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I recently had the car up in the air to diagnose a rattling exhaust on startup – it turned out it was my replacement centre section couplers so I’ve added some proper exhaust paste and tightened them properly – but while I was under the car, specifically while checking the front flex pipes, I noticed a touch of oil down both sides of the engine block and the tiniest amount of oil and dirt buildup flowing backwards on the back half of the block and the bottom of the gearbox. It wasn’t much and I keep an eye on my engine oil level which hadn’t dropped practically at all since doing a change relatively recently, so I’m happy to say I caught it early.

I’m also happy to report that this is a job that doesn’t need many tools, pretty much just some common hand tools, although the one tool I’d recommend the most that I didn’t have (but have since bought) is a bit driver ratchet. It’s basically just a ¼ inch ratcheting spanner that your hex or torx bits can fit in and be turned by. Other that than, you’ll need both T20 and T30 bits, a 7mm and 10mm sockets, a set of picks, pry bars, trim tools, rags and ideally you will want to have a way to pump coolant from your coolant overflow tank so you can remove that, although I did just about manage to do it without removing it. You’ll also need replacement gaskets – here are the VAG part numbers, and the part numbers of the Febi/Bilstein versions I got.

VAG Code: 06E 103 483 Q 

Febi code: 33728

VAG Code: 06E 103 484 P

Febi code: 33727

The process for replacing the gaskets is pretty straightforward, you are just removing everything in the way of you removing the valve covers and happily there isn’t all that much either. There are some things you should know about though, with the biggest risk being breaking the two PCV hoses at the upper rear side of both valve covers. These clips get very brittle over time, and if you happen to break them you have to get the supercharger off to get down to the PCV valve to replace them, turning a cheap and easy job into an expensive and painful one. I started with those first, gently pressing them as they are designed to do to lift the two locking tabs up and over the stem on the valve cover. I also very gently used a pick to help lift and brace it. It’s worth noting that I’ve seen some of these engines using a slightly different style of clip here with four locking tabs instead of two. If you have that style… Good luck. 

For the driver’s side you’ll need to remove the airbox and intake piping. In my case that just needed a 7mm socket to loosen the hose clamps on both the throttle body and airbox sides, a pick and trim tool to remove the front fascia clips then a 7mm socket to remove the two screws holding the air intake mount on, then the all the piping can come out. Make sure to carefully remove this hose on the rear of the intake pipe first and unclip the other hoses though. When you go to lift the airbox out you’ll need to remove a hose on the bottom near the front wing, it’s the same style of clip as the PCV hoses so just squeeze it together and pull.

If you managed to get both PCV clips off in one piece, congrats! Next you’ll want to grab your T20 and remove the two screws per side holding the bright red coil wiring in place. On the passenger side you might find the coolant bottle is in your way, so you can remove the two 10mm nuts holding it in place then lift it off the studs and rubber mount at the bottom to give yourself more space. If you are doing this ‘properly’ you would pump all the coolant out of it and remove the tank, or you can be an idiot like me and not. To remove the coil wiring you’ll want to basically push the connector in as if you are plugging it in, then press on the clip and gently pull backwards. You won’t get too much movement as the other two connectors will stop you, but if you repeat that for those you should be able to carefully slide all three out as one. I ended up needing to remove the 10mm bolt from each side of the rear timing cover that held the metal bracket that’s zip-tied to the wiring. You could probably just cut the zip ties and replace them if you have spares but the bolt seemed easier to me. You will likely also need to remove the small T30 bolt holding the ground wire to the block on both sides, careful you don’t drop this – or if you do have a magnet on a stick handy!

Repeat the same for the other side of course, then you’ll want to get the coils out. These get stuck in there pretty well, so I’d recommend getting a rag to protect the valve cover and a pry bar to carefully lift them out. The passenger side ones are a massive pain with the coolant bottle in the way – seriously I can’t recommend just removing it enough. I used a.. “Custom hoover attachment” to clean any dirt and debris in the spark plug wells and all around the valve covers, then put some paper towels in the spark plug holes for good measure. Looking at the coils, you can see a touch of oil on them from where the valve cover seal was starting to fail. 

You can then get your T30 and crack all the valve cover bolts loose. It’s recommended to start in the middle and work your way out. When you get them all loose I found that thanks to them being captive screws they wouldn’t actually finish unscrewing from the cylinder head until after I carefully pried it up and held it while removing them. The rear bolt on both sides was the absolute worst though, I wasn’t far from stripping it on the driver’s side as it’s just so close to the shock tower. This is where the bit driver ratchet would have made it much easier.

Once all the bolts are fully out you should then be able to lift the valve cover up and away. I put paper towels over the now exposed camshafts before giving the cover a good clean. It started to snow – weird day I know – so I went inside, then used a pick very carefully to prise the old, hardened gasket out. This was far from as bad as I’ve seen, it wasn’t completely hard plastic yet, but it was stiff enough to no longer provide an effective seal. When installing the new gasket, make sure to push the bolts through the seal. It won’t sit right if you don’t but it’s important you do that properly. Before you put the cover back on the engine you’ll need to wipe down the mating surface on the engine. Make sure it’s nice and clean and smooth, then you can drop the valve cover back down. 

As you tighten the bolts down, the torque spec is 9 nm here, although since many torque wrenches both don’t support 9 nm and you might not be able to fit one especially on the rear bolts, I’d argue a consistent, even pressure may be more important. Obviously don’t go crazy and strip the aluminium head though.

You’ll need to repeat the process on the other side, it’s exactly the same but with the added pain of the coolant bottle being in the way. Then you can stick your plugs back in, hook up the connectors and reinstall both the T20 screws holding them in place and the 10mm bolts holding the wiring brackets to the rear timing covers. Then stick the coolant bottle back in and the two 10mm nut/washer combo pieces, stick the airbox back – making sure to connect the breather hose at the bottom – and the intake piping. Tighten the clamps, reattach the hose at the back and reattach any clips and the engine trim pieces, then that’s it!

I think it took me something like 5 hours all in, although with a bit driver ratchet and a friend helping it could have been even faster, so it’s definitely something you can do yourself on your driveway. If you’ve got a garage that’s going to be a bit more of a clean environment to do that in so I would definitely recommend that if you can, but even without it worked out fine for me. I’ve since been on a long trip and am happy to report it’s not leaking anymore and is working great!



I have a passion for cars, driving, working on them and talking about them. Anything fast or electric, is fair game. Own an Audi S4 B8.5 & an SV650S.

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