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Discussion Starter #1
So I have a bit of a mystery on my hands and I am wondering if any fellow 1700 riders have had this experience or may be able to offer up some clues as I am running out of theories myself. I have a 09 1700 Nomad that appeared to have an oil leak coming out of the lower left side of the engine. I noticed it after few days of the bike sitting in the garage. There were a few oil drops on the floor and a little oil moisture accumulated on the undercarriage. The oil level was a bit lower as well (not surprising), so I filled it back up, cleaned up the engine and kept an eye on it.

But over the the next week or so the leak appeared to have disappeared. No drops, no moisture on the engine. I checked the oil level though and it was almost down to the tip of the stick! I filled it back up with nearly 36oz of oil to get it back the previous level (75% of the fill level) and kept it in the garage (on the lift) for a week WITHOUT RUNNING IT at all. I checked it again and low and behold the same result! No drips or moisture but the oil level had declined by about a quart. This time I filled it up again but included 1 oz of UV dye to help highlight where any leaks may be. However now a week later (after only running it once to mix the dye) the floor and engine exterior are still bone dry and I can’t confirm how/where the oil is draining or where it is going. I’ve checked the coolant and around the oil pump cover but no sign of oil. I figure by now I’ve put almost 3.5 quarts in the engine over the last 3 weeks to keep it level so unless somebody is coming in my garage at night and siphoning it, I really can’t explain HOW THIS IS HAPPENING.

Has anyone else had this experience? Or have any ideas?

The only other thing I can think of to try at this point is to drain the oil completely (or just wait) and do a smoke test. What do you think?
 

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Poltergeist or Oil Vampires from the 12th dimension.

Like revrider said, it's got to be going somewhere so either it is going somewhere it isn't supposed to go, or somehow, your readings are misleading you and it was much lower on oil than you thought.
 

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Are you following the correct procedure to check the oil? The 1700 has a semi-dry sump which will give a false reading on the dip stick if not followed.
 

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I agree with CarGuy. Make sure you are following the proper procedure for checking the oil.

Check the coolant for oil contamination (symptom of a head gasket leak or a damaged cylinder head) or coolant in the oil.

My first thought is that the oil was really lower than you initially suspected since you checked it without running the engine, and you haven't made up that difference yet. Also, I suspect you will see drops again if you run the engine with the correct oil level, and that you have an oil leak that only shows up with the oil hot and under pressure.
 

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Well, I think I would approach this in a different way. I think I would completely empty the bike of its oil and then measure the amount of oil that comes out to be sure exactly how much is there. Then I would put fresh oil back in to the exact right amount. Use it for a week checking oil level everyday then I would empty oil again and see how much comes out. This may give you a different perspective on to what is really occurring. Oh yeah, I don't believe in ghosts so there is definitely an explanation just need to find it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I think I would approach this in a different way. I think I would completely empty the bike of its oil and then measure the amount of oil that comes out to be sure exactly how much is there. Then I would put fresh oil back in to the exact right amount. Use it for a week checking oil level everyday then I would empty oil again and see how much comes out. This may give you a different perspective on to what is really occurring. Oh yeah, I don't believe in ghosts so there is definitely an explanation just need to find it.
Measuring what comes out sounds like a good idea since I am likely going to drain it anyway. Luckily I buy my oil in bulk since I am loosing about 5oz. a day (according to the readings at least) and will likely be draining it 2 or more times till I figure this out! =)

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I agree with CarGuy. Make sure you are following the proper procedure for checking the oil.

Check the coolant for oil contamination (symptom of a head gasket leak or a damaged cylinder head) or coolant in the oil.

My first thought is that the oil was really lower than you initially suspected since you checked it without running the engine, and you haven't made up that difference yet. Also, I suspect you will see drops again if you run the engine with the correct oil level, and that you have an oil leak that only shows up with the oil hot and under pressure.
I had checked the coolant reservoir after running it for awhile and it looked clean. I may check the main system just to make sure though. I can't imagine the oil level being THAT low without experiencing other symptoms while running it. But at this point I guess I can't really rule anything out. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Are you following the correct procedure to check the oil? The 1700 has a semi-dry sump which will give a false reading on the dip stick if not followed.
Thanks for the input. I'm keeping the bike level (propped on a stand), twisting the oil cap all the way down before checking the dip stick (after wiping it initially). Personally I can't think of anything I am doing that would cause the readings to consistently go lower like they are (about 5 oz. a day). But another poster mentioned measuring how much oil comes out after draining it and see it corroborates those readings so that may help to confirm if they are correct.
 

