My First Oil Change

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My First Oil Change

Postby E.T.Smith » Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:23 pm

My 2004 Helix has reached it's first regular maintenance benchmark under my ownership. Should be the simplest job, but I'm unsure of a couple things:

Which engine oil should I use? I have at hand synthetic SAE 10W-40 API Service SN, but I've read some indication it may be better to find a lower API rating because of the older engine design, ditto on avoiding synthetic.

What are the specs on the sealing washer? It's recommend I replace it when I change oil, but neither my owner nor service manual specifies what size I need to get.

Answers and warnings of further pitfalls are appreciated.
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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:20 pm

You can use a synthetic oil in the Helix, I use Castrol EDGE Titanium FST 5W-30 LL Full Synthetic Engine Oil as I use it in my other vehicles and buy in bulk. It's about the best oil you can buy.

For motorcycles where the clutch is lubricated with engine oil you need to be more specific, also for a limited slip differential, but the Helix oil just runs around the basic parts of the engine. The 'older' oils may need to be used in gearboxes where the bearing materials are brass or bronze. This is because the high API oils stick to the metal surfaces which works great on steel parts but can erode the yellow metals.


The sealing washer should be in good condition but you don't need to change it every time. I smear the thinnest coating of gasket cement (Blue Hylomar) on the washer, never had a leak or a problem.
Just don't tighten the thread too much.

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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby E.T.Smith » Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:05 pm

GrahamH wrote:You can use a synthetic oil in the Helix ... For motorcycles where the clutch is lubricated with engine oil you need to be more specific, also for a limited slip differential, but the Helix oil just runs around the basic parts of the engine.


Thank you, that clarifies things.

The sealing washer should be in good condition but you don't need to change it every time. I smear the thinnest coating of gasket cement (Blue Hylomar) on the washer, never had a leak or a problem. Just don't tighten the thread too much.


Honestly, it's cheap enough to just replace it that I think it's worth it for even just a slightly firmer seal. As best as I can find, Honda uses a 14mm crush washer on all it's engines. Does this hold true for the Helix?
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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby E.T.Smith » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:31 pm

So I buffaloed ahead, grabbed a variety set of copper crush washers from the nearest auto parts store and made the change. The best washer fit was loose but adequate, and now I've got the old one to measure for next time.

One more question though: documentation specified only to use 0.8 liters / 0.85 quarts of oil. Sloshing around the tiny remnant left in the bottle, I can't help but doubt pouring it all in would've been that bad. How serious a mistake would it be to over-oil the engine, if at all, so I don't have to keep a mostly-empty bottle of fresh oil around?
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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby GrahamH » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:37 pm

I'm not sure if a little over filling would be a problem...….but it is not a good idea and could be worse for the engine, maybe not much worse but best not to.

When changing any oil I carefully collect the old oil and measure the amount that came out, this will give an idea of how much to put back in. Then when filling I check how much oil should go in (from the manual) and measure it as it goes in. The Helix has a dipstick so fairly easy to check but for some fillings where a top filling hole needs to leak to gauge the correct level then the 'measure it in' method gives more assurance it is correct. I do this because of underfilling a BMW rear bevel drive, oil appeared to be dribbling out but it was no way full enough and the bearings and gears were damaged.


So if you have spare oil put it in an oil can and fix those squeaky hinges!


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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby Cruiser » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:36 am

I buy oil by the Gallon and use a measuring cup. No left over oil!
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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby zozman » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:59 am

E.T.Smith wrote:My 2004 Helix has reached it's first regular maintenance benchmark under my ownership. Should be the simplest job, but I'm unsure of a couple things:

Which engine oil should I use? I have at hand synthetic SAE 10W-40 API Service SN, but I've read some indication it may be better to find a lower API rating because of the older engine design, ditto on avoiding synthetic.

What are the specs on the sealing washer? It's recommend I replace it when I change oil, but neither my owner nor service manual specifies what size I need to get.

Answers and warnings of further pitfalls are appreciated.


1. Use full synthetic oil and change it every 1K miles. There is no oil filter. The crankcase takes .85 qt. Several people have reported that one full quart will fill the crankcase. If you overfill, the excess oil will spill out the uncapped oil fill reservior. I use an old metal paint roller tray under any oil fills. If you overfill, tilt the bike at an angle to release excess into the tray. Easy peasy.

2. Here is the crush washer for the drain plug: WASHER, DRAIN PLUG (12MM) 94109-12000. $1.99. You can use it several times. Once you overtighten it, since it is aluminum, the bolt head will groove the washer. After awhile, it will leak. Next oil change turn the washer over and you can use it several more times without leakage. Torque drain bolt 13-16 ft-lb. Keep an extra aluminum washer on hand.

3. Tip: Always place clean white cardboard/towel under recently changed oil drain plug. Any leakage will appear as drips. Real handy when seeing anti-freeze drips from the bad crush washer there.

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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby E.T.Smith » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:35 pm

zozman wrote:2. Here is the crush washer for the drain plug: WASHER, DRAIN PLUG (12MM) 94109-12000. $1.99. You can use it several times. Once you overtighten it, since it is aluminum, the bolt head will groove the washer. After awhile, it will leak. Next oil change turn the washer over and you can use it several more times without leakage. Torque drain bolt 13-16 ft-lb. Keep an extra aluminum washer on hand.


Thanks for the specifics (no idea why that's not stated in the huge service manual I got). A quick search shows I can get packs of generic crush washers in that size in packs of ten or twenty very cheaply, so I'm not worried about reusing them. I will definitely add a couple to my on-the-road toolkit.

3. Tip: Always place clean white cardboard/towel under recently changed oil drain plug. Any leakage will appear as drips. Real handy when seeing anti-freeze drips from the bad crush washer there.


Good advice, I will definitely do that.
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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby Frisco Helix » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:51 pm

Here is one thing you must know, which absolutely baffles me as to why no one emphasizes it very much:

DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN THE DRAIN PLUG (THE BOLT YOU UNSCREW TO LET OIL OUT, THEN SCREW BACK IN)

YOU RUN THE RISK OF 'THREADING' THE INSIDE WHICH WILL CAUSE AN OIL LEAK

ONLY TIGHTEN JUST ENOUGH TO PUT THE DRAIN PLUG BOLT BACK IN

I made this mistake and it took days of research and effort to fix.
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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby dano60 » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:03 am

The owners manual says to check the oil level using the dipstick/cap without screwing it in. After changing oil using .8qt.
per owners manual it's always low on the lower tip of the dipstick. But if I screw it in all the way it shows full on the upper mark. I checked to make sure the bike was level and not leaning. Could it be a misprint in the manual? Has anyone else noticed? I always screw it all the way to check oil level, since I'm sure I put the correct amount in and don't want to overfill
Thanks, Dan
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Re: My First Oil Change

Postby charlie55 » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:24 am

dano60 wrote:The owners manual says to check the oil level using the dipstick/cap without screwing it in. After changing oil using .8qt.
per owners manual it's always low on the lower tip of the dipstick. But if I screw it in all the way it shows full on the upper mark. I checked to make sure the bike was level and not leaning. Could it be a misprint in the manual? Has anyone else noticed? I always screw it all the way to check oil level, since I'm sure I put the correct amount in and don't want to overfill
Thanks, Dan


The manual is correct. Let the oil settle a bit - re-check - add a small amount. Repeat until the level is at the midpoint of the cross-hatched section of the dipstick.
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