How to change your motorcycle oil and filter

You should change your motorcycle oil every 3000 – 7000 miles, depending on what kind of oil you use. I recommend using high-quality synthetic motorcycle oil, as it lasts longer and is better for your bike.

Changing your oil and oil filter is quite easy and can be done in 10-20 minutes. You should be careful, though. The oil itself isn’t as flammable as you would expect, but you are still working with oil, and close to the fuel system. Don’t smoke or use any lighters!

Also, make very sure that at no point in time any sand or dirt can get into the oil. Wash your hands and use gloves if possible. Even a single grain of sand can damage your engine badly.

Now on to the actual guide:


Step 1: Preparation and tools

You want to have a fair amount of room, and all your tools within reach. There are some benefits to changing your oil outdoors instead of inside, so if that is an option, go for it. You do have to make absolutely sure no sand or dust gets into the new oil, though. You’ll need your new oil, new oil filter, a couple of rags, safety gloves, a socket wrench and an empty container all within reach.

Make sure to use a center stand or a motorcycle lift. Don’t try to change the oil without suspending your motorcycle a bit. After you have put the motorcycle on the stand or lift and got all the items ready, you’re good to go to step 2.

Step 2: Before draining the motorcycle oil

Before we get to drain the oil there are two small optional steps depending on your motorcycle, experience, and preferences. Firstly, you can unscrew the engine’s oil cap if you wish. Some people prefer to leave it on, others prefer to remove it. Generally, the oil drains a bit more easily with the oil cap removed.

Secondly, you can turn the bike on and the engine run for a few minutes. Doing this warms up the oil a bit, and warm oil is a lot more fluid than cold oil. The big benefit is that the oil will stream out a lot more easily. The downside is, that if you get hot oil on top of you, it is going to hurt. So only do this if you are experienced and know what you are doing.

Step 3: Draining the motorcycle oil

To drain the oil out of the motorcycle you will need to remove the drain bolt. Make sure that you use the correct socket wrench to pull it out. Also, don’t let the bolt fall down. Don’t try touching it with your hand either, as it most likely is pretty hot if you warmed your bike up.

If you did warm up the oil, it might drain fast and quickly. Make sure you place the empty container where you think the oil will land, and adjust it while the oil drains. Wait till all the oil is drained, and then very carefully clean both the drain plug and the seal. If the seal shows any signs of wear, it’s safer to replace it.

When the seal and oil plug are clean, very gently put them back in again. Make sure you don’t tighten the bolt too much, as it can damage your bike.

Step 4: Replacing the oil filter

Depending on your motorcycle you may need a wrench to pull the filter off, or it may be possible to do so with your bare hands. Either way, be careful and place the oil container below the filter. Usually, there will still be some oil left in the filter, and we don’t want a mess. After you’ve pulled the filter out, put the oil filter in a safe spot. Just like the oil don’t put it near any open flames or smoke.

Next, pick up your new filter and clean the filter area on top from any dust or sand that could be on top. After that, apply a little bit of oil on top with your finger, to improve the contact the filter will make.

You can then put the filter on the bike. Make absolutely sure you don’t use too much force. This is a mistake that quite some amateurs make, and it can damage your bike. When you are putting the filter on, either use as much force as your motorcycle manual states or hand-tighten it only. And even then don’t use too much force. After this, you’re ready to move on to step 5.

Step 5: Putting the fresh motorcycle oil in

It is important that you don’t overfill the oil. If you know how much oil your motorcycle should hold, then you can use a container to measure the correct amount beforehand. Otherwise, you will have to do it by eye. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that while almost all motorcycles signs for the maximum and minimum amount of oil, the best amount of oil isn’t either of those.

Definitely, don’t fill the oil up to its maximum capacity. The best level is usually just below the middle between the minimum and maximum safe amounts. After you’ve filled the oil, close the tank

Step 6: Double check after a test ride

Check if everything looks like it should, and go for a 10-minute drive. After the drive, check again for any leakages, and whether the oil is still at the correct level. If everything looks good, congratulations! You’ve now successfully changed your motorcycle oil and filter. The old oil and oil filter should be disposed of at a recycling center / service center. Don’t throw it through the drain or anything like that.

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