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I was diagnosing a valve cover gasket oil leak that's been there since I bought my 164, and decided to re-torque the valve cover as a stop gap to buying anew gasket. Two of the bolts just spun and wouldn't torque down, including one bolt on the front where the leak is coming from, where the dipstick attaches. I assume the PO stripped the threads in the head (it's aluminum, right?) and introduced the leak since there isn't a good seal w/ the head. So what are my options here? I'm hoping this isn't a "pull the head and send it to the machine shop" solution. This is on a 12V motor, if it matters.
 

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No need to pull the heads. Go get an M7x1.00 (IIRC) Helicoil kit to repair the threads. Do get new valve cover gaskets, as you'll have to pull the cover(s) to drill and tap the hole in the head. Also - DO use a torque wrench when reinstalling - torque on these small bolts is very light. Use a shop vac and rags when drilling to make sure no shavings get into the head.
 

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I believe I have one on the firewall side with a slightly longer bolt. Those could be tough to helicoil with the head in.

May be possible to get by with that if necessary, otherwise the advice above sounds good.
 

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The stripped threads are on the front bank, front side of the valve cover, so there's easy access. I've never used a helicoil before but the process is looks straight forward from YouTube videos.
 

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Unless the gasket is damaged, you won't really need new cover gaskets, as the ones in most Alfas are used over and over again without trouble. Save a couple of bucks.

The cover bolts are usually torqued to no more than 5-6 ft-lb.
 

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"Don't waste time & effort on helicoil repairs. Run a 8mm x 1 tap through the stripped receiver and use an 8mm x 1 bolt"

That's certainly the easiest way to do it if you don't mind mixed fasteners.
 

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The stripped threads are on the front bank, front side of the valve cover, so there's easy access. I've never used a helicoil before but the process is looks straight forward from YouTube videos.
I'd suggest you save yourself the trouble of buying a kit that will likely be unused most of the time. Machine shops in my area will install helicoils for around 10€ while kits are never less than 50€ and size specific.

One common trick to keep shavings from spreading around is to coat taps with grease.
 

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'One common trick to keep shavings from spreading around is to coat taps with grease"

Yup. I helicoiled the sparkplug holes in my Sprint GT without removing the head from the engine. Using lots of grease and frequent cleaning did the trick with no problems ever after.
 
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