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Introduction

Although there have been some minor changes to the Sportster over the years, the oil change procedure for all 1986-present models is the same. This guide uses a 1998 Sportster as an example.

  1. Securing the bike in an upright position allows for easier access to the drain tube. Always make sure your work area is clean and you have plenty of room to work safely.  Never start or run your motorcycle indoors. Always make sure your work area is clean and you have plenty of room to work safely.  Never start or run your motorcycle indoors.
    • Securing the bike in an upright position allows for easier access to the drain tube.

    • Always make sure your work area is clean and you have plenty of room to work safely. Never start or run your motorcycle indoors.

    What if you forgot to add oil to the filter 1/2 way after you put it back, will it make a problem?

    humbertoc_13 - Reply

  2. Unlike most vehicles, the Harley Sportster Evolution Engine has an oil drain tube, not a plug. This tube is attached by a house clamp to a nipple welded to the frame. Loosen the house clamp with a Flathead Screwdriver. Do not remove the tube until you have your drain pan in position.
    • Unlike most vehicles, the Harley Sportster Evolution Engine has an oil drain tube, not a plug.

    • This tube is attached by a house clamp to a nipple welded to the frame.

    • Loosen the house clamp with a Flathead Screwdriver. Do not remove the tube until you have your drain pan in position.

    • Removing the cap/dipstick from your oil tank at this point may help your oil drain faster.

    • Pull the hose free from it's nipple and allow the oil to drain into your drain pan.

    • When the oil slows to a drip, replace the hose. Do not tighten the clamp yet, we will return for that later.

  3. The oil filter is located at the front of the engine, between the frame downtube and front cylinder. Move the oil pan to the front of the bike, directly underneath the oil filter. Remove the oil filter. This may require an oil filter wrench.
    • The oil filter is located at the front of the engine, between the frame downtube and front cylinder.

    • Move the oil pan to the front of the bike, directly underneath the oil filter.

    • Remove the oil filter. This may require an oil filter wrench.

    • If you don't have an oil-catcher, the oil will run down the frame, and get on some parts of the bike. There is no easy way to prevent this, so just wipe it down when it's done dripping.

    What iz the # of the oil filter associated with the 99 sportster s xl

    magoo1 - Reply

    oil filter oem# 63796-77a for all xl sportsters up to 2003

    Eric J - Reply

    If you don’t have a wrench and the filter is hard to remove you can hammer ( I used a rubber mallet to avoid damaging paint) a screwdriver clean through the old filter and then bang on the handle of the screwdriver ( anti-clockwise) until the filter unscrews. It’s an ugly but effective way to get the job done.

    Charlie Kinross - Reply

    Does the screw on bolt behind the oil filter supposed to be against the engine casing or backed off some?

    2002 Sportster 883xl

    Charles Morris Jr. - Reply

  4. Open 1 quart of oil. Pour it into the filter until the filter is about 1/2 full. Apply a small amount of clean oil to the rubber gasket on the new oil filter. Wipe down the oil filter mounting area, and any oil residue that has run down onto the motorcycle.
    • Open 1 quart of oil. Pour it into the filter until the filter is about 1/2 full.

    • Apply a small amount of clean oil to the rubber gasket on the new oil filter.

    • Wipe down the oil filter mounting area, and any oil residue that has run down onto the motorcycle.

    • Make sure that the old gasket came off with the filter, and you have a clean smooth surface to install the new filter on.

  5. Carefully thread your new oil filter into place, turning it in a clockwise direction. Do not overtighten your filter. Only turn the filter a 1/2 turn past the point where you start to feel resistance from the gasket contacting the engine.
    • Carefully thread your new oil filter into place, turning it in a clockwise direction. Do not overtighten your filter. Only turn the filter a 1/2 turn past the point where you start to feel resistance from the gasket contacting the engine.

  6. Move the drain pan back underneath the oil drain tube. By this time more oil will have collected in it. Remove the tube again, and allow it to run out until it is just a light drip. Reinstall the oil drain tube on its nipple, tightening the hose clamp with a flathead Screwdriver.
    • Move the drain pan back underneath the oil drain tube. By this time more oil will have collected in it. Remove the tube again, and allow it to run out until it is just a light drip.

    • Reinstall the oil drain tube on its nipple, tightening the hose clamp with a flathead Screwdriver.

  7. Pull the oil cap/dipstick off of the oil tank. Some models will require the cap to be twisted first, then pulled. If you are not sure what model you have, work carefully and gently, making sure to not damage anything. Using your funnel, slowly pour 3 quarts of oil into your oil tank.
    • Pull the oil cap/dipstick off of the oil tank.

    • Some models will require the cap to be twisted first, then pulled. If you are not sure what model you have, work carefully and gently, making sure to not damage anything.

    • Using your funnel, slowly pour 3 quarts of oil into your oil tank.

    • Although the Evolution engine holds up to 3.5 quarts after a rebuild or when filled new, only 3 get replaced during the oil change.

    • Use the oilcap/dipstick to check your engine oil level (holding the bike level if you have been working with your side-stand). You oil level should be kept between the 2 dipstick marks. After refilling with 3 quarts it should be right to the top one.

Conclusion

It is a good idea to start your engine and let it run for a few minutes. Check your drain tube and oil filter for leaks. Recheck your oil level, and adjust if needed.

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Eric Essen

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One of the most helpful guides on a sportster oil change.

brandon christian - Reply

You may be able to use a Form-A-Funnel (Pig Funnel) to catch the oil from the filter.

http://www.formafunnel.com/buyNow.html

IF(!) I owned a Hardley like this, i would keep an eye on the drain hose for deterioration or road debris damage, and probably carry a spare hose. Also, a vandal could loosen the clamp or cut the hose.

