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How to do an Oil Change on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod

How To Change Oil On a Harley-Davidson V-Rod

Today I’m going to be sharing with you how to change the oil and filter on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod (VRSC, VRSCD, VRSCR, etc.), as outlined in Harley-Davidson’s own official service manual.

I love the V-Rod. It’s one of the most amazing, and also one of the most controversial motorcycles Harley-Davidson has ever produced. Today we’re going to be going over how to do an oil change on the Harley-Davidson in only six easy steps. It only takes a few inexpensive tools, so you can do it yourself.

How to an oil change on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod - Adrian

This article will also be accompanied by a video. When I first set out to change my own oil and filter, I grabbed a copy of Harley’s own service manual, as well as a checked out some of the videos that were previously on the net. What I realized was that none of the videos out there were doing things by the book. They weren’t even sharing the correct specifications.

The result was that I decided to make one video to show you guys how to do a V-Rod oil change for people like me: those who are picky enough to want a Harley dealership-quality oil change, but cheap enough to want to do it themselves.

watch this video

Click the little unmute button in the bottom left corner to unmute the video.

Watch this video!

What you’ll need to change your own oil:

5 quarts or 4.3 litres of 20W-50 synthetic or semi-synthetic motor oil

  • The V-Rod is an absolute beast, so it’s important to not get cheap “dinosaur” oil and go for the good stuff. I used Bel-Ray on my bike after hearing good things about it. Today however, I noticed that Mobil 1 has a great deal here. Whatever you get, just make sure you’re buying 5 quarts or 4.3 litres worth.

Oil filter

17mm socket bit and wrench

  • Don’t try to use a standard set of bits, this is a metric bike, your 11/16” has no business here. If you’re in America, go to Harbor Freight and pick up a cheap set. If you’re in Canada head over to Princess Auto or Canadian Tire.

How to an oil change on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod - what you'll need

Oil filter wrench

  • I had some old ones picked up over the years, but you can check these out.

Torque wrench capable of 22-30 ft. lbs of torque (or roughly 30-40 NM)

  • Most motorcycles give an exact torque specification, but for some reason the V-Rod gives you a pretty flexible range, which means that even this cheap torque wrench is more than accurate enough.

Rags and paper towel

  • You’re probably going to spill something. The difference between a droplet and a disaster is how quickly you can get to your paper towel and rags.

Black Widow Table Lift

A dog

  • Everyone needs at least one. Visit your local shelter if you don’t already have one.

How to change the oil and filter on a V-Rod

Step 1: Remove filler cap and drain plug

With a warm engine after a ride, but not too soon after that you’ll burn yourself, remove your oil filler cap and your drain plug.

How to an oil change on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod - drain bolt

Step 2: Remove your oil filter

Remove your oil filter with an oil filter wrench and take your dog for a walk to pass the time until the oil is done draining. It’s important to get as much of the old oil out as you can, so if you don’t have a dog, borrow one from a neighbor. Dogs never get enough walks anyway.

If your oil is still dripping when you come in from your dog, now’s a good time to set your torque wrench to 22-30 ft lbs or 30-40 NM. I used a relatively cheap torque wrench and just set it to the middle (26 ft. lbs. or 35 NM).

How to an oil change on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod - oil filter

Step 3: Install the new oil filter

First give everything a good wipe down (oil filter opening, oil drain plug opening). Nice. Look at you go!

Then put on a glove, open up your fresh oil, dip your finger in the fresh oil, and run it over the gasket (the black ring) of your oil filter. This will help the oil filter seal properly with your V-Rod.

If you’re wondering how tight to put on your oil filter, the service manual says: “Screw the filter onto the adapter until the gasket contacts the plate surface, then apply another 2/3 to 1 full turn.”

I hate these instructions, because a torque specification would be so much better, because the oil filter contacting the bike is damn hard to see and feel, but try your best.

Step 4: Reinstall the oil drain plug

First, you’ll want to clean any debris off of your oil drain plug, especially if yours is magnetic.

Next, you’ll want to put your oil drain plug back in the bike, with your torque wrench set to 22-30 ft. lbs or 30-40 NM.

How to an oil change on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod - oil filter replacement

Step 5: Put in fresh oil

Put in 5 quarts or 4.3 litres of 20W-50 full or semi-synthetic motor oil made specifically for motorcycles.

I bought a 4 litre bottle, and a 1 litre bottle. Dumped in the 4 litres, and the 1 litre bottle had a little viewing screen to see how much I had put in, which made my life easy.

How to an oil change on a Harley-Davidson V-Rod - new oil

Step 6: Check your oil level

The Harley-Davidson V-Rod service manual calls for checking your oil level with the motor warm. That means ride your bike, then let it sit for 2 minutes so that the oil sinks back into your sump.

Then, stand your motorcycle upright (the best motorcycle chock that only costs $89 if you need it). Now, remove your oil filler cap again. The underside of it has a dipstick. Wipe that clean. Now put it back in. Screw it in all the way. Take it out again. You’ll see this:

vrod oil change - dipstick

If the oil level is too low, add some more and recheck. If the oil level is too high, let a little out from your drain plug and recheck.


