I just replaced the valve cover gaskets on a 93 Corsica with the 3.1 V6 engine. The front valve cover was not to bad since it is easily accessible. The rear valve cover took quite a bit more work. Here are the steps that I followed.
Bear in mind that this was the first time I had attempted this and I did not have a service manual. This may not be the technically correct way to replace the rear valve cover.
1. Unbolt the alternator and move it aside. ( I was able to lay it on the front of the engine to keep it out of the way.
2. Unbolt and remove the upper engine mount from the engine and the body. (the upper mount is the alumium piece that connects the upper front of the engine to the passenger side inner fender wall.)
3. "Roll" the engine forward. I connected a come-a-long to the back engine lifting eye and pulled the engine forward. (I pulled against the sturdy bench in my garage).
4. Mark and disconnect the throttle, cruise, and transmission kick-down linkages from the upper rear of the intake manifold.
5. Disconnect the power brake booster vacuum line.
6. Mark anc disconnect the vacuum lines to the bracket at the back of the intake. I am not sure what it is called. It is a plastic module mounted to metal bracket that retains the throttle, cruise, and transmission kick down linkage cables. BE CAREFULL with the vacuum lines. The hard plastic lines on this 93 were brittle and I broke two of them. I had to unbolt the intake manifold and splice the plastic hard lines back together using 5/32" vacuum line.
7. Remove the bracket that holds the throttle, cruise, and transmission kick down linkages.
8. Mark and remove the rear spark plug wires. While the spark plugs are accessible, I would change the plugs and wires.
9. Remove the alternator braket and the front engine lift eye (Both are attached with the same bolts)
10. Disconnect the power steering return line.
11. Now it should be possible to loosen the four bolts that hold the valve cover on.
Reverse procedure to reassemble.
The timing belt and head gasket are two different things. To replace the head gasket you will have to remove the head necessitating removing the timing belt. If you are going to replace your head gasket it is best to put a new timing belt, a timing belt tensioner and possibly a new water pump. BMW recommends changing the timing belt every 60K miles and the water pump every 120K miles. The belts and pumps are not that expensive and it beats having to go back in and replace them later. Note that on the M3's there is a timing chain rather than a belt.
My 98 Lumina had the same issue. Found out that the Coolant opening that connects the engine block to the timing cover leaks! This is just behind the belt tensioner. Have to remove the timing cover and in my case, I used High-Temp gasket maker, because the machine surfaces were not flat causing this area to leak. I would suggest not to use a gasket, but instead use the High-Temp silicone! ~Steve
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