How To Change The Oil Of A Generator

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To change the oil of a generator you have to drain the old oil, add the right amount of new oil, and make sure everything is in place for usage.

Steps to change the oil of a generator

To change the oil of your portable generator you take the following steps:

  • Step 1: Prepare necessary items like a container to catch the generator oil
  • Step 2: Set up the generator so you can easily drain the oil
  • Step 3: Unscrew the oil cap
  • Step 4: Unscrew the generator drain plug if it has one or tilt the generator sideways if it does not have a drain plug
  • Step 5: Wait for the old generator oil to flow into the container
  • Step 6: Screw the generator drain plug in again or put the generator straight up
  • Step 7: Fill up the generator oil tank with the right oil type in the right amount
  • Step 8: Screw the oil cap back in

Generators can have different compatible fuel types like gasoline, propane, natural gas, or diesel but the oil change process is often very similar.

Step 1: Prepare necessary items like a container to catch the generator oil

To be able to change the oil of your generator you will need some or all of the following items:

  • Oil drain container
  • New oil
  • Wrench or ratchet of the right size
  • Oil funnel
  • Protective gloves
  • New oil filter

A new oil filter is not always necessary since many portable generators do not have one.

Step 2: Set up the generator so you can easily drain the oil

You likely need to put your generator on blocks or another elevated surface to be able to easily drain the oil into a container.

A regular elevated surface can be good enough for smaller portable generators that don’t have a specific oil drain plug.

Putting the container for the old oil in the right place is part of this step too.

Step 3: Unscrew the oil cap

Next, you need to unscrew the generator oil cap no matter how your machine is designed.

Even if your generator does have a specific drain plug, unscrewing the regular oil cap will speed up the oil replacement process.

Step 4: Unscrew the generator drain plug if it has one or tilt the generator sideways if it does not have a drain plug

Bigger portable generators tend to have an oil drain plug near the bottom of the engine. The generator oil will start to flow out after you unscrew this drain plug.

Smaller generators often require you to tilt the machine sideways to drain the oil. Make sure the oil goes into the container.

Step 5: Wait for the old generator oil to flow into the container

The old generator oil will take some time to flow out of the machine. Especially if the oil and environment are cold.

Make sure you remove all of the old oil.

Step 6: Screw the generator drain plug in again or put the generator straight up

Screw the generator drain plug in again or set the generator straight up so your machine can hold the new, fresh oil.

Step 7: Fill up the generator oil tank with the right oil type in the right amount

Next, you fill the generator with the right oil type in the right amounts.

You can make adding new generator oil easier by using a suitable funnel.

Check your manual to see how much oil your generator takes.

Similarly, what kind of oil a generator takes depends on the specific brand too.

You may need to go through a few sessions of adding new oil and seeing how full the generator is if you have more fresh oil than the specific capacity.

The main way to check your generator oil level is by using the oil cap.

Generator oil caps typically have a protrusion that serves this purpose.

You could theoretically use your vision or a suitable stick to check the generator oil levels too.

Step 8: Screw the oil cap back in

Lastly, you need to screw the oil cap back in so you can use the generator.

How often you should change the oil in your generator will depend on your brand model and whether the machine is new.

Do not forget about the other generator maintenance guidelines either.

Do I need to change the oil filter for my generator?

Yes, you need to change the oil filter for your generator if it has one. Check your manual to find the recommended oil filter change intervals.

That being said, many portable generators do not have an oil filter. In these cases, you don’t need to change it.

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Author:

Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.