Valve Stem Seals Replacement » Cost & Symptoms | UK

how much does valve stem seals replacement cost in the UK?

How much for valve stem seals replacement in the UK? What are the typical signs of a bad valve seal and should I continue driving in case of a defect? Plus: The best savings tips and how to get free quotes.

How much does valve stem seals replacement cost in the UK?

» Average price range: £360 – £1,600

The average valve seal replacement cost for most vehicles is around £360 – £1,600, but the exact cost depends on the construction of your vehicle and the car garage. In some cases, such a repair is very complex and therefore expensive and can take half a day or a full day (between 3.5 and 9 hours).

Below you will find an example of the costs for valve stem seal replacement on a BMW e90. The prices vary between the older models from 2005 and later models up to 2013, so there are price differences here too.

Example: Valve stem seals replacement cost – BMW e90
New valve stem seals
£15 – £25
New oil filter
£15 – £25
New valve cover gasket
£25 – £45
New engine oil
£30 – £65
New cylinder head gasket
£65 – £135
Labour cost (depends on hourly rate)
£300 – £850
Total cost
£450 – £1,145
A large cost factor in valve stem seals replacement is the car model. Depending on whether it is, for example, a Mini Cooper, Vauxhall Corsa, VW Golf or BMW with N62 engine, the prices also vary.

The hourly rate of the car garage is also decisive. Here,the price differences between independent car garage or authorised service centre are particularly noteworthy. But regional factors also play a role. In and around large cities such as London, Birmingham or Manchester, costs are higher than in rural areas.

However, the costs for valve stem seals replacement are often lower for older vehicles than for newer, more modern vehicles. Mainly because the individual parts are faster and easier to access. All figures given on this page are for guidance only, including VAT and may of course vary.

What are valve stem seals and what do they do?

A valve stem seal (also called valve guide seal or valve stem oil seal) looks like a hull and is installed on the valve guide. Its function is to tighten the firing capacity to the cylinder head and to ensure that there is always a sufficient oil film inside the valve guide.

It must also ensure that no engine oil runs through the valve guide. With a fully functional valve stem seal, the valve can move smoothly and with low mechanical load, preventing the catalyst from being affected by burnt oil.

If a valve stem seal is worn, it must be replaced immediately. This requires a dismantlement of the motor control unit and the cylinder head, which requires specialist knowledge and special tools, so you should have them changed by a professional, at best in a car garage.

Valve stem seals replacement: What are the costs made up of?

The replacement of valve seals is a complicated procedure that requires skill and careful work. This task can take several hours, which explains the high costs. The seals themselves make up only a fraction of the cost.

Ratio material / labour costs: ~ 1:3

The ratio of material to labour costs for most car models is about 1:3, of course the costs can vary greatly depending on the car model, the quality of the parts, region and garage.
Such a repair should always be carried out by a qualified car garage, because not only the replacement requires specialist skills, but also during the final fitting it is important to avoid mistakes that can lead to engine breakdown.

Even though the total costs can be in the mid three-digit range, these costs are still better when compared to a severe engine breakdown.

Because the work requires so much effort, this procedure usually involves replacing all the valve stem seals of an engine at once. How many valve stem seals a vehicle contains corresponds to the number of valves and varies depending on the engine.


£130 – £400

Overall material costs for valve stem seals replacement should be in the range of £130 – £400. Costs vary not only by car model and garage, but also by the amount of additional work that needs to be done. On average, the cost of materials can be broken down as follows:

» Valve stem seals

£10 –£35

The lowest cost item: Prices for new valve stem seals are usually only £10 to £35.

» New valve cover gasket

£15 – £45

In addition, costs for a new valve cover gasket are to be expected, which must be replaced. This component is located between the cylinder head and the valve covers.

» Renewal of engine oil and oil filter

£40 – £130

Another £40 to £130 is usually required to renew the engine oil and oil filter, which should also be changed during this procedure.

