Changing Final Drive Oil

Posted by Bare | Last Updated August 17, 2013

This is a walk-through for changing the final drive oil on the VTX. The process is the same for both 1300s and 1800s regardless of model. This is a simple job which only requires a few basic tools. As always undertake this project at your own risk, but with a little common sense this isn’t very hard to do.

Required tools/Materials

  • Torque wrench capable of 9-14 ft/lbs
  • 17mm socket
  • Funnel or preferably syringe
  • Drain pan (whatever your choice is for draining oil into)
  • 4.1 ounces of your favorite gear oil
  • (Optional) 1 new crush washer

I always start oil changes with a quick trip around the block. I ride for about 2-3 minutes just to get the oil warmed up and moving. By doing this I get all the "junk" that settles mixed into the oil so that when I drain the oil, it comes out too. Plus warm oil flows better than cold oil so it should drain faster. I get my tools together before I make this trip so that as soon as I return I can drain almost immediately before anything settles out of the oil. I know a couple of minutes won’t make a huge difference, but I’m pretty anal about getting the old oil and as much "junk" out of there as possible.

So with the bike warmed up and on it’s sidestand slide the drain pan under the final drive, and use the 17mm socket to remove the fill plug and then the drain plug.

Now you wait… While the oil is draining, check out the crush washer on the drain bolt and the O-ring on the fill plug. If there is no washer there it may have fallen into the oil when removing the bolt. Unless you plan to replace this washer you’ll need to fish it out of the drain pan. Give it a close inspection, making sure there are no obvious nicks or flaws in it. You also want to look for any significant crushing or deforming of the washer. The service manual recommends replacing these with each oil change but if they still look ok then there’s no reason you can’t re-use it. If you have any doubt about the condition of the washer, then replace it. Your safety isn’t worth the few cents a new washer will cost.
I try to keep some of these on hand just in case I find myself needing to replace one at night or on a Sunday when I can’t get one. If you are in need of one but don’t want to buy from Honda you can usually take the existing washer to an automotive store and they can match it up against their stock to find you one. Just be aware that these are not standard washers like from the hardware store.

Now don’t forget – the drain plug in the final drive is magnetic, so get an old rag/towel and make sure you clean off all the garbage that is collected on there. It should be a very fine sludge, thick like grease – if there are any large chunks of metal on the plug then there may be a problem with your final drive and you should investigate that further.

The service manual recommends rotating the wheel to make sure you drain everything out of the final drive, I don’t feel that this is necessary. Just leave it on the sidestand to drain for about 15 minutes or so and you’ll be fine. Once the oil stops dripping, replace the drain bolt and crush washer and tighten it to 14 ft/lbs. With the drain bolt/crush washer replaced and torqued down you are now ready to add 4.1 ounces of oil. Oil is a very personal choice so you make your own decision on what you want to run. I run Amsoil’s "SVG" 75W-90 in my bike. It is their "severe" gear oil formulated for heavy wear and tear environments like racing or off-road. I’m not saying I’m going to take the bike off-road, but I like having the extra protection. If you’re uncertain about your oil decision then maybe you should read Tapper’s big oil article. It has a wealth of information about oil from someone who has done their homework.

Now it’s time to replace the oil in the final drive. I have a little setup I use that is made up of a 60cc plastic syringe and a piece of rubber hose (see pic)

4.1 ounces is approximately 120cc’s so 2 full syringes like this are sufficient for what I need. If you can’t find one of these syringes then you’ll need a funnel and a piece of hose to fill the drive because the bike needs to be filled on its sidestand. The reason you have to do this on the sidestand is to ensure you put the proper amount of oil in the final drive. When the bike is on the stand on level ground and oil starts coming back out of the fill hole you will know the oil level is right and the drive is full.

With the drive filled, put a small dab of fresh oil on the O-ring for the fill plug and reinstall it to 9 ft/lbs. If you did manage to get a little too much oil in there then you may see some spray out of the vent on the top of the drive (it’s the little chrome cap above the axle). If after the change you do notice a little oil there don’t sweat it, it’s merely the final drive venting a little extra oil.

That’s it – you’re done – congratulations!

This is a simple process that even the most inexperienced rider can do with the right tools. Doing this yourself will make you feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about your bike and you can be certain its getting serviced properly. Plus, you’re saving a few bucks that you can invest in other things…

Video courtesy of Big Bad

This video is intended to give you an idea for the kind of things you’ll see and do during this job. It is not intended to replace the above instructions for anyone except experienced mechanics because the text above contains important details.


6 Responses to “Changing Final Drive Oil”

  1. John Francis says:

    For those of us who tend to be a little ham-fisted, pay particular attention to “… reinstall it (fill plug) to 9 ft/lbs.” That fill plug might look beefy, but it doesn’t take much to snap it off. My VTX was scheduled to be loaded onto a trailer (30 miles away) the next morning going to Sturgis bike week. Fortunately my dealer had a few in stock (Oh, you mean the one that breaks easily when you tighten it too much?!)

  2. Jeff Brandt says:

    So True! I just snapped mine off and there are none to be had anywhere, they are even on back order at Honda. Does anyone have one that they want to sell- I NEED to ride!!

  3. Ryan says:

    If you have any old Honda dirt bikes around they are the same plugs that are on the valve covers

  4. Lloyd Shoults says:

    I have used your site for many years and the information you have provided to us do it yourselfers has been most helpful to say the least. Thanks and please don’t ever shut this site down…Sarg

  5. pat wilson says:

    thanks for the write up gonna do my final today. Just took to stealer and got radiator flushed and refilled. Just didn’t want all that coolant in my garage and stuff with my cat to get into. thanks

  6. K.Wright says:

    Snapped mine when I didn’t hear the torque wrench click. The dealership was closed and none were to be found in the auto parts stores. Ordered a couple online that came in a couple of days.

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