How to Change the Fork Oil in Most Harleys


All Harley owners need to change their oil and filters at the recommended intervals published by the manufacturer. You’ll see folks taking care of their engine without a second thought. What you don’t always see is the maintenance needed on the bike’s front end.


Some Harley owners don’t even realize that there is oil in the front fork. The good news is that this job is relatively straightforward. You get to do the work while the motorcycle is on the ground. If you’ve got a rainy weekend day without much to do, then you’ve got the perfect time to change the oil.


Harley Recommends an Annual Oil Change


Unless there are exceptional circumstances involved with your ownership, Harley Davidson recommends that all owners change their fork oil at least once per year. You should do it every 10,000 miles that you drive if you put a lot of miles on your bike each year.


You need to reference the owner’s manual for your bike to determine the specific kind of fork oil required for this job. If you own a Softail, then you probably need Type E oil, but there can be some differences out there to consider.


You’ll also notice that two fork oil quantities get listed in the service manual for your motorcycle. There is a wet and a dry quantity measurement for you to consider.


If you’re draining out the old oil to add a fresh product, then you must use the wet measurement found in your paperwork. When you disassemble the front end and wipe the old oil from all of the internal parts, then you must use the dry measurement once everything gets reassembled.


Using the example from the Softail, the wet measurement is 11.5 ounces, while the dry approach requires 12.5 ounces.


How to Drain Your Fork Oil


Use a #2 Philips screwdriver to remove the drain screw and its washer from the front fork. It can be affixed to the bike tightly, which means you need to be prepared for some massive torque. Have a drain pan underneath to catch the oil after you loosen the screw.


After the old oil gets drained, place a large towel or blanket over your gas tank to protect it against spills and scrapes. Then use a 1-3/8-inch wrench or an adjustable model to remove the slider tube cap. Adding air will help speed up the draining.


You can ensure that all of the oil gets drained from the front fork by holding the front brake while pushing down and pulling up on the handlebar. You’ll need to do this several times to pump the fluids out of the system.


Then you re-install the drain screw to keep the new oil in the system. It helps to use a funnel in the top of the fork tube to prevent spills. Then tighten everything up to the appropriate torque listed in your owner’s manual to complete the work.


It usually takes about an hour to go through all of the steps.

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