21 Simple Steps to Change Your Oil

Change your oilChange your oil and become more empowered. It’s true! Doing it yourself reduces cost, is more convenient and builds confidence. And oil changes are one of the easiest and most effective ways to prolong the life of your bike.

Rather than being a tutorial, this article is meant to give you an understanding of the process and dispel the mystery – and anxiety.

The concept itself is simple. While engine configuration and body panels can add complexity, it’s usually more a matter of time than difficulty. ALWAYS refer to your owner’s manual for directions specific to your motorcycle.

How to Change Your Oil

You’ll need:

  1. Owner’s manual
  2. Oil. Your owner’s manual will specify the grade.
  3. Oil filter. Specific to your bike.
  4. Oil filter wrench.
  5. Socket wrench to remove oil plugs.
  6. Crush washer for oil plug.
  7. Other tools to remove plastic panels as necessary
  8. Clean rag.
  9. Ground cover to protect the floor/driveway.
  10. Oil funnel.
  11. Receptacle for used oil.
  12. Somewhere to dispose of used oil.


  1. Get out your owner’s manual. Use it to locate the:
    1. Oil filler cap
    2. Oil filter
    3. Oil drain plug.
  2. Remove whatever body panels are necessary to obtain access.
  3. Warm up your oil by letting the bike run for a few minutes. This makes the oil more viscous and it drains more easily.
  4. Put your bike on the center stand or hoist if you have one.
  5. Loosen off the oil filler cap.
  6. Place a pan under the engine, beneath the drain plug in which to drain the used oil.
  7. Loosen and remove the oil drain plug. Watch for hot parts and hot oil.
  8. Let the oil drain into the pan.
  9. Remove the oil filter. This will contain a small amount of oil.
  10. While engine surfaces behind oil filter and drain plug are exposed, wipe clean to remove any debris.
  11. Apply a film of clean oil around the rubber O-ring seal of the new oil filter.
  12. Attach the new oil filter and tighten to spec.
  13. Place new crush washer on oil drain plug, replace oil drain plug and tighten to specs.
  14. Use a funnel to fill the oil reservoir with the amount, type and grade of oil prescribed in your owner’s manual.
  15. Replace the oil filler cap.
  16. Check the oil level per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  17. Start your bike and run your engine for a few minutes to let the oil circulate.
  18. Turn the engine off and wait for 10 minutes to let the oil drain back into the reservoir.
  19. Recheck oil level.
  20. Adjust as necessary – add or drain.
  21. Dispose of used oil and filter at a qualified hazardous waste disposal facility. My local hardware store accepts it.

Until I did it myself, I had no idea it was so simple – or that it could build such confidence. Since then, I’ve seen men and women in my DIY (Do It Yourself) maintenance workshops have the same experience when they changed their oil for the first time.

It’s another example of how easy it is to assume something is more complex that it really is. If you’ve never done it, have someone qualified, knowledgeable and patient on hand for consultation.  Then try it!



Author, writer, student and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.