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Old May 17th, 2018, 10:16 PM   #1
Angel-be-Good
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Ninja 400 oil change

If you've changed oil on a Ninja 250 (or, presumably, a 300), the process on the Ninja 400 is completely familiar. Familiar enough that I set at it without looking up any tutorials, and I'm an idiot at this stuff. That said, I figured I'd take some photos to document the process for anyone new to this. Behold my mediocre, half-assed tutorial:

Tools required
  • Allen wrench set
  • 17mm wrench socket
  • Torque wrench
  • Oil filter wrench (or pipe wrench)
  • Oil catch pan
  • Used oil container
  • Funnel

Materials required
  • 2.1 quarts (2.0 liters) of 10W-40 motorcycle oil
  • Replacement oil filter
  • Replacement crush washer (meh)

Step 0: Ride the bike

Get the oil nice and warm. A ten minute ride is enough to loosen up the goopy bits to ensure they flow out of the bike easily when you open it up.

Step 1: Prepare

You can get by without a rear stand, but you'll have more room to work if you put the bike on a stand. Place an oil pan under the center of the bike, as that's where the messy stuff is going to fall out.



Step 2: Drain the bike

There are two bits you'll want to open up to let the oil flow out of the bike. The first is the oil drain bolt, which is found on the lefthand side (kickstand side) of the bike, directly under the engine. It's a 17mm bolt, with a small "crush" washer under it. (Kawasaki calls this crush washer a gasket.)







Make sure your oil pan is in position and remove the bolt -- oil will flow, and it'll be warm (maybe hot).



While that's flowing, turn to the second bit you'll want to open: Time to remove the existing oil filter. This bit is different than my Ninja 250 as the 400 uses a screw-on oil filter, rather than an internal cartridge. The filter is also under the bike, under the engine, facing toward the front of the motorcycle. Because of the placement of the filter, you're best off removing the lower part of the fairing for easy access. Otherwise, there's not much room to get at it.





To remove the lower part of the fairing, remove a couple of allen head bolts and undo this plastic clip at the front of the fairing. It just pushes out, allowing you to swing one side of the lower fairing upward and wiggle the interlocking plastic tabs apart. Remove the left side for all the access you need.





With the fairing out of the way, pull out your trusty oil filter wrench, wrap it around the oil filter, and then throw away the oil filter wrench because it sucks and doesn't work at all at rotating the filter off of the bike.



Seriously, don't get an oil filter wrench like the one I have, it's useless. Fortunately, I had pipe wrench large enough to wrap around the filter and twist it off. The pipe wrench damaged the filter, but I'm not saving it for anything anyway. Just want to be careful to not crush the filter to the point it won't come off the bike without damaging the hard bits. Oil will start to seep out of the filter as you remove it, so make sure the oil pan is ready to catch it.





The oil filter has a rubber gasket ring that should come off with the filter. In fact, it's basically embedded in the filters I have. But if it didn't come off with the filter, make sure it's not stuck to your bike.



Step 3: Wait

It'll take a while for all of the used oil to flow out of the bike. Give it time. Walk away, or turn your attention to another maintenance task (like the chain) while the oil drains. Wait until it stops dripping out. The bike is now empty.





My used oil (at around 900 miles) was too dark to see anything floating around, so I dragged a magnetic tool through the oil and it came out with some metal flakes. I guess this is expected? Or maybe the metal bits were already stuck to the magnet before I ran the experiment and I was too dumb to check?





Step 4: Screw it back together

Replace the oil drain bolt with the crush washer. Kawasaki always recommends you replace the crush washer, but I usually do it every other oil change.

Here's where you'll want to use the torque wrench. Kawasaki specifies torquing the oil drain bolt to 22 ft-lbs (or 30 Nm). If you've never done this before, don't be surprised to find that 22 ft-lbs is NOT very tight. Your torque wrench will stop you before you'll think it's tight enough. That's normal. You could probably finger-tighten it beyond 22 ft-lbs. (Don't.) Clean up the area under the bike with a shop towel.

Now get your replacement filter. I got a Hiflofiltro not just because it has a terrible logo on the outside, but mostly because it has a bolt head on the end. This means I don't have to futz with an oil filter wrench (or a pipe wrench), I can use a normal socket to tighten (and later release) the oil filter. Thank goodness. (This filter uses the same 17mm socket that fits the oil drain bolt. Yesss...)



