An oil change is the most basic and probably the most frequent of any motorcycle maintenance that you’d need to do.
Check your manual for how frequently you should be doing them. A good rule of thumb is once a season. But if you’re riding a lot you may need to do them more often.
Gather the necessary tools, and just remember you get bonus point for not spilling oil all. Over. The. Goddamn. Place.
Oil changes should be done on a warm engine.
Make sure the bike is upright, place it on it’s centre stand or a bike jack/lift
Before starting anything, make sure you can get your oil plug out. Especially if working on a new-to-you bike. Don’t forget that righty-tighty, lefty-loosy seems different when working on the underside of the bike (upsidedown). Make sure it’ll spin loose, but don’t take it out until you’re ready to go. You just want to make sure it’s not seized or stripped.
Oil has two main functions
- Absorb heat from the engine
- Clean parts and cushion bearings
Check your manual to find out what type of oil to use. Always use motorcycle oil, automotive oil isn’t formulated the same way, and won’t work properly in a bike.
The numbers on the oil represents the viscosity of the oil. Different oils will react differently in hot or cold. If it is too thin, it won’t work as well in the heat, if it’s too thick it won’t work well in the cold. Consider this when looking for oil for different seasons, or different types of riding. For example: Consider using thinner oil early season, when it is cooler.
HOW TO CHANGE OIL
The right oil
The right filter
An O ring for the filter (not needed for spin-on filters)
A crush washer for the oil plug (recommended)
Oil pan (clean)
Towels or shop rags
Gloves are great
Oil Change :
Warm up engine
Loosen oil plug (standard threading)
Place oil pan below oil plug
Remove oil plug, be sure not to lose it.
Let the oil drain out.
While oil is draining:
Remove oil filter
Let drain and wipe down interior of oil filter cover(non screw-on type)
Check the O ring on screw-on type
Make sure to keep the spring.
Check your crush washer, it and the engine case should be cleaned if you are re-using. Check for particles of metal on the plug (as described below)
Re-insert drain plug with crush washer.
Always start this threading by hand.
Use a short socket wrench for this to ensure that you don’t apply too much pressure. You only want to apply about 15 foot-pounds of pressure when putting in the plug
Check your O ring for cracks and damage, clean it off, re-apply new oil to it to lubricate if it is fine.
Clean off the oil filter cover well. Inside and outside.
Insert your oil filter as you removed it. Check O rings.
Spin on filters should only be inserted until the O ring touches, and then ¾ more turn ONLY. Do not over tighten, they will seize. Only use your hand to tighten, no wrench.
Fill oil as dictated in your manual. Check your level when getting around full, and check your sight-glass. Your sight-glass can only be used when your bike is upright. You might need a friend to check if you don’t have a center stand.
Run your engine for 5-10 minutes and check your level again.
Check engine case for leaks. Check around the filter and drain plug.
Top up if necessary. – When using a new filter, running the engine will suck the new oil up into it, this will cause a bit of oil displacement, so it would be normal to top up the oil a little bit.
Always clean off your engine when doing an oil change. If there are any leaks, this will be the best way to be able to see if there are any leaks in your gaskets and where they’re coming from.
It’s a good idea to take a look at the oil that comes out of your bike. It could indicate other issues that may come up. Checking the oil in the drain pan, as well as the used filter is a great way to avoid any larger issues in the future. Oil makes its first point of contact with the filter, and pushes through the fins to filter it before it goes through the bike again. Cut open your filter if you have any suspicions of engine damage.
Check oil in oil pan and filter for any particles of metal or debris that would indicate engine wear. Anything larger than a grain of salt, usually like sediment on the bottom of the oil pan would indicate engine wear. Always start with a clean oil pan to make sure that you’re not finding sediment from the last oil change.
If the sediment sticks to a magnet it is engine or cylinder wear.
If it doesn’t it could be bearing wear.
If you find something really big, keep it for further assessment.
Usually there will be a deep ticking noise if there is any significant wear, but if there is a noise it will only get worse as the damage increases. For issues like this, it’s best to take the engine apart.
If you do have any particulate in your oil you can cut open a regular filter, or use tin snips to cut open a screw on filter. Check for debris or particles inside.
Dispose of oil and used filter appropriately.
If you oil is Milky – there is water in it from the coolant – there is likely a leak in a gasket or O-ring somewhere.
How dark and thick your oil is an indicator of how dirty your engine is. Thick and black like molasses? Maybe think about doing an oil change a bit earlier next time.