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How to Change a Motorcycle's Oil and Oil Filter

Updated on June 19, 2013
Steve Clark of Easy Bins Dumpster Rentals keeps his oil fresh to keep his bike in perfect working order.  Then goes really fast.
Steve Clark of Easy Bins Dumpster Rentals keeps his oil fresh to keep his bike in perfect working order. Then goes really fast. | Source

Most motorcycles use oil to lubricate the engine, and the oil passes through a filter to remove small particles of debris that collect during operation of the motor. It is important to change the oil and filter on a regular basis such that the pistons and clutch, possibly, stay lubricated with clean, viscous oil.

To start, procure a new filter, and enough oil to perform the swap. I always buy two filters at once, just in case one of them is deficient in some way. Ensure you have the correct tools to perform the change. Typically you'll need a wrench or socket for the oil drain bolt, and it's nice to have some type of oil filter wrench, especially if you have an external, spin-on filter. Internal filters will have a cover that must be removed. Take the time to identify the location of your filter and the oil drain bolts. Some bikes have an oil reservoir in the frame, and has to be drained in addition to the oil pan.

Replacing the oil on your motorcycle starts with draining the existing oil. Cold oil doesn't drain very well, so run the bike for several minutes, at the least, to get it warmed up. Just know that a warm bike has a warm exhaust, and a hot bike has a HOT exhaust, so take precaution to not get burned.

Remove the drain bolt with the appropriate sized wrench or socket, and allow the oil to drain completely into an appropriately sized catch pan. If your bike has an aftermarket exhaust, it is possible that the pipe prevents the drain bolt from coming out, or the oil may drain directly onto the pipe. If the pipe is hot, the oil can ignite. Place aluminum foil over the pipe to prevent it from burning onto the pipe, or remove the pipe if required.

Upon removing the drain bolt, inspect it for metal shavings, as some have a magnet. Shavings may indicate that there is a problem within the motor. Ask a qualified tech for assistance.

As the oil drains, position a catch pan under the oil filter, and remove the filter. After it is removed, wipe down the area to clean off old oil, dirt, and debris. Install the internal filter, or for a spin-on, apply fresh oil onto the o-ring and then install.

When the oil finishes draining, install the drain bolt.

Finally, located the oil fill area. Wipe clean any dirt or debris! Then remove the filler cap. Insert a funnel if needed, and add the correct amount of oil. (Some bikes have it imprinted on the case cover. e.g. 2400cc) some bikes have two oil fill caps, so fill both. Some bikes have a dipstick as part of the filler cap, other bikes have a sight glass with lines. Use whichever one you have to determine proper fill level is achieved. Install the filler cap(s) and run thebike to circulate the new oil. As the bike look for leaks at the bolt and/or filter. Tighten as needed.

Drain the old oil into the newly emptied oil bottles for recycling. Put away your tools, clean your hands, and have another beer. Turn off the bike, you're finished.

The pliers-style is my oil filter wrench of choice for motorcylces, given the amount of available room to use them. But, they often don't work well for cars and trucks, so having a strap type, and maybe one other never hurts.


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