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How to tips: How to check the Oil level on a motorcycle

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Checking a bike’s oil level is crucial to its operation and longevity. An engine is the heart of the motorcycle, and the oil is its lifeblood. An engine’s contact points (metal to metal) needs continuous lubrication (oil) to keep parts from sparking, grinding and eventually breaking down. Let’s just say that engine oil is one of those things that should never be neglected for any motor to run at full potential. Engine oil can also reveal information about the internal condition of the motor even to a novice mechanic. Most mechanics advise checking the oil when it the engine is warm, and others say that checking engine oil is best when it’s cold. We say, please check the manual that came with your motorcycle from the manufacturer, and inside it details the best conditions to check engine oil for that particular bike. However, most online motorcycle journalists list making sure that your engine is at operating temperature is the best way to check. Before you start, you should take a quick ride around your neighborhood to ensure that the oil is circulating. When you get back, park the bike for 15 minutes. This allows for oil to drain and return to original position naturally. The bike needs to be in a horizontal position when looking at the sight glass.  The reason being is that you will get a false reading if the bike is leaning.  Here is a before and after picture of an oil engine reading while the bike is leaning on its stand and after in an upright horizontal position.

While the bike is in its upright horizontal position, always ensure that the oil level is between the two marks that are highlighted by red strikes in the pictures above. Evans Brasfield of has the following tip: “If your bike has both a center stand and a sight glass, measure it the above way and then compare it to the level shown while on the center stand. This way you can use that level as a reference so can check the oil level when it’s parked on the center stand in your garage.” Please make sure that you check with the motorcycle manual about how to insert the dipstick correctly for an accurate reading.

Here is a list of what each oil color means:

  • Amber color means that it’s perfect
  • Black or darker means that the oil should be changed
  • White/Milky means coolant is mixed in with the oil, which further indicates a huge engine problem or a blown head gasket
  • If it smells like something other than oil, take it to the shop

Those who ride regularly should do the oil inspection weekly. Those that ride now and then should check before each ride. You should also use the same type of oil each time you replenish your bike’s oil level. Happy Riding! Here at AK Motors we are proud to offer one of the best used motorcycle selections you’ll find in the Bay Area.  If you’re in the market for a used bike, check out our online inventory or contact us for an appointment.  To see our current inventory and explore more details, check out our Inventory page!  We are located in the heart of the Silicon Valley in Santa Clara, CA with easy access from all over the Bay Area.  We offer financing for all credit levels!  Apply online here, and contact us with any further questions.

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