Reading an Oil Filter from your Motorcycle

A really neat way to see what's going on inside your engine is to read the oil filter element. We do this all the time for customers who come in for the first service appointment. They think we're magicans, until we show them how we knew certain information.

Take the used oil filter, cut the metal away, and extend the paper or fibrous cloth, as the case my be. Put the material up against the sun or a bright light and any particles from internal damage will be there for all to see.

If there are fine metal specks, have a trusted mechanic examine the cloth or paper and make an evaluation, Shiny specks indicate hardened metal, like that found in bearings, while dull gray particulates indicate aluminum and that there is piston wear. Gold or brass specks are from bushings. Melted or dull orange-brown deposits would lead the thinking mechanic to examine wear on camshaft timing chain adjusters.
Cleaning and inspecting the oil pan/tank is another way to find out what's going on inside the engine. Though the oil tank's magnetic (if you have one) drain plus will pick up steel, although not brass or aluminum, it is still a great indicator.

If a lot of metal is found on the primary drain plug magnet, it's not a serious as if that much metal were found elsewhere. The primary chain and its sprockets produce lots of metal filings, especially if they are not properly aligned. When this happens, the chain will begin to cut at new path, producing lots of shavings that will be collected by the beleaguered magnet.
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