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The reason you have two oil plugs is because oil "resides" in two areas of the sump. While at rest, oil from one area can migrate to the other, causing your oil dipstick to err in it's reading. It's necessary to follow the owner's manual for the proper procedure. In a nutshell:

1) Warm engine to normal operating temp (the fan will come on), the last 30 seconds should be at idle speed only. Wait at least 3 minutes after.
2) Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Making sure the bike is level, not on the kickstand, screw in the dipstick all the way, then remove. This will give you your true oil level which should be in-between the hi/lo marks.
 

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My 2011 1700 has the crankiest, hardest, most inaccurate levels when you try to check the oil of any motorcycle I ever owned. I can never get the same results twice in a row within 10 minutes of each time. So all I do is measure the amount I take out in an oil change and use that to determine if it is using any oil. So far with 40k miles, 5 quarts out, and 5 quarts in. I also drain the filter into the measurement. I change at 3k to 3.5k every time.
 

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I have had multiple 1700's and this is going to sound irrelevant, but have you checked your air filter? The reason I ask,in an earlier post you stated the fill was at 75% of the range mark on the dip stick. On both of my 2009 1700's (Nomad & Voyager) anything over 50% on the stick properly measured by the factory recommended procedure got sucked up out of the crank case into the intake. What gets sucked up into the intake is usually gooey and stays in the air box but it is worth checking.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
UPDATE: Ok so to confirm if I was losing oil or not I drained the engine and measured what came out, which was almost 2 gallons =0. That would account for all the oil I had been putting into it over the last 3-4 weeks to get the level to read as full. So (external) oil leak is out.

I filled it back up with 5 quarts (and new filter) and ran it for a bit. It read as a little over full (not entirely surprising), Next day, about the same reading. Each following day though it shows up as slightly lower till 5 days later the dip stick is bone dry! I ran it again today for awhile and the oil went back up to full again.

While I am glad to know that I am not losing oil I'm still not sure why the level is fluctuating like that. Somebody in another forum mentioned it might have something to do with clogged oil runners or galleys. He suggested putting Marvel Mystery Oil in the crankcase to clean them out but I'm weary of using it in a wet clutch motor. Some have mentioned using SeaFoam in the oil as well. Any thoughts?
 

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I have used MMO in all my bikes to clean the engine up a bit before oil changes. Never had any problems. Been riding for 40+ years now.
 

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Like was mentioned before, as the bike sits the oil migrates to the second sump where the dipstick is not. That's why the owners manual gives you a specific procedure for checking the oil. Don't overthink it. Just ride!!!
 

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UPDATE: Ok so to confirm if I was losing oil or not I drained the engine and measured what came out, which was almost 2 gallons =0. That would account for all the oil I had been putting into it over the last 3-4 weeks to get the level to read as full. So (external) oil leak is out.

I filled it back up with 5 quarts (and new filter) and ran it for a bit. It read as a little over full (not entirely surprising), Next day, about the same reading. Each following day though it shows up as slightly lower till 5 days later the dip stick is bone dry! I ran it again today for awhile and the oil went back up to full again.

While I am glad to know that I am not losing oil I'm still not sure why the level is fluctuating like that. Somebody in another forum mentioned it might have something to do with clogged oil runners or galleys. He suggested putting Marvel Mystery Oil in the crankcase to clean them out but I'm weary of using it in a wet clutch motor. Some have mentioned using SeaFoam in the oil as well. Any thoughts?
You didn't make it clear at all above, but are you properly warming the bike then waiting a few minutes after shutdown each time before you check the oil now?
 

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If you're not doing it, you really need to follow the owner's manual on checking the oil on these 1700's. When I check mine, which I rarely do, I'll check it a few minutes after returning from a ride. I've never had to add oil (40K on the bike) in between changes.
 

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There are very clear instructions in the owners manual. If you don't have one, they're available as a free download (PDF) on Kawasaki.com.

I've only got 9500 miles on mine, but I also have never had to top up the oil. I check it once a week and it's always right where I left it.
 

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After the first 600 mile oil change I went to full synthetic (Amsoil). I change about every 6K miles, sometimes a little sooner depending on if I have a trip coming up. I put 5 qts in and hardly ever check the level since it doesn't smoke and no sign of any oil leak. Seems to be still doing good now with almost 71K miles. If there is no obvious sign of oil consumption, either by smoking or leaking, why worry about checking the oil level since you have to hold you lip just right to get what still could be a questionable accurate reading. Now I know someone will probable say, what If the oil is getting into the cooling system. All I would say is that you'd probably see an increase in the normal operating temp and it probably would blow out the expansion tank vent. If it gets to that situation you probably have more of a problem than getting an accurate oil level reading.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
You didn't make it clear at all above, but are you properly warming the bike then waiting a few minutes after shutdown each time before you check the oil now?
Sorry I wasn't clear on that. I don't every time I check it. And I am used to the oil level being a little different because of that. But it's not by that much. However there is no sign of oil leaking/burning and otherwise everything is running fine so as one poster pointed out. Maybe I am overthinking it! =)
 
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