Do You Change Your Motorcycle Oil After Winter? What’s Better?


A common question among motorcycle enthusiasts is whether you change your oil before or after winter storage. There are several considerations to be taken when considering when it is necessary to change motorcycle oil, especially if you are storing it without riding for an extended time.

Do You Change Motorcycle Oil After Winter? In most cases of winter storage, the answer is no. This will depend on the climate you live in, how long it has been since you’ve ridden, and when the last time you changed the oil was. The only time you should change the oil after winter is if you did not change the oil before you stored it.

Knowing when to change your motorcycle oil is a skill that will cover with time and experience with all motorcyclists. We will dive into when and why keeping track of when you change your oil is essential so you can be prepared for ongoing motorcycle maintenance.

Do You Change Motorcycle Oil After Winter?

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If you don’t live in the Southern part of the United States or somewhere else in the world that was a warm winter climate, then you more than likely are storing your motorcycle for the winter. Some riders will power through the ice and snow, but this is quite dangerous, and a little too cold for most.

A good rule of thumb is to know when oil is dirty or old, so you are always on top of oil changes before you cause any engine damage. To answer the question about whether or not to change the oil after winter storage, we will go over both before and after winter storage scenarios.

Different rules and oil changing schedules will apply if you are riding your motorcycle throughout the winter in a cold climate.

Changing Before Storage

When you ride your motorcycle, your engine is running, producing engine combustion byproducts. Some common combustion byproducts include moisture and acid. Unless you are riding often, letting these byproducts sit in the engine, oil can cause abrasions such as rust to occur.

If you are unlucky enough to have rust in the engine, it will spread over time. When you fire up your engine to ride again in the Spring, this moisture caused rusting will throw particles around in the various parts during operation. If it isn’t rust due to moisture, things like acid can cause corrosion when left to sit. If the engine has enough corrosion, it could lead to engine problems down the line.

Changing After Storage

If you change the oil before you store your bike, you should be able to ride at least 1000-2000 miles before you need an oil change.

The reason that you don’t have to change the oil after you store it is that oil goes bad after use. You can think of it as oil sitting in a bottle on a shelf; it isn’t being used, so it isn’t going bad. The only time you should change your oil after winter storage is when you didn’t change your oil before you stored it.

How Often Should You Change Motorcycle Oil?

Oil can on rack
Photo by <a href=httpsunsplashcomjackdouglassutm source=unsplashutm medium=referralutm content=creditCopyText>Jack Douglass<a> on Unsplash

The best way to know how often you should change your motorcycle oil is to look in your manual. There are several factors that influence the fundamental frequency of oil changes.

In general, consider the three following things:

  1. How often you ride your motorcycle
  2. The make and model of the motorcycle
  3. The type of oil you’re using

All of the variables will impact how often you need to change the oil on your particular motorcycle.

For instance, someone that rides the motorcycle every day for work 30 miles away versus someone that rides twice a month around town will not change their oil at the same time. The variations have to do with those three factors above.

How Do You Know if Engine Oil is Dirty?

If you are questioning if you should change your oil or not, a good indicator is to look at how dirty the engine oil is at the moment. The key identifier is to look at the color.

All oil on the market has a detergent in it to clean the engine parts. As the oil runs through the engine, it is using the detergent to keep those parts clean.

As the detergent gets used up, the oil will become darker in color. The change in color is usually due to the collection of grime. The detergent has cleaned off of the engine while it was running. If the oil stays dirty, it can no longer clean the engine properly, which is when you run into issues.

Utilize Local Motorcycle Mechanics and Their Knowledge

These types of questions and concerns about motorcycle care are essential to ask, especially if you are a beginner. The best thing that you can do if you’re unsure about how to maintain your motorcycle best is to do your research and utilize professionals.

Even if you live in a rural area, there is more than likely a motorcycle mechanic in the area. You can always give them a call or stop by one day to have them give your bike a brief look over. They will be able to recommend the best oil to use, when to change the oil, and even if there are issues that could arise down the line.

As you are learning more about how to care for your motorcycle, never underestimate the wisdom and mentorship of those around you. Asking questions is key to learning more about motorcycle maintenance, and experience will give you the tools you need to continue enjoying the hobby.

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