Harley’s Low Primary Oil Symptoms

Harley-Davidson is a well-known motorcycle manufacturer that produces a variety of models with different engines and designs. One issue that may arise in some Harley models is low primary oil levels, which can cause a range of problems and symptoms.

It is important to regularly check and maintain the primary oil levels in your Harley to ensure that it is running smoothly and efficiently.

Check this article to know about Harley’s low primary oil symptoms as well as the potential causes and solutions for this issue.

harley low primary oil symptoms

5 Symptoms of Harley low primary oil

You already know that Harley Davidson motorcycles are known for their powerful engines, but proper maintenance is key to keeping them running well.

One of the most important maintenance tasks is checking the overfilled primary Harley level. Low primary oil levels can cause serious damage to the engine, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and take action quickly if you notice them. Here are some symptoms of Harley low primary oil:

Motor Runs Hotter Than Normal

If your engine overheats so much that it runs hotter than it used to, your bike may be low on oil.

Some bikes have a temperature gauge that tells you when your bike is overheating. But most of the Harley Davidson 2021 models have a digital meter that reads your engine temperature.

An overheating engine is always a serious problem, but if your motorcycle is air-cooled, the problem must be corrected. An air-cooled motorcycle’s engine can overheat in hot weather when it idles too long in traffic; All the more reason to pull over and check your oil level on the fly.

As your bike’s engine warms up, make sure your oil is at the proper level to avoid damaging engine parts.

Smell Burning Metal While Riding

When you smell burning metal while riding, it’s usually your Harley Davidson’s oil that is burning. This is caused by the oil not being thick enough to lubricate your engine properly. As a result, the metal on metal parts starts to grind against each other, creating friction and heat.

This problem can be solved by changing your primary oil to a heavier-weight oil. Heavier oils will create more friction, but they will also provide more lubrication for your engine. You can also try adding a viscosity modifier to your current oil, which will thicken it up and help it to stay in place better.

Read Also: How to Check Motorcycle Burning Oil

Motorcycle’s Motor Makes Metallic Clanking Sounds

You may hear metallic clanking sounds from your bike engine. This is one of the early signs of low oil in Harley and is a sign that there is something wrong with your engine. Clanking noises can be caused by a variety of problems, including metal shavings in the engine, bearing failure, or a loose rod.

Clean oil is a lubricating layer of protection between high-revving and hard-functioning metal engine components. When your oil level is correct, and at an appropriate level, your engine sounds clean and tight.

If the bike is low on oil, your engine parts will lose that protective coating of lubrication and create a racket of metallic clanking louder than usual. When you hear strange engine noises, especially metal on metal, stop riding and take it to a mechanic immediately.

Motorcycle Fails to Run

If the level of your Harley’s primary oil is too low, you may experience difficulty when starting the bike. If the engine won’t start or idles unevenly, check the primary oil before you start ruling out other potential problems. It could be that your bike has insufficient primary oil and is having trouble firing up.

This can be a challenge if it’s your first time changing the oil yourself and you don’t know what to do to get it going again. But don’t worry, professional mechanics have years of knowledge and experience with this issue and should be able to help you get back on your bike quickly.

Check Oil Light Stays On

When the bike is low on primary oil, you will want to see if the check oil light is on while the bike is running. This is a definite warning sign that the oil level is too low and should be topped up immediately.

If you find that the check oil light is still on after refilling the oil tank, it may indicate a more serious problem such as a blocked or damaged gasket or seal. In this case, it is best to take your bike in for servicing so that an expert can properly diagnose and repair the problem before further damage occurs.

Factors That Can Cause the Primary Oil Level to Drop

Several factors can cause the primary oil level on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle to drop.

One of the most common causes is riding a motorcycle in hot weather. When the engine gets too hot, the oil can start to vaporize, causing it to drop in level. Other factors that can contribute to a low primary oil level include riding at high speeds for an extended period, carrying a heavy load on the motorcycle, and using the wrong type of oil.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of a low primary oil level, it’s important to take action right away. Not only can it damage your engine, but it can also be dangerous to ride your motorcycle with insufficient oil.

How to Prevent Low Primary Oil Levels on a Harley

Maintaining the proper oil level on a Harley is essential for keeping your motorcycle running smoothly. Low levels of primary oil can cause your engine to overheat and lead to serious damage. It is important to regularly check your oil levels and make sure they are at the correct level. Here are a few tips for preventing low primary oil levels on a Harley.

1. Check your oil level regularly: The primary oil level should be checked at least once a month, or more frequently if you are riding your Harley often. To check the oil level, remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Then insert it back into the engine and pull it out again. The oil level should be between the two marks on the dipstick. If the oil level is low, add more oil until it reaches the proper level.

2. Use the correct type of oil: It is important to use the correct type of oil in your Harley. Different types of oil have different viscosities, which means they can affect the amount of oil that can stay in the engine. Make sure you are using the correct oil type and viscosity for your Harley.

3. Change the oil regularly: Oil breaks down over time and can become contaminated. To prevent low levels of primary oil, it is important to change your oil regularly. Most experts recommend changing the oil every 3,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first.

4. Check for leaks: If you notice any oil leaks, it could be an indication that you have a problem. Check all of your hoses, gaskets, and seals for any signs of wear or damage. If you find a leak, it is important to take care of it as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your engine.

Following these simple tips can help you prevent low primary oil levels on your Harley. Remember to check your oil level regularly and use the correct type of oil. It is also important to change your oil regularly and check for any oil leaks. Taking these simple steps can help keep your Harley running smoothly and extend the life of your engine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the symptoms of too much oil in Harley primary?

There are lots of symptoms you can find while too much oil in Harley Davidson. In this article; we already mentioned some of those symptoms. Just check them and you will get the overall idea.

Q. What is the primary oil in a Harley?

The Harley primary oil level used in a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is SAE 20W50 V-Twin Motorcycle Oil. This oil is designed specifically for use in Harley-Davidson V-Twin engines. It is a high-performance, multigrade oil that helps protect against wear, rust, and corrosion while providing excellent lubrication.

Q. How much oil to put in a Harley primary?

The amount of oil to put in the primary of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle depends on the model and year of the bike. Refer to the owner’s manual for your specific model and year for the exact amount. Generally speaking, you will need to add 2 to 3 quarts of oil to the primary.

Read Also: What To Do If You Put Too Much Oil In Motorcycle?


Harley Davidson riders are not the only ones who love their Harleys. The engines in these bikes are marvels of engineering, and they are built to last. Nevertheless, even the best machines sometimes require a tune-up.

If you are experiencing any of the Harley low primary oil symptoms listed in this article, it is important to take your bike to a qualified mechanic and have the problem diagnosed and corrected.

Read Also: Primary Oil for Sportster


Rio is a car & motorcycle mechanic who is working with different kinds of problems relating to oil and grease. He is also a passionate technical writer.