Home » Rider Tips & Tricks » Motorcycle Oil Leak: Find It & Fix It

Help me MotorcycleZombies, you're my only hope!

Motorcycle Oil Leak: Find It & Fix It


Taking care of a task for your license or motorcycle? Be prepared to satisfy any motorcycle insurance requirements.

Please enter your ZIP to get your insurance quote.

If you’ve noticed a mysterious oil leak coming from your motorcycle, it’s time to take action.

Motorcycles are complex machines, and an oil leak can be caused by any number of things.

From worn seals to faulty gaskets and more, finding the source of the problem is essential before attempting a repair. You’ll need to know what you’re actually looking for, and what the repair is going to entail.

Here, we will walk you through how to identify the cause of an oil leak on your motorcycle and provide step-by-step instructions for repairing it safely at home.

We will cover common causes such as leaking hoses, bad seals or gaskets, broken parts, or improper maintenance procedures.

Symptoms of an Oil Leak

Oil leaks on motorcycles can manifest in a number of ways. Some of the most common symptoms include: 

  • Visible Leakage.
  • Burning Oil Smell.
  • Decrease in Oil Pressure.
  • Reduced Performance or Power Loss. 
  • Oil Warning Light.

1. Visible Leakage

Oftentimes, the first symptom of an oil leak that you’ll notice is visible leakage from the motorcycle’s engine or transmission cases.

This can be seen as spots of oil collecting on the ground beneath the motorcycle when it’s parked or drips/stains on the cases themselves.

2. Burning Oil Smell

As oil leaks out, it will often leave behind a burning and acrid smell that indicates a problem with your engine or transmission. 

Burning oil while the engine is running can produce blue smoke from the exhaust.

3. Decrease in Oil Pressure

Another tell-tale sign of an oil leak is a decrease in oil pressure from what it should be.

If your engine experiences low oil pressure, then this could indicate that there is an underlying problem with an oil leak somewhere in the system.  

Poor running conditions, rough idle, trouble shifting, overheating, and loud engine noises can all be indications of this.

4. Reduced Performance or Power Loss

In extreme cases, if you are losing too much oil due to a leak, then you may experience reduced performance or power loss when riding your motorcycle due to insufficient lubrication of moving parts and components within the engine and transmission complex.  

5. Oil Leak Warning Light

Most modern motorcycles will have a warning light on their dashboard that lights up when they detect low levels of oil due to an ongoing leak somewhere in the system.

This warning light should not be ignored as it indicates that something needs to be done about the issue before more serious damage occurs to your bike’s components and systems.

Why is your motorcycle leaking oil?

There are several reasons why your motorcycle might be leaking oil.

The most common causes of oil leaks in motorcycles include:

  • Worn or damaged seals.
  • Faulty gaskets.
  • Damaged parts.
  • Improper maintenance. 

Worn or Damaged Seals

Seals are essential components that help keep oil from leaking out of the engine and transmission.

Over time these seals can become worn or damaged due to wear and tear, age, or exposure to heat and pressure.

When this happens, oil will leak from the engine or transmission as a result. 

The faulty seals will need to be replaced to prevent leaking.

Faulty Gaskets

Gaskets are similar to seals but are used on certain components of the motorcycle like the valve cover gasket which prevents oil from leaking out of the cylinder head.

Faulty gaskets can cause an oil leak if they become soft over time or crack due to wear and tear. 

Gaskets are generally found anywhere where different engine cases and engine covers meet. These areas can be good places to check and trace the source of your oil leak.

Damaged Parts

Parts within a motorcycle’s engine such as crankshafts, rings, pistons, bearings, etc., can also become damaged over time due to wear and tear or exposure to extreme temperatures.

When this happens, it can create tiny gaps where oil may seep through and cause an oil leak. 

Improper Maintenance

Finally, if proper maintenance procedures for your motorcycle aren’t followed such as regularly checking for leaks in hoses and gaskets, then an oil leak can easily occur without being noticed until it’s too late.

It’s important to check for any signs of a leak before using your motorcycle in order to avoid any bigger problems down the line.

Can you ignore it and keep riding?

No, it is not recommended to ignore an oil leak and keep riding your motorcycle.

An oil leak means that there is a problem with the engine or transmission of your bike which can cause serious damage if left unchecked.

Without proper lubrication and cooling, components within the engine can wear down faster than normal and eventually fail completely.

This can be costly to repair so it’s always better to address an oil leak as soon as possible in order to prevent any further damage down the line. 

How to Find the Leak

Finding the source of an oil leak can be difficult, but the first step is to get a good look at your engine.

Check all hoses, gaskets, seals, and components for any signs of damage or wear. Make sure to pay extra attention to any areas that are exposed to heat or pressure as these are more likely to develop leaks over time.

Additionally, if the oil has turned a bright yellow or green color, then this could indicate that coolant is leaking into the engine and should be addressed immediately. 

Remember, oil will typically trickle down from its leak to the lowest point on the motorcycle. Look for the drip and try to trace it back to its original source as you start your diagnosis.

Fixing a Motorcycle Oil Leak

Once the source of the oil leak has been identified, it’s time to take action.

If a seal or gasket is damaged then these can usually be replaced fairly easily with aftermarket parts. If a part of the engine has become worn down or damaged, then you may need to replace it entirely depending on its condition.

Make sure to check the oil levels regularly and replace any lost oil as soon as possible to avoid further damage. 

A motorcycle oil leak can be an indication of a serious problem that needs to be addressed immediately before more expensive repairs become necessary. Finding and fixing the source of the leak quickly is essential for keeping your bike running smoothly and avoiding any costly repairs.

With the right knowledge and a little bit of effort, you can keep your motorcycle in top shape and on the road for years to come.