The oil filter also comes with a replacement gasket, pre-installed. Hiflofiltro even pre-oiled the gasket for me! If your gasket isn't pre-oiled, wet it a bit with some of the used oil -- this will prevent the rubber gasket from binding as you screw the filter back onto the bike. Now screw the filter back onto the bike, using a torque wrench to tighten it to just 12.9 ft-lbs (or 17.5 Nm). Again, this is not very tight -- resist the urge to over-tighten the filter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taz View Post
no don't use used oil just use a little bit of the new stuff your going to use, and again just no. no. tighten by hand the nut is for taking it off only.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Burphel View Post
If you get an oil filter with a nut on the end, *do not* use it to tighten/torque the filter on.


You can safely replace the lower fairing plastic at this point.

Step 5: Replace the oil

At this point, I take the bike off the rear stand. I measure oil levels with the bike on flat ground, standing up, with both tires on the floor.

Now move to the other side of the bike (righthand side) to locate the crankcase with the oil sightglass (bottom) and oil cap (top-front). The oil cap is a plastic bit that screws out with your fingers, revealing a small hole through which you'll now need to deposit your fresh oil.



Unless your aim is way better than mine, you'll want a funnel of some sort. The entrance is pretty tight, so a small funnel is required. Slowly pour in the oil. Be careful not to pour in too much oil.

The manual says the bike requires 2.1 quarts (2.0 liters) of oil when you replace the filter. I bought three quarts of oil, dumped in the first two without looking, and then checked the oil levels. For me, that ended up being the perfect amount -- I didn't need to add the extra 0.1 quarts. Which was convenient, but also means I almost overfilled it without checking. Don't be a dummy like me. Check your oil level as you fill, rather than dumping in everything at once.

I check the oil level by replacing the oil cap and starting the engine, letting it idle (no revving) for about 20-30 seconds, letting the oil settle a bit, and then crouching by the side of the bike and tilting it upward so that it's straight up, not resting on the side stand. Check the oil sightglass and you should see the fresh oil start to fill it up. You want the oil to rise to a level between the low and high marks printed on the crankcase.



If you need more oil, remove the oil cap again and pour in a bit more oil, then repeat the check process, letting the motor run for a few seconds before each check.

If you overfill the oil, you'll have to go back to the other side of the bike, release the drain plug, and let out some oil. Which is messy and I already cleaned it up, so I really, really avoid having to do this. Just take your time pouring in the correct amount of oil.

Step 6: Ride

These oil change tutorials always end with the suggestion that you take the bike for a quick ride around the block and then check it to make sure the drain bolt and oil filter aren't leaking, and that the oil level still looks good.

Personally, I'm pretty lazy and I usually wait until the next morning when I have to ride to work. I ride to work like normal, and then at the end of the day I look under my bike to make sure it hasn't left any oil puddles on the ground. Only then am I confident I've done a successful oil change.
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Last futzed with by Angel-be-Good; May 18th, 2018 at 06:33 AM.
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Old May 18th, 2018, 12:38 AM   #2
Burphel
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If you get an oil filter with a nut on the end, *do not* use it to tighten/torque the filter on. That nut's there for removal only. Using that nut to tighten the filter risks damaging the filter and having it leak/rupture while riding. Do a search on K&N motorcycle oil filter - the things are banned from most race organizations for precisely this reason. Hand tighten it (like with your hands, don't use any tools - even a torque wrench) and move on with life. If you're paranoid (or a racer) safety wire it.
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Old May 18th, 2018, 02:24 AM   #3
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Old May 18th, 2018, 06:26 AM   #4
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The oil filter also comes with a replacement gasket, pre-installed. Hiflofiltro even pre-oiled the gasket for me! If your gasket isn't pre-oiled, wet it a bit with some of the used oil -- this will prevent the rubber gasket from binding as you screw the filter back onto the bike. Now screw the filter back onto the bike, using a torque wrench to tighten it to just 12.9 ft-lbs (or 17.5 Nm). Again, this is not very tight -- resist the urge to over-tighten the filter.

no don't use used oil just use a little bit of the new stuff your going to use, and again just no. no. tighten by hand the nut is for taking it off only.
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Old May 18th, 2018, 06:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taz View Post
no don't use used oil just use a little bit of the new stuff your going to use, and again just no. no. tighten by hand the nut is for taking it off only.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Burphel View Post
If you get an oil filter with a nut on the end, *do not* use it to tighten/torque the filter on.
Good to know 👍
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Old May 18th, 2018, 06:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adouglas View Post
Get one of these. Ten bucks at Harbor Freight. Never fails.

