8) Now you're ready to pull the valve cover itself off. Make sure you loosened and removed all 13 bolts. If the cover is stuck, you should be able to gently tap the sides with a rubber mallet and a piece of wood. After removing the cover and work on it, or clean it, you may want to cover the exposed cylinder head with a big rag, or just lower the hood. This would keep anything out of the engine if you work outdoors (darn birds...lol):
If you set the cover aside and elect to first clean the mating surface of the cylinder head block, make sure you don't scratch the metal. This may cause minute channels in the surface that the cover will fail to seal. Also, do not let any debris falling inside the engine block. It sounds more scary than it actually is, as you can clean eventual small debris falling inside. However, you want to prevent that from occuring.
As you cleaned the debris off, wipe the surface with something like acetone or rubbing alcohol so it's oil free. Any residue could cause an improper seal.
***If you need to change the camshaft position sensor, this is also a good time to do it. Here's a pic of it:
10) Ok....Time to clean the cover itself:
I cleaned it good inside and out.
** I haven't took pics of thesem but the inside of the cover has two detachable, screwed-in mini-covers or plates. One creates a "pocket" for the breather nipple area; the other creates also a "pocket" area straight below the oil cap opening. When you add oil, you see that small plate as a square honeycomb pattern design that oil pours/falls on.
You can unscrew both plates and clean them as well.
11) Remove the old gasket; clean also from debris/oil the mating channel; install the new gasket.
As I said, my new gasket from Arizona Autohaus is much thinner, so I had to use gasket sealant all around the mating channel. If it fails, I know who's the culprit...
Mounting the new gasket is pretty self-explanatory, so I didn't take a pic.
12) With the cover cleaned and the new gasket fastened in, I was ready for reassembly. I put sealant all around the mating surface of the cylinder head, and I let it aerate a few minutes. I placed back the cover over the engine and tighten the bolts in a pattern from center toward the edges. I'm not sure this is necessary as the gasket is seated in that retaining channel, but it may be a good idea...
Tightening torgue should be 7 ft/lb, but I used my best judgement and feel, as I don't have a torque wrench.
When I loosened the bolts in the beginning, some of them were really loose; I could have been able to remove some of them by hand... Just use your best judgement and don't overtighten them.
Reassemble everything back together in reverse order.
That's all there is to it.
A few last notes:
* If you change the PCV valve (a good valve should have a rattling noise inside, as it doesn't obstruct the air/oil vapors flow), you can screw in the new one either while the cover is out, or after you tightened the valve cover in place.
* If you use gasket sealant, let it cure 24 hours. Don't start the engine and/or don't drive the car before the sealant is fully cured. Otherwise, your work may turn out to be in vain.
* Make sure you look to buy those two half-moon shaped gaskets the same time with your valve cover gasket. I didn't know about them, and I didn't have new ones. I may end up paying dearly for not having them. However, I couldn't really tell if the leak in that area was caused just by the valve cover gasket, or by the half-moon seal:
That's all I could think of right now. If I missed something, I will edit the post to add what's missing.
If you are detailed oriented, do a thorough job, and have a really soiled cover that you want to clean really good, set aside about 6 hrs for this replacement.
It took me from 4:30 PM to 9:30 PM, including changing the spark plugs.
Good luck and I hope this DIY article effort may help in the future at least one other person.