• Protip: Profile posts are public! Use Conversations to message other members privately. Everyone can see the content of a profile post.

Valve cover washers - LOST (2)!

28 September 2003
Honolulu Hawaii
OK, I was changing valve cover gaskets and the 6 washers were stuck to the valve covers. I just couldn't get them up, so I figured I'd get the valve covers loose first and they'd pop up. Well, they popped up more than I expected. I thought I got them all when I removed the front cover, so I moved on to the rear trying to be more careful. Well, after it's all apart, I count and have 5 from the front and 5 from the rear! I lost 2 total and can't find them! :frown:

I can't find them anywhere. I looked in the head with a flashlight and mirror. IMO, I saw inside the entire head (front &rear) and can't find anything. I'm not going to reassemble this until I find them both though. I don't want to buy a couple and put it together only to find out they were somewhere that could damage the motor. Is there any odd place in front and rear of the motor small parts like this can fall & get stuck? I jacked the car up too and can't find them underneath either. I was under the car for the last 45 minutes feeling every surface I could hoping they got lodged somewhere out of sight.

Any ideas where they could fall that's out of sight and a hand can't easily reach? I'm just looking for any new idea on how & where to look for them.
Been at it the last 30 minutes or so again. Still nothing!

Any crevace in the heads these could have gone? I've been fishing around with a magnet and came up empty.

One place I'm trying to get at is on top of the A/C compressor. But still no luck.

Bummer, I have no idea where either, but...

You are eventually going to need a mirror to ensure you seated the gaskets properly.

Apparently, you are going to need a mirror quite a bit sooner.

Bathe the area in lots of light and start snooping around with a mirror to find your washers.

Hope for the best. Impossible to see around around the corners without one. You can't finish the job without a mirror, so go get one to help you with this little problem.

I've been using a mirror from the start. From every angle I see possible to look at the heads, they are not there. I don't know, but doubt they could have found their way into the timing belt section from where they started.

The only other thing I can think of is they are resting outside the motor somewhere or hit the ground and rolled somewhere I can't find.

I could understand losing one, but TWO?!? I just can't think of both of them disappearing!!! I'm going nuts and running out of sunlight today. How far should I go before I call them lost? Should I tear the whole motor apart looking? Should I take off the belts and timing belt cover? Man, this little project might turn into a pretty big fiasco if I can't find those damn things.

Magnets & mirrors haven't done the trick yet. :frown:

All this time and no progress. I'd at least be getting somewhere if I could find even just one...
I did the same thing before..

first off.. they are magnetic.. that helps..

now if you messed up the front one (like I did).. I found it inside a beam... when I jerked the lid, the thing flew forward and went down a crevace into a beam. I used a magnet to pull it out..

Try using the magnet (i'm assuming you have a strong magnet) everywhere... you'd be surprised where those thing may find themselves.

Good luck
First thing after work tomorrow, I'm gonna find that "beam". Damn car is just built so compact. There's just no room to manuever tools, magnets, hands or arms in the engine compartment.

Thanks for the idea! Anyone else done this and found them somewhere unexpected?
I am with VBNSX. I use a magnet on a long rod. Mine is flexible. In the front you will find it most likely on top of the front beam. It is difficult to get it from the bottom, but you can try running your hand above it by the exhaust.

In the rear it is caught most likely in the rear beam or rear suspension. Especially check just above the camber adjustment area oif the rear beam. Found a few there in the past.

You must find them thought to be sure they are not on the exhaust, since they are rubber it would be really bad to warm it up if one is caught on the exhaust.


Thanks for the suggestions! I'm still at it. Not much light today after work, so tomorrow I'll be under there again.

Borrowed some more magnets. A REAL big one and one on a telescopic rod. Hopefully I'll have more luck tomorrow.
Larry Bastanza said:
You must find them thought to be sure they are not on the exhaust, since they are rubber it would be really bad to warm it up if one is caught on the exhaust.
Exhaust isn't a big deal. I can live with that. I just don't want it ending up in the heads!

Another day of searching, and NOTHING! Man, I've been through that car over and over and they just aren't there! I just don't think they are around. Unless they rolled 20 feet and got lost, I have no idea.

At what point do I give up and assume they just got lost? I've searched as thouroughly as possible save removing the heads and shaking them upside down. And looking at them, I don't even see many places those washers could hide in there without me being able to see them. I've probably spend 4 hours alone looking over the heads with lights & mirrors as well as probing inside with 3 different magnets (telescopic, pen style, and just a super big strong one). What do you guys think?

On another note, when reassembling, the manual calls for some of these bolts to be torqued to 7ft/lbs and 9ft/lbs. How accurate do they need to be to specs? I'm going to see if I can rent a 1/4 drive torque wrench, because mine starts at 10ft/lbs I believe. What do you guys use for these small bolts that need to be torqued at such a light setting? I really don't want to spend $250 for a new snap on digital wrench I'll only use once or twice a year.
For those tiny bolts.. i use a 1/4" drive wrench and just tighten it down and am just careful to not manhandle it... after doing this for awhile you can feel when the nut is on the bottom and don't need to bring it down anymore...

I almost always find the darn things in the rear beam setup or exhaust for rear, and either front beam, or between gastank and sheild for front.

If you are going to buy anything for low tourque besides a tourqe wrench, I use a palm ratchet. It is a palm shaped wratchet that severly limits tourqe by not giving you a lever, unless you are the California Governor.

I feel your pain. I almost gave up once and decided to check the head one last time and found it. It was wedged in a crevice in the rear head—got lucky there. That was the only washer I’ve found in the head and I’ve probably lost 4 or 5 over the course of my DIY career. The front one is probably on the front beam somewhere (wedged in the firewall) never to be found and the rear one might be on top of the cats or rear beam/trans mount.

I’d go over the rear head a few more times and try to look in holes and crevices that are too small for the washer to fit horizontally because it might be laying in vertically which makes it hard to see because it can look pretty thin from certain angles.

Good luck!