V Star 650 oil change disaster

I’ve had a lot of trouble with the V Star following our epic month long ride across the western United States and back.  It all started with a simple oil change.  You see, when I bought the bike I also got a service plan that included unlimited oil changes and all maintenence for 3 years.  I can work on my bike as you can see but I’d rather not have to on at least one of my vehicles and with as many miles as I’ve put on in the last three years this service plan ended up being a great money and time saving deal for me.   For years one of two techs has always done my bike and always done a good job, even cleaning it way better than I do most times.  Every time that is until the last time, when they were both off.  A small voice in my head warned me that I shouldnt hand over the keys to some tech I didnt know but I didnt listen.    He really torqued down the oil filter screws and stripped the center one as is an easy newbie mistake to make.

The bike leaked slowly for 8000 miles and by the end it looked something like this where its really perfected the old Harley patina with oil slung down the whole side of the engine, all down the pipes and swingarm and on the front of the saddlebag.   As RTWDoug has proved, a bike can go around the world with a nasty oil leak or dozen as long as its topped off regularly.

Unfortunately the only requirement for the primo bike parking on the sidewalk next to the door at work, no leaks!

Since they were the ones to break it they agreed to fix it at no charge but with this being New Mexico and as Ulysses Everett McGill would put it “a geographical oddity, two weeks from everywhere” it took a month to get my bike back from them due to waiting on parts.  They ended up tapping the stripped hole and putting in a timecert.  After I got her back I noticed right away the clutch was very grabby and sticky, so much so that trying to start it while cold with the clutch pulled in the bike would take off with you or lurch 5 or 6 feet when first putting it in gear.  WTF?    I immediately changed the oil and cut open the filter and just as I feared, they had gotten slivers of metal down in the engine while tapping it.  #$%^&@!!!!

I ran a few changes of oil through it trying to flush everything out and hoping that the oil passageways were not clogged anywhere.  With that the bike ran better but the clutch was still very sticky and it would kick the tire backwards hard every morning when first putting it in gear no matter how much it was warmed up or how many times I worked the clutch first. By the 4th or 5th day it had moved all the bricks of my patio from its parking space backwards 9 or 10 inches. Several hundred pounds worth of pavers set into the ground and interlocked with weeds growing through them, no small feat.  (Later when I would replace the clutch plates I found one of the metal plates with a deep circular ring cut in it from one of those slivers of metal getting embedded in one of the friction disks)


Moral(s) of the story:

Do NOT use a torque wrench on the oil filter cover bolts!  EVER!!

Do not let someone work on your bike that you dont absolutely trust.

You are better off just doing your own oil changes anyway.

If you do have to do any drilling, tapping or cutting around the engine for gods sake cover up all the openings to keep filings out!

2 comments to V Star 650 oil change disaster

  • Aircraft Wrench

    Always use a properly calibrated torque wrench and a shop manual on all fasteners. You’d be a fool to do otherwise. The key points however are:
    1. Must use a known good, calibrated high-quality torque wrench.
    2. Must use the proper torque values specified by the manual.
    3. Must be qualified to use and maintain said wrench.

    Anyone who would tighten a fastener on your bike without employing the above rules shouldn’t be allowed to own tools. There’s only one right way to do it.

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