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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2005 Passat with the 2.8 V6, only has about 80,000 miles on it.

At about 75,000 miles, I did a timing belt job on it using a kit from Blauparts. This included valve cover gaskets, timing chain tensioner gaskets, etc. I followed the instructions precisely and only used RTV in the corners. I even used a torque wrench to tighten down the valve covers. I spent a lot of time cleaning both surfaces (head and valve covers) before putting things back together. I am positive I had the surfaces clean and all of the old gasket material and RTV removed.

Now about 5,000 miles later and the valve cover gaskets are leaking like crazy. I have checked the front and rear cam seals , neither appear to be leaking. The passenger side valve cover gasket is leaking pretty bad on the bottom edge towards the front of the car. Some drips on the exhaust manifold and gets burned off, the rest is running along a coolant hose and eventually dripping on the ground. I have some pretty good sized oil spots on the garage floor from this now.

I just ordered new gaskets, this time I got Elring gaskets which I understand is one of the OEM suppliers.

I watched FCP Euro's install video and they use RTV all around the entire gasket surface which I am tempted to do this time. But I have also read not to use RTV on rubber gaskets. So which is the case? I do not want these gaskets to leak. I'm willing to order whatever sort of special RTV is recommended for this. The RTV I usually keep on hand and use for random jobs is Permatex 82180 Ultra Black (Maximum Oil Resistance) RTV Silicone Gasket Maker. Should I put a layer of this all way around under the gaskets? Or is there a better kind to use for this? Or should I only put it in the corners?

Any tips for ensuring I don't have leaks again?
 

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I've done a boat load of 'valve gasket' jobs and none of mine leak. You need a properly working PCV otherwise you'll have oil leaks until the end of time.
On the V6 there is a plastic tube under the intake manifold that connects to an aluminum cover on the top center of the engine block, that hose is notorious for clogging up. If's that's the case your system is NOT breathing properly. Very rarely are you able to save that hose either. The hose gets so brittle just looking at it to hard will cause it to break. That hose eventually connects to the plastic hoses coming from the valve covers themselves. Depending on year and version of PCV system you have will determine it's type of connections and what pieces are used in the system. The systems very greatly in design and how they are connected to the engine for vacuum source.

As far as using RTV on the entire gasket? I never do. Only in the corners specified by the Bentley Manual.
I only use Victor Reinz, Elring, and Goetze gaskets on all of my jobs.
As I said before every single valve cover gasket I've replaced, none of them leak. My parking space at work and my garage floor are a testament to back up my claim.

Make sure all of your surfaces are absolutely clean and free of old gasket material. Using a Scotch-Brite pad from 3M works wonders on cleaning up the gasket surface.
I use pure isopropyl alcohol or Acetone to clean all gasket surfaces to make sure there absolutely no oil film left on the mating surfaces.
I also use white cloth or paper towel when I clean up all the mating surfaces. When the towel stays clean after wiping the surface, then it's clean.
Also make sure your valve cover(s) don't have any hairline cracks in them. I've seen a few valve covers with hairline cracks in them and they tend to leak only when the engine is hot, so it hard to diagnose exactly where the oil leak is coming from.

Also check that little half moon rubber piece under the CCT. They get rock hard and leak after a while. Replacing those half moon pieces and the CCT gasket is only a few dollars extra and is easily done at the time a valve cover gasket change is performed.

Another thing to check, double check your cam seals behind the cam pulleys and inside the CPS cap. If you didn't replace those when you did your timing belt kit job that might be a source of the leak. Also make sure that if you do replace the camshaft seals that you pay attention to the type camshaft seal you are purchasing.
The new 'revised' PTFE camshaft seals are rotation direction sensitive. Meaning that each camshaft seal is a specific part number and has a specific installation location, which is dependent on camshaft rotation.

The old original version of camshaft seal are the only ones I use.
One seal fits all locations and they are not rotation specific.

