This may seem remedial, but everyone has to start somewhere in their wrenching knowledge. Learning how to change the oil and oil filter is the first thing to learn when getting into the vintage motorcycle world. It is also the first step in what we call the standard tune-up procedures for your vintage Honda CB500k, CB550, CB550F, and even other vintage Honda 4 cylinder motorcycles like the CB350F, CB400F, and CB750. The standard tune-up procedure is a regiment of maintenance every 1,500 m (2,400 km) that includes changing the engine oil, tightening the cam chain, setting valve (tappet) clearances, and setting your ignition timing. Every other oil change, or every 3,000 m ( 5,000 km), the oil filter needs to be changed as well. If it is your very first oil change since getting your motorcycle, drop the oil pan and give that and the oil pickup screen a good cleaning. Over here at Common Motor, we consider these skills essential knowledge to owning one of these motorcycles.
Changing your oil
- Fire up the motorcycle for a few minutes to warm the oil before draining. This will ensure the oil will properly drain from your engine.
- Remove the drain plug and drain the oil into an oil catch container. Inspect the drain plug and aluminum sealing washer for damage and replace either if needed. Inspect the oil for metal debris or other signs of engine damage. If the oil smells like gas or seems thin you might have a carburetor overflowing into the engine.
- Loosen the oil filter bolt and remove the oil filter. Let the filter drain into your oil catch container.
- Kick over the engine 3-5 times to remove any remaining oil from it.
- Thoroughly clean the oil filter housing, spring, washer, and bolt. Replace the o-ring on the bolt and apply a small amount of fresh oil to it to lubricate it. Reassemble the new oil filter in the housing according to the video and replace the larger o-ring, again adding a small amount of fresh oil to lubricate it. Align the notch on the housing with the alignment notch in your engine casing and torque the oil filter housing to spec: Torque Spec - 19.5-23.8 Ft. Lbs.
- Reinstall the drain plug Torque Spec - 25.3-28.9 Ft. Lbs.
- Fill the engine with the proper amount and type of oil specified below. When nearing the total amount it's always best to periodically check the dipstick to guarantee you will not overfill the engine.
- Start the motorcycle and run it for 5-10 minutes. Observe for any leaks. Check the oil the next few times before starting the motorcycle to guarantee you have the correct amount of oil in the system.
What Type Of Oil Do I Use?
Recommended oil viscosity for general riding and all temperatures is SAE 10W-40.
We've also had success running diesel truck oil (Shell Rotella, Chevron Delo, Mobil Delvac) at 15W-40viscosity. Diesel oil has the bonus of extra detergent additives as well as zinc which older engines need. Synthetic oils are not recommended as they will cause your clutch to slip. We recommend adding 2-3oz. of Zinc additive with every oil change.
How Much Oil Do I Use?
When changing with the oil filter:
CB550 / CB500K - 3 L (3.2 quarts)
CB550K3 - K4 - 3.2 L (3.4 quarts)
Without oil filter change:
CB550 - 2.5 L (2.6 quarts)
CB550K3 - K4 - 2.7 L (2.9 quarts) *approximate
*Always check the dipstick for an exact reading instead of just putting in the recommended amount. To check the oil level, unscrew the dipstick and wipe it off. set the dipstick back in the engine but do not screw it back in. Remove the dipstick and check the level. If you are nearing the bottom line, add oil until you reach the top line. Always check the oil on a level surface whether that's the center stand or another method of standing the motorcycle up straight.
When the oil change is completed, move on to the remaining service interval jobs below.