How to Change Oil on a Motorcycle

How to Change Oil on a Motorcycle


March 18, 2022

Changing your motorcycle engine oil remains one of the things you’ve always wanted to do, if only you knew how.

I mean, it’s just draining and replacing the oil. We all know it’s not as simple as that, or everyone would be doing it all by themselves. But if you want to learn how to do it right, you’ve found the right place.

There are several reasons you should be able to change your motorcycle oil by yourself, especially if you’re a man. First, it saves you some buck. You can also service other people’s bikes for some cool cash. Also, it gives a sense of accomplishment if you can get your motorcycle roaring again after an oil change.

You also get to know your bike better. By constantly changing the oil in your motorcycle, you can learn more about the parts and quickly find solutions to problems before they become apparent and cost you much more.

Finally, why not?

It’s an effortless procedure. Changing your motorcycle oil won’t take time and can be learnt here and now.

You need to change the oil in your motorcycle as frequently as necessary because it can become foul with time, and once that happens, the performance of your bike becomes noticeably poor.

It’s dangerous to also retain bad oil in your engine for too long as this can damage your motorcycle’s engine. The “cleaner” the oil in your engine, the better its performance.

There’s no standard length of time your engine oil should spend in your motorcycle before being replaced. It strictly depends on how, where, and for how long you use your bike, but it is believed that a motorcycle engine needs an oil change after about 3,500 miles of the ride. We’ll discuss that some other time, but let’s look at how to change the oil in a motorcycle.

You’ll need some tools, though.

Tools and equipment needed.

Tools and equipment needed

This is an exhaustive list of tools you’ll need to change the oil in your motorcycle engine. You may find alternatives to those you can’t lay your hand on immediately.

Specified engine oil

Of course, we believe you already know the type and brand of engine oil that suits your motorcycle best. If you are not sure check our detailed list of best motorcycle oil. You should also know the required quantity. If you’re not sure of any of this, consult a professional before proceeding so that you don’t risk damaging your motorcycle engine. Better still, you can refer to the engine manual.

Oil filter

You’ll need an oil filter that perfectly fits with your engine. It is easy to buy the wrong size, so you need to know which exact type size you need before purchasing.

Oil filter removal tool

A wrench would do this job very well, especially if you have a standard oil filter.

Oil tray

When draining oil from the engine, you need a container to collect it. An oil tray can be any container that is flat enough yet with reasonable depth and handles for lifting it. The idea is to have a container to prevent oil from causing a mess by spilling on the ground.

Other tools you may also need include

  • Socket and wrench
  • Gloves and clean clothes
  • Motorcycle lift table.

The socket and wrench help remove the drain bolt, the gloves are essential to keep your hands clean and prevent you from getting burnt if the engine is still hot. The cloth helps to clean the spills around the engine. The lift table is essential in bringing the bike up to a more accessible height to make the job easier. However, these are not compulsory.


Warm-up your engine

Warm up engine

It is recommended that you warm your bike before changing the oil to heat it. If the oil is not heated up, it may take longer to drain. You should only warm your bike if it hasn’t been used for at least two hours before draining the oil.

It is not compulsory to ride your bike to get it warm. Simply turning it on is enough to get the flow you need from the oil. But if you have the time, why not? A five-minute ride won’t hurt anyone.

However, if it is your first time attempting this, we always recommend that you start with changing the oil while cold. As a first-timer, you may get yourself burnt by the hot engine. Nevertheless, if you have your gloves handy, you should beware of the risk of the hot engine and carry on.

Clean up

Make sure your surroundings are clean. Dust and other impurities may contaminate the oil or the engine. So, ensure the “workshop” is clean.

Depending on your bike, you may have to remove the door peg. This is to allow you access to the oil filter and drain plug. In most bikes, this won’t be necessary, though.

Drain old oil

How to Change Oil on a Motorcycle

Before draining, put your oil tray beneath your bike and then grab your wrenches. Use the wrench to unscrew the oil plug and the drain plug. To unscrew, you should turn the wrench anticlockwise. Keep the plugs somewhere safe until you need to screw them again.

Let the oil flow out freely once you’ve removed the oil plug. You need some patience at this point; that’s why you shouldn’t change your motorcycle oil when you’re in a hurry.

Also, don’t forget to unscrew the engine oil cap before draining. When air passes through the engine, the oil can drain even faster.

Remove old filter

Your draining isn’t complete until you remove the filter as well. You’ll need a wrench for this too. Unscrew the oil filter with the wrench and remove it by hand, leading to another draining. Again, you should patiently wait. It may be boring at this point.

So, to avoid the temptation of not allowing it to drain completely, you can take a walk or find something exciting to do in the house. But if it’s your first time, you may just want to sit back and catch all the oily action.

Install new filter

Once the old oil has been fully drained (you know this when nothing drops into the tray anymore), remove the oil tray and install the new filter by screwing it with your hand. Once it is well screwed on, attach the adapter installed with it and tighten it with a wrench.

Remember, your motorcycle may require you to fill the new filter with new oil first, but most times, you just need to smear some oil onto the filter’s o-ring before installing. This will help to create a good seal.

Before installing your new filter, use a clean cloth to clean the point of contact for the oil filter. This would ensure the filter doesn’t harbour dirt or contamination.

Install drain plug

It’s now time to reinstall the oil drain plug. You will need your wrench, but you can begin by using your hand to screw it into place. Remember, to prevent cross-threading; you should screw gently. After it is firmly in place, use your wrench to tighten it. It is also important not to overtighten the plug as too much torque can destroy it.

Add oil

Add oil

This is an essential part of the work, although it is the easiest. You should know the capacity of the motorcycle by reading up from a manual or asking from a professional. There’s a real risk of it being filled beyond the capacity. If this happens, the seals in your engine are put under strain, which can kill your engine.

You cannot be too careful at this point. So, gradually add the oil with a funnel. When adding the oil, your motorcycle should be on a straight stand. This allows you to check the oil level as it is poured accurately.

Keep adding the oil gradually until the level is between Add and Full points, as seen in the sight glass. Otherwise, you may occasionally use the dipstick to know the level.

Once the oil is above Add and below Full, you can stop. If you mistakenly add it beyond Full, you should immediately take steps to drain some of the excess oil.

Check your work

Once you clean up and dispose of the old filter and oil, ensure all screws are tightened, and the engine is cleaned of any remnant oil. Then recheck the gauge to be sure the oil is appropriate. Then start the engine.

If there’s any work yet to be done, the oil will leak once the engine is started. If there’s no leak, ride your bike for about five minutes. You should observe some improvements in the way the engine operates. When you switch it off, check to ensure there are no leakages. You have done a fantastic job and should be proud of yourself.

And that’s how to change the oil in a motorcycle!


Changing the oil in a motorcycle may lappear challenging at the start, and you may even make some mistakes. However, with time, it’s something you can do easily and conveniently.

Reference articles:


Jeffrey Bryce is an experienced motorcycle rider with years of experience caring for motorcycles. His natural fondness for motorcycles have made him come up with, which is dedicated to answering and teaching you how to care for your bike with the care it requires. LetsGoForARide is the one of his important lifework in reaching out to communities of motorcycle enthusiasts on how to take care of their bike and choosing the correct spare part.