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posted September 13, 2022

How to Check & Change Your Motorcycle Oil Levels

Just like a car, motorcycle oil is one of the most important fluids for your bike. Not only does it help to keep everything running smoothly, but it's also necessary for maintaining the engine's health.

As a result, it's essential to check your motorcycle oil levels regularly and make sure that you're adding the right amount when needed. Read on to learn:


In an ideal world, you’d check your oil every time you ride. After all, if there’s a leak or other issue, you’d lose vital oil quickly.

If possible try to check your oil once every two weeks and always before long rides. In general, you’ll need to change your motorcycle engine oil every 2,000 - 6,000 miles, depending on the type of oil you use.


Believe it or not, manufacturers recommend that you allow your bike to run for a few minutes and then check the oil once the engine has been off for about 5 minutes.

This allows the oil to cycle through the engine and then empty back into the pan, giving you a more accurate reading.

So should the engine be hot or cold when you check the motorcycle engine oil? The answer is: it should be warm.


After you’ve started your bike and turned it off to allow it to cool slightly, ensure it’s sitting on flat and even ground.

Then, prop your bike up straight to get the most accurate reading. (Unfortunately, using the kickstand will not provide a true reading.)

How to check the oil level in your motorcycle with a dipstick

We recommend using your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations. However, if you don't have access to it, here are some simple steps to use.

  1. Let the engine idle for approximately 5-10 minutes.
  2. Turn off and let the engine rest for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the dipstick and wipe the dipstick clean and place it back into the motorcycle using a clean cloth.
  4. Pull the dipstick back out and analyze the oil level (it should be somewhere between the two marks on the dipstick) and color.

How to check the oil level in your motorcycle with a sight glass

  1. Follow the same steps 1 - 2 from above.
  2. Use the sight glass to see what level the oil is, using the high and low indicator marks.
  3. Just like the dipstick, the oil should be somewhere between the two indicator marks. Pay attention to the thickness and color of the oil and the level to determine if it's time for an oil change.

What to analyze in your motorcycle oil

After you’ve used either a dipstick or sight glass to determine your oil level, what exactly are you looking for?

  • Color: the color of the oil is an excellent way to determine whether or not you are ready for an oil change. If the color is still a nice auburn color, you’re safe. But if it is starting to darken and look black, it's time to change the oil.
  • Texture: is the oil thick and sludgy, or thin and smooth? Engine oil should be clean and smooth, without any debris in it. If your oil is looking dark and dirty, it will need to be replaced.
  • Level: with easy-to-use indicator lines, you’ll quickly see whether you have too little oil or just enough. If your oil is low, add new oil or consider replacing it altogether (especially if the color and texture are off).


Should you need to change your motorcycle’s oil, here’s what you’ll need to know.

Start with the right oil: For some, grabbing whatever bike engine oil at the local shop seems convenient. However, take caution and check your owner’s manual first. Depending on your unique make and model, you’ll need to look for a specific type of motor oil that works most efficiently.

Check the oil regularly: Follow the tips above to check your engine oil often, so there’s no surprise for low or dirty oil.

Drain and replace: Use your owner’s manual to learn how to specifically drain and replace oil in your model. Don’t forget to replace the oil filter, as well.

Keep your bike running smoothly all year round by regularly checking and replacing your engine oil.

If you need help finding the best motorcycle insurance coverage for the best price, start by speaking to a SimplyIOA agent at 833.872.4467 or get a motorcycle insurance quote online now.

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