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How do you check the oil?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Bramwell, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Bramwell

    Bramwell 1983 XS400 Maxim

    Hi there, My name is Bram. Perhaps this is a really dumb question, but I'm new to the world of motorcycles and recently bought a 1983 XS400. I don't really have any friends who ride so I was hoping to find someone that can walk me through some of this basic stuff.
    - Checking oil; is there a dipstick somewhere like on a car?
    Thanks for any help you can provide!
  2. volcomskater77

    volcomskater77 XS400 Chopophile Top Contributor

  3. Bramwell

    Bramwell 1983 XS400 Maxim

    Hmmm, thanks! I guess there's a little window or something? I'll go and check that right now!
    Yeah, Thanks!! :thumbsup:
  4. Bramwell

    Bramwell 1983 XS400 Maxim

    I found the little window where I'm supposed to see a line of oil, but I can't see anything? I'm going to change the oil anyway, but what might be happening here?
  5. dellrio

    dellrio XS400 Member

    When I bought mine, i could not see anything in the window, so I checked the dipstick, the oil level was lower than the window so i added some more and then I could see it.

    there should be a dipstick attached to the oil cap too.
  6. Pawl

    Pawl Arctic chop & bob

    Some XS400's have the window, some don't (most likely early models). Mine has both a window, and a dipstick? Whatever you have .. Absolutely make sure you check the oil with the bike standing vertical on level ground NOT! on the sidestand . . . . I have seen lots of guys with bikes they complain about lack of power & sluggish. that's the first & easiest thing I check for, You will have way too much oil in your engine if you check it with the bike on the sidestand. I have heard it can also lead to blowing out seals & nasty stuff like that.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  7. dellrio

    dellrio XS400 Member

    Excelent point! I usually put min on the center stand and put a few wood shims under each wheel so it balances between the two to get the bike level.
  8. My '80 has window with lines in casing next to window showing max/min oil level but no dipstick on cap. Absolutely, center stand is a must! This issue has caused many a problem for scoot and cycle newbies.
  9. volcomskater77

    volcomskater77 XS400 Chopophile Top Contributor

    you guys have it easy. i hacked off the center stand mounts on my bobber, so i have to balance it and check at the same time, all while straddling. lol :D
  10. Pawl

    Pawl Arctic chop & bob

    When I raked the front and lowered the rear shocks, I had to cut & re-weld the sidestand, and I wanted to lean the bike in the best position while I modified the sidestand. I found that wedging a 4x4 under the head fins to the ground I was able to position the bike easily in a vertical position . . . while keeping a close eye on it at all times, I was even concerned about wind blowing it over, I have used this trick to check my oil since I chopped it, works good, but be ready to grab it (I haven't had to yet).
  11. Travis

    Travis Staff Member Staff Member

    Tip of the day... Once you cut the center stand off, use a low profile motorcycle jack to keep it upright while checking the oil.
  12. do you check the oil level as indicated with the dipstick screwed in tight or with the dipstick unscrewed and laid in the hole without screwing it back in?

  13. The answer to that can vary according to who responds. I just set the dipstick on the hole for bikes w/o a sight glass. My '80 has the sight glass.

    **Yamaha Service Manual says to reinsert dipstick but not to screw it in!
  14. HoughMade

    HoughMade XS400 Guru Top Contributor

  15. thanks alot! "allowing it to rest on the threads of the hole" ...how did I miss that?

  16. KungFuBiker

    KungFuBiker XS400 Member

    hey everyone, i am a total noob to the XS400 and to motorcycles. just bought an '81 and doing all my preliminary work on it...i know cars pretty well and some engine theory. just have a few questions...what is the optimal oil to use? what weight? regular/synthetic? also where is my choke? and the fuel stopper seems to have 3 positions, PR, ON, and RES...which was should the long end of the selector be facing to the corresponding positions? thanks for all your help!
  17. FUBAR

    FUBAR XS400 Addict

    i use 20-w50 diesel oil, best not to use conventional gasoline car oil because you will have problems with the wet clutch. as for the petcock nob, its the long grip part that faces the direction you want . the chokes on the left hand side of the carbs on the front rail sort of thing. your black choke pull knob may be busted off so it will just look like a small metal 5mm rod with a groove in it. pull it out ward. theres 3 positions no choke, 1/2choke, full choke
  18. Lou Ranger

    Lou Ranger Former xs400 Luddite Top Contributor

    I'm noob too and I was warned off car oils, especially synthetic ones because we have wet clutches and all the additives for car engines will mess them up. But there are lots of motorcycle oils for wet clutches out there. Weight depends on model, temperature etc - check the manual.
  19. KungFuBiker

    KungFuBiker XS400 Member

    thanks! how do i know which xs400 i have? heritage? special? f model? ive heard a lot of names thrown around....all i have is the title and the VIN, no manual.
  20. drewpy

    drewpy Excess twin Top Contributor

    right so what is the VIN? other than that or a picture, we have no idea what you have :shrug:

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