Change Oil Harley Davidson Sportster

Introduction: Change Oil Harley Davidson Sportster

Oil changes are the easiest and most cost effective way to prolong the life of your motorcycle and should be performed every six months or 3000 miles. Learning to change your oil could save a $100 to $150 dollars a year and when you've completed the task at hand you feel like you've accomplished something.

Step 1: Get Your Supplies Together

To change your oil on a Harley Davidson Sportster, you will need an oil filter wrench, a flat head screw driver, needle nose pliers, shop rags and a drain pan.

Step 2: Take a Ride Around the Block

  • If you haven't been on your bike recently, take it out for a ride around the block. This will heat your oil, making your it thinner and easier to drain when you are ready.
  • Have fun, a couple more miles won't hurt a thing.

Step 3: Drain the Oil

  • Remove the oil cap, this can be found on the right side of the motorcycle just below the seat.
    • This releases pressure and will allow the oil to drain more easily.
  • Unlike other motorcycles, the Harley Sportster Evolution engine uses an oil drain tube, if you don't have an oil drain tube, these aren't the right instructions.
  • The Oil Drain tube can be found underneath the engine.
    • Loosen the clamp holding the tube in place with a flathead screwdriver
    • Place the drain pan in position
    • Pull the hose and let the oil drain in all its glory
    • Once the oil slows to a drip, replace the hose. No need to tighten the clamp just yet.

Step 4: Remove the Oil Filter

  • Cut out a rectangle 4x10 inches from a piece of cardboard.
    • This will be used to allow the oil from the filter to drain without making a mess
  • The Oil Filter is located at the front of the engine
  • Try to loosen with your hand, if you cannot do this use the oil filter wrench, do not remove the filter just yet.
  • After you loosen the oil filter, place the drain pan under the filter and the cardboard cut out underneath the filter.
  • Remove the oil filter
    • If you forgot the cardboard, you've made a mess, take one of the shop rags and wipe down the oil from the engine when it is done dripping.

Step 5: Prepping the New Oil Filter

  • Open a quart of oil.
  • Pour enough oil in the filter until it is about half full
  • Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new filter with a dab of oil
  • Wipe down oil filter mounting area and any mess you've made
    • Make sure the rubber gasket came off the old filter and the area is clean and free of debris.

Step 6: Installing the New Oil Filter

  • Using your hand, screw the new filter into the engine case.
  • Do not use a tool for this part
  • Do not over tighten, it is easy to damage the rubber ring

Step 7: Don't Forget About That Drain Tube

  • You probably forgot about the drain tube, I sure did.
  • Move the drain pan back underneath the drain tube, removing the drain tube to allow any excess oil that may have collected to drain.
  • Reinstall the drain tube on its mount.
  • Tighten the the hose clamp with a flathead screwdriver.

Step 8: Adding New Oil

  • Using a funnel, fill the oil tank with 3 quarts of oil.
    • Although capacity of the engine is 3.5 quarts, you only use 3 quarts when replacing oil.
  • Replace the oil cap

Step 9: Checking the Oil Level

  • Start up your engine and let it idle for about a minute.
  • Shut it off and wait another minute.
    • This allow the oil to settle
  • Check the oil level with your dipstick, ensure the level is kept between the 2 dipstick marks.

Step 10: Forever Two Wheels

  • You've just saved yourself 50 bucks.
  • Take that money go get some gas and enjoy your afternoon

2 People Made This Project!


  • Make It Bridge

    Make It Bridge
  • Big and Small Contest

    Big and Small Contest
  • Game Design: Student Design Challenge

    Game Design: Student Design Challenge



10 months ago

Is there a reason the Harley dealership told me that there are two oil changes that need to be done? Also my oil change kit from amazon came with a quart of Chain and crankcase oil. I also saw a video on YouTube of a guy opening up a small window on the engine bay, looking at the chain and adding. a quart of oil into it. What is that all about?

Fred Furrer
Fred Furrer

Tip 3 years ago on Step 1

I’ve owned two Sportsters. The oil tank plug pops up to enable unscrewing but both of mine were almost impossible to turn by hand. I have been told that the problem is too much O-ring squeeze, which can be remedied by using the next size smaller O-ring that has the same cross-sectional diameter. The stretch needed to install it will reduce the squeeze.


6 years ago

Great Job ! I have a 2000 Sportster Sport with a Blockhead (2 plugs per jug) and changing the oil is the easy part. To change the right side plugs I have to pull the gas tank. Love my Blockhead.


6 years ago

Excellent info, very nicely done! :)

If you swapped out the cover image to use a photo of your actual bike, that would be great. I bet this would be featured if you did that ;)