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I had the valve cover off the other day and i saw for lack of a better term what looked like "shields" around some (though i don't think it was all of the valve springs. Has anyone ever seen anything like this? What's their purpose? If i replace the springs should i leave them on or take them off?
 

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Yup, they're spring "cages" or retainers. It helps prevent the spring from cocking under load, as well as dampens harmonic vibrations (from what I've understood). Don't take them out. If you replace springs, leave them in.
 
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