Tips On How To Check Primary Oil On Harley Davidson And Its Changing Process

Harley Davidson engines are powerful and long-lasting. They work brilliantly as long as you maintain them properly. One of the proper maintenances for the Harley engine includes using primary oil. It protects the chain, gear, and other metal parts from wear and tear. However, the primary oil may get below the standard level and need replacement.. 

Thus, it is important to check the primary oil in your Harley Davidson. But most people don’t know how to check primary oil on Harley Davidson. Thus, they fail to check the oil timely and procrastinate to change the fluid. It increases the chance of damaging your favorite motorbike’s bearing, chain, and gear. 

Thus, we will discuss how to check and change the primary oil in your Harley in today’s article. Stick with us if you don’t want to replace the gear or chain of the motorbike untimely. 

Harley Davidson And Its Changing Process

Tips On How To Check Primary Oil On Harley Davidson:

Tips On How To Check Primary Oil On Harley Davidson

Checking the primary oil of any motorcycle is easier than most people consider. You will need to insert a dipstick inside the drain plug to know about the status of the primary fluid. The entire checking process for the primary oil won’t take more than 10 minutes, including its changing time. 

Step 1: Heat The Engine 

The first step to check the Harley Davidson Primary oil is to heat the engine properly. Thus, switch on your Harley motorbike and keep it neutral for at least a few minutes. When the engine heats up, you can proceed to check the primary fluid level. 

Nonetheless, most motorbike manuals suggest you bring the Harley motorcycle to standard temperature to check and change the fluid. You will need to ride the motorbike for 20 to 30 minutes to help it reach the ideal temperature. 

Step 2: Remove The Case Of The Primary Drain Plug

Remove The Case Of The Primary Drain Plug

Now, you will have to remove the case of the primary drain plug. For this, you will have to locate the drain plug first. The drain plug will be positioned under the casing of the exterior side. Keep the motorbike in a standing position, and reach underneath the primary case cover of the plug. 

There you will find the drain plug underneath the casing. You will also see that the casing is attached using a bolt. Harley Davidson will have five bolts around the primary drain case. You need to loosen and remove them using the T-27 torque bit and socket wrench. Also, keep the five bolts in a secure position to don’t lose them. 

If you find it difficult to locate the primary case and drain plug, you can check the owner’s manual. It will help you easily locate the plug at the bottom of the clutch. 

Once you have removed the bolts, you can access the drain plug. Now, it’s time to insert the dipstick inside the drain plug. 

Step 3: Insert The Dipstick And Check The Primary Oil 

You will need to insert the dipstick inside the oil housing through the drain plug. The dipstick will have the “full” and “need oil replacement” marks described. When you insert the dipstick through the drain plug, keep it inside for a few seconds. 

Then, bring it back to see where the oil level has reached. It will tell you if the primary oil is in optimal condition or not. Also, you should drain the primary oil in a primary pan. After that, inspect the fluid to know if it has gone bad. Usually, when the primary oil has been used for more than its recommended period, it will turn deep black. It signals that the primary oil has gone bad, and you should change it ASAP. When you are done with the checking of all the oil, you should remount the primary cover appropriately. 

How To Change Primary Oil On Harley Davidson Motorbikes?

How To Change Primary Oil On Harley Davidson Motorbikes

When you check the primary oil of your Harley Davidson, it might appear to have gone bad. Thus, you will need to replace the fluid with a new one. Thankfully, changing the primary fluid of your Harley Davidson is as easy as it gets. 

Step 1: Assemble Everything You Will Need 

Firstly, you should assemble all the basic tools to change Harley Davidson’s primary. So, please keep all the tools that we have enlisted below before you start changing the primary oil. 

  • Primary funnel
  • New O-ring
  • T27 torque bit
  • 5/8-inch socket
  • Socket wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Primary cover gasket
  • Drain pan

Step 2: Remove The Primary Case And Access The Plug 

We have already mentioned the location of the primary drain case and the position of the plug underneath it. Thus, locate it for primary oil change. After that, loosen the five bolts of the case cover using the T27 torque bit and 5/8 socket wrench. You must ensure that the torque wrench and socket are neat and clean so that they don’t spill from your hands. 

Set all five bolts aside securely. It will help you find them easily when you will tighten them. After that, you will need to drain the primary fluid. 

Step 3: Drain The Primary Oil 

Now, open the primary plug and start draining the remaining primary. However, slide the drain pan in its proper place before removing the plug. You will need to tilt the motorbike slightly to drain the last drop of the fluid. It will help you drain the excess oil properly.

Step 4: Replace The Old Gasket And O-Ring

When you have drained the fluid from the Harley Davidson, you would also need to replace the old O-ring and gasket. Pull the old gasket from the cover using the torque bit. Now, install the new gasket on the primary case cover. 

