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How to change motorbike engine oil - ELF MOTO 4T

Motorcycle oil keeps your bike’s engine and transmission parts operating smoothly and safely, but over time it can pick up deposits and other impurities, lose viscosity, oxidise and the additives within the oil can become depleted, necessitating an oil change.  

In this guide we provide step-by-step instructions on how to perform a motorbike oil change, saving yourself time and money, and answer questions on how often to change your motorcycle oil and how to recognise low oil symptoms. 

As is the case with all our guides, if you are not confident working on your motorbike, work on the side of caution and get your mechanic to perform an oil change for you. 

How to change the motorcycle oil 

Before you start, make sure you have the following to hand: 

  • Motorcycle oil – check your owner’s manual for the correct grade and recommended volume. 

  • Replacement oil filter 

  • Drain Plug washer  

  • Socket wrench 

  • Torque wrench 

  • Drain pan 

  • Oil filter remover tool or filter wrench 

  • Funnel 

  • Rear paddock stand (if your bike lacks a centre stand) 

  • Protective gloves 

  • Rags  

  • Turn your engine on and let it run idle for ten minutes, or ride your bike for five minutes.  

  • Once warmed, put the bike on its stand and leave it for a few minutes for the oil to settle. 

  • Locate your motorbike’s drain bolt. 

  • Place your drain pan beneath the bolt – a lot of oil may shoot out quickly, so account for the direction of flow! 

  • Slowly unscrew the drain bolt with the socket wrench – but not the full way.  

  • Unscrew the drain bolt by hand and remove the plug. Oil will begin to flow out – try and keep hold of the plug. 

  • Let the oil drain. 

  • Unscrew the filter using the filter wrench or filter removal tool. 

  • Pour any excess oil within the filter into the pan.  

  • Take a rag and wipe the filter seal clean. 

  • Take your new filter and rub a small amount of clean oil on the sealing O-ring. 

  • Screw on the filter by hand – when you feel the O-ring touch the seal, only screw half to three-quarters a turn more (any further, and you may damage the seal). 

  • Wipe the drain plug clean and replace the washer.  

  • Use a torque wrench to tighten the drain plug. 

  • Find the oil fill intake, unscrew the top and insert a funnel. 

  • Slowly add the oil, checking the oil level with the sight gauge or a dipstick. 

  • Screw the top back on the intake. 

  • Start the engine and let it idle for five minutes. 

  • Check the oil level and top up if necessary. 

  • Dispose of the old oil responsibly – find your nearest oil bank here

How often you should change your motorcycle oil 

The exact time between motorcycle oil changes differs between manufacturers and models, but a general rule is to change it annually, or every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. If you regularly race your bike, it may require a change sooner than this. For a definitive answer for your make and model, consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer. 

Motorcycle low oil symptoms 

If you experience any of the following, your motorbike could need an oil top-up or change: 

  • A lit-up oil warning light on the dashboard. 

  • An overheating engine.  

  • The scent of burning. 

  • Thudding noises from the engine. 

If you experience any of the above, either change or top-up your oil, or visit a mechanic. 

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