Generator Care Generator Maintenance

13 Steps to Change a Portable Generator Oil (Properly)

One of the many crucial maintenance routines you have to perform on your generator is an oil change. It’s crucially important that you do it right, or else your generator engine might get into trouble, such as burning oil or hydrolock. So, how do you change the oil in a generator properly?

The first step is to run the generator for few minutes, shut it off and allow it to cool down. Place it on a level surface, open the oil drain bolt(s) and allow the old oil to drip into a bowl. Close the drain plug and open the oil dipstick. Using a funnel, add the right amount of oil to the engine crack case and use the dipstick to ensure you don’t overfill.

Sound straightforward? Yes, it is! However, there are a few things you and I have to go through to ensure you know how to change the generator oil the right way and avoid creating problems. Continue reading to understand what I’m talking about.

What Are the Steps of Changing Oil in a Generator?

Don’t worry if it’s time for your generator’s oil change and you don’t know where to start. When you’re done reading this, you will be able to change your generator’s oil seamlessly and the right way.

Things you will need:

  • 10-mil or 12-mil socket, spanner, or wrench
  • A 2 quarts bowl
  • 10W30 Engine Oil
  • Oil-Fill Funnel

Here are the 13 steps to follow when changing generator oil:

Step 1: Place the Generator on a Level Surface

The rule of thumb of adding oil to a generator is first to place it on a level surface. That ensures you never overfill the engine and cause issues related to oil getting into the wrong spots.

Step 2: Run the Engine for Some Minutes

Start the generator engine and run for about 10 minutes to allow the engine oil to thin out and drain quickly. It does also help loosen any dirt particles that might be in the engine block. Allow the engine to cool down before working on it.

Step 3: Locate the Oil Drain Plug

The easier way to locate the oil drain plug is to use the generator manually. If unavailable, look for a 1o-mil or 12-mil bolt at the side bottom of the crack case near the dipstick. Usually, open frame generators will come with two drain plugs.

Step 4: Place a Bowl around the Drain Plug

Before draining the oil and messing your working space, get an empty bowl and place it under the drain plug in a spot that allows it to collect all the oil coming out. If you intend to open both plugs to fasten the draining, consider getting two bowls.

Find a bowl that can hold 1.1 to 1.9 quarts. Again, you can refer to the generator manual for the amount of oil to add to your generator to estimate the amount you’ll collect.

Step 5: Open the Drain Plug Bolt

Use the suitable spanner, wrench, or socket to unscrew the bolt or bolts if you decide to open both plugs. The bolt can belong that you might think. Take the unscrewing slowly to avoid causing a splash.

Step 6: Allow the Old Dirty Oil to Pour Out

Give the dirty oil to drain out. It should take around 5 minutes, a few more or less depending on the generator engine size.

TIP: If the oil is old, thick, and sticky, open the dipstick and add some fresh oil. Crack the engine using the manual recoil; start slowly to loosen and remove contaminants in the crankcase.

Step 7: Close the Drain Plug

Once every drop of old oil is out, use the same tool you used to unscrew the drain bolt to screw it back and make sure it’s as tight as it can be to avoid leaking when the engine gets hot.

Step 8: Open the Dipstick

With the drain plug closed, open the dipstick, a yellow or orange cap on the side of your generator.

Step 9: Add the New Oil

Refer to your engine manual for the amount of engine oil required. If the information isn’t available, add the oil slowly without tilting the generator until it reaches the dipstick threads.

Step 10: Close the Dipstick

When the oil level is ideal, close the dipstick. With the engine start switch or button off, crack the engine slowly using the recoil start.

Step 11: Run the Generator for Some Minutes

With everything set, switch on the engine key or button and start the generator. Allow it to run for 10 minutes at idle for the engine oil to circulate to all parts.

Step 12: Recheck the Oil Level

Stop the generator engine and allow it to cool down. With the engine fully cooled down, open the dipstick and recheck the level; if lower, add some oil to level it to the full mark.

Step 13: Dispose of the Drained Oil Properly

Pour the oil into a clean plastic or metal container and close it tightly using a sealed lid to avoid leaks. When ready, take it to a recycling facility near you. Avoid mixing with other fluids such as antifreeze or automotive fluids as the recycling facility might not accept it.

Why Change Generator Engine Oil?

Oil in your generator crankcase does a lot to keep the engine running smoothly. One of its many functions is to lubricate an engine’s internal parts, including the piston and the cylinder.

It circulates through the engine to continuously lubricate the main components to reduce friction that causes wear and tear. At the same, as the oil circulates through the generator engine, it carries heat with it, thus cooling it down

With time, the oil will pick up dirt and other contaminants keeping the engine clean. Over time, the oil will too dirty and lose its effectiveness. That’s why you have to change it.

If you don’t, the generator engine might start developing problems. One of the common issues is the engine becomes too hot and starts to run inefficiently. If you continue to use it, the engine components will wrap and wear out.

The engine will then experience catastrophic failure and shutdown. You will have to replace it. This will render your generator useless, and you’ll be left with the option of selling it as scrap.

The good news is, the steps of changing engine oil in your generator are as seamless as I explained above.

How Often Should You Change Oil in a Generator?

Refer to your generator’s user manual and check for the recommended operation hours before the first oil change. After this, check for how long you will be waiting to change it afterward.

Experts recommend changing the engine oil after 20 hours of the first use (approximately one month) and after 50-60 hours afterward. For a standby generator, the best time to change the engine oil is after 200 – 500-hours depending with the generator size.

Keep a schedule that reminds you when to change the oil. You can mark it on your calendar to avoid forgetting such as important routine.

Related Questions

What causes engine oil to reduce?

Mainly, the generator engine oil will reduce when worn-out engine parts allow it to pass through to the combustion chamber and get burnt. One sign of a generator burning oil is white smoke.

About the author

Sharif Gen

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