Owning a gas-powered vehicle, be it two wheels or four, means maintaining the engine to keep it in tip-top shape. In other words, you need to regularly change out fluids, like the motor oil, to preserve the engine’s performance and longevity. Oil, as you are aware, is the lifeblood of any combustion engine. Oil has many functions, including reducing friction, dissipating heat, and lubricating all the moving parts. Over time, though, the oil picks up contaminants and starts to get sludgy, which is why knowing how to change your motorcycle oil is a crucial step in owning one.

So how do you go about it? Let’s find out.

How to Change Your Motorcycle Oil header image

Tools & Supplies For Changing Motorcycle Oil

To change the oil in any vehicle, you are going to need some tools and materials, including:

  • Fresh motorcycle oil (be sure to check the owner’s manual to see the recommended type and viscosity)
  • Oil filter
  • Drain pan or another container for dirty oil
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Socket set or wrench
  • Funnel
  • Shop rags or paper towels
  • Safety glasses or goggles and gloves

Where is Oil Located on a Motorcycle?

If this is your first time ever changing the oil on your motorcycle, you might be looking at the engine and wondering, “Where is the oil?” Like most vehicles, the oil is located in the engine, specifically in the oil pan or sump. The oil pan is a reservoir at the bottom of the engine that holds the oil when the motorcycle is not running. It is typically made of metal and has a drain plug that easily removes the old oil during an oil change.

To access the oil for changing, you will typically find an oil fill opening or cap on the top or side of the engine. This is where fresh oil is poured during an oil change. Additionally, the oil filter, which is responsible for filtering contaminants from the oil, is usually located near the oil pan or in a separate housing connected to the engine.

Do keep in mind that the exact position of the oil pan and oil filter will depend on the make and model of the motorcycle. For the most approximate details, check the owner’s manual that came with your ride.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Change Your Motorcycle Oil

Now that you have the supplies and materials in hand and have a general idea of where the oil goes, you are now ready to begin changing the oil. Follow these steps exactly, and you will have little to no problems!

1. Gather Your Materials and Tools

If you haven’t already, ensure that you have everything required for this task. Knowing where everything is guarantees you won’t have to waste time searching for it later.

2. Prepare The Motorcycle

Make sure your motorcycle is parked somewhere flat and level. Turn off the engine, allowing the motorcycle to cool for several minutes. While you wait, put on safety glasses and gloves to protect yourself from splatter and burns.

3. Place the Drain Pan

Locate the oil pan and oil filter. The drain plug is often on the underside of the engine, and the oil filter should be close by. Position the drain pan directly beneath the drain plug. This will catch the old, dirty oil from the engine. Make sure that your drain pan is large enough to hold the entire volume of the oil.

4. Remove the Drain Plug

Using a wrench or socket set, carefully loosen and remove the drain plug. Keep in mind that the oil may still be hot, so exercise caution to avoid burns. Allow the oil to drain completely into the pan. 

5. Remove the Oil Filter

You always want to change the oil filter when changing the oil. Otherwise, the old filter will dirty the new oil, which will end with you changing the oil well before the mileage interval. Be prepared for some used oil spillage as you remove the filter. Allow any remaining oil in the filter housing to drain into the pan.

6. Prepare and Install the New Oil Filter

Before installing the new oil filter, apply a small amount of fresh oil to the rubber gasket on the filter. This will create a better seal and make it easier to remove during the following oil change. Then take the new filter and hand-tighten it onto the filter housing. Once snug, give it an additional “quarter-turn” to ensure a proper seal. Avoid overtightening, as this can cause damage.

7. Replace the Drain Plug

After the old oil has completely drained, clean the drain plug with a rag or paper towel. Inspect the drain plug washer for damage (this could cause oil leaks after changing the oil), and if necessary, replace it with a new one. Carefully reinstall the drain plug and tighten it to the manufacturer’s specifications.

8. Add New Oil

Take your trusty funnel and pour the appropriate amount of fresh oil into the oil fill opening. Do not overfill the oil pan, as this may lead to foaming and other issues that reduce engine performance. If you are worried, pour the oil in small increments and periodically check the dipstick.

9. Check For Issues

Start your motorcycle and let it run for a few minutes. Inspect the drain plug and oil filter area for any signs of leakage. If you notice any leaks, immediately turn off the engine and address the issue before riding the motorcycle.

10. Clean Up The Motorcycle and Area

Wipe off any spilled oil from the motorcycle’s engine and body using a rag or paper towel. Collect all used rags, paper towels, and the container with old oil for proper disposal or recycling. Be careful of heat given off from the engine and exhaust.

11. Dispose of the Old Oil and Filter

Transfer the used oil from the drain pan into a suitable container for recycling or disposal. Check with local regulations or recycling centers for the proper disposal method. Similarly, place the old filter in a sealable bag to prevent oil leakage. You can check “How to Dispose of Motor Oil” to learn about free options for getting rid of used oil.

Final Thoughts on Changing the Oil in Your Motorcycle

Now you know precisely how to change your motorcycle oil, including the supplies and tools required for the vital task. By following this step-by-step guide, you can safely and effectively change your motorcycle oil, promoting engine longevity and optimal performance. Remember to consult your motorcycle’s owner’s manual for specific instructions and recommendations. Once the oil change is done, your motorcycle will be ready for another enjoyable ride!

Categories: Oil Guides


Hi, I’m Alastair. Welcome to SyntheticOil.me, a website for the best oil recommendations for your vehicle, whether it is a two-door sports car, SUV, hatchback, or tractor. Having grown up on a family farm and working as an engineer, I became interested in just about anything with an engine. I also found that motor oil, despite being essential for internal combustion engines, is overlooked, underestimated, or just misunderstood. There may come a day when motor oil is obsolete as electric vehicles become more and more popular. But until then, you are going to need to know the best type of motor oil for your vehicle. That is why I was inspired to create this website. SyntheticOil.me aims to be the internet’s destination for everything related to motor oil, including news, comparisons, features, and recommendations for vehicles by make and model. All the information you need to keep your treasured vehicles running clean is right here. In particular, I am also obsessed with the upkeep of vehicles in general. That is why you will also find troubleshooting tips for removing oil filters and drain plugs, for example. Consider it the mission of SyntheticOil.me to provide accurate information, as well as insight for automotive professionals and enthusiasts.


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