Plastic engine covers are becoming a plague for technicians and it is only getting worse. Every year they get bigger and more difficult to remove.
Once, they only cleaned up the engine bay, hiding unsightly wire harnesses, piping and intake manifolds. Now they have become barriers to technicians like the tamper-resistant screws on an iPhone.
My first experience with these covers was on a Buick 3800. The cover could be removed by twisting the oil cap and strategically pulling on the corners. Anybody could remove it in under five seconds.
Soon I started to notice more of these covers. Like the 3800, to remove many of the early covers, it did not take any tools or maybe just the turn of a few screws like on the Cadillac Northstar.
About a decade ago, I started to notice more insulation and fasteners. Some automakers like Hyundai saw the cosmetic and comedic value of these covers by making a transversely mounted V6 look like a longitudinally mounted V6.
During the past five years, more of these covers are turning into sound-dampening devices so the driver is not exposed to the clatter of injectors, whir of a camshaft or the buzz of an idle air control valve. In order to accomplish this, the covers are becoming stiffer with fastener systems that could make a door panel jealous.
On one 2013 engine, the cover took me more than five minutes to figure out how to remove it. Worst of all, it made the engine bay look like an appliance that could wash clothes or bake a cake.
Unfortunately, these covers add one more step to a diagnosis or repair process that in my opinion is not making it into the labor guides.