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Yearly oil change


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May 28, 2013
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Forgive me(moderators can delete this thread),if this already been discussed
my question is about "mandatory" change oil every year,as manual recommends.
is it a must? i'm using honda's top of the line synthetic oil,but this year (after oil change) i got only 1000 miles or so after the change. do i have to change it again?
same situation on my old mercedes-manual says same thing-change oil every 10K miles OR once a year. same mileage after oil change. the only difference is that MB uses 9qt of it

Thank you!
I'm not an engineer, or even a good mechanic, but it seems like the oil won't spoil in there, and as you are 1/8th of the way through the oil life, it seems like you could go without changing it.

You could ride a little more? :)
I believe the annual recommendation stems from the notion that a calendar year may be enough heat-cool condensation cycles to develop some moisture in the crankcase. The moisture may cause corrosion on finely machined bearing surfaces that are not immersed or covered with oil. Such condensation is burned off when engines are run a while at operating temperature but if they sit long periods the moisture accumulates. I think it's cheap insurance against the small chance of damage. Just my opinion.
My personal preference is to change it... Wouldn't hurt anything.

Even just sitting, it is not really a sealed container.. its going to absorb moisture from the air, if its only gone on short trips then it will absorb unburnt fuels/contaminates since the engine never gets hot enough to burn it off. The only way to know for sure is to do a used oil analysis, they will tell you how much "life" is left in the oil. But for that you have to drain some of the oil out.
Yes, it needs to be changed, for much of the reasons dduelin wrote. Miles are not the only thing that 'uses up' motor oil. :)

Also, consider that manufacturers in general, and Honda in particular, seek to push drain intervals to the maximum for a number of reasons. The annual drain is not an exception to this.
If your bike sits over 2 months with the same gas, drain the gas first. Fuel injected, so put a little injector cleaner in the new gas, would not hurt anything. When a engine sits for a long period, I have seen a few times when gas leaks pass the injection system into the oil. This was a lot more common with carburetor engines. As gas in the oil is not so good, the companies engineers tell you to put in new oil in the engine every time the bike sits to long time. This way the engineers do have all possiblities covered. The oil on the engine parts inside the engine will follow the direction that gravity takes it. Not starting the engine of a long time, with no oil on some of those engine parts for a long time, these parts will corrode inside the engine.
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I let oil go two to three years on low use engines, sometime longer on an unused engine like an emergency generator. Never had any problems. But you gotta understand that I own 20 engines. If I was changing the oil in every engine every year, I'd go through 5 gallons of actual used oil and then probably throw away another 8 gallons of perfectly good, usable oil. I'm just not going to do that, and I'd rather use my time doing something else.

The motorcycles I ride a lot, like the GL1800 and the NC700X, get oil changes at the 8000 mile interval regardless of time.

All these engines start when I want them to, and I've never worn one out, so I'm good with my plan unless actual evidence indicates otherwise. The plan has worked for 30+ years.
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There's plenty of actual evidence, it just hasn't caused you any discernible trouble. :)
I am with 670.............things like the back up generators, rotor tillers, lawn mower that has 5 hours of use and even the snow blower ( 2 hours) do not get yearly oil changes. I have a couple of bikes that get a couple of hundred miles a year........they also do not get yearly oil changes.

This year the diesel RV barely went 5000 miles.........normal change point is over 10,000 miles it takes 13.5 qts of very expensive oil. It is not getting a change this year.

Proper storage of lightly used engines is more important .......like rust on rings and cylinder where a tablespoon of oil in the cylinder will stop. Storing the engine at TDC with the max number of valves in the closed position will help stop rust from forming on the valve stems. Rust on the valve stems cause valve sticking which can cause a no start. This valve sticking is very common in stand by generators.

I am not concerned with fuel dilution as every "unused" engine gets the carb drained if the it going to sit in storage more than a week or two.

We have not had a good oil thread lately............
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Im for not changing it. The thought that moisture will be present in the oil does "hold water". Couldnt help myself. By taking the bike out and warming up to operating tempeture will rid the oil of any moisture that may have built up.
I don't think once a year is too much to lavish a bit of attention on something that you use, enjoy, and want to protect. I have two propane fueled engines (a GMC 5500 dump truck and my automatic stand-by generator). It doesn't matter how much or how little I run them, the oil always looks new when I drain it each year. Maybe a waste. But during the maintenance event I have found cracked hoses; dirt-dobber nests in vent ports; oil seals beginning to weep; dirty air filters; and all nature of other little things that needed attention. You don't go get an annual check-up at the doctor because you are sick, you go because you want to stay well. Same principle to me.

