How to Check Motorcycle Oil Level Without Dipstick [Easy Ways]

How to Check Motorcycle Oil Level Without Dipstick [Easy Ways]

Checking your motorcycle oil level is simple and can be done without technical assistance. But before checking your engine’s oil level, confirm with the owner’s manual and find out about the manufacturer’s recommendation.

In this guide, I outlined a step-by-step guide on how to check a motorcycle oil level without a dipstick. You will also learn dipstick alternatives to check motorcycle oil levels to keep your bike in top condition.

I’m a motorcycle enthusiast, and I’ve been servicing my engine for over a decade. I can give you different methods to help you check your motorcycle’s oil level.

How Do You Check Motorcycle Oil Level Without a Dipstick?

Check Motorcycle Oil Level

To check the oil level on a motorcycle without a dipstick, you can use the oil level sight glass or an oil level bolt. When checking the oil level, warm up the engine to the operating temperature and turn it off. Then stand the bike up straight on a flat surface and check the oil level.

It is important to note that the inspection method varies from bike to bike. Some manufacturers have their own instructions and tools to check the oil level. Therefore, always consult the manual for that particular make and model of the motorcycle before proceeding.

Dipstick Alternatives to Check Motorcycle Oil Levels

While some motorcycles come with a dipstick inside the oil filler cap, others do not. Here are some methods for checking the oil level in case the bike doesn’t have a dipstick.

1. Oil Level Inspection Window

Oil Level Inspection Window

Image Credit – Reddit

Some newer motorcycle models come with sight glasses at the bottom of their crankcases. You might have to get close to the ground to see it well.

To check the oil level, you simply have to look at the sight glasses with the bike in an upright position. This will tell you the level and condition of your oil. It is better to do this during the day when there is adequate light to make it easily visible.

To measure the oil level of motorcycles without sight glasses, follow these steps;

Step 1: Ensure the engine is up to operating temperature

Before you check the oil level, ensure the bike is up to the operating temperature. You can take your motorcycle for a short ride or check your oil level immediately after your riding routine.

Checking the oil level at operating temperature will give you more accurate results. During this time, the oil is more runny and most settle in the bottom oil pan.

Step 2: Let your bike sit for a few minutes

The engine running ensures the oil pumps into all the working parts to provide proper lubrication. Therefore, checking your engine oil level immediately after the ride will give you a false low reading, as the oil is still in some parts of the engine.

This is why you should cool off the engine for a while once you finish riding. Letting the bike sit for 5 to 15 minutes allows all the engine oil to settle, providing a more accurate result.

Step 3: Check your oil level

Once the wait time is over, set your motorcycle upright on a flat surface. This can be a simple task if your bike has a built-in center stand. But if it doesn’t have one, ask someone to hold it upright as you inspect the engine oil level.

2. Oil Level Bolt

If your motorcycle lacks both the dipstick and sight glass, it probably has a small oil-level bolt. The bolt is usually on the right side of the engine and is mounted directly above where the oil level should be. However, you can check your motorcycle’s manual if you don’t find this bolt.

Step 1: Set the motorcycle on a flat surface

First, you will have to make your bike stand upright on a flat surface. You can either use a center or a paddock stand. Someone could hold it upright for you if you do not have either. This step is important as the engine oil level usually varies when the bike is not level.

Step 2: Ensure your bike is up to the operating temperature

Keep the engine in idle mode and switch off the ignition and let the bike cool for about 5 to 15 minutes. The waiting time is for the engine oil to warm up and settle for more accurate results.

Step 3: Check your oil level

Once the engine has cooled down, remove the bolt located on the right side of the engine. The oil will start flowing through the hole if it is overly full. When the engine has the right amount of oil, you will see it flowing just above the threads.

But if you don’t see any sign of flowing oil, you can lean the bike toward the right until it starts flowing out. See how far the bike tilts and add oil if necessary.

Inspect the oil condition while checking the Motorcycle Oil level

Inspect the oil condition

Image Credit – Reddit

When changing your engine oil, it is important to pay attention to the oil color and texture to determine its quality. The oil should be green or yellow, similar to how you bought it.

It’s important to note that: 

  • If the oil is dark or black with sludge deposits or metal particles, it is time to change it.
  • While a milky white oil shows that the coolant has gotten into the oil, this is a major engine problem.
  • The oil that smells like gas could indicate serious engine problems, and you may have to consult a repair shop or a mechanic to deal with such issues.
  • Also, the engine could start consuming oil suddenly, which may indicate piston ring or valve issues. You might want to look into the issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Check the Motorcycle Oil on the Kickstand?

Checking your motorcycle’s oil while on the kickstand is not ideal. Oil may be on the dipstick, though it will not be accurate since the surface is not level. However, some Harley models recommend checking the oil on the kickstand because the dipstick for Harleys has both marks for the bike in an upright position and the jiffy stand.

How Do You Know if Your Motorcycle Is Low on Oil?

Some newer motorcycle models have digital indicators showing the motorcycle oil level. However, most motorcycle models don’t have such digital indicators. Therefore, you’ll have to check the oil level yourself using a dipstick, sight glass, or oil-level bolt. Other methods, such as increased engine vibrations and overheated engines, can also infer low oil levels.

How Often Do You Add Oil to Your Motorcycle?

How often you change the motorcycle oil depends on the frequency and miles it has driven and the type of oil it uses. You should change mineral oil every 2000 miles or at least once a year, synthetic oil every 7000 miles, and semi-synthetic oil every 5000 miles.

Final Thoughts

For any motor to perform at its full potential, engine oil is a crucial element you should never disregard. Knowing where the engine oil level is before every ride is essential to ensure the engine’s operation and longevity. Though checking the oil level may vary with different bikes, they all have a general process to check the oil level. 

Checking your oil can tell you where the level is and if it needs a refill or is still in good condition. Usually, oil prevents the internal engine parts from rubbing against each other. If you do not replace the oil, you risk critical engine parts being exposed to corrosion and heat damage due to the resulting friction.

Additionally, the overall fuel efficiency may drop with excessive wear and tear of components and engine overheating.

David Okwacha

David Okwacha has a background in computer science and is a motorbike enthusiast. Since he was 16 years old, he has been riding motorcycles and performing simple repairs. He has four years of experience writing informative, intelligible articles about motorcycles, technology, and outdoor activities. David enjoys traveling the country on his dirt bike when he's not writing. He had some thrilling experiences, including dirt biking through the Kenyan savanna.