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Preventative Maintenance: Part 1: How to Change Oil

Learn the steps needed to maintain your own ride.

By Andie Gaskins from Fast Andie Racing

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Purchasing a funnel
Purchasing a funnel

The first step is to go shopping and gather up all your needed supplies. If this is your first project, you may require more supplies the first time. You need to have something to catch the oil (oil pan), oil filter wrench to remove and reinstall the oil filter, wrench to remove oil drain plug, funnel, rags, the proper oil for your machine, oil filter, and possibly o-rings. You can find such items at your local motorcycle dealer, motorcycle repair shop, or local parts chain stores, such as Napa, AutoZone, etc. If you go to your local motorcycle dealer or repair shop, chances are pretty high that the person at the parts counter will be able to gather up the correct oil filter, oil, and o-rings. They usually have the knowledge readily available to access that information for you.
If you are shopping without guidance, you may want to purchase a service manual specific to your motorcycle (for many reasons-we will discuss again in a few steps!) The parts people can make mistakes because they get in a hurry, are really busy, etc., so it’s important to educate yourself and know if you have the correct parts. If you get home and something doesn’t feel right, it’s ok to ask someone. A part could have been removed at one time from the original packaging, and the wrong part returned. Again, trust your gut and ask if necessary.
Oil pan
Oil pan

First, put the oil pan under your motorcycle, and remove the oil drain plug. If you do not know where this is located, refer to your service manual. Make sure you are removing the oil plug and not the transmission plug. If the pan is large enough to also cover the bottom of the oil filter, go ahead and remove the oil filter. Let as much fluid drain as possible. If the motorcycle has been running, the oil will drain quicker and more efficiently. However, be careful removing the drain plug and oil filter as they could be extremely hot and will burn you. So let it cool down, but don’t rush the process if you have a few minutes. 
Various wrench's available at the store
Various wrench's available at the store

Once the oil is removed, replace the drain plug. Make sure it’s snug so the vibration of the motorcycle running doesn’t drop the plug. But don’t over tighten it either! You can cause damage or even strip the plug and have bigger problems than you bargained for! Again, if you are unsure what snug means, have someone else help you with your first couple of oil changes! 
Then replace the filter (it may or may not need an o-ring. Check your service manual to see if your machine needs one). And once again, make sure it is snug. I had a crew chief that was “having a bad day” and over tightened my oil filter on my Harley-Davidson Destroyer (factory drag race motorcycle) and what a nightmare it was getting that thing off.  So note to self, ask for help the first few times to get guidance!  You will know if it’s not quite tight enough, if there is oil residue on the filter or drain plug-or they rattle off and are missing, and then in that case, they were WAY too loose!

Next, get a funnel and add the oil. If you are not sure where the dipstick is to check the oil, refer to manual. Again, check your service manual to see how much oil to put back in. Most models take a different amount of oil, even if they use the same oil filter. So check to be sure! 
Selection of different oil at the store
Selection of different oil at the store

Clean up your mess. Wipe down your motorcycle. You are ready to fire up your machine. Recheck the dipstick to make sure the proper amount of oil is in the motorcycle. It never hurts to do this from time to time. Even before you go on any ride, just to be sure! Then properly dispose of the used oil. Many shops, even automotive shops, will take your used oil for you. Some have oil burning heaters, recycle used oil, and some have it properly removed. Most of the time, shops get paid to have their used oil removed, so don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing them. Don’t just put it in garbage, or your back yard. There can be major consequences from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Many people think its ok to just wing it. It’s just an oil change after all, who cares right?  Simple, easy to accomplish without supervision, right?  But I’m here to tell you that if you put the wrong parts on your motorcycle, it could be detrimental to the life of your machine. I’ve seen it in the automotive field many times. People make mistakes. One story sticks with me all the time. A guy at a quick lube was not properly trained on oil changes on a car and “assumed” he was draining the oil, when in fact he was draining the transmission, and refilling the oil. In turn, there was too much oil and no transmission fluid. BIG problems happened to that innocent driver. He had high dollar repairs facing him. Did the owner of the lube shop turn it into his insurance? In this case, yes! But the owner was still without a vehicle for a few weeks while all repairs were completed. What happens if you do this to yourself and your motorcycle? Well, you can see where this is headed. Be smart and ask if you need to!
WARNING: When any repairs or maintenance need to be done to your machine, make sure you trust the shop performing your services. Shops (motorcycle or automotive) are trained to “upsell”. This means to get you in the shop for a $49.95 oil change and then look your motorcycle over for additional repairs-tire replacement, belt replacement, leaks, etc. Is this always a bad thing?
NO! And YES! 
This is the entire point of why I am writing these articles for you. Educate yourself and know when a legitimate repair is in order and when they are screwing you over! Not all mechanics are good guys, and not all good guys are good all the time. Some will talk you into unnecessary repairs to put a paycheck in their pocket. Again, know your machine and trust whoever is working on it!
We will address some more of this in Maintenance Part 2! 
Click for website
Click for website

Help Andie  win the Search For A Champion. $125,000 is on the line!
Until next time, Go HERE to VOTE  and find my entry – Andie Gaskins Fast Andie Racing (FAR) and please vote for my entry. Vote everyday!  And let everyone you know do the same! Voting started Jan. 6th, 2014 and you can vote everyday until Feb. 2nd, 2014! Thank you for your support, it is greatly appreciated!  
Starting January 6, 2014 the race is on to become a Champion-sponsored driver and 1 of 15 grand prize finalists. You can vote once per day for each entry and every vote counts.
TIMEFRAME JAN 6, 2014 - FEB 2, 2014
Click to vote for Andie Gaskins
Click to vote for Andie Gaskins


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Reader Comments

You did listen to the lessons your Dad taught you! Great job & great article. Can't wait for the next article. I know your Dad is looking down from above with a smile on his face!

You go girl, it's what keeps the rest of us going :)

Pauline Forsell
Gillette, WY
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Editor Response Thanks for the supportive voice.

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