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JunkyardDog 4th August 2021 04:44

Opinions-checking oil level 2006 1200L
There seems to be a lot of disagreement on how to check the oil level. I'd like to get a couple of opinions. The owners manual says to check it hot, that you cannot get an accurate reading cold. But quite a few YouYube videos say it doesn't matter. The owners manual says to push the dipstick all the way in, my Clymer manual says to put it in and turn it, but don't push it down. Some say the bike should be on the "jiffy stand", some say it should be vertical. It appears the procedure changed in 2004 with the new style dipstick.

One thing pretty much everybody does seem to agree on is that it doesn't have to be perfect, that as long as it is between the top line and bottom line it is ok.

I've been going by the owners manual so far without any issues. But I've heard the official H-D owners manual has some errors in it.

Hippysmack 4th August 2021 07:35

No disagreements needed.
Never check the oil level on a cold engine.
See Overfilling the Oil Tank in the Sportsterpedia.

As for the lean, try it for yourself.
Check the oil level on the stand, then stand the bike straight up and check it.
The level isn't going to change that much. So...…………

As for your oil tank (it's a bad design).
Most 04-09 owners will probably tell you to run the oil at the bottom mark.
This is because of the poor oil tank design.
See 2004-Up Oil Tank Leak Issue for more information on the that.

Andy56 4th August 2021 08:53

Follow exactly how it states in the manual.

As for the level, you have two marks on the dipstick that HD have determined is where the oil level needs to be. Again why question it?

I have a 2008 here and the only thing needed for it has been a new drain pipe.

You only need to turn the dipstick in until it stops and then untwist and remove to check the level with the HD supplied stock dipstick assembly.

JunkyardDog 5th August 2021 00:45

Thanks for the information. I didn't mean disagreement here, but from all of the different sources I have looked at for information over the last several years. There must be a hundred "how to" oil change videos for Sportsters on YouTube, and they show an amazingly different number of ways to do it. The basics are the same. I have the oem H-D owners manual, but only a Clymer service manual.

Some pour a little oil in the filter, some don't. Some put something under the old filter to avoid soaking the bike in oil, some don't. Some "bleed the air" out of the oil drain line before putting the plug back in, some don't. Some check the oil with the bike on the stand, some do it with the bike vertical. Some do it with the dipstick pushed all the way in, some only partly install it. Most say to install the filter only hand tight. But I have been a car/truck/equipment mechanic for 36 years, and I have always used a wrench to slightly snug the filter up, without problems.

My '06 came with a H-D accessory thermometer dipstick, the actual dipstick is a very small diameter metal rod rather than the wide flat white plastic one I've seen in most videos. Being so small, and shiny, it is almost impossible to see the oil level on it when the oil is new. I found a piece of small diameter rubber vacuum line in my junk box that was a snug fit over the metal rod, cut it to the same length as the dipstick, and pushed it over the dipstick. That made it much easier to see the oil level.

My bike also came with aftermarket chrome sidecovers. They are not the typical smooth chrome ones. They have a piece of trim from front to back that is silver but not chrome. I have not been able to find anything like that online. Is it possible to tell the original oil tank from the new one by looking at it? And assuming I have the original tank, would it be a good idea to replace it with the new one? I found it costs $240. But it would be worth it if the original one is likely to fail.

Hippysmack 5th August 2021 00:57

Oh that's an easy one.
Ask the XLForum. There are tons of experience here.
Here is the 04-09 oil tank page in the Sportsterpedia.
You can see the differences in the original and upgrade oil tanks in pics.
If you are having trouble with oil tank leaks, it is a better alternative.
If you're not, then …… your not.

shanneba 5th August 2021 01:07


Originally Posted by JunkyardDog (Post 5909110)

My bike also came with aftermarket chrome sidecovers. They are not the typical smooth chrome ones. They have a piece of trim from front to back that is silver but not chrome. I have not been able to find anything like that online.

Harley used to sell the Side cover trim as an accessory separately.
Part number 66264-04 in 2017 they were $39.95


sportsterpaul 5th August 2021 02:29

They matched the optional gas tank trim which ran down the center of the tank, same finish same profile.

Andy56 5th August 2021 08:50


Some pour a little oil in the filter, some don't.
Following the manual exactly is to put 4oz of oil in the filter before fitting. Also moisten the rubber seal with oil and don't go gorilla when fitting it.

Pulling the plug to let the air out is in the 2008 manual but not the 2017 manual.

Stopping an oil mess on your bike and ground is your choice and not mentioned in the manual even though HD has a thing to put under the filter.

The dipstick is a set length regardless of material. For yours or stock you screw it in and unscrew it and see where the oil is on it.

The side cover pops on and is held by virtue of bending it slightly to make hold. It plays no real part in any of this.

Change the oil tank when it leaks. If it isn't leaking after 14 years why go looking for trouble?

rejeanprimeau 5th August 2021 12:08

Some people experienced oil in the air cleaner box, lowering the oil in the tank help reduce this problem cause by worn or dries umbrella valve.

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