Engine gasket on buick le sabre

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 07:59 PM GMT


QUESTION: Rob, I know that you are not listed as an expert on Buicks but the Le Sabre is very similiar to the cadillac. I have a 2001 Buick Le Sabre. I have attached a photo of the engine and the area where there is a leak. Sometimes when I come home and put the car in the garage I can smell the engine. It smells like oil on a hot engine but I can see some fumes coming out. My question is whether or not it might be a gasket that needs to be replaced and whether it is a big job on that engine. It looks fairly straight forward and easy to get at. I have done lots of repairs on my cars including replacing gaskets but I have never done it on a Buick.

Thanks for your advice. Ron


ANSWER: Hello Ron,

First, where is the filler cap that goes on the valve cover?

If you have oil at the bolt location of the valve cover, you can use a 1/4 ratchet (if you are right handed, use your left hand with the ratchet between your fingers to tighten the bolts from the center outward on both sides. Use engine degreaser and clean area. See if the leak quits.

If this does not work, you need to remove cover and reseal with RTV silicone (red) is recommended for high temperatures. If that one is leaking, so is the other.

When valve covers leak, the small amount of oil drips onto the exhaust manifold giving you smoke and the burning smell.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Rob,

I removed the filler cap to take of the noise hood.

I did tighten the bolts and it stopped for awhile. Do I need a gasket or is the re RTV silicone sealant the only thing I need. Do I need to use a torque wrench and what setting?




You will find GM quit using gaskets in the early 80's and instead went to silicone, which actually works better any way.

When you remove the cover, if not serviced before, you will find RTV black or RTV Red. The red is for high temperature.

You are talking inch pound torque and not foot pound torque. You are dealing with 1/4 bolts here.

At the dealer, even though there were such torque specs, on valve covers we never used a torque wrench, nor did we on oil pans. You are dealing with sheet metal or plastic. The nice thing about RTV, is that if there is any bending or deflection, the silicone will cover any potential leaks. Gasket material is meant for new replacement parts and in a valve cover application on a car like yours, I would use only RTV because, that is how these engines were assembled from the factory.

You will find you don't go through the headache of gasket removal and RTV, and commonly comes off in one piece. The only reason cork and gasket paper is used, is to promote old gasket technology.

Clean off your cover. Install a generous (not too much) bead of RTV and tighten from center outward on top, then on bottom, the way I described earlier.

Let sit for an hour, check for leaks. You should have none.

Good luck!


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