A Comprehensive Guide on How to Adjust 350 Chevy Valves

valves on a 350 Chevy engine
By following this comprehensive guide and adhering to the manufacturer’s specifications, you can confidently tackle valve adjustments on your 350 Chevy engine.


The 350 Chevy engine is an iconic powerhouse that has powered countless vehicles over the years. Regular maintenance is essential to keep it running smoothly, and one crucial aspect is valve adjustment. Proper valve adjustment ensures optimal engine performance, longevity, and fuel efficiency. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process on how to adjust 350 Chevy valves on the engine.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the adjustment process, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of the role valves play in the engine. Valves control the flow of air and fuel into the combustion chamber and the expulsion of exhaust gases. Over time, wear and tear can lead to a loss of valve lash, causing various issues such as poor performance, increased fuel consumption, and even engine damage.

Valve Adjustment Tools

If you are looking at how to adjust 350 Chevy valves properly, you’ll need a few essential tools. Make sure you have the following items on hand:

1. Wrench set
2. Feeler gauges
3. Valve adjustment wrench or socket
4. Torque wrench
5. Screwdriver
6. Rags or shop towels
7. Valve cover gaskets (if necessary)

Now that you have the necessary tools, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of how to adjust 350 Chevy Valves

Step 1: Preparation on How to Adjust 350 Chevy Valves

Before you start adjusting the valves, ensure the engine is cold. Working on a cold engine prevents burns and ensures accurate adjustments. If the engine has been running recently, allow it to cool down for at least an hour.

Next, locate the valve cover on the cylinder head. Depending on your engine, there may be one or two valve covers. Use a wrench to remove the bolts holding the valve cover in place and carefully lift the cover off, exposing the rocker arms and valves.

Step 2: Identify Top Dead Center (TDC)

To adjust the valves on a specific cylinder, you need to identify the Top Dead Center (TDC) for that cylinder. Rotate the engine manually using a socket wrench on the crankshaft bolt until the timing mark on the harmonic balancer lines up with the TDC mark on the timing cover. This ensures that the piston in the cylinder you’re working on is at its highest point.

Read Also: Is the Chevy 2.7 Turbo Engine a Good Engine for the 2023 Silverado?

To confirm that you’re on TDC for the compression stroke, check the position of the rocker arms. The rocker arms should not be applying pressure on the valves at this point. If they are, rotate the engine one more revolution until you reach TDC again.

Step 3: Valve Lash Adjustment

Valve lash is the clearance between the rocker arm and the valve stem. This clearance needs to be within the manufacturer’s specifications for optimal engine performance. Check your vehicle’s manual or consult the engine specifications to determine the correct valve lash for your 350 Chevy engine.

Using a feeler gauge, measure the existing valve lash. Slide the feeler gauge between the rocker arm and the valve stem. If the gap is too tight or too loose, adjustments are needed.

Loosen the locknut on the rocker arm using a wrench. Using a valve adjustment wrench or socket, turn the adjusting nut to achieve the desired valve lash. Check the lash with the feeler gauge and make adjustments as needed.

Once the correct valve lash is achieved, hold the adjusting nut in place and tighten the locknut to secure the adjustment. Recheck the valve lash to ensure it remains within the specified range.

Repeat this process for each valve on the cylinder you’re working on. After completing one cylinder, move on to the next one in the firing order.

Step 4: Repeat for Each Cylinder

The 350 Chevy engine typically follows a firing order, and adjusting the valves in this order ensures proper timing and balance. The firing order for a typical Chevy V8 engine is 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2. Adjust the valves in this sequence, moving from one cylinder to the next until all valves have been adjusted.

As you move through the firing order, rotate the engine to bring each cylinder to TDC on the compression stroke before adjusting the valves. This ensures that the valves you’re adjusting are not under pressure.

Step 5: Reassembly

Once you have adjusted the valves on all cylinders, it’s time to reassemble the valve covers. If the valve cover gaskets are worn or damaged, this is an excellent time to replace them. Clean the valve cover surfaces and install new gaskets before tightening the valve cover bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Torque the bolts gradually and evenly, working in a crisscross pattern to ensure proper sealing. Over-tightening can lead to gasket damage, while under-tightening may result in oil leaks.

Step 6: Final Checks

After reassembling the valve covers, start the engine and let it idle. Listen for any unusual noises, such as ticking or tapping, which could indicate improperly adjusted valves. If you hear such noises, revisit the affected cylinder and recheck the valve lash.

Additionally, monitor for any oil leaks around the valve covers. If leaks are present, tighten the valve cover bolts accordingly.


Adjusting the valves on a 350 Chevy engine is a critical maintenance task that contributes to the overall health and performance of your vehicle. Regular valve adjustments help prevent issues such as poor fuel efficiency, power loss, and premature engine wear.

By following this comprehensive guide and adhering to the manufacturer’s specifications, you can confidently tackle valve adjustments on your 350 Chevy engine. Remember to take your time, double-check your work, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’ve contributed to the longevity and optimal performance of your vehicle’s heart – the venerable 350 Chevy engine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are symptoms of valves out of adjustment?
A sure sign that it’s time for a valve lash adjustment is if your engine is making a loud clicking or tapping noise when starting up or if you experience a loss in engine power. You can find more details on the suggested adjustment frequency here
What is the best way to adjust valves?
Adjust by turning the pivot post at the opposite end of the finger from the valve, hold the post to stop it turning while you slacken or tighten the locknut. Keep the feeler gauge in position while making the adjustment Hold the adjusting nut steady while tightening the locknut.
How could you know if the valve clearance needs to be adjusted?
If your engine generates a loud clatter, it could be time for a valve clearance adjustment, though a tapping noise could also be caused by a loose rocker arm or some other component; the mechanic won’t know for sure without inspecting the valves.
What happens if the valves are adjusted to tight?
What happens if valves are too tight? The valves don’t completely seat. Compression will be low so there will be a miss and the valve faces and seats will burn from the hot combustion gasses getting by.

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