How Often To Change Motorcycle Oil?

Scheduling the motorcycle oil changing session.

There are succinct reasons why every motorcycle driver should change oil and know when to change the oil. These reasons include oil breakdown and oil contamination. On the one hand, the heat generated during the combustion process causes the breakdown of oil over time. On the other hand, oil contamination happens when debris enters the air filter or when metal shavings or particles get into the engine due to metal-to-metal contact. 

Oil contamination also occurs due to the combustion byproducts that cause the oil acidity to rise. This rise leads to internal corrosion.

As a responsible motorcyclist, you need to know when to change oil because it is crucial in keeping your motorcycle in top-notch condition. Failure to do it at the right time may lead to transmission and engine damages, eventually leading to reduced fuel economy and impaired performance of your motorcycle.

How Often Should You Change Oil?

Some indicators show you that it is time to oil change. If you are wary of these tell-tale signs, then you’re good to go. Moreover, if you read the motorcycle manual, you will also find the recommended intervals for changing oil. As a rule, the frequency of oil change is usually determined by the oil type you are using, the registered mileage, and how often you drive your motorcycle. Below are general rules to help you figure out when to change oil:

  1. You must replace oil every 2,000 to 3,000 miles if you are using mineral oil. This mileage is tantamount to changing oil every year. Some experts, however, would suggest changing oil twice a year. 
  2. If you are using synthetic oil, it is recommended to replace the oil every 7,000 miles to 10,000 miles. This is the same as saying you should replace the oil every year likewise. 
  3. If you are using semi-synthetic oil, you should change oil every 5,000 to 6,000 miles or once a year at least.

All the recommended oil replacements mentioned above only mean that you need to be responsible enough to change the oil often. But surprisingly, experts would tell you that you need to replace oil more often if you are not often using your motorcycle or only take short trips less than thirty minutes. The reason for this is that the engine—when not used—would tend to accumulate moisture. 

To burn this accumulated moisture, you need to let the engine on for more than thirty minutes. If not, the excess moisture will cause engine corrosion and oil degradation. For example, you may end up not using your motorcycle for more than 30 minutes, especially during winter, and such a long hiatus for your motorcycle engine may require you to replace the oil every four months.  

Factors and Signs Indicative of the Need for Change Oil

If you are a new rider or someone with little experience in motorcycle maintenance, you may find it hard to grasp the value of oil change. Besides, you will have a hard time figuring out when to change oil or not. The newbie mistake is often linked to a lack of awareness as to when to change the oil. So, if you’re one of these newbies—who only have recently realized the need for an oil change—you can check out this rundown of the signs and factors you need to be wary of:

Current Oil Status

One way to figure out whether you need to change oil is by making a visual inspection of your oil to determine its quality. You can remove the dipstick or make a visual inspection via the oil sight window. Via these methods, you can tell if you got a dirty oil or if the oil level is getting low. Using the level dipstick, you can know the condition and level of your motorcycle oil. 

If the oil appears to be dirty or watery, then you need to change the oil. Dirty oil looks blackish, so if you see it is blackish, you need to do an oil change. You can also employ the same method to figure out the lubricant’s level in the crankcase. 

In the dipstick, you will see a low and high marker. The ideal level is between the two markers. However, if your bike has a sight window, you can inspect the oil level without using a dipstick. Nevertheless, you may find it hard to figure out whether your oil is dirty or not if you are using the sight window.

Louder Engine When It Runs

Another indicator that you need to change oil is when your engine runs louder than its usual sound. You will readily notice some changes in the engine sound if you are always using the motorcycle, for you will become familiar with its normal engine sound. When it makes more noise than before, you need to check its oil and figure out if you need to change the oil. 

Once you engage in an oil change, you will notice that the engine’s sound will return to its typical sound. Fresh oil will indeed provide your engine’s metallic parts a protective layer. Yet, if the oil is dirty or is contaminated, the metallic parts will rub more on each other and create more noise.  

You Have Already Forgotten the Last Time You’ve Changed Oil

One good indicator that you need to change the oil of your bike is when you are already oblivious of the date of the last time you’ve changed the oil. Of course, the manufacturers of your motorcycle will advise you on the correct intervals for changing oil. But if you have already forgotten the date of the last change oil of your bike, the previous date of changing oil may be very long ago. 