Looks a bit easier to handle under a bike than a pipe wrench 👌
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Old May 18th, 2018, 06:59 AM   #7
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May I suggest not using nut at end of filter to tighten. They didn’t redesign end of canister with more thickness for nut and just tack-welded it on. Problem is this heat makes the thin metal fragile and force from tightening can weaken the welds. Over time with fatigue from on/off pressurization, the HAZ around welds will crack and leak. In some cases, entire nut blows off end of filter.

Use regular auto method of installing spin-on filters. Do it by hand and feel for when you encountre resistance from seal contacting engine. Then spin it ~180 degrees further and that’s it.

Thanks for great write with photos!

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Old May 18th, 2018, 07:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taz View Post
Now screw the filter back onto the bike, using a torque wrench to tighten it to just 12.9 ft-lbs (or 17.5 Nm)[/B]. Again, this is not very tight -- resist the urge to over-tighten the filter.
The only way you can use a torque wrench is if you happen to also use the cap-style filter "wrench" (actually a giant sheet-metal socket that fits over the end of the filter).

Simpler method: First, clean any oil off of your hands (duh). Then thread the filter on by hand until the gasket touches. Then tighten by hand an additional 1/2 - 3/4 turn or so. Or you can just go until your hand slips because, face it... you didn't clean the oil off your hands, did you?

If you want to be super-safe, do what track day organizations require... put a hose clamp on the filter after installation, oriented so that the clamp's worm screw will contact something on the bike if the filter starts to loosen. What this does is prevent the filter from coming loose. This works for most bikes. Some have no such nearby protrusion, and require the clamp to be safety wired.

On my bikes I have a clamp that's permanently attached to the bike via safety wire, so that when I change the filter all I have to do is loosen the clamp and slide it off (leave the wire long enough to allow this), then reverse the procedure after the new filter is in place.
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Old May 18th, 2018, 07:24 AM   #9
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By the way, thanks for doing this writeup. These things are old hat to a lot of us and we sometimes forget how valuable they can be to new riders. Kudos!

Also, you asked a question that nobody answered. Yeah, it's normal to have a bit of metal in the first oil change on a brand-new bike. All part of the break-in process.

The last time I bought a new bike (my GSX-R) I used the Calsci method (http://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/NewBike.html) which involves, in part, riding about 50 miles or so and then doing your first oil change. The dealer I bought the bike from was 70 miles from home so I just bought oil in advance, grabbed an OEM filter when I picked up the bike and drained the factory oil as soon as I got home.

It was pearly from suspended metal bits. The factory method would have had that stuff floating around in the case for 500 miles. Made a believer out of me. Bike has run flawlessly for 14,500 miles so far and I didn't have to do that ridiculous hundreds-of-miles-at-low-rpm thing that Kawi asks for.
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Old May 18th, 2018, 09:42 AM   #10
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Thanks a lot for this. I've changed the oil in my pre-gen, and I was wondering how the maintenance on the 400 would compare. And you had great pictures! Very useful.

I need to look at the manual and see what the maintenance schedules and things look like. I'm still considering a 400 but I want to know stuff.
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Old May 19th, 2018, 07:51 AM   #11
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I need to look at the manual and see what the maintenance schedules and things look like. I'm still considering a 400 but I want to know stuff.
Boom: https://www.ninjette.org/forums/showthread.php?t=315216
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Old May 20th, 2018, 02:25 PM   #12
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Hey, cool, thanks!
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Old June 3rd, 2018, 05:22 PM   #13
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ProTip: Open the fill plug before opening the drain plug. It shouldn't be an issue on most bikes for an oil change, especially a brand new bike, but it's a good habit to get into. There's nothing worse than getting ready to finish up some work and refill the fluid, only to find out you can't actually open it up to put the new fluid in.

My 500's OEM filter was put on by a gorilla on steroids. I ended up driving a punch all the way through it and using that for leverage to get it to turn. I've heard similar stories from others. The original filter on a bike is somewhat likely to be on a lot tighter than it needs to be. Properly installed filters shouldn't be too hard to get off in the future.

If the HF303 fits the 400, there are a lot of compatible options - it's the same filter that the 500 uses. http://www.ex-500.com/wiki/index.php...ross_Reference If there's extra room in front of the OEM filter (it looks like there is), you can buy a longer version (about 3.25" vs. 2.5") that will give you more filtering media and a tiny bit more oil capacity. Bike filters tend to be overpriced, so you can often find an "auto" version of the part with better quality for less money, and with better availability.
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