But weighing problems, I think storage condition and fuel deterioration (except propane) are more pressing than old oil. I use non-alcohol fuel in small engines with a dose of Pri-G stabilizer. I use the same fuel in my carbureted BMW during the slow season. My local lawn care guy says that without 10% ethanol fuel he would have to lay off half of his service techs.
Small engines will run forever on the same oil...
I have a lawn mower, I bought it when I was 13, I took care of it back then (along with the other two lawn mowers I had back when me and my brother cut grass for old ladies from the church as kids) I have always hated this lawn mower, but it was the newest of the 3, and it outlasted the other two.
I still hate this lawn mower... I've been waiting for the opportunity to justify replacing it. Oil hasn't been changed it at least 6 years (possibly longer) oil hasn't been added in that long either... The first time it didn't start on the first pull was this fall... I was so disappointed because we just bought a new dishwasher and now that the damn thing finally died I couldn't even afford to replace it... turns out it was the coil, engine still runs like a champ after $60 for a new coil and spark plug (plug probably didn't need to be replaced, but I bought it first hoping it'd be a $2 fix rather than a $58 dollar fix).

The snow blower gets regular oil changes every other year or so, it runs for about a half hour at a time, about once a week during the winter, and usually when it's wicked cold out, I don't know if that engine ever really gets "warm" persay... Also the snowblower is a lot easier to change the oil on. they have a drain tube that sticks out the back so draining it doesn't require jacking it up or getting a suction device to pull the oil out... rototiller and lawn mower are both a pain in the but to change.
Rototiller and lawn mower both always get warm when they are used, they run an hour or so each when they get used. I don't cut half my lawn at a time, and I don't use a 200+cc rototiller for small jobs.

Motorcycle gets changed annually (because unlike the lawn mower/rototiller/snow blower, if it conks out on me I'm potentially in big trouble) oil always comes out "looking used" (unlike the rototiller) it's not a tough job.

My car gets changed every 6 months or 5k miles because I don't put many highway miles on it any more...
My wife used to do all highway miles, but has recently changed jobs and doesn't drive as far any more, so she used to be 6 months or 8k miles she is getting changed to the every 6 months or 5k.

The irony of course is that I change oil more often on motors that have an oil filter, and less often on those than don't. The motors without an oil filter are used in dirtier environments (grass clippings, dirt, snow) than those with a filter.

Moral of the story, change your oil, especially if it's cheap and easy.
Or don't, if the bike is anything like my cursed lawn mower it will still run forever despite all your best efforts to let it die from lack of maintenance, though it might not, not everything can be like my lawn mower (should have known the stupid thing was cursed when I bought it from that gypsy woman).
But weighing problems, I think storage condition and fuel deterioration (except propane) are more pressing than old oil. I use non-alcohol fuel in small engines with a dose of Pri-G stabilizer. I use the same fuel in my carbureted BMW during the slow season. My local lawn care guy says that without 10% ethanol fuel he would have to lay off half of his service techs.

+2 on storage ......especially fuel..........tried to buy a boat last week. 80 HP Yamaha 4 Stroke Lund Adventure. Boat had been in storage for 18 months used very little prior ( so the story goes). Struck a deal pending an in water test.

Short story, guy said it was stored "right". Well backfire through the carbs on start up, missing on acceleration, will not idle. Carbs are fouled with bad gas and the tank is full 25 gallons of bad gas. The price was not good enough for me to take the repairs on and clean up. The owner is getting it repaired estimate $1000-1200 depending on the damage to the carb internals. ( He would not lower the price of the boat by $1000 ? Think that estimate is high, for a grand I would have purchased as is and did DIY repair.)

