Engine Oil And Filter Change: Sportster XL XLH 883 1100 1200

A Harley Davidson Sportster engine is a machine with moving parts that converts power into motion. And as with all internal combustion engines, the motor oil, a viscous liquid deprived from petroleum, is needed to lubricate the moving parts and protect them against premature wear, corrosion and a build-up of deposits and dirt.

Equally important is the oil filter. The oil filter is a porous device for removing metal shavings, dirt and deposits moving through the engine. It acts as a strainer for the engine oil.

To keep the Sportster engine running at optimal performance, it’s necessary to remove and replace the engine oil and filter every 5,000 miles. Neglecting to do this can lead to a buildup of carbon deposits and sludge, which can cause the piston rings to wear too early or even damage the camshaft. Use this guide when changing the engine oil and filter on your 1986-2003 Sportster motorcycle.

These oil and filter change procedures apply to Harley Sportster: XLH883, XLH883 Custom, XLH 883 Deluxe, XLH883 Hugger, XL 883R, XLH 1100 1986-1987 XLH 1200, XL1200 Custom, XL 1200 Sport. Years: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1992 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2005.

Change Engine Oil

  1. Run the motorcycle until achieving normal operating temperature.
  2. Position the motorcycle on a level surface and turn the engine off.
  3. Wipe away any dirt and debris around the oil filler cap.
  4. Remove the oil filler cap.
  5. Locate the motorcycles oil drain hose:
    1. On 1986-1990 models, the oil drain hose is at bottom of oil tank.
    2. On 1991-1993 models, the oil drain hose is fastened to battery tray lug, which is located on the left side of Sportster.
    3. On 1994-2003 models, the oil drain hose fastened to a lug one the rear muffler, which is located on the left side of the Sportster.
  6. Place a suitable pan underneath the oil tank drain line to catch oil.
  7. Disconnect hose clamp and point the end of hose into drain pan.
  8. Allow the engine oil to fully drain. Removing the oil tank filler cap will allow the engine oil to drain from the tank faster.
  9. When the oil is fully drained, reconnect oil drain hose and clamp.

Change Oil Filter

  1. To change oil filter, position oil drain pan underneath the oil filter.
  2. Fasten an oil filter wrench onto the oil filter and rotate it counterclockwise and allow oil to drain.
  3. Place the old motor oil in a suitable container and dispose of it at the nearest auto shop or oil recycling facility.
  4. Wipe away any oil that has come in contact with the engine or motorcycle parts with a contact cleaner.
  5. Pour 4 oz. (120 ml) of new motor oil into the new oil filter. Allow the oil to soak into the filter element before reinstalling it onto the motor.
  6. Apply a coat of clean motor oil to new oil filter gasket.
  7. Install the new oil filter onto the mounting pad and tighten it by hand until the oil filter meets the sealing surface. Then rotate the oil filter by hand an additional 1/2 to 3/4 turn.
  8. Add the correct quantity and oil viscosity (3.0 qt on stock motorcycles) to the Sportsters oil tank. Be sure to subtract the 4 oz. of oil used to saturate the new oil filter.
  9. On 1994-2003 models, the air must be removed from the oil tank to prevent oil pump cavitation. Perform the following procedures after chaining the engine oil:
    1. Place oil pan underneath the Sportster oil tank drain hose.
    2. Disconnect hose clamp and point the end of hose into drain pan.
    3. Permit a small amount of engine oil to drain from the hose.
    4. Reconnect the oil drain hose and clamp.
  10. Reinstall the Sportster oil tank filler cap.
  11. Turn on the motorcycle and let it idle. The motorcycles oil pressure warning light should turn off when the engine speed reaches 1000 rpm or above. If the oil pressure warning light doesn’t turn off, shut the engine down and determine the cause.

Engine Oil Specifications

Type HD Rating Viscosity Ambient Operating Temperature
H-D Multi-grade  HD360 SAE 10W/40 Below 40° F
H-D Multi-grade HD360 SAE 20W/50 Above 40° F
H-D Regular Heavy* HD360 SAE 50 Above 60° F
H-D Extra Heavy* HD360 SAE 60 Above 80° F

* Do not use when ambient temperature is below 50° F.

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One thought on “Engine Oil And Filter Change: Sportster XL XLH 883 1100 1200

  • November 30, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Just so you know, you can download Polaris repair manual for your ATV. Actually you can download a repair manual for nearly any vehicle. Just follow the link I posted.


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