What's the oil light for? - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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What's the oil light for?

I started my bike up yesterday to let it warm up. I was doing fine (seemed like it was doing fine, anyway, see my other post) for like a minute and then without warning, it died. I wasn't touching the bike when it happened. I cranked and cranked and nothing. I let it sit over night and then cranked and cranked and nothing. I checked all the bits and bobs and everything looks fine. So I thought, maybe it's out of gas. So I went and got a couple gallons and topped her off and actually she fired right up for like two seconds. Then died again. The only weird thing is that I noticed that the oil light was on and it won't go off. I'm not sure when exactly it came on, it's hard to see it in the full light of day. Well, I couldn't see through the bubble so I just changed the oil all together. Oil levels are fine now, but the light doesn't go out still and she still refuses to crank up. If this has anything to do with the problem I was having previously, I don't know. In brief, she doesn't like it when I try to go over 30 and starts to bog down heavily.

So yeah, I'm super confused.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 09:00 PM
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As far as the oil light, it comes on to let you know your oil pressure is low. It is common for it to not go out until the engine starts, as the starter alone is not always enough to build up oil pressure, especially if it turns over slower than it should. Also, the oil pressure sending unit could be partly plugged, remove it and clean it out with some spray carb cleaner. Your other problem sounds like a carb/fuel issue to me. Jerry.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-08-2010, 10:11 PM
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Forgive the obvious, but is the gas lever turned on? Happened to me once.

After an oil change, you might have to burp the filter. Start the engine, unscrew the filter until oil starts spurting, tighten up quickly. Best to put paper all around as oil will come out fast. Burping removes air from the filter and oil lines, which might be blocking the oil.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EQPlayer View Post
Forgive the obvious, but is the gas lever turned on? Happened to me once.
+1 Been there, done that. Good idea to check the simple fix first.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 09:32 AM
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I'll echo what both these guys said. If your bike won't start, the oil light will stay on. It comes on when you turn on the key so you know that it's working. It goes off once the engine starts, if the sending unit sees the oil pressure build up to a certain point. So, I wouldn't worry about the oil light until the bike has started and it stays on. One tip for changing oil: add new oil to the new filter and let it bubble all the air out til it's full, then install the oil filter. I've never had the oil pressure not build up fine after an oil change using this technique.

If your bike wouldn't go over 30 before this, then it is likely you have some badly gummed up carbs. If you haven't already, pour half a can of seafoam into the tank of gas. Drain your carbs from the carb bowl drains. Pull the fuel hoses off the petcock and pour seafoam into both hoses into the carbs til they are full and put them back on the petcock. Let it sit at least one day then drain the carb bowls again. I would also pull both pilot (air mix) screws and shoot some B12 carb cleaner down the pilot screw holes to clean out that passage and re-install the screws. (turn each of them in til they gently bottom, counting the turns and then remove them. This way you can re-install them and back them out to the same setting as before.) Then I'd see if the bike will fire off. If not, then you are going to have to pull the carbs and clean them.

If it isn't clear whether you are getting gas from the petcock, you can pull the gas lines and the vacuum line and tuck a rag under the gas ports and draw a vacuum on the vacuum port to see if it is flowing gas from the petcock in the ON or RES position.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 09:50 AM
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ON cars/trucks with vertical filters I have always filled the filter full of oil before installing it, but with the horizontal filter on the Vulcan, I don't know of any way to do this without the oil pouring out when you install the filter. My oil pressure comes up almost immediately after starting the engine. Never rev the engine, start it with the throttle closed, and let it idle. I always start it, and immediately check the sight glass (I trust it more than the light) to make sure the oil level drops quickly. You will here a clatter from the top end for about a second, until the lifters pump up, then it will stop. By then the sight glass window should show empty, and the light should be out. Jerry.

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2006 Sportster 1200 Low
2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500, converted to carb
2001 Yamaha XT225, heavily modified
2004 Honda Rebel 250
1979 Vespa P200E
2002 Vulcan 750 parts bike
1994 Yamaha XT225 parts bike
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 10:00 AM
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It won't pour out when you install the filter. I mean, if you fumble around blindly I imagine you could make a mess, but it is easy to get to the threaded tube the filter screws onto and I have never made a mess doing this. Yes, a few drips but never a mess. It is easy to hold the filter upright until you are ready to tilt it horizontal to match up the threads and then start screwing it on. It works fine, and like I said, I never have had any problem doing it this way and never heard the clatter in the upper end of the engine either. Just have a rag on the floor under it and you'll catch the few drips.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 02:59 PM
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My Sportster has a horizonal filter also, and it is recommended to pour 4 oz. in the filter before installing, that is what I do and have not had any flow out during install...
PS-Don't forget to take whatever you pour in off the your fill capacity (I used 4 qts. total w/filter/almost to the top of the glass on the center stand)...
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Last edited by Old Dog; 04-09-2010 at 03:04 PM.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-09-2010, 05:16 PM
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4 oz should not be a problem with the Vulcan filter either. I wouldn't have a problem filling it up while it was horizontal until oil started coming out, then stop. you would need to stuff a rag down between the starter and the engine, or oil will run down behind the starter where you can't get to it. I've done that a couple of times, and used practically a whole can of carb cleaner getting all the oil off. Now when I remove the filter, I have a flat piece of cardboard slightly curved, to use as a chute to put under the filter mounting boss so when I remove the oil filter, all the oil, and there is a lot when you remove the filter, even after draining the crankcase, will run down the cardboard and into the pan, and not make a mess. I also drain the oil with the bike on the centerstand, with a piece of 2x4 under the right side, and the sidestand up, to prevent soaking the sidestand with oil.

The Sportster is a bit different, having a dry sump engine, so putting a little oil in the filter to help prime it is probably a good idea. I have never owned a Harley (still looking, it WILL happen), but I have never seen anything in any service manual for any vehicle to fill the filter with oil before installing it. It does make sense, especially if you have a vertical filter. But if you change the oil, get down on the floor where you can get a good view of the sight glass, and have someone else start it, the oil level drops instantly, so there is obviously some oil still in the pickup tube. I don't think Kawasaki would design a lubrication system that was not self priming. Even a new engine from the factory you just put oil in it and start it up. On a rebuilt engine, you need to prime the engine the first time, usually either by turning the distributer shaft with a drill until oil starts squirting out through the head, or if there is no way to turn the oil pump, pack it in Vaseline. It will start pumping immediately, and the Vaseline just melts into the oil. Jerry.

I am a motorcyclist, NOT a biker.


1997 Vulcan 750, purchased about a week ago
2006 Sportster 1200 Low
2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500, converted to carb
2001 Yamaha XT225, heavily modified
2004 Honda Rebel 250
1979 Vespa P200E
2002 Vulcan 750 parts bike
1994 Yamaha XT225 parts bike
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