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Oil Level - Can't Tell


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Hey all ... I have a 1999 R1100RT. Today I was trying to check the oil and I couldn't see a level through the sight glass. I tried a different angle and used a flashlight, but still couldn't see an oil level. I added over a liter and still can't see anything. I'm afreaid I was either REALLY low, or I just overfilled it badly. I did notice some oil on the case around the sight glass, but never noticed any puddles underneath. If I was overfilling it, wouldn't it have overflowed when I was adding? Is there another way to tell how much oil is in there or should I just drain it and start over?

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If were talking new oil and a discolored sight glass, it can be hard to tell if you are over.


Have someone help you tip the bike to the right away from the glass as you watch is one way to tell if you are over the top or not.

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Paul Mihalka

Do not add more oil. If it is still too low, when you put the bike on the side stand you should see a oil line. If it is too high, if you have a second person around get on the bike and lean it to the right and have your helper look at the window. The line should appear moving down from the top. If you don't see a line either way, you'll have to do a oil change.

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I am new to the RT but after 1500 after my oil change, nothing in glass on center stand, and then when to side stand, just about nothing in glass, checked mult. times and didn't change much. No leaks anywhere, added just under half qt. (400) and that gave me a level of just under half on the glass on the center stand. I think I even lost a bar on the temp gauge after this as well. I will add oil if like that and now to keep an eye on it.

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Hi, Delta-


What DO you see when you look at the sightglass? If you see black/dark brown, that is oil. If you see silvery color, that is the backing plate of the sightglass. How many miles on the bike? The previous owner may not have been conscientious about oil changes and the glass may be clouded over. In time, most will get to be difficult to see. You may need to put anew one in. A sure way would be to drain the oil, look at the sightglass and determine if it is too obscured to use, then change it. If it is okay, just put in the recommended ammount of oil and see what it does. On the centerstand. Keep an eye on it while you add the new oil. You may not see anything in there until you have put two or more quarts in. Stop adding when it is mid to upper level, run/ride the bike a couple of miles, let it sit for a few minutes after shutdown and see what the level indicates. Ther are recommendations on this board about putting it on the sidestand for a while before checking it on the centerstand. Do whatever you want. If you put enough oil into it to overflow the filler, DO NOT START IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES UNTIL YOU HAVE DRAINED IT OUT AND REFILLED IT CORRECTLY!!!!!



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Have someone start the bike while you observe the glass. If the level is right, you should see the oil level drop below the bottom of the inspection glass.


Rick G

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The procedure is as follows:

1. Ride the bike until its fully warmed-up

2. Park the bike and use the sidestand for 5-10 minutes. This allows the oil to drain out of the oil cooler lines and back to the sump.

3. Put the bike on the centerstand and observe the sight glass. Shoot for the dot in the center for the correct oil level.


If you don't get it warmed up and try to check the level, it will most often show NO OIL in the sight glass (at least that's my experience).


Best of Luck

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Ken H. - the oil had about 1,200 miles on it. The sight glass does look somewhat discolored. I will try having someone help tip it.


Paul - I think I'll follow what you said and get on the bike, lean it, and have my wife check the level.


Frank, the sight glass does look dark brown to me. I have about 46K on the bike. Bought it in April with 38K. I'm thinking a new sight glass might make a difference.


Bruce, I did wipe the sight glass. Didn't seem to make a difference.


Rick, I'm not sure I want to start the bike, in case I did overfill it.


Greg, I'll try your method when I'm sure I'm back to normal.


Work was hell today so I didn't get a chance to check it out. And what's worse, I didn't ride because of this situation. I'll use all the good advice and check it this weekend. Thanks all!

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Hi, Mark=


I wouldn't think that 46,000 miles is enough to get the sightglass cloudy unless the bike had run on some really crappy oil. Tip it to get the oil away from the thing and you should see the backing plate and the holes around the perifery pretty clearly.


I once had the briliant idea of running aircraft "Ashless Dispersant" oil in a Kawasaki (100 years ago) and it didn't take very long to cover the inside of the sightglass with a grey/brown film that made looking at the oil level impossible. Had to remove the clutch cover and clean it from the inside with Q-tips and brushes. Big lesson about oil. That isn't as easy on a beemer and replacing it is not a real big chore.



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RE: "wouldn't it overflow?"

It will eventually overflow...after you put in about ten quarts. lmao.gif

Drain oil. Refill. Take picture of sight glass so you remember what it looks like.

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You can remove the oil filter and drain the oil from it and replace. This will remove a cup or so of oil and you can repeat as necessary after running the bike for a few seconds and rechecking the oil each time. Eventually you will lower the level so that it will be visible in the siteglass.


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