Should A Motorcycle Engine Be Warm Before Changing The Oil? A Helpful Guide


New motorcycle oil and filter

Its time to change the oil on your motorcycle as per the recommendation within your manufacturers guide book. You decide to buy the oil and do it yourself as we all know that it will be expensive if you take it to a garage.

Changing the oil on a motorcycle is one of the most important things you can do to help keep the engine in tip-top condition. Luckily changing the oil is not a very hard process.

So, Should I warm up my motorcycle before changing the oil?

Before changing the oil on a motorcycle, you should allow the engine to warm up to its normal riding temperature and then allow it to cool down for 15 minutes. The warm oil will now drain out of the engine far easier than if it were cold.

Before getting down to the business of draining the oil, I always check the oil level to make sure the bike is not burning oil, and before you start draining it, you can also check the condition of the oil. Make sure there are no bits in it, or the oil is a milky color, as this could be a sign of problems.

It’s now time to take the bike for a short ride around the local neighborhood.

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When I carry out my oil change, I allow the bike to stand with the engine not running for about 15 minutes. This allows the oil to cool down a bit before I drain it. Hot oil drains out of the engine a lot easier than cold oil, especially if you are using thicker oil than normal.

The art of changing the oil is to get as much of the old oil out of the engine as possible so draining the oil while it is hot is the best way to do this as hot oil drains a lot easier than cold.

Be aware that the oil will be hot when you drain it, so be careful.

How Do I Remove The Oil From My Motorbike?

Once you have carried out the checks that your oil is in good condition and the oil level is normal, it’s now time to drain the hot oil.

Be careful at this point not to burn yourself as the oil can be hot and the engine also.

  • Place a bowl or pan under the bike where the oil drain plug is located.
  • Remove the drain plug. Use the correct size tool for this, so consult your manual.
  • Allow the oil to drain from the bike. This may take some time.
  • Wipe away any oil that may have dripped onto the engine or other parts of the bike
  • Clean the O-Ring, Plug Gasket, or washer on the drain plug.
  • Replace the O-Ring with a new one if possible.
  • When the oil has all drained out, replace the plug.
  • Torque the plug to the correct number. (check the manual)

Change The Oil Filter

When changing the oil on a motorcycle, it is best to change the oil filter at the same time. If your motorcycle has a filter that twists on and off, don’t forget that although the oil has drained from the engine there will probably be some oil still left in the filter.

Depending on where the filter is located, you may need to cover a part of the bike with a rag to catch any oil that may drip down as you remove the filter. Wipe the area to clean any oil off, and also, using a clean cloth, carefully clean around the area the filter twisted off from. You don’t want any foreign particles to enter the engine.

For those of you who have an internal oil filter, pay close attention to the order, you remove the different parts.

It’s best to use a special tool to remove the filter, so make sure you have carried out some preparation beforehand as some oil filters may be difficult to remove depending on their location. On my bike, I have to deal with the fact that the oil filter is very close to the exhaust pipes, so it’s always a bit of a challenge.

Motorcycle oil filter attached to bike

Before installing the new filter, if your motorcycle has the spin-on oil filter, you should first lubricate the rubber gasket with some of the new oil by wiping it around the rubber. This will help the gasket to seal when you tighten it up and not get damaged.

For those of you with internal filters, it’s now time to replace all the sealing O’Rings that would have come with the new filter and install the new filter into the bike, checking that you are placing the parts in the correct order when doing so.

Refill The Engine With The New Oil

It’s now time to add oil to the motorcycle. Check that the viscosity is correct. The information regarding this will be found in the bike’s manual.

It is best to use motorcycle specific engine oil as other types of oil for different kinds of vehicles such as cars may contain additives which will be harmful to the engine of motorcycles.

You will also find the correct amount of oil to add in the motorcycle’s manual when completing an oil change. Be careful to read the information fully as there may be two amounts listed.

One amount is usually the amount of oil required if the oil filter is not changed, and the other amount is the amount required when replacing the oil filter when changing the oil.

Once the correct amount of oil has been added and the screw cap has bee placed back on its time to start the engine.

You now have to check that the engine has oil pressure. This is normally done by making sure that the oil light on the dash goes out or checking the oil pressure gauge if the motorcycle has one of these.

Leave the engine on for a minute or so to allow the oil to circulate throughout the engine, including filling the oil filter.

Switch off the engine and recheck the oil level. Check in the manual how to do this correctly as some motorcycles need to be on the side stand when checking, and others need to be straight up, such as on the center stand. Make sure that the correct amount of oil is added to the engine.

That’s it! Job done.

What’s The Meaning Of 10W40?

Oils come in different thicknesses or viscosities, such as 20W50 or 10W30. These numbers are multi-grades.

The ‘W’ stands for winter, and the number before the ‘W’ relates to the maximum viscosity of the oil at ambient air temperatures such as 20 degrees Celsius or 15 degrees Celsius and so on. Viscosity meaning the thickness of the oil.

The second number tells you what the viscosity of the oil will be at 100 degrees centigrade. So a 50 is thicker than a 40 at 100 degrees centigrade and so is more stable at that temperature.

If you consult the manual that came with the motorcycle, you will usually find information on the oils recommended for the bike.

You will always want to use the correct type of oil when replacing it. If the motorcycle is under warranty, the correct oil will have to be used to complete an oil change. This will be one of the inspections the manufacturer will investigate if you were to make a claim on the warranty.

When should you change the engine oil on a motorcycle?

Many people don’t think that they have to change the engine’s oil at the recommended intervals and let the milage clock up a few thousand more before changing it.

Engine oil needs to be changed at the recommended intervals as the additives in the oil wear out over time. If certain additives allowing the oil to stick to the engine’s surface no longer perform this task, the engine could be damaged.

Oil and engine manufacturers collaborate to make sure that the oil lasts for a certain amount of time.

The motorcycle manufacturer will inform the bike owners which viscosity oil should be used with the bike’s engine and give recommended time intervals when the oil should be replaced. This information is usually found in the owner’s handbook.

Since the engine designers and the engine oil manufacturers work together, this recommendation should be adhered to. Many tests would have been carried out to ensure that the oil is fit for the purpose up to a set amount of miles the engine will cover.

Because engine oil degrades over time, it’s not the oil quality that is the most important thing to consider. It’s making sure that the oil is changed regularly.

Robert Blake

Hi, I'm Robert and I've been riding motorcycles for nearly 2 decades. The intention of this blog is to give reliable up to date information to other motorcyclists who are looking for answers about all different aspects of motorcycling. All the information is either from my personal experience or investigational work I have carried out myself. Happy Riding!

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