Remember the crazy urban legend about M&M’s®? No, it’s not about the supposed aphrodisiac of greens. There’s Halen, demanding brown M&M’s® candies be removed from their locker room.
Can You Use Car Oil In A Motorcycle
While this may seem like an example of excessive rock star excess, there was a smart reason why this requirement was included in the band’s contract with show promoters. In Van Halen’s case, M&M’s® provided a quick indication that the show promoter had actually read the contract and therefore read the infrastructure needed to safely operate the band’s massive stage show.
Ultimate Guide To Dirt Bike Oils & Oil Filters
Similar to the precision and attention to detail required by the band and show organizers, the engine specifications of motor oils differ from car engines and require the necessary motor oil specifications for the safe operation of motorcycle engines.
In the case of motorcycle oil, it is because motorcycle engines are so different from car engines that they require a similar oil. Car oil not only does not protect the motorcycle engine, it can even destroy the clutch and cause it to jam.
At any engine oil service, the first thing you notice is that the oil that comes out is black and looks pretty ugly compared to the golden liquid in the bottle. “That means it works,” assures Michael Warholic, formulation scientist at Valvoline. – Derived from deposits held in oil by dispersants.
This is a good time to take a closer look and make sure there are no visible solids. They would indicate a significant problem that needs to be addressed before catastrophic failure occurs, he advised.
Motorcycle Oil, Primary Oil & Transmission Fluid
As long as you drain the nasty black used oil and put fresh oil in the engine, why does it matter what kind of oil it is? All the good things you hear on TV commercials about the latest and greatest motor oil make it sound like it’s good for any application.
To get started, read your bike’s owner’s manual for the exact weight and recommended gear. “They might recommend original [manufacturer brand] oil, but that’s really the spec you need,” Warholic explained. The manual also indicates how much oil to put back into the engine. “Know how much oil the engine is taking. You don’t want to overfill or underfill.”
But don’t stop there. Changing the oil itself is not enough. Also replace the filter, although this job can be a hassle on bikes that don’t use automotive-style boost filters. “The filter hits,” Warholic noted.
Probably the biggest challenge with engine oil used in motorcycle engines is heat. This is because many Harley-Davidson®, BMW® and Ducati® models are still air-cooled, and Triumph retained air-cooling until recently.
The Best Motorcycle Oil To Keep Your Bike Running Smoothly
The advantages of air cooling are simplicity, light weight and a clean look, without the bulky radiators and associated plumbing that spoil the clean lines of the motorcycle. However, air does not whip heat away from engines as effectively as water.
Not only do air-cooled engines run hotter overall, but there are local spots near the combustion chamber and exhaust port that get very hot, breaking down the oil and reducing its lubricating properties.
This is why motorcycle oil is specifically formulated to be more resistant to heat than car oil. “These hot spots can be very damaging to the oil,” Warholic noted. “It’s very important to try to minimize heat damage.”
Another challenge with engine oil is that most bikes, with the exception of modern Harley-Davidson® Big Twin models, have a single engine and transmission. In such engines, the engine oil also lubricates the gearbox. These mesh gears can physically break long petroleum molecules into shorter pieces, changing their properties in the process and reducing the oil’s lubricating ability.
Pdf) Effect Of Passenger Car Oil Usage In A Motorcycle Engine
“Motorcycle oil has some unique parameters,” Warholic admitted. “Tends to cut and dilute the oil. Motorcycle-specific oil has better viscosity control over the life of the oil.”
Synthetic oils are particularly strong in resisting both threats, so while Valvoline 4-Stroke Motorcycle Oil is a good choice, Valvoline 4-Stroke Motorcycle Oil is a valuable insurance policy for added protection.
Also, most motorcycles use a “wet clutch” where the clutch assembly is bathed in engine oil, rather than an automotive style “dry clutch” in which there is no oil. Since the job of the clutch is to use friction to transfer power from the engine to the transmission, and the job of the oil is to keep it smooth, it is important that wet-clutch motorcycles use oil made with this in mind, so that non-clutch discs run smoothly. However, the first step in choosing an oil is to read your bike’s owner’s manual for the exact recommended weight and quality.
“The problem with [motor oil] in a motorcycle is that the clutch has to work properly or it can slip on takeoff,” Warholic explained. “There’s a certain friction test you have to pass, and most [car] engine oils wouldn’t pass that.”
Does It Matter If You Use Car Oil In A Dirt Bike Or Even Street Bike?
Another factor in motorcycle oil is the typical motorcycle load cycle, which means you spend a lot of time sitting around waiting to decide if the weather is good enough to finally go for a ride. This means that the impurities in the oil have plenty of time to solidify the bike’s lube into sludge. So our motorcycle oil has been formulated with these rest periods in mind.
“If you sit down, you can get wet,” Warholic warned. “Usually motorcycles are recreational, so ride, you ride, ride, you ride.” This is a very hard duty cycle for both the engine and the oil. “Much more water formation, mud formation can be achieved,” he said.
The good thing is that motorcycle-specific oil continues to improve. Synthetic oil already has an excellent base oil, but according to Warholic, even the base component of conventional oil is getting better.
However, these changes mean that if you have an older motorcycle, the exact specification recommended in the bike’s owner’s manual is likely to no longer exist. “It is more difficult to determine the binding in the regulations,” he warned. “Car oil is backwards compatible, but in the world of transmissions and motorcycles, that’s not the case. Oil may not be easy to find.”
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The bike manufacturer should be able to provide instructions for the correct modern replacement. “You can call the manufacturer to see what they recommend. Or you can use the Valvoline hotline (1-800–VAL). We have information on motorcycles going back to the beginning of time.”
Your motorcycle dealer or local Valvoline dealer should also be able to help. “You can go to a local dealer that sells that type of motorcycle,” Warholic said. “You don’t want to guess, you don’t want to assume.”
When you’re done, pour the drain oil back into the empty bottles to get it to the oil recycler. Often your local auto parts store (perhaps where you bought the oil) and even many automotive quick change shops like Valvoline Instant Oil Change will take the drain oil.
This job will keep you rolling carefree this summer, so you can focus on solving the unsolved mystery of the green M&M’s®.
Guide: Selecting The Right Motorcycle Engine Oil
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A member of the North American Car of the Year judging panel, Dan is the automotive editor for Popular Science magazine and writes automotive reviews as well as automotive analysis and commentary. His area of expertise is the analysis of technical developments, with a particular focus on motorsport, efficiency and safety. Featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics and others. If you’re like me, you’ve wondered before whether or not you should use engine oil on a motorcycle. It’s just oil, right?
Well, it’s not that simple. Not all oils are created equal, and using the wrong oil can damage your motorcycle and your car.
Of course, the way the oil is poured into the vehicles remains the same, but the oil itself is different and should not be interchanged. You can’t use hot motor oil on your motorcycle, and you can’t use motor oil on your car. You will destroy them!
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In this article, I take a deep dive into the difference between car oil and motorcycle oil. Why don’t you join me?
Car oil is a lubricant used to lubricate the car’s internal combustion engine. It contains friction modifiers and is designed to reduce friction between moving parts for good fuel economy and efficiency.
Car oil contains detergent additives and has a fairly high ash content. In cars, there is no single fluid that can perform multiple functions. This
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