It can’t be that difficult to change your oil, right? Here’s everything you need to know when changing your motorcycle oil.

Changing the oil in your motorcycle is a great way to start getting into the world of wrenching. Getting your hands dirty means that you’re able to understand the inner workings of your machine and also allows you to spot any problems before they become serious.

A burning oil smell, rough engine operation and an oil light blinking are signs that your oil level may be low or that your oil needs replacing. Ensure that you keep an eye out for any of these tell-tale signs and either address it immediately or seek assistance from a motorcycle mechanic. DIY maintenance can be an extremely rewarding experience when done right, but make sure that enough research is done before undertaking any work yourself.

Before getting your hands dirty, check what oil is recommended for your motorcycle and the service intervals required to keep your engine running smoothly.

Two types of internal combustion engines can be found in motorcycles, namely two-stroke and four-stroke.

Two-stroke engines

(predominantly used in dirt bikes and ATVs) Use oil mixed in with the fuel in order to lubricate the engine internals, therefore they won’t need oil changes. However, the transmission runs as a sealed unit so requires oil maintenance.

Four-stroke engines

(Found in most road bikes) Store engine oil in a sump and this is pumped around the engine to provide the lubrication that is needed for it to run optimally. In most four-stroke engines the transmissions are built into the engine casing, thus sharing oil.

Things you will need:

  • Motorcycle engine oil (recommended by your manufacturer)
  • Oil filter
  • Oil drain pan (that will fit underneath your motorcycle)
  • Replacement drain plug washer
  • Socket wrench set
  • Torque wrench
  • Oil filter removal tool
  • Paddock stand if your motorcycle does not feature a centre stand
  • Funnel for refilling
  • Protective wear (gloves and eye protection)
  • Cleaning rags


1. Start off by warming up your motorcycle’s engine. Running the engine for about ten minutes or a five-minute ride should be enough. Ensure your motorcycle is parked on a solid surface and use the centre or paddock stand to get your motorcycle upright.

2. Locate your drain plug and oil filter. Some motorcycles may require the removal of belly pans to access the drain plug and/or oil filter. Place your drain pan underneath your motorcycle and loosen the drain plug using the correct socket. It is advisable to loosen the drain plug like this until you are able to loosen the rest by hand. Oil may flow out of the drain hole quickly after removing the plug, so hold onto the drain plug firmly and account for the direction and intensity of the oil flow. Allow the oil to drain out completely before moving onto the next step.

3. Next, remove the oil filter. Filters may be easily removed by hand or require the use of an oil filter removal tool. Ensure that your drain pan is placed directly below the oil filter location to catch any old oil stored in the filter. Once removed, pour excess oil into your drain pan and wipe down the filter flange with a clean rag to remove any old oil or dirt. Oil filters have an O-ring that allows a seal between the filter and the engine. Most modern filters already have a pretreated O-ring, however, there is no harm in rubbing a small amount of oil onto the O-ring allowing for easy installation.

4. Screw the new filter on and, once you feel the filter sealing, only turn a half to three quarters more. Over-tightening your oil filter may damage the O-ring seal and cause an unwanted oil leak. Clean off the drain plug and remove the old washer. Add the new washer and install the drain plug. Use your torque wrench to tighten the drain plug to the recommended setting.

5. Locate your oil filler plug and slowly add the engine oil until you’ve reached the recommended oil volume. Use the oil dipstick or sight gauge to ensure that you’ve added the correct amount. Most oil cans also have a gauge built into them, so using a permanent marker on the can before filling gives you a simple way of knowing when to stop.

6. Inspect the oil drain plug and filter for any oil leaks before installing any removed panels, and clean off any spilt oil on your motorcycle or around your work area. Startup your motorcycle and leave it idle for a few minutes to allow oil to flow throughout the engine. Do not rev the engine until it has reached operating temperature. Keep an eye on your dashboard for any warning lights and turn the engine off immediately if any warning lights appear.

7. Check the oil level again once the engine has cooled down and topped up if required. Ensure that you dispose of any old oil responsibly by using oil banks.

The frequency of oil changes depends entirely on the motorcycle you are riding, so check your owner’s manual for recommended oil change intervals. DIY maintenance may void warranties, so always consider this before jumping into it yourself.




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