or I was too week but I could not remove that bolt.

So my plan of keeping the new grommets up front to replace them later did not work out.

I think that is because of the lip on the torque limiting sleeve that helps keep the gasket in position.

Once the valve cover is torqued down I do not think it is possible to get it out even if your healthy.

I used these bushings because it was the only thing I could find that could be modified to look like the original part.

The bad parts is I do not know how long they will hold up as valve cover grommets.

The crappy part of these bushings are, you can buy a rebuilt engine that comes with a valve cover and oil pan installed.

I am willing to bet they use the old grommets, I have contacted a few of theses engine re builders about what they use. none of them have responded.
 
  #13  
Old 08-05-2017
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That was a good idea, asking engine rebuilders what they do. Did you get an answer yet? How long have been running with the substitutes with no leaks?
 
  #14  
Old 08-06-2017
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To date not one machine shop responded to any of my emails.

As far as I know the grommets I made are still working good, I have no reason to suspect the new grommets will fail to provide the needed downward pressure
on the valve cover.

However I have not put my truck on the road , I gave this truck to my sister so it has jut been sitting waiting on her.

She will be picking it up next weekend.
 

Last edited by EaOutlaw; 08-06-2017 at 02:11 AM.
  #15  
Old 01-26-2018
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Older thread but this looks like it fits our rangers?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Victor-GS33...FaRxhw&vxp=mtr

Anyone have input on that kit?

-Nigel
 
  #16  
Old 01-28-2018
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I dunno. Just following up to say I did reinstall with some of the old dry ones, and some of the new not-so-perfect fitting ones, in the experiment I talked about above. Torque wrench says all bolts still tight. No leaks. Then again, I only have a few hundred miles on the repair so jury is still out.
 
  #17  
Old 02-20-2018
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I am putting my truck back together and after really looking at everything I don't even think the 2.3L needs those things that I posed above.

My bolts have a plastic metal washer type thing so when I removed all the bolts from the valve cover the actual valve cover gasket goes in between the bolts/plastic/metal part. Some of mine looked OK at best but as long as there is pressure from the bolt there should be no problem since that is actually what is sealing the valve cover to the block.

I feel better now.

I guess I will find out in a week when I start the truck but I did the correct torque at 89-91 in lbs... some were at the 91 mark due to being in the back and the angle of my torque wrench was just too much of a strain to actually see, but the rest were torqued in the proper sequence where as before I just did them hand tight many years ago.

-Nigel
 
  #18  
Old 02-28-2018
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I looked at the kit that you found, for the price if you still had the engine apart it would not have hurt to order them. to see if they would work.

They obviously do not look like the OEM grommets yet they may function OK.

The main thing you need is something to fill the gap between the washer head and the valve cover to push down on the valve cover.

Good luck I hope your repair holds.

BTW I also thought a resonable fix for this would be to replace the bolts with standard bolts and washers and just snug them down evenly.
 
  #19  
Old 03-28-2018
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Gents,

I ran into the same problem this past weekend with the rubber grommets. Did anyone use an alternative route that seems to work?
 
  #20  
Old 09-05-2018
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still no leaks on mine, . Added 1500 miles or so.
 
  #21  
Old 09-06-2018
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Ditto. I've re-used mine now at least twice when I did my valve cover and they are 17 years old. No leaks.

-Nigel
 
  #22  
Old 02-11-2019
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bolt fit

Originally Posted by EaOutlaw View Post
Hi These grommets come with the entire bolt assembly with the torque limiting sleeve.

The problem is Ford or Mazda stopped making these bolts, When they did sell them these parts were bend over and grab your axles expensive.

I researched the part numbers for these bolts and I was able to locate a few of them on eBay as new old stock.

These grommets are needed to properly torque the valve cover gasket down.

The guy at Napa is a idiot for suggesting otherwise.

I found that the new old stock bolts with grommets on eBay were way too expensive plus they did not have all that i needed.

So what I did was, find grommets that had the inside diameter that I needed but they were too large on the outside diameter and too thick.

I cut the grommets down to size I needed then installed them. They worked fine and the valve cover no longer leaks.

You may get lucky and find better fitting grommets with no modifications needed with a little time spent at a parts store.

I just used what I had in stock at the time.

Here is a link to the eBay parts I found

This is the part number LFBL-10-237

It seems these bolts are more available through eBay then when I did my VC and slightly less expensive but it will still cost a lot to replace them all

Some of the bolts have studs sticking out secure harnesses but if you buy the normal bolt without he stud you can transfer over the grommet from the new bolt to your old bolt with the stud



OEM LFBL-10-237 Engine Valve Cover Bolt with Grommet for Mazda 3 CX-7 Speed 6 | eBay

BTW the bolt torque limiting sleeve also serves to hold the valve cover gasket in place.
Was the bolt a correct fit or did you just buy it for the grommet?
 
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