I am about to change the valve cover gasket on a 2002 Ford Focus SE Wagon with the DOHC Zetec engine. I have never done this kind of thing before, and although it seems simple, I am concerned after reading so many warnings about how your engine can be destroyed if debris falls in while you are taking off the cover, scraping off the old gasket, etc.
My questions are:
1) Does this mean that the tiniest little dust-sized fleck of gasket getting in there is gonna cause major damage? Or does it mean more like "Don't let leaves, nachos, and 2-inch chunks of gasket material fall in."? How much is too much?
2) What are tricks that you all use to prevent debris from falling in while you are working? (besides being really careful)
3) If I do drop some gasket material down in there, are there any good tricks for getting it out?