» Cylinder head gasket

£60 – £170

In some cases the mechanic may also need to disassemble the cylinder head. This is then replaced with new screws. Regardless of whether the cylinder head has to be disassembled or not – in both cases the engine covers, cables and lines have to be dismantled to gain access to the cylinder head. The spark plugs must also be removed.

When changing valve stem seals without removing the cylinder head, time is saved and you can expect lower labour costs.


£170 – £1500

How high the labour costs finally turn out to be depends on the car model. First and foremost it is a question of how easily and quickly the valve stem seals can be accessed and the disassembling of the engine control unit and the cylinder head can be carried out.

For some car models this can be done faster, so labour costs are in the region of £170. Replacing the valve stem seals will take about 3.5 – 4 hours. On more modern cars it is usually harder to access the seals.

The most decisive cost factor → How easily are the valve stem seals accessable?

As you have seen, the labour cost is usually the biggest part of the cost of changing the valve stem seals. Decisive for the number of working hours and therefore the labour costs is the accessibility of the valve stem seals.

As a rule, the mechanic can reach these more easily and quickly in older car models than in newer models. This is due to the fact that the individual parts of modern vehicles are often installed more closely and more complex.

Signs / symptoms of faulty or bad valve stem seals

What are the symptoms of bad or faulty valve stem seals?
Bad valve stem seals: Warnings signs and symptoms

In some cases it is possible to identify bad valve stem seals by certain signs and symptoms before more expensive subsequent damages occur.

Valve seals are wear and tear parts – with increased aging the surface can become brittle and thereby leak.

This is because it is located near the firebox and is subjected to extremely high temperatures.

It is also possible that the valve seals become brittle if the sealing lip is damaged.

The easiest way to recognize a high wearout, or faulty valve stem seals is to check for the following symptoms:

» increased oil consumption

» blue coloured exhaust gases from exhaust pipe with cold start

» excessive exhaust fume when changing the gear

» blue gas im crankcase and im air filter

These symptoms can also occur when the turbocharger is broken or a cylinder head gasket is worn out. Whether the problem is actually due to bad valve stem seals can only be determined when the cylinder head has been disassembled.

Can I drive with bad valve stem seals?

» Visit a workshop soon!

What can happen on the way to the garage? Basically there is no immediate danger, so you can drive to the garage without any concerns. However, if you notice an increased oil consumption, you should really do this as soon as possible.

Because when valve stem seals are broken, high costs will result if you react too late. If more engine oil than usual is consumed, this is not only costly but also harmful to the environment.

How much oil the engine of your car usually uses depends on the manufacturer. If it is a more modern vehicle, any level above half a liter per 1,000 km is reason enough for a closer check.

4 Money saving tips when replacing your valve stem seals

1. Choose the right car garage

You have the choice whether you want to perform the valve stem seals replacement in an independent car garage or authorised service centre. Why is this important? The right choice can certainly affect the cost.

Authorised service centres are usually more expensive, but due to their more specific know-how they can carry out the valve seals replacement for some car models faster, which reduces the biggest cost factor: the labour costs. This is especially true for newer, more modern vehicles.

For older vehicles, the independent car garage often scores points in terms of value for money, as the necessary parts are easier and quicker to access. It is always worthwhile to ask beforehand about the probable repair time and also to discuss whether and which other parts (e.g. the cylinder head gasket) should be replaced.

2. Cleverly choose the day for your garage appointment

This may not be true of all garages, but many are more in demand at weekends or during the holiday season or charge higher prices during this time. This is especially true when it is not a scheduled appointment but an ’emergency’. It can therefore be worthwhile to make your appointment when there is less activity and most people have to work, like during the week.

3. It pays to agree to a fixed price

Changing the valve guide seals takes about 3.5 – 9 hours, depending on car model and garage. However, it is always possible that unexpected complications may occur, which may make the change take longer than planned. If a fixed price has been agreed to beforehand, you will not pay anything extra in such cases.

4. Carry out car garage comparison!

Even in the same city, prices can vary greatly from garage to garage. To save time and effort and to find the best value for money, it’s worth comparing garages before each visit and checking the prices in your region. You can also use the free workshop comparison (all offers at a fixed price) on this page.

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