I am absolutely amazed at how many people I know and meet that do not perform their own oil changes. Personally I just dont get it, the savings are just too great not to do it yourself. Doing it yourself also helps you familiarize yourself more with your bike. Another thing that blows me away is that the process is in your owners manual!!!! HD makes it very easy by providing great diagrams and oil quantities for the crankcase, tranny, and primary. They even provide diagrams of how to read the oil levels from the dipsticks!!! No special HD shop manual, tech manual, or secret HD service cryptography stone tablet is necessary.
Here is a picture from my owners manual as an example.
Not one form of regular maintenance on both vehicles and bikes that can singularly prolong life and prevent breakdowns is regular oil changes. I know, I know, changing oil is messy business. But, it must be done! So you can either drop your bike off at the shop and let them do it and sacrifice an arm or leg for payment,or, save a LOAD of money, take your time, have a couple beers, change the oil, listen to some jams, wash your bike, and make it a afternoon event and have a load of fun doing it. Better yet, get a buddy that rides and do both bikes together.
I will be comparing prices for changing the oil on my Street Glide with the 103 engine. I am not going to get into debates about things like specialized low rimmed drain pans, bike lifts, bike stands etc. These specialized items will make the job easier if you prefer to spend more money but they are not necessary. Just go to Autozone and buy one of those combo oil change kits for cars (this is a one time purchase which will be paid for on your first oil change by the savings). I bought one for my son this past summer for changing the oil on his SUV for $4.95. It came with a plastic drain pan, funnel, hand cleaner, and shop wipes. While your there get an oil filter wrench, you can get those for around $8. Take your new oil filter with you to get the right fit. You can also pick up an oil filter wrench at the dealership for around $15 if you prefer which will fit without issue. I also use liquid Teflon (NOT Locktite) for the threads on the drain plugs and you can also get that at Autozone for about $5 if I remember correctly. Its been a long time since Ive bought that since you can do a huge amount of oil changes before you need to rebuy. All-in-all for $20 you have the basics for changing your oil for years. I am going to assume that you have a couple basic sockets and allen wrenches and hopefully a small set of Torx wrenches handy. You may have to buy the torx but they are relatively inexpensive at Harbor Freight.
I use the Screaming Eagle 360 Full Synthetic in mine so I will compare prices based on what I use. If you choose a blend or non synthetic your cost will go down. Something else I like about this oil is you can use it in the crankcase, tranny, and primary.
I change my oil every 5K miles because I do ride quite a bit and its usually under very harsh hot conditions. When I do an oil change I change the Crankcase, Tranny, and Primary. I have heard and read that some people will go 7500 miles or more when they use the synthetic before doing an oil change but I dont, and wont. The owners manual says you only have to do the Primary every 10K miles and the Tranny every 20K miles but I do all of them every 5K. Then add the superior protection that the synthetic provides and you have some serious protection going on.
Now lets talk prices…..
The dealership charges $420 for a complete oil change. That means crankcase, tranny, and primary. WOWOWOW! (some cycle shops are cheaper but I am not going to get into a comparison of rates for a thousand different shops, you will still save by doing it yourself.)
6 qts Screaming Eagle 360 Full Synthetic Oil (youll see why you will need 6 later)= 71.70
Oil Filter- Black= 8.95 (chrome is 11.95 if you prefer)
Seal Kit= 4.95
Sooooo, well worth a couple hours (thats taking my time and enjoying the afternoon). And if your wondering, that $334 is the labor you are paying for the dealership to do it for you. What could you do with that amount of money if I handed it to you today? If nothing else, you can use that savings to buy some cool shiny thing youve been wanting for your bike!
The next post will explain and show pictures of the process. I was going to put it in this post but when my wife was reading it she said “HOLY CRAP thats long! Youve got to break that into 2 posts”. Shes probably right, so until next post..