properly checking oil? - Honda ATV Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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properly checking oil?

what is the proper way to check the oil in my 04 400ex? I changed it, filled it, and let it run at idle for a short bit then shut it off just like you do a car. It was at the low side of the dipstick. I added about one half quart, checked it and it was fine. I rode for a bit and noticed it was smoking really bad. I checked the oil level, and it poured out when I removed the dipstick just like it was overfilled. Is there a certain way to do this due to the way the pressure works?

yella 04 400ex
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wiesco 11.1:1 440kit
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 08:17 PM
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After you shut it off you have to let it set a while so the oil can settle back down. Checking the oil level when the engine is cold is the best.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 08:22 PM
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How full was it after you added the half quart?

07 Foreman 500
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 09:34 PM
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Not sure about the 2004, but the 2000 400ex holds 1.95 quarts, with a new filter.

To check the oil level, the engine must be warm, a cold engine will give an inaccurate reading. Let it idle (without goosing the throttle) for five minutes, or 10 minutes if it is less that 50 degrees wherever the quad is.
Shut the engine off. After a few minutes, remove the dip stick, wipe it clean, put the dip stick back in, but without screwing in any of the threads, then remove it to show the oil level.
The oil level should be between the two marks.

That came from my owner's manual. You can get yours here, just click the link in Red Dawn's original post. http://www.hondaatvforums.net/forums...s-manuals.html

Free service manuals are here:
http://www.hondaatvforums.net/forums...all-years.html
but unfortunately the ones for the 2003 and 2004 400ex, seem to be missing.

2000 400EX

Last edited by Alfresco; 03-10-2012 at 09:38 PM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 09:58 PM
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Yea but a warm motor checkin the oil would make it seem lower than usual wouldnt it?

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 05:44 AM
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That is the way the manual says to check it so I assume Honda knows best. After 10 minutes with warm oil most of it is going to be as low as it can go.

07 Rancher TE stock except for gun rack.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 11:48 AM
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Bflee and Alfresco are correct - the manual says to idle the engine for 3-5 minutes, shut it off and then wait for 2-3 minutes before checking the oil.

However, the oil can be checked on a cold engine, also. You just have to realize that you will get different readings. With most engines (automobiles, lawnmowers, etc.), warmer oil will have a slightly greater volume (thus giving a slightly higher reading - just like the "cold" and "hot" level markers on the power steering fluid reservoirs on your car), plus warmer oil flows better and measures on a dipstick better. (Thus the reason you warm the motor before draining the oil for an oil change - it drains better.) But, it's not necessary to have a warm engine to check the oil.

However, if your bike has an oil cooler that is mounted higher than the engine - as do many ATV's - you will get a lower reading when the oil is warm from running than when it's been sitting for a couple of hours, because the oil has drained through the pump and back into the crankcase. In such a case, running the engine and then taking the oil level shows the operational level of the oil with the oil cooler full of oil - obviously a critical reading.

I recommend doing it both ways so you can see the difference. Check the oil when the engine has been sitting for a couple of hours and is stone cold. If you have an oil cooler that is set above the engine, you'll probably see the oil pretty high on the stick. Then start it, idle it, shut it off, and let it sit for a couple of minutes, then check the oil level again. Make note of the difference. The warm level reading will be pretty close to the actual operational level. Remember, you want to avoid overfilling the crankcase because of the excess crankcase pressure that creates. Warm oil shows the operational volume level, and thus is the "safest" level to fill to - thus the reason it's the recommended procedure in the manual.

And that brings me back to ToXic's original question. Assuming it was filled to the proper level before operation (and his post indicates to me that it was), oil blowing out of the dipstick hole indicates, in my mind, excessive crankcase pressure and could be an indication of a plugged breather tube. Have you cleaned the little foam breather tube filter in the airbox, usually right under the main air filter? That's where I would start.

Melsman

2005 Rancher 400FA AT
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Last edited by melsman; 03-11-2012 at 07:05 PM. Reason: D'oh! Forgot about the effect of the oil cooler. Made the appropriate corrections.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-11-2012, 02:52 PM
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I usually drain it put a new filter in and then 2 quarts of oil and call it good.

07 Foreman 500
04 250ex
06 yamaha Wolverine 450
03 recon
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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There is no little filter at the bottom of the airbox, just a drain hole. And yes, it was at proper level after adding the half quart. I am going to go home today and check it like the post here said per the owners manual. I will post what i find later tonight. Thanks for the info everyone.

yella 04 400ex
hotrod crank
wiesco 11.1:1 440kit
a few little secrets
and soon to come...
transmission WITH REVERSE
RIDE YELLA!!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 07:22 PM
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Sorry, ToXic - I should have been more clear.

The breather assembly is what I was referring to. See the attached diagram. I was referring to #12, and #13 (breather tube).

Melsman
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2005 Rancher 400FA AT
Superwinch LT2000
24" Bearclaws
SuperATV disc brakes w/caliper flip
Kolpin front and rear trail boxes w/rack & fuel packs

2005 TRX400EX
13T front sprocket; EZ Pull Clutch
PRM full skid plates and side bars

2003 TRX250EX
22" Bearclaws on rear
DG Alloy Nerf Bars
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