Informational Guide

How To Check A Motorcycle's Oil Level

Want your motorcycle to perform its best? Then you need to check the oil levels frequently. We explain how here.

If you want your motorcycle to perform its best, you need to check the oil levels frequently. This important maintenance item extends the life of the bike's engine. We will show you how to check motorcycle oil with and without a dipstick.

Before you know how to check the oil level on motorcycle models, it's important to understand the value of oil maintenance. The oil provides lubrication to the engine, ensuring that the internal parts don't rub together and wear. Without the right amount of oil, friction occurs, wearing out the motor prematurely.

There are different types of motor oil you could use.

Crude oil

This is naturally-occurring oil found beneath the ground. It's the cheapest option but not recommended for your motorcycle engine. It's best for a small engine that doesn't have a lot of mechanical pressure.


Full synthetic oil is made in a lab with properties that provide maximum lubrication. These are the most expensive on the market. It won't break down as easily as the other options.


The blend between the two is semi-synthetic. Manufacturers recommend this oil in use with all bikes that have a 250cc engine or higher. Thankfully, this oil is a little cheaper than synthetic varieties.

How to Properly Check Your Motorcycle Oil Levels

1. Checking with a Dipstick

If you want to learn how to check the motorcycle oil level using a dipstick, you will follow these steps.

  1. 1
    Park the bike on level ground or use a motorcycle stand.
  2. 2
    Keep the engine off and let it cool completely.
  3. 3
    Unscrew the dipstick and wipe it off on a paper towel.
  4. 4
    Put the dipstick back in the hole.
  5. 5
    Remove the dipstick again and notice the level compared with the indicators on the stick.
  6. 6
    The oil level should be between the two indicators.
  7. 7
    Add or remove oil as needed and replace the dipstick back into the tube.

2. Checking with a Sight Glass

You can also learn how to check motorcycle oil level without a dipstick. Just follow these steps instead.

  1. 1
    Park the bike on level ground or use a motorcycle stand.
  2. 2
    Keep the engine off and let it cool completely.
  3. 3
    Look through to the sight glass installed on the motorcycle.
  4. 4
    Compare the level with the indicators on the sight glass.
  5. 5
    The oil level should be between the two indicators.
  6. 6
    Add or remove oil as needed before heading back out for a ride.

With either of these methods, it's also wise to check the condition of the oil. You might need an oil change if the oil is anything but amber-colored.

How To Check The Oil On A Motorcycle

Checking The Oil For Different Manufacturers

1. How To Check The Oil On A Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Now that you know how to check oil on a motorcycle, you might wonder what's different with a Harley. There is a dipstick, but Harley bikes also use a primary fluid supply. This can only be checked if you remove the primary's round derby cover, which requires a Torx-27 screwdriver. Harley also recommends checking the engine oil when the motor is warm.

2. How To Check The Oil On A Suzuki Motorcycle

Unlike how to check engine oil on a motorcycle, the Suzuki doesn't have a dipstick. Instead, you want to look at the oil level lens mounted on the left crankcase cover of the motor. There will be marks on the top and bottom, which indicate how much oil should be in the motor. Just make sure your bike is level when looking through the glass, or the measurement won't be accurate.

3. How To Check The Oil On A Yamaha Motorcycle

Do you know how to check your motorcycle oil as a Yamaha owner? As with the Suzuki bikes, there is a helpful sight glass that allows you to check levels with a quick glance. These bikes have that feature so riders will check the oil levels before each ride. It's more convenient when compared to using a messy dipstick.

4 Signs Your Motorcycle Needs An Oil Change

How often do you need to change your oil on a motorcycle? Conventional oils should be changed every 2,000 miles, while synthetic oils can go up to 6,000 miles. However, there are some signs that the oil needs to be changed more frequently.

  • Oil becomes gritty and black
  • Engine is louder than normal
  • Dashboard indicators come on
  • Oil level goes below the minimum indicator

How much does a motorcycle oil change cost? You will spend between $25 and $60 for a bike oil change. Don't forget to add a new motorcycle oil filter to ensure protection. This should be changed every time you replace the oil. It also a good idea to know how to dispose of engine oil without damaging the environment before you change the oil on your motorcycle.  

Signs Your Motorcycle Needs An Oil Change

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can frequent oil changes remove sludge?

Yes, good oil is going to contain detergents that dissolve the sludge and prevent it from forming again. Make sure you use either synthetic or synthetic blended oil.

What color should motorcycle oil be?

Motorcycle oil is amber-colored and semi-transparent when it is fresh. Over time, it will become darker brown or black, indicating that it is time to change it.

Why does my oil turn black so fast?

Engine oil is inevitably going to turn black over time. Dirty air, residues and carbon buildup all lead to the breakdown of fresh motor oil.

How do you remove excess oil from a motorcycle?

You can use a simple hand pump, like those found on lotion and shampoo bottles. Just make sure it is completely clean before sticking it into the tank. Otherwise, remove the drain plug over a drain pan for a second and reinstall it. This method is messy and not the preferable option.

What happens if you don't change your motorcycle oil?

If you leave old and contaminated motor in your bike's engine, it will breakdown and fail to provide the necessary lubrication for the valuable components. Eventually, the motor will die from the excessive friction and heat.


Now you know how to check a motorcycle's oil levels, so there's no reason to neglect your bike's engine any longer. Give it a quick look to ensure you don't need to top it off before your next ride.