How to Change the Oil On Your Motorcycle

The first nice day of spring has many of us motorcycle riders itching to get the bike out of storage and put a few miles on it before the sun goes down.  While the temptation to ride is great, it’s important to resist until you know your motorcycle is ready for the miles you’re going to embark on.

If you didn’t change the oil or winterize your motorcycle before you stored it away last fall, you should do it before getting back on the road this spring.

Doing an oil change at home yourself is easy enough, and we’re going to walk you through how to change the oil on a motorcycle – complete with pictures!

You’ll want to gather your supplies before starting – this includes oil, motorcycle oil filter, oil pan, funnel, and socket wrench.  While it’s not necessary to have a rear paddock stand or motorcycle jack or lift, it does make things a little bit easier.

Most local auto parts stores will contain the supplies needed for your motorcycle oil change.

Once your supplies are gathered, fire up your motorcycle and let it run for around five minutes – this allows the oil to warm up and increases the flow when draining.  This is not a required step but definitely makes the process a bit quicker.

Remove the oil cap and set aside in a safe place.

Removing the oil cap will help the motorcycle oil drain more efficiently.

You’ll then want to position the oil pan underneath the oil pan drain bolt and grab your socket wrench to remove the bolt.  Be sure to set aside the oil pan drain bolt with the oil cap.

Carefully remove the oil pan drain bolt and set aside.

An oil drain pan is a must when changing motorcycle oil.

While the oil is draining safely into the oil pan, you can remove the motorcycle oil filter.

Carefully remove the old oil filter and dispose of.

Because changing the oil on your motorcycle can be messy, we recommend grabbing a shop cloth and placing the oil cap and oil pan drain bolt on it.  This also makes a perfect place to stash the old oil filter after removal.

Make sure to set the motorcycle oil pan drain bolt and cap aside in a safe place.

Once the motorcycle oil has completely drained, you can re-insert the oil pan drain bolt.  Nothing is worse than stripping the drain bolt – if you have access to a torque wrench, check out the manufacturer’s recommended torque for the drain bolt and proceed.  There are differing opinions between motorcycle enthusiasts in regards to torque wrenches for the drain bolt, but most agree to tighten using a standard ratchet until snug, and then giving an extra 1/4 – 1/3 turn is sufficient.

Insert oil pan drain bolt by hand.

As we previously mentioned, changing the oil on your motorcycle can be messy.  After inserting the oil pan drain bolt, you’ll want to grab a shop cloth and wipe the area down of any oil that may have dripped.

Keep the area clean by wiping away any excess oil from the motorcycle oil pan.

Before installing the new oil filter, dip your finger into your new oil and apply to the o-ring.  Not only does this help ensure a seal when installing, but also prevents it from being stuck during your next oil change.

Ensure a good seal by applying oil to new oil filter o-ring.

After the o-ring has been wetted with fresh oil, you can install it.  The same rule applies here to the motorcycle oil filter as it does to the oil pan drain bolt – tighten until snug and then give an extra 1/4 – 1/3 turn.

Do not over-tighten the new motorcycle oil filter.

Once the new oil filter has been tightened, give the area a wipe with your shop cloth so that everything is neat and clean.

Grab your funnel and pour in your clean oil.

Fill with correct amount of oil using funnel to keep things mess-free.

After you’ve topped your motorcycle off with fresh oil, put the oil cap back in place and start the bike up for a few minutes to get the new oil circulated through the engine.  Be sure to check the oil pan drain bolt and the oil filter to make sure you’ve tightened them enough.  If you see drops of oil forming, wipe clean and tighten a bit more.

With this step-by-step tutorial on how to change your motorcycle oil, you no longer have to fear this bit of basic maintenance.

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