It’s fair to say most four-stroke engines use oil in the same way, whether it’s a car or truck or motorcycle
Can I put car oil in my 4 stroke motorcycle? This is one of our most frequently asked questions and the simple answer is yes, as long as it does not say energy conserving on the label.
Because cars need the extra mileage there are additives in the oil that is there to reduce friction. That’s fine for the car engine but very difficult on motorcycles with a wet clutch, which is the clutch that’s running in the engine’s normal supply of oil.
It’s fair to say most four-stroke engines use oil in the same way, whether it’s a car or truck or motorcycle.
The basic idea is that oil does several things. First of all, it lubricates, meaning that it gets in between moving parts and prevents actual metal to metal contact.
Oil also cools the engine, in fact, the very first Suzuki GSXR used a lot of oil to supplement the engine air cooling. Oil does a few other things, it prevents internal corrosion and it’s designed to keep any contaminants in suspension until the next oil change. That’s actually why oil gets darker as it ages,
So What’s The Difference Between Car And Motorcycle Oils?
Well, there are many and these differences are driven by the auto industry’s relentless desire for fuel economy.
That’s why new engines are built for very light oils, meaning they’re really thin. So these oils need aggressive additive added to survive in the real world.
Motorcycles aren’t there yet in terms of mileage so instead of using say a W20 oil, most are meant to take a more conventional weight like a 10 W 40 or 20W 50.
So What Do These Numbers Mean?
These are viscosity numbers and the lower the number the more easily and oil flows. The first number in a so-called multi-grade and is the winter rating, so a 10W-40 oil acts as a tent weight oil when it’s cold.
That’s important for the oil to flow through the engine, but viscosity improvers which are added to the oil also make the 10 W 40 act like a 40 weight oil when it’s hot.
Now that’s important because oil naturally thins out as it gets hot, so to get the benefits that each end of the range you need those additives. And it’s that additive package that really makes a difference between a modern car and motorcycle oils.
Because cars need the extra mileage there are additives in the oil to reduce friction. That’s fine for the car engine but very difficult on motorcycles with a wet clutch, which is the clutch that’s running in the engine’s normal supply of oil.
So here comes the somewhat controversial recommendation. You don’t necessarily need a motorcycle specific oil, you can choose a good auto-oil as long as it does not say energy conserving on the label.
What About Motorcycle-specific Oils?
It depends on the company making them, but most have some advanced additive packages just for the higher-revving nature of bike engines and some other things for the really extreme conditions that a lot of bike engines experience.
The truth is let your bike’s manual be the guide. Most manufacturers recommend an MA grade oil but you’ll also see that other types are allowed including API grades. API is the American Petroleum Institute and these grades denote a certain quality of the oil.
The bottom line is to pick a high-quality oil that meets the basic requirements found in your owner’s manual.
It needs to be in the correct viscus TI range and you need to avoid any oils with energy-conserving on the label. Finally change it according to the maintenance schedule, in fact, that’s probably the most important thing to consider.
How To Know When To Change Your Motorcycle Oil
To ensure the engine of your motorcycle is in good health make sure the engine oil is changed periodically with a specified grade of oil.
To check if the motorcycle needs an oil change to follow these simple steps.
Step 1 – Ensure the bike is on a flat surface and on its main stand.
Step 2 – Ensure that the engine is cold before checking the oil.
Step 3 – Remove the dipstick from the oil canister
Step 4 – Check the level of oil, the color of the oil and use your fingers to gauge the viscosity. If the oil is below the specified level, too dark in color or feels thick it’s time to change the engine oil.
What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Motorcycle Oil?
Changing your oil is the one thing that anyone that owns a motorcycle has control over. You can decide when you want to change it and you can decide what you want to change.
If you don’t use the correct oil and you never change it or never replace your lubricants the additive materials in the oil will wear out.
Anti-where agents are there to keep friction down but they will deplete over time.
The additives will deplete but also oxidize. The more you use the oil the thicker it gets and the thicker it gets the less efficient it is. The less efficient it is the dirtier your engine gets inside.
If you don’t change your oil eventually your engine will suffer a catastrophic failure. It will tell you when it’s about to fail, every warning light on your dashboard will light up like a Christmas tree and then it will quit on you.
When Should I Change My Oil Filter?
The answer can vary depending on your make, model, vehicle year and the driving conditions that you are exposing it to.
The oil filters’ job is to clear out the oil of contaminants, dirt, and metal as it’s lifted from the oil pan before being dispersed throughout your engine.
These can eventually clog the oil filter if it is not regularly replaced. A clogged oil filter will affect your engine’s performance, efficiency, and lifespan.
If your engine displays any of these five symptoms it may be time to think about and oil change and a new filter.
1: If any metallic sounds coming from your engine such as knocking or pinging.
2: A black dirty exhaust cloud coming from your tailpipe.
3: The car has a burning smell.
4: The engine sputters or feels reserved and under-powered.
Or 5: If you notice your oil pressure gauge drop low.
If you are still not sure when you should change your oil filter we say it’s best to change it every oil change which comes at factory recommended distance or time intervals.
If the check engine light is on
Many issues could cause the light to come on so it’s best to get a diagnostic check ran or check the oil filter on your next oil change.
Make sure to change your oil and filter frequently if you drive in harsh conditions such as a lot of stops and go traffic, extreme heat or cold.
Got any other oil questions? Hit us up in the comments below and we will answer in a future article.
Check out our other how-to articles, we have hundreds of articles all with helpful tips on maintaining your motorcycle for good health.