Then, wash off the drain plug from any existing debris and residues. After that, install the new O-ring to ensure proper sealing of your motorbike’s plug and draining system. 

Step 5: Add The New Primary Oil And Remount The Case Cover

Now, carefully pour in the primary inside the primary case of your Harley motorbike. Use the funnel so that you can pour in the fluid easily. You should see the owner’s manual to see how much primary fluid the motorbike will need. 

For instance, Harley Softails will need 1-quart of primary fluid. Also, check the fluid level closely. It should comfortably touch the bottom of the clutch plate. Finally, remount the case cover and tighten it with the bolts securely. You will need to use the torque wrench to remount the primary cover. 

An Important Note: 

This method shows you the replacement process of primary fluid for Harley Softail motorbikes. Also, we have used Synthetic V-Twin Primary Fluid. Motorcycle experts suggest that this fluid is truly useful for Harley motorbikes. It comes in a 1-quart bottle which is also the recommended level for Harley bikes. 

Harley Primary Oil, Engine Oil, And Transmission Fluid Difference: Should You Use One Or Three Oils?

Harley Primary Oil, Engine Oil, And Transmission Fluid Difference Should You Use One Or Three Oils

Recent day V-twin engines come with a shared sump tank. These engines will, therefore, use the same engine, transmission, and primary oil. This description may make people think that Harley V-twin engines do the same.  Well, that’s not true. 

Harley Davidson has designed their V-twin engine differently. These V-twin engines have separate sumps for lubrication and oil. As a result, the engine uses separate engine oil. Its primary oil and transmission fluid are separate as well. So, you can’t use similar oil and fluid for the Harley V-twin engines. 

Nonetheless, many riders will still use one oil and lubrication for all three purposes. It will reduce the cost of fuel and lubrication for Harley engines considerably. The users claim that it improves the engine efficiency too. So the bike and engine can deliver all-around performance. It brings uniformity in all three parts and makes bike maintenance easy. 

On the contrary, others argue about the efficiency of using one oil for the engine, lubrication, and primary oil. They comment that the Harley V-twin engine will have reduced performance. It also causes more wear and tear on the metal parts. 

So, what should you do? Should you use one or three oils for Harley engines?

Here’s the key takeaway that can be valuable for you:

  • Using one lubricant in all three parts will work efficiently if you want convenience and simplicity. Using a similar oil and lubricant for all parts won’t have any significant difference in the performance. 
  • If you wish to go by the book, using three different and recommended oil for the three parts will be suitable. It won’t come with any big performance booster, though. The key is to use the correct primary oil and engine lubrication. 

You can consult with an experienced Harley mechanic for the best choice. Also, discuss with your bike community members to find the right solution for the Harley V-twin engine between the three vs. one oil.

Synthetic Vs. Conventional Oil For Harley:

Many riders are concerned about using conventional and synthetic oil for their Harley. They think using synthetic oil may affect the Harley engines badly. Also, some think they can’t return to the Harley-recommended oil once they have shifted to the synthetic one. 

The good thing is that synthetic or conventional H-D oil won’t affect the engine’s performance. The engine will deliver the right performance if you use the right oil, be it synthetic or regular. Also, you can go back and forth between the oil and lubricant types. A discussion in the Oil Depot blog suggested that Harley users can shift between recommended H-D and synthetic oils. The key is to maintain the engine properly. They will get the anticipated performance and love riding their Harleys.


Procrastinating to change the primary oil of your Harley Davidson will reduce its performance. It also increases the wearing of the primary chain case cover and gear. Thus, you should check the fluid timely and change it whenever needed. Usually, you should replace the primary oil in Harley for 1000 miles at first.

After that, you should change the primary oil every 8000 to 10000 miles. Or change it after two years in your Harley, as we mentioned previously. It will make bike maintenance easy and fun. And our primary oil check and replacement steps would help you.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1.How Much Oil Goes In The Primary Of A Harley Davidson?

Ans: Usually, you will need 1-quart of primary fluid to fill the primary case of your Harley Davidson. As the thumb rule, it should reach the bottom of the clutch. 

2.How Do You Fill A Harley Davidson Primary?

Ans: You will need to drain the old fluid by removing the drain plug from the case. Then, replace the O-ring and gasket. Finally, fill the primary with the fluid using a funnel. 

3.How Often Should I Change The Primary Oil In My Harley?

Ans: You should change the fluid of your Harley once every 8000 to 10000 miles. Also, you will need to change the transmission oil once every 5000 miles for the Harley.

2 thoughts on “Tips On How To Check Primary Oil On Harley Davidson And Its Changing Process”

    • You can check the primary oil level of your 2010 883 using a diptick. First, heat the engine for a couple of minutes by running your motorcycle. Then, remove the cover from the primary drain plug and insert the dipstick.

      Finally, take out the dipstick to see remaining level of the primary fluid.

      Let Us know if it’s work


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