George - Reply

Very helpful, simple instruction, good pictures

Howard Brewer - Reply

Best oil change I've read. Easy and hard to make mistakes. A+

Phillip Esquibel -

Eric Essen: G. bless your generations forever. Manu, Brazil.

Manu Costa - Reply

Great help thanks

Roy - Reply

Great help thank you

Roy - Reply

Thank you! made it easy (except the oil filter was a bastard to get off) :)

Melissa Ross - Reply

Your instructions are quick and to the point covering the most important steps in an oil and filter change. I had to research getting the oil filter off - the HD dealership crew tightened it on so tight the filter was seized up solid so I actually used the removal wrench and drilled the face of it with five self tapping screws directly into the filter. Next, I used a pipe on my ratchet handle for added torque for removal - more than 3' of pipe. Thanks again for well thought out directions. Clean oil and filter and No leaks!!!

Peter Murphy - Reply

thumbs up helpful guide

markmelton520 - Reply

Great article , very clear with good pics.

A few things I worked out while following it :

If you live in the UK or Europe 3 Quarts ( 3/4 of a US Gallon ) is 2.8 litres or 5 pints of oil.

I used 20W50 semi-synthetic oil.

Warm the bike engine first if it’s cold - the oil will run out more freely.

If you don’t have a filter wrench and the old filter is hard to remove I was recommended the following trick by 2 different mechanics. - You can hammer a screwdriver clean through the sides of the old filter and then bang on the handle of the screwdriver ( anti-clockwise) until the filter unscrews. I used a rubber mallet to avoid dinging the paint. It’s an ugly but effective way to get the job done.

I should have invested in a box of disposable gloves

Charlie Kinross - Reply

Hi

this is really good information

Harley-Davidson Sportster Evolution Oil Change

this my website related bikes please check it

++https://comparebox.pk/sports-bikes/harle...

naveed - Reply

Thanks Eric

I’m 65 years young and first time HD rider. All the other bikes were basically simple. The Harley has a few quirky ways to assemble and torque bolts. Re: Head bolt specs on torque procedures. Your pictures and explanations were very easy to understand and use. Thanks for the help.

Joe Danny Roberts - Reply

Selection of oil matter a lot in the health of engine. So try your best to change it at time, and also prefer a oil that is engine friendly. Like https://he.com.pk/machines/bikes/best-mo... are best for the Honda CD 70 and Honda 125.

Alex Smith - Reply

Thanks a ton, I already knew what I was after, but your pictures are great for second checking my own handy work.

my ride is a 1999 Sportster XL1200 Sport with stock pipes and an S&S Super E Jetted .0295 / .072

poundbabypuppy - Reply

Anybody’s day can understand your clear , and to the point instructions…..

jeff fredrikson - Reply

Thanks , simple and shows /tell what to do. Thumbs up mate

storkefar - Reply

88 Sportster 1200 XLH : After searching and searching for the drain hose under the bike, it turns out the hose is attached to the bottom of the battery tray, NOT the muffler mounts.

paula - Reply

Fantastic information thank you very much

Thomas Harders - Reply

What’s the best way to get the very most oil out of your motor? Would it help to drop the oil pump? Would this allow your sump to drain more thoroughly

Mark Galicki - Reply

Great learning aid for beginners.

dcrowselldri - Reply

You never stated what kind of oil?!!

Zach Smith - Reply

Thank you! I’m about to do this for the first time. I have a Sportster -91 and my drain tube seem to have a different location, right under the battery.

I hope the procedure is the same anyway…

I found files and 3d-printed a tool for the oil filter:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:395595...

ajohan67 - Reply

Thanks for the heads up on the drain hose I was looking for a drain plug this is the first small bike I ever had great information thanks again Paul Taylor St Louis MO

Paul Taylor - Reply

Thanks brother!

rfm1015@aim.com - Reply

That was very thorough. Please let us know when you're ready to do the primary. Thanks so much.

Bobby Bagley - Reply

What type of oil, regular or synthetic, is used? 98 sportster. In the past I bought Harley oil, but in my area I can only find synthetic.

Jama Hyde - Reply

glad to see it written that 86 to present sportsters are all the same as far as the oil drain line.i have owned quite a few of them and now have an 88 1200. i looked around under it for this drain hose,didn’t see it so came looking for info. the manual don’t show where it is. and sometimes,people can run them to various places for whatever reason,so i assumed maybe this one had some different setip.but thanks,i’ll go look closer,i’m sure it’s right there like every other i’ve changed i just overlooked it.it’s hard finding specific info on such thibgs even with a worldwide database to look at.weird it is.

shelbster - Reply

My friend lost his job due to covid, did not want to ruin credit, so I took over payments, he is 5.8 160lbs, I'm 6.2 240lbs, the Mc has front controls, I can't see out of mirrors, the rear shocks are terrible, can I put progressive 13inc shocks on rear without having to mess with front end? Also he had just bought Mc so had less than 1000 miles on it, when I got to 1000 miles I changed oil myself an easy 20min job that Harley wanted $400 to do, it says you change tyranny oil at 5000 miles, Mc runs good but I would not buy it bc is to small for a person my size, unless he gets a job and pays me back I guess I did buy it, mirrors are no problem, and don't want to dump money into this Mc, only want a little comfort when riding, so I guess my question is can I put 13inc progressive shocks on rear without having to mess with front end.

Tim Flath - Reply

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