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How to Change Your Bike's Oil

How to Change Your Bike's Oil

As a responsible owner, you know there are certain elements of maintenance that are non-negotiable to a healthy bike. When it comes to changing the oil, every owner knows how imperative this task is to how the bike runs. If you are new to this important task, let’s take a look at how to change your bike's oil the right way.

What You Need

Before we get started on how to change your bike's oil, you should take the time to assemble all the necessary parts and tools. Here are a few things you will need to perform this task:

  • Oil filter. There is no sense in changing the oil if you are just going to put back the old, dirty filter. If you are planning on washing the filter and then replacing it in the bike, go ahead provided there are no tears or holes. If the filter is damaged or too dirty to truly get clean, pick up a new oil filter before you get started on this task.

  • Engine oil. You should check the owner's manual to determine what oil is right for your bike and how much you need. It is best to purchase a little extra when performing this task in case you need more than a quart and to have extra on hand for topping off later.

  • Oil filter removal tool/wrench/socket. The use of an oil filter removal tool is optional but definitely comes in handy if you don't want to fiddle around with a wrench or socket to remove the oil filter. You will still need the wrench and socket for this task so keep them on hand either way.

  • Tray to catch oil. Changing the oil in a bike has the potential to get messy. If you use a tray to catch the oil, it can help eliminate a lot of the mess while giving you an easier way to dispose of the old oil later on.

  • Funnel. It is pretty much impossible to pour oil in without a funnel. If you want to avoid making a mess of your machine and wasting oil, a funnel is a must have for this task.

  • Gloves. When working with hot oil, gloves can help prevent burns or pain. It can also help you avoid the dreaded dirty nails associated with performing an oil change.

How to Change Your Bike’s Oil

  1. Warm up the oil.: It is best to work with oil when it is warm because it is more liquid and moveable. If the oil has cooled, it will have settled and hardened a bit making it harder to drain from the bike. To get started, you should let the engine idle for about 10 minutes to let the oil warm up and then place the oil tray underneath the bike.

  2. Drain the oil.: The next step is to drain oil. You want to make sure you take caution when working with hot oil since it can be hotter than it looks and lead to some pretty nasty burns. You want to use a wrench to pull out the drain plug by turning counterclockwise. Using a wrench will protect your fingers from the warm oil while also helping you avoid the scenario of dropping the plug in the oil tray. If that does happen, simply fish around for it and pull it out. You should also make sure you have the washer connecting the drain plug and place both parts in a safe place for later.

    Draining the oil should be a pretty straightforward act. Simply let the oil drain into the pan until it stops. Some people like to tilt the bike a bit as the oil stream starts to trickle to help move any extra oil from the nooks and crannies of the bike, but this can be dangerous, especially if you have a heavier bike and are working alone. If you want to tilt the bike, it is best to have a buddy on hand for safety measures.

  3. Clean as you go.: Remember to clean as you go so you don’t end up with some forgotten spots later on. If you spill a little oil while draining and it splatters on the bike, make sure you wipe it up with a rag now rather than waiting for it to dry. It will help make clean up faster and keep your bike in good shape.

  4. Remove the old filter: The next step is to remove the old filter and either wash it out or replace it entirely. When you remove the filter, do so over the tray because it will release more oil all over the place and you want to let that drain. If you are going to wash it, now is the time to do so with hot soapy water and lots of rinsing. If you are tossing it, do so now so you don’t have a mess later.

  5. Install the new filter.: Once the oil has stopped draining from the plug housing or filter, you are free to install the new filter or put back the clean one. You want to make sure you take some of the new oil and smear some on the sealing ring of the filter and then you can put it back in place where the old filter was before. If your owner’s manual specifies that you should fill the filter with oil prior to placing it back in your bike, you should follow the instructions to do so, or you can add oil to the filter once it is in place later on.

  6. Put back the drain plug.: Now is the time to put back the drain plug and washer from earlier. It is always a good idea to clean them before you reinstall them to avoid mixing old and new oil. To reinstall it, start by hand tuning it by and then use a wrench to fully tighten it to the recommended torque setting as specified in your owner’s manual. You want to make sure this is secure before moving on to avoid any messes or wasted oil.

  7. Fill the reservoir with fresh oil.: You should check the manual for the right type and how much oil. You may also have a fill line visible depending on your make and model. Be careful not to overfill or pour it in all at once. It’s better to start with a slow pour and then gradually increase the flow.

  8. Final Check: Once you have the oil filled and the cap replaced, start the engine and let it idle for about 5 minutes. This will give the oil time to warm up and circulate. Next, turn off the bike and check the oil level using the dipstick. Add more oil as needed to reach the right level.