How to check your Motorcycle Oil Pressure

As part of a service you should look at the oil pressure to check that there are no problems, it’s relatively easy to perform and the motorcycle oil pressure gauges and kit is relatively cheap which is worthwhile since you’re able to diagnose and check for any potential issues. Most vehicles will have an indicator on the dashboard to warn you about low oil pressure but very few will give you the exact pressure which will help you diagnose the problem and check to see if it’s within service limits.

This is a very simple procedure to follow using a service manual, this one was done on a Suzuki SV650 but the principle is exactly the same.

First test the oil indicator light by starting the engine, if the light remains on after a few seconds of the engine running, quickly check the oil indicator light circuit to make sure it’s free of fault. Next with the motorbike on the center stand or paddock stands etc… check the oil level before doing the test and top up. Check for oil leaks as well rather than waste your time checking the pressure when you know it’s leaking oil from a faulty seal, gasket etc…

Remove the oil galley plug

If there’s no fault or leaking oil, it’s time to test the pressure, first let the motorcycle cool down then locate the oil galley plug, get a drip tray to catch the oil and remove the bolt and connect the oil pressure gauge. Unless you know the exact size and adapter you need to attach the gauge you’ll want to get someone to hold their finger over the hole to try to minimise the amount of oil you lose as you try to find and match the correct adapter.

Oil pressure figures

This is why a service manual would be handy as not only will it tell you the oil pressure your bike should have but most service manuals should tell you the size of the bolt. Make sure that the gauge and adapter are securely fitted before running the bike!

Attach the motorcycle oil pressure gauge

Now with the gauge connected start up the bike and let it warm up on idle – about 10 minutes in summer, 20 in winter, now rev the bike at around 3,000 – 4,000 RPM, again, the service manual should let you know how long to warm up the bike and at what speeds to test the pressure and temperature.

motorcycle oil pressure gauge

You should now have a reading (PSI, KpA etc…) on the pressure gauge to compare against the manual. If the pressure is out of the range, either lower or higher, then you have a problem which you need to resolve. Failure to do so will result in a rather large bill to repair your damaged engine as a result and it’s not something you want to have happen to you as you’re out riding – either engine failure or a large bill(!)

There are multiple reasons as to what can cause motorcycle oil pressure problems, most commonly low oil pressure, some are easier to fix than others and starting with the obvious you can soon figure them out and retest very easily.

Possibly related?...

  1. Troubleshooting Low Oil Pressure
  2. How to do an engine compression test