Valve Cover Gasket Replacement - CAUTION
I'm replacing the valve cover gaskets andspark plug tube gaskets on a 1998 Stratus ES (2.5L V6). Couple CAUTIONS if you are working with a Haynes manual:
I found it quite difficult to get to the bolts for the upper intake manifold support bracket (left and right). There is not enough space just for a socket and wrench, plan to use a short socket extension bar (3 inches) or a wobble extension is very helpful. Looking from the front, the one on the right is easier compared to the one on the left. On the left, power steering hose (a re-curring theme..) is in the way..
Once the upper intake manifold is removed, the rear valve cover removal is not as straight forward as one would expect: the rear bolts have to be removed blindly. You can not see the bolts, only feel them. They are at an angle (towards the firewall, i.e. towards the dash). When looking at it from the front, the far right is relatively easy (loosen it and then remove with your fingers). The one in the middle is adjacent to a power steering hose bracket and an electrical connector. Just BARELY enough space to get a socket/extension bar/wrench in there... The one on the far LEFT is a real pain: power steering hose again interferes with access. If you drop the bolt, any of the rear bolts, hope they fall all the way down to the ground....otherwise you will be fumbling around blindly...
The bolts in the front of the rear valve cover are easy, as are the ones in the rear of the front and the one on the far left (looking from the front) and the middle one in the front of the front valve cover. The one on the far right of the front valve cover is hidden under a wiring harness, difficult to get to. Found it best to get the socket over the bolt from underneath the harness, then stick the extension bar into the socket from the top, going between the wiring harness and the valve cover.
What is NOT mentioned in the Haynes manual: the rear cover has two more bolts that need to be removed in order to remove the valve cover: these two bolts are on the left side looking from the front. They attach the timing belt cover to the valve cover. Very difficult to get to because you have interference from the.... you guessed it.... power steering hoses...Socket and ratchet won't work, neither does an extension bar. A flexible extension MIGHT work (didn't have one handy, so couldn't try). I started removing the front one of these two bolts with a 10 mm nut driver, with a 1/4 in box wrench over the end (a regular wrench will NOT directly reach the bolt, unless you have one with a major off-set) and finished by hand. The rear didn't even have enough space to use the nut driver because of the power steering hose. I ended up using a wrench to start it (1/8 to 1/4 turn at a time) until loose, then removed it by hand.
Done with the removal, I will post an update after the installation of the new gaskets, if I come across other issues.