If you've never replaced a Honda valve cover gasket before, figure two
hours, going very slowly. The toughest part is removing all the interference
so one can easily pry and then lift off the valve cover.
Buy only genuine Honda gaskets. Anecdotal reports do suggest that non-OEM
simply do not last as long.
www.autozone.com has a free online manual for your Civic.
The following online sites sell the valve cover gasket (a.k.a. cylinder head
cover gasket). You should also probably replace the spark plug tube gaskets
(they fit into the valve cover; very easy to replace) and the rubber
grommets that the four valve cover screws rest on. I don't think genuine
Honda parts sites sell them as a kit.
Be very careful when tightening the gasket in place. It's only around 6 or 8
foot-lbs of torque required. (The manual above should say.) Get a low range
torque wrench for the job, if possible. It's easy to tighen unevenly and so
get a bad seal.
The next time, this should take around 45 minutes, being cautious.
From my Chilton's manual, it's 7 ft-lbs. for the valve cover nuts (for your
Civic and mine).
Re the oil in the spark plug tube: It's also quite possible that the lower
O-rings in the spark plug tubes are failing. These are different from the
seals discussed below. See http://home.earthlink.net/~honda.lioness/id3.html
for more discussion of these lower seals.
Maybe try replacing the seals mentioned below, then monitor your spark plug
tubes for oil for a couple of months. If they keep getting oil in them, go
after those lower O-rings.
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