How To Read Harley Davidson Oil Dipstick

For many Harley Davidson owners, checking the oil level using the dipstick can be daunting. However, it is essential to maintain the engine’s health and ensure a smooth ride. The dipstick is a simple yet effective tool allowing riders to monitor their engine oil levels accurately. With a few simple steps, anyone can learn how to read their Harley Davidson oil dipstick and keep their engine running smoothly.

Before starting, it’s crucial to ensure the motorcycle is on level ground and at the proper operating temperature. The Harley oil dipstick is on the side of the engine and can be easily accessed with the bike on its side stand. It’s also important to note the type of oil used, as it can affect the reading on the dipstick.

In our guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about reading the Harley Davidson oil dipstick, including how to check the oil level, add oil if necessary, and interpret the reading on the dipstick. By the end, you’ll be able to confidently know how to read a dipstick on your Harley Davidson and take care of your motorcycle’s engine properly. (Read No Oil On Dipstick But No Leak)

Reading the Harley Davidson oil dipstick

How Often Should I Change The Oil Of My Harley Davidson?

Changing the oil of your Harley Davidson motorcycle every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or at least once a year, whichever comes first, is recommended. This frequency may vary depending on your riding conditions, such as frequent short trips or extreme temperatures, which may require more frequent oil changes.

The type of oil you use is also crucial. It should be a high-quality oil designed for motorcycles, such as synthetic or mineral-based oils, to ensure optimal performance and engine protection.

It is always best to refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended oil change intervals and specifications for your specific Harley Davidson model. Regular oil changes help extend your motorcycle’s lifespan and ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently.

How Much Oil Does A Harley-Davidson Need?

The amount of oil a Harley Davidson requires varies depending on the specific model and year and the type of oil being used. Generally, most Harley Davidson motorcycles require about three quarts of oil, but it’s essential to consult the owner’s manual or a professional mechanic to determine the exact amount.

Overfilling or underfilling the oil can cause serious damage to the engine, so it’s crucial to ensure that the correct amount of oil is used. Additionally, using high-quality oil that meets the manufacturer’s specifications is vital for the overall health and longevity of the motorcycle.

Which Oil Should I Use In Harley Davidson?

Choosing the right oil for your Harley Davidson is crucial for the health and performance of your bike. Harley Davidson recommends the Screamin’ Eagle SYN3 Full Synthetic Motorcycle Lubricant, which meets the specific needs of their engines.

However, other high-quality oils can be used if they meet certain criteria.

Firstly, use an oil that meets the API (American Petroleum Institute) specification of SJ or higher.

This ensures that the oil has passed certain quality and performance tests. Additionally, the oil should be specifically designed for motorcycles, as they have different lubrication needs than a car.

If you live in a hot climate, you may want to choose other oils with a higher viscosity to withstand a higher oil temperature better.

If you do a lot of high-performance riding, a semi-synthetic oil may be the best choice for its superior lubrication and engine oil temperature resistance.

Always consult your owner’s manual and follow the recommended oil change intervals to ensure your Harley’s longevity and optimal performance. (Learn How Long Does It Take For Spilled Oil To Burn Off Engine)

Changing Oil On A Harley Davidson

Signs Of Changing Oil On A Harley Davidson

Regularly changing the oil in your Harley Davidson is crucial to keeping your motorcycle in top condition. However, it’s difficult to know precisely when to change the oil.

Here are some signs showing it’s time to change the oil on your Harley Davidson.

1. Dark, dirty oil:

One of the most obvious signs that it’s time to change your Harley Davidson oil is if it appears dark and dirty.

Over time, the semi-synthetic oil can become contaminated with dirt, debris, and other contaminants, which can cause it to lose its effectiveness.

2. Loud engine noise:

If your Harley Davidson’s engine is making more noise than usual, it could indicate that the oil needs to be changed.

The engine may make more noise as the oil breaks down and becomes less effective.

3. Poor performance:

If your motorcycle is not performing as well as it should be, it could be a sign that the oil needs to be changed.

Old or dirty oil can cause the engine to run poorly, reducing performance.

4. Burning smell:

If you notice a burning smell coming from your motorcycle, it could indicate that the oil needs to be changed.

As the oil breaks down, it can create a burning smell noticeable to the rider.

5. Oil level is low:

If the oil level reaches a low amount, it’s best to change the oil (change the air cleaner) up to the proper amount.

Low oil levels can be caused by leaks or burning too much oil, which can show that the oil needs to be changed.

6. Overheating:

If your Harley Davidson is overheating, it could be a sign that the oil needs to be changed. Overheating can be caused by various factors, including old or dirty oil.

