If you’re going to take on the chore of changing the oil on your Harley Davidson motorcycle, the best thing I can recommend first thing is to get a Harley Davidson service manual from your Harley Davidson dealership. In the event that you can’t afford a Harley Davidson service manual, there are a couple of cheaper models out there, as far as Climber or Hanes manuals. They all have a basic maintenance chapter in them that walk you through certain things, one including the changing the oil. All Harley Davidson models, basically use drain plugs, with the exception of the sportster family, where you usually have a hose that’s affixed to some portion of the frame. V-rods are totally different. There is one fluid in the whole V-rod motor, where on the Harleys, the standard V-twin big twins, you have three compartments for oil and on the sportsters, and you only have two compartments.
Now, we’re only talking about engine oil today, so you’re always going to have an oil filter, so you want to make sure you locate the oil filter, make sure you use the appropriate wrench for the type of filter that you’re using. There are several different styles, depending on the style of the filter. Harley filters have flats, Cannon filters have a nut on the end, and a lot of the other aftermarket shops are just smooth. You will need a wrench, usually to get the filter off. You will not, however, use a wrench to put the filter back on. If you’re changing the oil on a Harley Davidson twin cam, you want to make sure that you get an oil filter that filters down to 10 microns. This is very important, because some of the oil passages in the Harley Davidson twin cam motor are very small, so you need to make sure you have the appropriate 10 micron filter to use for the twin cams. The older style motors don’t need it, but you can use it. Once you have your filters, you decide which oil you want to use, you have your manual to locate your drain plug. I use soft tails on the other side, and it can either be a hose with a plug in the end of it, or an actual drain plug, such as what I have here.
Sportsters, again, hoses; big bikes, the dressers, will have a drain plug to the front of their sump, and the dynas will have a drain plug to the side of their sump. You remove that drain plug, preferable with warm engine oil, but not too warm so you won’t burn yourself. You get that draining, pull out your dipstick to help assist the draining, take your filter off. Twin cams, you need to add a little bit of oil back in the filter, about four ounces. Put a light bead of oil around the seal, tighten the filter – hand-tight, don’t overdo it – then you can go back, wait until your main oil tank is slowed down to a slow drip, screw in the new drain plug, preferably using a new o ring to help it seal. Then you fill up your oil tank with the appropriate amount of oil and the right viscosity for the conditions and the type of motor you’re running.