There are some reports of the new 'revised' PTFE camshaft seals wearing a groove into the diameter of the camshaft bearing and causing oil leaks after a period of time. The other cautionary note, if using the PTFE camshaft seal, the lip of the seal is like a razor edge and normally requires an installation tool to make sure the lip doesn't get cut sliding it onto the bearing surface.
The camshaft pulley end on the exhaust cams is no big deal but the CPS end of the intake camshafts tends to be a bit tricky.
Hence me using the original old version of camshaft seal. I don't have any issues with the old type seals either.
 

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The hose gets so brittle just looking at it to hard will cause it to break.
It only took me bumping mine when I took the engine cover off to snap it. Some electrical tape and some redneckery is keeping it together while I order a new part. However, the tube getting broken in half gives you some normally unseen perspectives of sludgy oil :p
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I did closely inspect that plastic tube that runs under the engine cover when I did the timing belt job. I was very careful with it and it is still in good shape. I know they can get clogged up with crud, but mine was clean. I flushed it out with brake cleaner just to be sure and not much came out of it. So either I got really lucky or a previous owner already replaced it.

Is there a good way to test that the PCV system is working properly? Aside from that black plastic tube, what are some other common failure points?

I did do the half moon rubber gaskets and timing chain tensioner gaskets when I did the timing belt. I also have the rear cam seals in case I need them, but they don't seem to be leaking. I'll probably do them at the same time I do the valve cover gaskets this time though just to be safe.
 

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I did closely inspect that plastic tube that runs under the engine cover when I did the timing belt job. I was very careful with it and it is still in good shape. I know they can get clogged up with crud, but mine was clean. I flushed it out with brake cleaner just to be sure and not much came out of it. So either I got really lucky or a previous owner already replaced it.

Is there a good way to test that the PCV system is working properly? Aside from that black plastic tube, what are some other common failure points?

I did do the half moon rubber gaskets and timing chain tensioner gaskets when I did the timing belt. I also have the rear cam seals in case I need them, but they don't seem to be leaking. I'll probably do them at the same time I do the valve cover gaskets this time though just to be safe.

Sounds like you were already ahead of me, which is good.
The other thing to look at is the 'pancake valve' which is actually the PCV valve. That might be stuck. I've read that the PCV valve should be replaced at around 50k miles, I can't confirm that (don't have my electronic Bentley anymore.)
Other people have taken it apart and cleaned it to restore its function.
Make sure your plastic hose(s) connected to the valve covers are secure and clean of oil deposit build-up.
You could use a manometer to measure the pressure difference of the PCV system. Cheap manometers can be had for around $35-$40. I'll be straight up honest, I've never done this test before so I don't know what actual test values should be.
If all of your system is clean is and functioning, then try retorquing the valve covers and take the covers off again and double check everything. If you still have a leak then something else might be wrong. We'll get into that later if need be.
Do you have VCDS? Do you know if your car has any codes stored?
 

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The other thing to look at is the 'pancake valve' which is actually the PCV valve. That might be stuck. I've read that the PCV valve should be replaced at around 50k miles, I can't confirm that (don't have my electronic Bentley anymore.) Other people have taken it apart and cleaned it to restore its function.
I replaced mine ('05 3.0 A4) after noticing it making an odd noise after engine shutdown. This also cured a drive-ability quirk -a little surging at times, that I hadn't been able to diagnose before. About $50 at autohausaz.com. We also had the same crankcase pressure valve fail on a 3.6 Touareg, which unfortunately is built-in as part of the big, expensive valve cover.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Do you have VCDS? Do you know if your car has any codes stored?
I do have VCDS, I haven't scanned this car for a while since it hasn't had any issues other than this oil leak. I will scan it when I get a chance to verify if there are any codes stored.

I may just replace the pancake valve thing since I know all the hoses and everything else are good. I inspected them all pretty closely and was prepared to replace vacuum hoses if I found cracked lines but this car was in remarkably good shape as far as those go. I have replaced pretty much every hose and line there is on my B6 A4 because they were all falling apart.

Thanks for the advice!
 
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