Last Updated on September 18, 2023 by Chase Manhattan
Oh man I can just remember the days in my garage, quaking in my boots, wondering how to actually check the engine oil levels, on my new motorcycle. I probably took the same approach you are now, I just found myself on another page.
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Let me tell you, from my experience, it’s important to understand:
Regularly checking the level of your motorcycle oil is essential for maintaining its performance, longevity, and overall health.
In this guide, we will discuss the right way to check the engine oil level on a motorcycle, whether your bike has a sight glass or a dipstick, and provide valuable tips and tricks to ensure you get accurate engine oil readings every time.
The Right Way To Check Engine Oil Level On A Motorcycle
Before diving into the specific methods for checking the oil level on a motorcycle, it’s important to understand the general process and necessary conditions for accurate readings. Keep in mind the following steps:
- Park your motorcycle on level ground: This ensures that the oil settles evenly within the engine for an accurate reading.
- Make sure your bike is upright: Whether you’re using a center stand, paddock stand, or holding the bike upright, this step is crucial for getting the correct reading.
- Allow the engine to cool down or wait for at least 15 minutes: This allows the oil to drain back into the crankcase for an accurate measurement.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you can proceed with checking the oil level using either a sight glass or a dipstick, depending on your motorcycle’s design.
Motorcycles With A Sight Glass
A sight glass is a small window on the side of the engine crankcase that allows you to visually check the oil level. There are typically two levels, a high and low mark.
To check the oil level using a sight glass, follow these steps:
- Position your motorcycle according to the steps mentioned earlier.
- Locate the sight glass on the side of the engine crankcase.
- Look for the two marks on the case surrounding the window – these indicate the minimum and maximum oil levels.
- Ensure that the oil level reflected is between the two marks.
If the oil level is below the minimum mark, add oil until it reaches the appropriate level. If it’s above the maximum mark, you’ll need to drain some oil to avoid overfilling.
Related article: What Is High Mileage For A Motorcycle?
Motorcycles With A Dipstick
A dipstick is a long rod with markings that indicate the minimum and maximum oil levels (if you didn’t know). In my experience riding them, this is most commonly found on Triumph Motorcycles, but can appear on other brands of bikes as well.
To check the oil level using a dipstick, follow these steps:
- Position your motorcycle according to the steps mentioned earlier.
- Locate and remove the dipstick from the engine crankcase.
- Wipe the dipstick clean with a cloth or paper towel.
- Reinsert the dipstick into the engine, making sure it makes contact with the filler plug’s threads (do not screw it in all the way).
- Remove the dipstick and check the engine oil level against the markings.
Add or drain oil as needed to maintain the appropriate engine oil level.
Checking Your Owner’s Manual For Proper Process
Always consult your motorcycle’s owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to check the oil level. The manual will provide detailed steps tailored to your bike’s design and may include critical information on the type of oil and other maintenance recommendations.
Should You Check Oil On The Centre Stand, Paddock Stand, or in The Upright Position?
Different motorcycles have different requirements for checking the engine oil level, some may suggest checking the engine oil levels in the bike’s natural position whereas others may suggest you put it upright on a flat surface.
In general, it’s best to check the engine oil level with the bike in an upright position to get the most accurate reading. If your motorcycle has a center stand or paddock stand, you can use it to keep the bike upright while checking the oil level. However, always refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions regarding your bike model.
How To Know When Your Motorcycle Is Low On Engine Oil
Apart from visually checking thebike’s engine oil level through a sight glass or dipstick, there are other signs that your motorcycle may have a low engine oil level:
- An illuminated oil warning light on the instrument panel.
- Unusual engine noises and premature engine wear such as knocking or ticking sounds.
- Decreased performance or poor fuel efficiency.
- Excessive engine heat or smoke from the exhaust.
If your motorcycle exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to check the oil level and address any issues as soon as possible.
How Does An Oil Pressure Gauge Work?
An oil pressure gauge works to measure the oil pressure inside the crankcase of the motorcycle. Naturally, when there is enough oil in the crankcase the oil pressure gauge is higher; which is why it works to tell you that the oil level is dropping because the oil pressure is dropping along with it.
How Does The Engine Oil Gauge Work?
While not as common on modern motorcycles as cars, some bikes may have an engine oil gauge on the instrument panel. This digital or analog oil gauge often provides real-time information on the oil level and pressure within the engine. If the indicates low oil levels or pressure, it’s essential to check the oil level manually and address any issues.
Can An Oil Gauge Go Bad?
Yes, an oil gauge can deteriorate over time and will occasionally need to be replaced.
FAQs and Related Questions
Should You Check Motorcycle Oil Levels When The Bike Is Hot or Cold?
It’s best to check the oil level when the engine is cool or has been standing for at least 15 minutes. This allows the oil to settle and drain back into the crankcase for an accurate measurement of the current level of engine oil. Checking the oil level immediately after shutting off the engine may result in a false low reading.
Do You Check Motorcycle Oil Levels On The Sidestand or Standing Up Right?
Always check the oil level with the motorcycle in an upright position, on a flat surface, for the most reliable and accurate reading. If your bike has a center stand or paddock stand, use it to keep the bike upright while checking the oil level.
Do I Screw the Dipstick Into The Bike All The Way?
When checking the oil level with a dipstick, you should insert it into the engine until it makes contact with the filler plug’s threads but not screw it in all the way. This ensures an accurate reading of the oil level.
In conclusion, regularly checking the oil level on your motorcycle is a crucial maintenance task that ensures optimal performance and longevity. By following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to keep your bike running smoothly and safely.