In summary, several signs indicate it’s time to change the oil on your Harley Davidson. If you notice dark, dirty oil, loud engine noise, poor performance, a burning smell, low oil levels, or overheating, it’s time to change the oil.

By replacing the vehicle oil regularly, you can help ensure you care for your Harley Davidson so it remains in top condition and performs at its best. (Read Can I Mix Different Brands Of Oil)

Should I Check My Harley Oil, Hot Or Cold?

When checking the oil level in your Harley Davidson, it’s essential to do it correctly to ensure your bike is running smoothly.

One common question that riders have is whether they should check their Harley oil when the engine temperature is hot or cold.

The general rule of thumb is to check the oil when the engine temperature is warm but not hot.

This is because checking the oil when the engine temperature is cold can give you an inaccurate reading, as the oil hasn’t circulated through the engine and settled into the oil pan.

Checking the oil when the engine is hot can also lead to inaccurate readings, as the oil may be thin and not appropriately settled.

To get an accurate fill reading, run your engine for a few minutes to warm up the oil, then turn it off and wait a few minutes to allow the oil to settle in the underside of the engine.

You can then check the oil level using the dipstick, typically on the engine’s side.

It’s important to note that different Harley Davidson models may have additional oil level requirements, so check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Additionally, notice any issues with your oil level or quality, such as a low level, dark color, or unusual texture. It may be time to change your oil or take your bike for a professional inspection.

Overall, checking your Harley Davidson oil level is an important part of motorcycle maintenance, and doing it correctly can help keep your bike running smoothly and prolong its lifespan.

How To Read Harley Davidson Oil Dipstick?

One of the essential maintenance tasks for any Harley owner is to check and change the oil regularly.

Reading the oil dipstick is an essential part of this process, and ensuring that the engine is running correctly and smoothly is crucial.

Before starting, ensure you use the dipstick on a flat surface, as you won’t get the correct oil level reading if you are on a slope.

Also, a cold engine won’t deliver a correct reading on your oil stick.

Harley Davidson Oil Level And Temperature Dipstick With LCD

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Ensure the engine is at its normal operating temperature before checking the oil level. The normal operating temperature for Harley Davidson motorcycles is approximately 200°F.
  2. Turn off the engine and place the motorcycle on the jiffy stand.
  3. Locate the oil tank, which is usually located on the right side of the motorcycle.
  4. Remove the oil dipstick by pulling it straight out of the oil filler neck.
  5. Wipe the oil dipstick clean with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  6. Reinsert the oil dipstick into the oil tank, then remove it again to check the oil level.
  7. Check the level of the oil on the dipstick. The oil level should be between the two marks on the dipstick, which indicates that the engine has the correct amount of oil.
  8. The engine needs more oil if the oil level is below the minimum mark (Add OT Mark). Your engine has too much oil if it is above the upper mark.
  9. If you need to add more oil, let the engine cool down for at least two minutes. This will allow the oil to settle in the oil tank and make it easier to measure the oil level accurately.
  10. Remove the engine oil filler cap from the oil tank and add oil carefully using a funnel. Be sure not to overfill the oil tank, which can cause excess pressure and damage the engine.
  11. Push the stick back in the filler and recheck the engine oil level to ensure it is within the recommended range (halfway between relevant fill lines)
  12. If you notice any sludge or dirt on the dipstick, it is a sign that the engine oil needs to be changed as soon as possible.

You can now take your bike off the jiffy stand for a spin.

Using The Oil Level And Temperature Dipstick With LCD

Some riders have updated their bikes and installed a modern version of the dipstick. This offers more functions and can show oil temperature as well as the level of motorbike engine oil without needing to pull out and insert a dipstick. (Read Who Makes Motorcraft Oil Filters)

Here are the benefits of this updated oil dipstick.

  • Push the button, and the dipstick lets you quickly check your oil temperature and level. No more pulling your hot dipstick with a towel.
  • A four-segment readout indicates the Motorbike Oil level, reminding you to check your oil when the engine is hot.
  • A long-lasting, replaceable lithium coin-type battery powers the waterproof LCD (liquid crystal display) readout, which also has a low battery indicator and a press-and-hold feature for switching between Fahrenheit and Celsius for the operating temperature.
  • No wiring is needed to power the display.


Reading the oil dipstick is essential to maintaining a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Ensuring the engine has the correct amount of oil is crucial, which helps keep it running smoothly and efficiently.

Following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can easily read the oil dipstick and add more oil if needed.

Remember to check the oil level regularly and change the engine oil according to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals to ensure the longevity of your Harley Davidson motorcycle.

How To Read Harley Davidson Oil Dipstick