5 Tips for Replacing Valve Seals

  1. Use the right tools.

    Some people try to use pliers, screwdrivers or some other improvised tool to remove valve seals. This can lead to damaged seals, valve stems, valve guides or even yourself. You’re going to need at least two tools to remove valve seals properly: a spring compressor and a seal removal tool.

  2. Release spring pressure in a controlled manner.

    This is where a quality valve spring compressor is essential. You want to release spring pressure gradually to protect the valves, springs, guides and other valvetrain components from dropping into the cylinder or flying all over the shop. This will make it much easier for you to reach in and release the valve seal.

    Goodson VSP-323 Valve Seal Puller
    We recommend a valve seal remover that grips the seal without applying too much pressure which can crush the seal or mar the valve stem. The Goodson VSP-323 Valve Seal Puller has three fingers with tips that act like fingernails to slip under the bottom of the seal to pull it free. It is sized to work within the limits of the bucket bore.

  3. Clean the valve stem and guide before installing a new seal.

    Don’t skip this step or you may be replacing your valve seals sooner rather than later. When you clean the valve stem and valve guide before installing a new seal, you’re removing the dirt, oil, debris and general gunk that get in the way of a proper seal. Use a soft rag or shop towel to clean the stem and guide thoroughly before installing the new seal.

  4. Lubricating a valve spring before installationLubricate the seal before installation.

    You might be tempted to install the new seal dry, but this can cause the seal to tear or crack during installation. It can also create heat and friction during operation. We recommend always using some engine oil or assembly lube to coat the new valve seal before sliding it onto the valve stem and guide.

  5. Align the new seal properly.

    Close up of mechanic installing a valve stem seal
    Pay attention to how the new seal sits on the valve stem. It should be firmly seated, but not too tight. Don’t use too much pressure when installing the seal either. This can cause the seal to be crooked, loose or damaged. Align the seal with the groove on the valve stem and use a seal installer to gently tap it into place.

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