Video: How to Change the Oil and Oil Filter
Want to save some money and learn about your beloved machine at the same time? Try changing your own oil. It’s cheap, fun, and doesn’t require many tools!
- Remember, hot oil flows much better, so go for a ten minute ride before you pull the drain plug. The oil will come out hot and fast when it goes so be careful! This will help “wash” the inside of your engine with oil and let it flow out nicely.
- Oil disposal is always a pain. Put it in an old (but clean) bleach or laundry detergent bottle, cause they’re sturdy and have a good screw on top. Most town dumps will take oil if you’re a resident, and sometimes only on a certain day. Don’t dump it on the ground or down the drain.
- Clean the oil drain plug area and the drain plug itself thoroughly. That will make it easy to spot a leak after you refill with fresh oil. It will also keep you from introducing dirt from the oil-pan to the inside of the engine. If you do see a leak after re-filling, you may have not tightened the drain plug enough, or you may have over-tightened it. What’s more, leaving oil on that area will attract loads of dirt and make a real mess of the area.
- If you ride a sport bike, odds are that your oil filter will be surrounded by your exhaust headers. Since burning oil stinks, try this to keep the oil off of the hot exhaust pipes: get some aluminum foil and wrap it over the top of the headers just below the filter connection!
- You don’t want dirt and grime from your tools and your shop getting in there, so clean your tools before (and after), and keep a clean work area! Small particles of sand in your oil can destroy your engine!
- Be sure not to over-tighten your oil drain plug. The oil pan is usually aluminum and no match for the steel threads of the drain plug. A stripped oil pan can be a big pain. The drain plug should be tightened to the tightness specified in your owners manual and no more.
- Oil isn’t all that flammable, but fuel that may have contaminated your oil IS. Oil will burn, mind you, but it takes a source of heat far greater than that of a simple cigarette or a lighter. However, you may have had a carburetor’s float get stuck and not even realize it, and now you might have a great deal of fuel mixed in with the oil in your crankcase. If a float sticks, the excess fuel should pour out of the overflow. Sometimes, if the line is pinched, plugged, or stopped up, over one night the contents of the entire fuel tank can find their way into both the airbox and the crankcase. It may stick for only a short time resulting in only a small amount of fuel loss, but any fuel in the crankcase is really, really bad. If that has happened, changing your oil in-doors could pose an explosion/fire hazard. An easy way to know what you’re dealing with up-front is to pull your oil fill cap, stick your nose up to the hole, and take a whiff. If you smell gas, move the show outdoors to a well ventilated area. Also, you will want to find the source of the errant fuel ASAP. If you have a float sticking, it will cause all sorts of problems. Fuel will also re-contaminate your fresh oil and that can cause permanent damage to your engine. Diluted oil is bad oil!
- Overfilling your engine increases oil pressure, putting strain on seals. Think about this. Racers usually run their cars/bikes with even less oil than the manufacturer recommends as the bare minimum in oil to keep weight down. And think about how hard they run their engines. Stay on the not chock-full side and filling 1/3 of the way above “add” (or the lower marker). Just check it often, as you should anyway!
- Never smoke or use a lighter while changing oil, charging batteries, or working with any part of the fuel system (tank, lines, carbs, injectors, etc).
- Hot oil is hot! Be careful as you can burn yourself.