Oil Drain Down

Discussion in 'Sportster Models' started by Cheers, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. Cheers

    Cheers New Member

    I have a 2014 XL1200T, prior to this I had a 2008 XL1200N.
    The "Oil Level COLD check for the 2008 said.....
    1. Position motorcycle so that it is leaning on jiffy stand on level ground.
    2. Remove filler cap. Wipe attached dipstick clean. Reinstall oil filler cap in tank.
    3. Remove oil filler cap again and check oil level on dipstick. Dipstick has two marks. If oil level is at or below lower mark (2), add only enough oil to bring the level to a point between the two arrows on the dipstick.Replace filler cap.
    The "Oil Level COLD check for the 2014 says.....
    1. Park the motorcycle on level ground on the jiffy stand.
    2. Remove the filler cap and wipe the dipstick clean. Install the oil filler cap in tank.
    1. Remove oil filler cap again and visually check for oil in the tank.
    2. "If oil is not visible in the tank", install the filler cap.

    If the oil pressure lamp stays lit after starting engine, immediately shut the engine off.
    5. Start and idle the engine for 30 seconds. Stop the engine.
    6. Remove oil filler cap and visually check for oil in the tank.

    I usually check the oil before taking the bike out for a ride (ie. cold).
    Twice after setting for a week, I've discovered "oil is not visible in the tank".
    When I "Start and idle the engine for 30 seconds" the engine makes a sound like jet winding up.
    (a deep whine that increases in pitch until it disappears).
    After shutting it off 30 seconds or so later the oil in the tank is fine.
    A guy at the dealership even said he pinches off the oil line from the tank to stop it from happening.

    By virtue of the change in the owners manual it seems like Harley knows this can/does happen.
    Everything I read says it's because a check ball gets stuck/dirty and lets the oil drain down into the engine.

    First question: Does the noise the engine makes after the oil has drained down indicate a current or future problem?
    Second question:(EDIT) ! They've been making the Evo sportsters for almost 30 years and they can't keep oil in the tank!


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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2015
  2. dolt

    dolt Senior Member

    Softails are the same way; the oil tank is higher than the sump and gravity takes over. Just start the bike and let the pump scavenge the crank case and pull the oil back to the tank and then check.

    Many softail owners have over filled because the checked with the dipstick and the oil level didn't register because it had drained into the sump. So, they add to "full" level, fire up the bike and have oil puking out the breathers and air filter housing. Lesson learned, start the bike first, let her idle for a minute, shut her off and check oil.:s
  3. Cheers

    Cheers New Member

    Soooo you can't tell if there is oil in a Harley unless you start it.
    If there is no oil, then the engine is running dry until you turn it off.
    If all the oil is in the sump does it have to be pumped back into the tank before it gets to the engine?
  4. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Guest

    If the check ball is not holding the oil will fill the crank case, most often when starting it will puke oil out the air cleaner as it is trying to return ALL this oil to the tank
  5. dolt

    dolt Senior Member

    If the motor is run daily or every few days, there will likely be oil in the tank. However, if the motor is not run for weeks, oil will slowly leak past the check valve and into the sump. That is why the instructions you included suggest looking in the tank. No harm will come to the motor if it is started and the motor is allowed to idle for a minute or so but once started, no revving, let the motor idle and re-circulate the oil throughout the system.

    Don't over think this; follow the instructions and add oil when necessary.:s
  6. geezer

    geezer Senior Member Contributor

    I always check oil after a ride, oil hot, when I know that no sumping has happened.
  7. Cheers

    Cheers New Member

    I guess I understand this is a "feature" Harley owners have to get used to but....
    one of the reasons I like the Evo Sportsters is that they've been around so long they should just WORK. Yes I know the Iron Heads had the same problem but the Evo was supposed to save Harley (and it did). I know the "new" Evo Sportsters are not the same as the originals but you would think that if this is a known problem, somewhere between carbureted solid mounts and fuel injected rubber mounts they would have fixed this.
    Thanks everyone.
  8. signwise

    signwise Member

    I was not aware of this; good to know, probably overfilled mine.
  9. gator508

    gator508 Well-Known Member


    Hopefully you have resolved your problem. According to what you wrote, it does not say to check the dipstick for the oil level, is oil visible on the dipstick. As others have suggested, run the engine until the oil is hot then check the level.