Note the boat had very clean new oil and the rest of the boat was clean for the age.
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I've been an active participant and part-time moderator at Bob's the Oil Guy oil forum for over 10 years. In that time I've read countless Blackstone reports (lab that tests oil samples) from people who've wondered about this question as well. In every case at varying mileage intervals, conditions, and types of oil, all the samples showed the oil was completely fine and well within acceptable parameters. 2 years was the most common interval I've seen, but there have been people who have gone as long as 4 years as well. Basically unless you're near the end of life for your oil change interval, any oil changes done by calendar date is outdated thinking, the same as the 3k oil change interval myth.
Only did 700 kms. this season because of other interests, still changed the GN4, probably overkill but when I'm doing 7 other oil changes in four strokes why not, oils cheap, condensation is my worry, I grew up on a farm and Dads voice still rings in my ears about oil is cheap bearings cost money, I have lived by that riule all my life, besides I like to have a look-see at the oil condition and other other parts when doing a change. Ride safe.
I would think that condensation amounts vary greatly based on humidity, amount of temperature variation in warm/cool cycles, indoor vs outdoor storage and annual recommendations are based on the worst case which aren't the case for many of us.

PS. It's generally a bad idea to start and run an engine a few minutes now and again in the off season to burn off moisture. It takes a while to get oil to operating temperatures and a fast idle for a short while isn't going to cut it.
both car and the bike stored at the garage all the time,where humidity is rarely exceeds 60%. and as i said before-on both i use top of the line synthetic oils. not exactly cheap,specially if you are paying a full price for your kids education and every dollar counts.
MB consume 9 qt of it and good oil,that fits MB specifications is cost about 12-15$ for a qt. Honda's HP4S synthetic is 11-15$ + S&H. but i got the point-sealed oil in the container is not equal to the oil,poured into the engine. for same reasons(moisture,etc) i rarely run bike or a car for very small distance. (example that i constantly see my neighbors are doing-moving them in and out of a driveway for a few feet,so one member of the family can drive HIS car). i think ,when you do that- hot gases from the engine meet cold air in exhaust-condensation occur, and if drive it not long enough-that water it will settle in your exhaust system,gradually damaging lot of components.
i'm wrong?
the other thing is that i typically not filling up full the gas tank. usually up to half and because i didn't use vehicles often-i just trying to keep the fuel fresh. i tried to use stabilizers,but on both-NC and Mercedes i noticed that the engines are running very rough when stabilized is added,compared to how they run on fresh fuel. so-not sure which one is better-constantly adding a fresh fuel and periodically ride\drive them for a prolonged period of time , or add stabilizer and let them sit in the garage. but as i said above-i picked the first one.
Thank you all for your thought's\opinions\responses.learning something new every day :)
i tried to use stabilizers,but on both-NC and Mercedes i noticed that the engines are running very rough when stabilized is added,compared to how they run on fresh fuel.

You might try a different stabilizer. I have never noticed this with Pri-G in lots of engines. The dilution rate for Pri-G is very large.
Oil change frequency is only Honda’s suggestion. Once a year change is addressed to seasonal riders or weekend warriors, like myself, who ride less than 8k miles per year.
Is this Honda’s deliberate misinformation because of desire to sell more oil?
I don’t see any logic of it?
GN4 oil cost about $6.5/32 oz. (or $20/1 gallon). Honda does not produce oil (I guess?). For U.S. is made in U.S. probably by one of known producers.
When I’d get 4 qt of oil, how much from it would go to Honda's pocket - $5 per year? And this is only from part of owners. (In a riding season I spend more for my beer and my wife's wine, weekly).
But Honda wants to sell more motorcycles, also. It's not good for their business to educate owners why it's beneficial to change oil as suggested.
What is average life of Honda's bike engine? 150k miles - 15 years? If their goal is short term profit, someone from management should demand to remove suggestion of oil change or to put some misleading information into owner's manual. Engine life would drop to 100k miles or 10 years. Most owners wouldn't notice a change because average ownership last 3-5 years (?).

Moisture is sucked with air into engine. It condenses on cold metal surfaces and drops to the lowest point of oil pan.
Movement of the crankshaft breaks water into tiny liquid water droplets. (If there'd be a leak of coolant one may notice milky foam on dipstick).
By raising the temperature of oil water evaporation is accelerated. Part of the water vapor is pushed out and mixed with air in the air filter. If the engine runs longer, there is a chance that much of the water vapor is removed. But after some time it may accumulate a sufficient amount that may impact on accelerated wear of engine parts. That's why it is recommended that before changing the oil, to run the engine to reach operating temperature to thin oil and to break water into the finest droplets for easier removal.

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Once upon a time I got famous discussing oil on the ibmwr forum. Just change it if you feel like it. This engine under normal conditions is not gonna seize on you if you leave oil there for years. Just make sure it is topped up to correct level.

Go ride your bike.

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