Harley-Davidson made the V-Rod in partnership with Porsche. They put these motors through absolute hell in a top secret R&D and testing phase that lasted years. The V-Rod was designed to show off raw performance, and packs well above it’s size versus nearly any other 1130cc to 1250cc cruiser. With a little love, there’s no reason why your V-Rod shouldn’t last you 100,000 miles, so make sure you take care of it.

If you have any questions about the V-Rod or about how to do an oil change on the Harley-Davidson V-Rod, just leave me a comment down below.

COMMENTS: Was this article helpful? What do you think of the V-Rod? Leave me a comment and let me know!

About Adrian from YouMotorcycle

I started riding motorcycles in 2007, founded YouMotorcycle in 2009, and was working in the motorcycle industry by 2011. I've worked for some of the biggest companies in motorcycling, before going full-time self-employed in the motorcycle business in 2019. I love sharing his knowledge and passion of motorcycling with other riders to help you as best I can.


  1. Excellent tutorial for those of us who don’t have an owner’s manual! Thanks. I also enjoy the quality of your writing. That’s something that’s often missing from gearhead pages.

  2. Well written article !
    My VRSCSE is totally different than any other Harley I have owned.
    Read your article..watched the video..and oil change completed in 45 minutes.
    A huge shout out and thank you for your mentioning shelter animals : )

  3. I was told (by HD) that All fluids like coolant, tranny and such drained when doing this oil change. That not true? This looks very easy

    Ride a 2016 VRod

    • It sounds like whoever you spoke to wasn’t very knowledgeable. Just check your owner’s manual. The recommended change interval on the engine oil is different than the recommended change interval on the coolant. Also, unlike most Harley-Davidsons, the V-Rod doesn’t use tranny fluid, it uses the engine oil for that.

  4. Bessi Þór Atlason

    So I’m a bit confused, according to google 5 quarts is 4,73 liters not 4,3. So which is it?

    • You may have just came across a typo in Harley-Davidson’s own service manual. I just double-checked the owner’s manual because, like you said, I searched and, yes, you’re right, 5 quarts = 4.73 litres. However, Harley’s 2006 v-rod owner’s manual does say 5 quarts or 4.3 litres. I’m guessing they made a typo, but I would just start at 4.3 litres, and then just check the level and see if you need to add more. It’s easier to add more than to have to take some out.

      • My 2007 nightrod special just got the oil changed and I got home and double checked. It was near the top of the crosscuts and that’s only 3 quarts. Explain please!

        • I don’t understand your question. Are you asking me to explain someone else’s work? I’m assuming you’re checking the oil level properly, with the bike upright, not on the side stand, and that you’re measuring in US quarts, not UK quarts, correct? Assuming both assumptions, if only 3 US quarts went in, the next question would be are you sure all of the oil, and the oil filter, were complete drained, with the bike in the upright position, or did whoever did the work do a sloppy job, leave the bike on the sidestand, and there is still old oil in there? Ultimately the important thing is to ask the person who did the work, only they will know what they did or didn’t do.

  5. Great article thank you, love the dog comments makes it a fun read. I’d like to share a pic of my bike but I’m not sure where to do that.

  6. Good reference for a no-nonsense oil change. I’ve had my ’08 Night Rod Special for about 9 years, but haven’t ridden it on the regular for about 5 years (bought a ’15 Road Glide in ’15, and haven’t really looked back). I had most of the simple maintenance memorized when it was my daily. I was just looking for case capacity, but read the entire post.

  7. I am riding a 2007 model Night-Rod. Please tell me how to replace the radiator liquid. Is the radiator solution okay for cars?

  8. I’ve been eyeing the v-rod since it hit the scene, and I finally got my hands on one. It’s my first motorcycle, and I bought it on 7/4/21 – absolutely love it. I’ve always been the one to maintain my own vehicles, so I figured I’d dive into working on my bike too. Appreciate you putting together a great, short video that gets straight to the point.

  9. I have a 2006 Night Rod VRSCD with mid controls and want to convert to forward controls, any help/advice would be greatly appreciated

    • Yeah. Don’t do it lol. This bike is a weapon on winding highways or hills, switching to forward controls is going to ruin that. There are plenty of people who have done it on the 1130cc Forum that will list all the parts out for you though. I think they spent about $400 US+ in parts. If you really want to do it, I would do it sooner than later, as the bike is now 14 years old and not all parts may be available still. You could also try to find someone who would want to switch their forward controls for your mid controls and swap parts with them.

  10. Great article! I just paid to have the oil changed in my 2003, 100th Anniversary V-Rod. $135.00 ($15/qt. and $10 for the filter plus $50 labor). I found the oil at the local parts store for $9.99/qt. After reading your article I can do it myself and save $75, and get the satisfaction of doing it myself. I’ve always changed my own oil in my cars. I don’t know why I never have changed it in the bike. Sorry to say Norman the Wonder Dog (English Bulldog) passed away last year at age 12.

  11. V rod best bike Harley ever made 5 year gestation period now finally accepted as a genuine Harley Davidson , build quality second to none . agree totally with this article never use cheap oil in a high performance motor like this . Stunning bike gets more attention than any other bike I’ve ever owned !

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