Unless you have amnesia, you would surely remember the last time you replaced your bike’s oil. If you’re are having a hard time recalling the date, you might as well write it down in your notes so that you will never forget or renege on the scheduled change oil.

The Oil Level Gets Below the Minimum Level

Another indicator of a problem is when you have checked the oil level and even topped its oil level; yet, the oil level keeps decreasing and goes down to the minimum mark when you check it using the dipstick or visually check it via the sight window. 

This sign is truly indicative of a problem that you need to address promptly. If the engine tank exhibits no leak, the problem may be with the oil being too old.

Know the Make, Model, and the Year of Your Motorbike

You will find that most motorcycle companies manufacture their engines. Moreover, manufacturers usually have specifications as to which oil is suited for their machines. So, it will help to take note of these facts. 

For example, two motorcycles—of the same brand but manufactured years apart—may have different oil specifications. So, you need to check the make and model of your bike as well as the year when the motorbike was rolled out.

Your Frequency of Riding Your Motorbike

As mentioned above, how often you ride your bike is a significant indicator of how often you would change the oil. If you seldom ride your bike and only garnered 1,000 miles or less in summer months, you need to change oil less frequently. Nevertheless, if you rarely use your bike, and your engine time is only 30 minutes or less, you might be required to change the oil more often. 

The reason for this is that moisture might build up inside your engine if you don’t drive it around more than thirty minutes to burn the moisture that accumulates in the oil. This fact may surprise to you, but there is a valid reason behind it.

Should You Change Your Oil Filter Too When Changing Oil?

Many riders ask themselves whether it is advisable and worth doing to change the oil filter when changing oil. Based on experts, it is advisable to do this filter change because the oil filter is crucial to ensuring that your motorcycle is functioning well. 

The oil filter traps debris and sludge that may otherwise lodge into the engine. If your oil filter fails to enmesh these tiny particles, you may end up with a bike with many issues.

When Should You Change Your Motorcycle filter?

Although there is an ongoing argument about how frequently you would need to change your oil filter, many experts agree when you should change your oil filter. These experts believe that you should change the oil filter as you change the oil. Well, this is a reasonable thing to do. Moreover, experts would say that you should change the filter every 2,000 to 3,000 miles to make sure that the filter is doing its work in filtering tiny particles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aside from the abovementioned factors and signs indicative of when you are should change the oil, it will also help if you are cognizant of the frequently asked questions about oil change:

How Long Should an Oil Sit on motorcycle?

When oil sits for a long time on a motorcycle without heating it properly, such oil may get contaminated. Moreover, moisture may build up in the engine, which may compromise the integrity of your machine’s engine. Hence, you should often replace your motorcycle oil at least a few times annually. 

What is the Cost of a New Motorcycle Lubricant?

Motorcycle lubricants may have varying prices, depending on the manufacturer and brand. The cost of lubricants also depends on whether you are using a conventional or synthetic lubricant. Moreover, the cost of oil change service may vary from one professional service to another. 

So, given these variations in lubricant prices and services, you may pay more or less. Nevertheless, you can do the oil change yourself if you know how to do it, and so, instead of paying for the replacement service, you can save along the way.  

Should You Change the Oil Filter Every Time You Have the Oil Changed?

It is reasonable to change the oil filter when you have your motorcycle oil changed. Yet, you can have it replaced every two oil changes, and you can get by with it without having issues with your engine. In addition, once you have the filter replaced once a year, you can ensure that the filter will do its job well.


Oil is the lifeblood of your motorbike’s engine, and as such, you should maintain and monitor it regularly if you want to keep your engine in top-notch condition. Understanding the value of clean oil in your engine will surely prod you to engage in regular engine maintenance that includes changing oil and oil filter. 

You may be very prompt in changing the oil and may change the oil earlier than it should be, and there is no danger in doing so. Yet, you will surely spend more money if you do so. Of course, you can extend the usefulness of your oil without changing it earlier than the scheduled oil change.