How To Change Your Motorcycle Oil And Oil Filter

Keep your engine happy with an oil and filter change.

Oil is the motorcycle engine’s lifeblood, and changing the oil and filter is the cornerstone of DIY motorcycle maintenance. No matter your make and model changing its oil should be a fairly simple and straight-forward job. What you want to make sure of is that you’re using the best oil for your motorcycle, which is normally what your manufacturer recommends on using. Oils come in mineral and synthetics varieties, in an assortment of weights so crack open your owner manual and check what they recommend.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you start removing your fairings or undoing bolts, make sure that you have everything that you need. At a bare minimum, you need the new motorcycle oil, a new oil filter, an apparatus or drain pan to catch the old oil, a tool to remove the oil drain plug, a tool to remove the old oil filter, a funnel, and a clean rag or two to wipe up any spilled oil. A rear tire stand can make this job easier but is totally not necessary. Also, check with your owner’s manual because some models need to have their oil drained while they are on their kickstand.

Prep Your Bike

The best time to change your oil is when the engine is warm, but if you’ve just come back from a long ride it’s a good idea to give the bike some time to cool off so you’re not working with super-hot oil. The purpose is to have the oil suspend dirt and flow easily, not burn you. So, kick your bike into neutral and let it run while you move on to the next step.

Remove Any Bodywork

If you have a faired bike, or your bike has a belly pan, you’ll need to remove some panels to get to the drain plug and oil filter. Be careful while removing bodywork, and take note of the way panels connect to one another or overlap. Remember, if you have to apply force to remove bodywork, you’re probably doing it wrong!

Drain The Old Engine Oil And Remove The Filter

With the bike stripped, use a clean rag to wipe the grime away from the drain plug and from around the oil filter. Then slide a drain pan under the engine and remove the drain plug and oil filter. You may be able to unscrew the oil filter by hand, but it will probably be necessary to use a filter wrench.

Reinstall The Drain Plug And New Oil Filter

With the oil drained, reinstall your drain plug—with a fresh sealing washer—and torque the bolt to the spec listed in your owner’s manual. Install the oil filter by hand, spinning it on until the sealing ring just makes contact with the sealing surface on the engine and then tightening the filter another one-half to three-quarters of a turn. Cranking the filter down much more may damage the sealing ring. You can also pre-fill the oil filter with new engine oil, but it is not necessary.

Fill With New Engine Oil And Check Oil Level

Once the engine is buttoned up, it’s time to pour in fresh oil. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct grade and quantity—be aware that the engine might not accept all the recommended capacity so fill a little short and check the sight glass or dipstick. With the oil in, start the bike and let it idle for several minutes. Then turn off the bike, re-check the oil level, and inspect the drain plug and oil filter for leaks.

Recycle The Old Oil And Oil Filter

An often skipped step in the motorcycle oil changing process, but one that you should follow: Recycle your old oil and filter. Don’t throw it in your garbage can or apartment complex dumpster, most local auto parts stores will take it free-of-charge.