How to Change Your Motorcycle’s Oil

You can always have a mechanic change your motorcycle’s oil, however, it can get really expensive, especially if you have more than one motorcycle. Learning to change your own oil is not as hard as you might think, will probably take less than 1/2 hour of your time, and, of course, save you money.

To change your motorcycle’s oil, first you must be sure that you have the proper tools and supplies. You might already have the tools you need, but if you are lacking in tools you can always check out the motorcycle tool kits available from BikerHiway. To change your own oil, here is a list of the tools and supplies you will need:

  • Your motorcycle’s owner’s manual
  • Old rags or paper towels
  • Pan to drain the old oil into (enough to hold 6 quarts of liquid)
  • Funnel
  • 3-5 quarts of new oil (check your motorcycle’s owner’s manual for the correct oil and amount to use)
  • New oil filter (check your motorcycle’s owner’s manual for the correct oil filter to use)
  • Oil filter wrench or channel lock pliers
  • Screwdriver or box wrench (depending on your drain bolt)

To get started, move your motorcycle to a flat surface and place it on its kickstand or center stand. Move the oil pan under the drain bolt located on the bottom of the engine (refer to your motorcycle’s owner’s manual if you can’t locate it). Use the screwdriver or box wrench to loosen the drain bolt and remove it with your fingers, allowing the used oil to flow into the drain pan. Bring the bike upright if it is on a kickstand, and allow any additional oil to drain. Once all the oil has drained, clean up any residual oil around the drain bolt with the old rags, and put the drain bolt back. Use the screwdriver or box wrench to tighten it.

Next, you’ll move to the oil filter (refer to your motorcycle’s owner’s manual if you can’t locate it). Move the oil pan under the oil filter. Use the oil filter wrench or channel lock pliers, or even just your hands, to remove the old filter by turning counterclockwise. This can be a little difficult and may require some force, but make sure you don’t crush the filter if you are using channel locks. Clean the area around where the filter was installed and prepare to install the new filter by putting a little new, clean, oil around the gasket on the new filter. Install the new filter by hand (clockwise this time), until it is snug. It should not move around or turn easily at this point.

You’re almost done! Remove the oil filler cap (refer to your motorcycle’s owner’s manual if you can’t locate it). Using the funnel, pour in the new oil. When you get to the next-to-last quart, don’t just pour the whole quart in. Leave a little bit of oil in it – about 1/10th of a quart. At this point, you should have one full bottle plus a little left in one bottle.

Replace the filler plug and see how well you did the job. Start the bike up and look around the filter and drain bolt for any leaks. If there are no leaks, leave the bike on and let it run for a couple of minutes. Then shut it off and check the oil level using your motorcycle’s dipstick or oil gauge. If there were no leaks and the dipstick or oil gauge is within the correct amount, congratulations, you’ve completed the oil change!

Troubleshooting
If the dipstick or gauge shows low, pour some of the remaining oil in slowly, in short intervals, checking your motorcycle’s dipstick or oil gauge in between each interval to ensure you don’t over or under-fill. Start your motorcycle again and let it run for another couple of minutes, and shut it off again. Then check your oil levels once again. If you still are low, repeat this process again until your dipstick or oil gauge reads the correct amount.

If you have any leaks, check to make sure your drain bolt is tight and your oil filter and any gaskets around the oil filter are installed properly. Make sure you removed the old gasket from the old oil filter and there aren’t two gaskets in there.

Don’t remove the drain bolt if you don’t have to! You’ll get a gush of oil, and might have to go buy more oil to replace what was lost while were putting the drain bolt back in. If you do have to remove your drain bolt, make sure you have the oil pan underneath it before you remove it, and enough room in it to catch more oil, or you’ll have a big mess to clean up.

The Old Oil and Oil Filter
Don’t just through away your old oil and filter in the trash or pour the oil down a drain. Not only is it dangerous because oil is quite flammable, but it is very bad for both the drain and the environment. Used oil can actually be recycled into base stock for lubricating oil. Most service stations, repair facilities, and quick lubes will take your used oil and oil filters and recycle the oil.

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