Are car oils suitable for a motorcycle?

Motul motorcycle oIls oil

As the old ad slogan used to say, Oils ain’t oils, and that’s very true for motorcycle lubrication which has different requirements from cars.

French oil company Motul says oils in your car are mainly to lubricate moving parts in the engine, while oils in your motorcycle not only lubricate the engine but also cool the clutch and lubricate and protect the gearbox.

Motul has supplied the following information for riders so they can choose the correct oil for their bike:

fake products oil1 Protection for gearbox:

Because a motorcycle uses the same oil for both engine and gearbox the oil needs to offer protection for engine components and the gears. This requires motorcycle oil to be uniquely formulated with dedicated technology.

2 Excellent shear stability

Shear stability is the measure of the amount of viscosity that an oil may lose during operation Since a motorcycle engine oil serves two functions – to lubricate the engine and gearbox – it needs to be able to maintain its intended viscosity for the entire service life. With service intervals increasing to 10,000km+, such shear stability has become extremely important.Motul motorcycle oIls

3 Balanced lubricated friction characteristics

A car engine oil aims to reduce friction between moving parts in order to provide good fuel economy and efficiency. A motorcycle engine oil requires balanced friction characteristics as it needs to lubricate the wet clutch, which in turn transfers engine power to the drivetrain. If the friction level is too low, the clutch will not be able to engage and will cause slippage.

So what this means is you should choose a special motorcycle oil designed for your bike.

Check your owner’s manual for the correct oil weight.

Now read about the difference between mineral, synthetic and blended oils.

17 Comments

  1. I tried 10w-40w full synthetic car oil on my Yamaha Thundercat 600. Did about 50 miles and the clutch started slipping under acceleration Never had a problem with slippage until the oil change. Waiting for some 4T oil to change over and hopefully all should be good in the world again 🙂

    1. I was sent to Germany as a Canadian soldier. I put mobil1 10w40, I just drive the bike like I was racing all over mountain roads, Germany, France, Switzerland etc etc. When I say that my little Transalp I could not be more rude, always to the redline, had been addict to speed for ever, got in Germany at 21, then turn 22 two months later. Same for all my cars. Only 55 HP, but this bike with the proper tires where the quickest in the mountains twisties. I need at least 2 new rears tires at the back each year, and almost the front. But once I went to this German motorcycles dealer to get a new front tire, and for a German to be impressed of how much the side of my front tire were worn, was telling how much I was beating this little bike. And did the same to my car. But my point is, I have bought my Transalp from another Canadian soldier who bought it new on a Americain base, it was they only way we could bring back a bike less then 15 years old. Anything more then 15 years old, you were allowed to bring it back to Canada. So the end of my story is, I have always used Mobil1 full synthetic, never ever had any slippage, bought it at 14 000km, and at 57000km, the cluth started to slip when the trottle was wide open and was hitting a bump on the pavement. Why when in the Honda transalp book it says only to buy engine oil that met the API requirement, it never said to buy motorcycle oil, but engine the meet the API or Exceed it. So I sold my transalp at around 60 000km, the guy that bought it, tried it, never mention that the clutch was slipping. When my tires were due, the day before I changed them, I was doing big burn out with picture, from 1 to 2nd gears, and the bike was over 50 000km. Clutch had never slip when I was doing this. The engine was tired, but any engine would have been tired the way I had beat the shit out of it. Pitty I can’t put the picture from my last burn out….

  2. You can put car engine oil in motorcycle engines. Just don’t put it in your trans, primary and chain cases. Simple as that. 4 stroke motorcycle engines are no different in operation than car engines.

    1. 4T oils r made for motorcycle engine that have gearbox and clutch built into it. Car engine oil are only for engine only. Gearbox uses different grade W80-90. Harleys hv separate gearbox and clutch. So car oils can be use.
      So many oil companies have produce oils specially for present day motorbikes. If it is not necessary they wouldn’t have bothered.
      As a bike user since 1972, in the old days car engine oil are used as there are no 4T oils. Now my present bike uses 4T bcos same explanation was told to me by my bike shop.

      1. “So many oil companies have produce oils specially for present day motorbikes. If it is not necessary they wouldn’t have bothered.” …. LOL, middle aged men with money on their wallets.

        My Vstrom 1000 has had car grade GTX for a decade

  3. When I was operating a servo, we had one guy who came in, and insisted on buying car oil even after I suggested the motorbike oil.
    I then watched the motorbike die.

  4. More ignorant hearsay about so called motorcycle oil . When all else fails read your owners manual and put in whatever oil the factory says will work. Buy it from whoever sells it’s that cheap and readily available. Change it and the filter at around 5000 miles and quit reading
    ad copy by brands that tell you otherwise. Now go riding.
    Your welcome

  5. Any oil with a JASO MA rating will be fine in a wet clutch motorcycle, and my current oil of choice is Penrite Everyday 10W40 full synthetic, The last lot I bought was $36 for 6L at Supercheap. A lot of people use certain diesel oils with no known issues, but I like to play it a bit safer, specially at $6 per litre.

  6. What a load of codswollop.
    Once used nothing but coles brand 20w 40, in my old fj12.
    Change out of $7.00. For 4 litres. Met all yamaha specs.
    Sold it with 380,000ks on the clock still running like a charm.
    These days im not so cheap, neither are the motorcycles I ride, and Oleon oils is the preferred oil for all my mechanical needs. Bikes, cars, and trucks.
    No im not a employee of Oleon, nore have i ever recieved payment.
    However they have a huge range of oils, enough to satisfy anyone’s needs, and at a great price.

  7. A good diesel oil like Delo400 works great. Rated for gears and all sorts of stresses that big diesels undergo. I’ve been using it for years in all my fleet and have proven its benfits over Mobil 1 R4T, a bike oil, with 4 times the bearing life and counting in my Berg 501 after switching to it. Available in any Caltex servo, its gret in the adventure bike too.

  8. I once tried nulon auto transmission Teflon addictive in a bike, the motor had issues so it was one of those it’s worth a shot kind of things.
    I can not say that it helped or hurt but my suspicions are toward the hurt end of things considering the clutch started slipping before the motor died, but then again my lack of care about the life expectancy of the engine may have taxed it too much.

  9. Many years ago I put car engine oil in the gearbox of a 2stroke trail bike. The oil manufacturer claimed that the oil was suitable for gearboxes. In less than a minute the clutch was stuffed, and I had to fit a new set of clutch plates. Seriously, do not use car engine oils in motorcycles.

    1. you think it might be because you used 4 instead of the required 2 stroke oil?? Embarrassed?
      Don’t make a blanket statement based on that stupid episode

  10. Simplistic and not entirely true.
    Viscosity is the speed at which a fluid flows or its resistance to flowing (stickiness) and is measured at two extremes of hot and cold hence the two numbers .
    The reason car oils are not good for bikes is that they often have additives that can build up in the clutch and cause it to slip or even disintegrate.

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