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Water in engine oil?


oilmkr

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I just got my bike back this evening from the shop (60miles away) for the routine 12k mile interval servicing. After the bike cooled I put it on the center stand and checked the oil level. When looking at the oil level through the site glass it looked like there was a small layer of water on the oil. The top 32nd or 16th of an inch looked to be clear. The light from my flashlight reflected from this layer. I turned the bike on and idled it for about 3 minutes and then checked the oil with the bike on the center stand. The oil looked like it had very fine bubbles throughout - I did not see any foam on the top of the oil. I let the bike sit and after about 5 minutes I had small white bubbles on the top of the oil. After 10 minutes there were much fewer bubbles on the top of the oil. After an hour I am back to a thin layer of clear liquid (which I believe to be water) on top of the oil.

 

Does what I describe sound like water in the oil? Does anyone have any other suggestion for what I am seeing? I routinely change my own oil between the 6k and 12k servicings and I have never noticed this layering phenomenon.

 

I'm going to call the dealer in the morning and tell them that I believe they put water in with my oil and see where the conversation goes. My issue is that starting Friday I will be off for a 10 day ride through the Southwestern States and I don't want any oil problems. My fallback plan will be to change the oil before I leave. I don't like this plan since I still need to pack!

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,

Wayne

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I'm not a chemist, but I believe water is heavier than oil. If that's true, it's not water you are seeing at the top.

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Oil floats on water, so any water would be at the bottom. Also, in the heart of the engine any water would be beaten into an emullsion which looks like yogurt. It ain't water.

 

Andy

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I concur.

 

What you see may have been the leftovers of some pre-oil cleaning treatment, or a bad shot w/some wd-40 or penetrating oil.

 

I wouldn't worry.

 

Course, I never worry. <attachment>

 

Bob

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Joe Frickin' Friday
Oil floats on water, so any water would be at the bottom. Also, in the heart of the engine any water would be beaten into an emullsion which looks like yogurt.

 

This effect can be observed by dipping a finger in fresh motor oil, then dripping some water on it from a faucet, and rubbing. But it would take an awful lot of water to make yogurt out of four quarts of oil in the crankcase.

 

But as you note, any water would be more or less evenly distributed throughout the oil due to mixing action and the presence of emulsifier additives in the oil. So you won't see a layer of water on top of (or beneath) a crankcase full of oil.

 

Wayne:

I'm going to call the dealer in the morning and tell them that I believe they put water in with my oil and see where the conversation goes.

 

If you start with an accusation like "I believe you put water in with my oil," I expect the conversation will go badly. Keep things courteous and friendly until such time as there is a preponderance of evidence that they've done something wrong.

 

Here's a similar example of dealer relations. A couple of years ago, I changed the coolant in my wife's car. checked the mixture with the standard float gauge, and determined the coolant to be safe down to something like -34F. Very shortly after that the car was at the dealer for some unrelated service, and in the course of their routine inspections, they determined that the coolant mixture was inadequate, and would freeze below +10F. My first impulse was that they were lying and trying to score a few bucks for a coolant change. But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt: I took my gauge and went to the dealer to speak to the service manager. I told him my coolant check had given very different results, and asked him to show me how they checked the coolant. He grabbed his gauge, I grabbed mine, and we went to the car. Turned out they had drawn their test mixture from the overflow tank, while I had drawn mine directly from the radiator; while changing the coolant I had added some pure water to the overflow tank, resulting in a very weak mixture there - thus their results. So, no deliberate wrong-doing on their part afterall.

 

I do not mean to suggest that you have done something to cause what you are seeing in your oil window; I only point out that it might be wise to extend the benefit of the doubt in order to maintain a positive relationship with your dealer. Just tell them what you're seeing, that it's the first time you've seen it, and you're wondering what he might know about it. thumbsup.gif

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Thanks to all who commented and corrected me. I should have known that any water would not settle on top but I just made a quick decision when I saw clear liquid on top of the oil. After I made this quick decision I did not step back and really think about the situation. All I thought about was how to get the liquid out of the engine. I exhibited very poor problem solving techniques with this situation. However, as always, the good people of this forum are quick to offer great information and suggestions.

 

I am interested in understanding what I am seeing so I will still call the dealer this morning to ask for their opinion as to what I am seeing. I am much more politically correct on the phone asking for advice and information than the text in my initial post suggests. The dealer in Eugene, OR has always treated me well and stood behind their work.

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When you figure it out, do post back. It will be interesting to hear what clear liquid ended up in your engine. And how.

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I believe that whatever substance you are observing is a component of the oil that has come out of suspension.

It might be informative for you and the supplier of the oil if you let them know that this happened. It might likely be a slip up at the manufacture's plant.

Something similar happened at a well known oil supplier a few years back......The solids in their oil were sticking to the bottom of the bottle.........So the additive package was lacking, and the dribble in the bottom looked like used oil. They were glad to be informed, and corrected the processing.

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Stan Walker

It will be interesting to hear what clear liquid ended up in your engine. And how.

 

Maybe gas?

 

Stan

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