How to Replace Motorcycle Coolant
We change the oil and the brake pads, check the battery, and clean or change the air filter as part of a regular maintenance routine. But what about the coolant?
It's an often overlooked, yet very simple maintenance task to change out the coolant on a motorcycle. Aluminum components corrode over time as the coolant breaks down, which is why most manufacturers recommend replacing your coolant every two years or 24,000 miles. Watch the video above and follow the steps below to learn how to change the coolant on a Honda motorcycle.
NOTE: We changed the coolant on a Honda VTX 1800 motorcycle, but the steps for changing the coolant are the same or similar for most motorcycles.
Tools and Parts Needed - Motorcycle Coolant Change
- 5mm, 6mm Allen
- 3/8th ratchet and extensions
- 10mm socket
- 10mm wrench
- Phillips-head screwdriver
NOTE: You need to access the fill cap on your motorcycle, and on the Honda VTX 1800 that means removing the seat and the fuel tank.
Removing the Fuel Tank
Step 1. Remove the seat by locating two 6mm Allen bolts, one on each side of the seat near where the shock absorbers connect. Once those bolts are removed, the seat simply lifts off.
Step 2. Remove the fuel tank by taking the rear nut and bolt off. They're located at the base of the tank near where it meets with the seat.
NOTE: You may need to lift up slightly on the tank to relieve the pressure on the bolt.
Step 3. Remove the center display of the tank by taking off the 5mm Allen bolts holding the center display on the tank. Then, remove the fuel cap so you can lift the display off the tank. Once the display is removed, you can replace the fuel cap.
Step 4. Drain the fuel from the tank. The VTX 1800 has two lines: one feeds the motor and one is a fuel drain line. You'll need to get to the fuel line that feeds the motor to drain the tank. First, disconnect the fuel line and then immediately connect another hose to the tank running to an auxiliary fuel tank.
NOTE: Fuel will pour out during this step, so make sure there isn't anybody smoking nearby!
Step 5. Once the tank is empty, you can lift it enough to disconnect the fuel level sensor, two vent lines, and the drain hose.
Step 6. Slide the tank back and lift it off of the machine.
NOTE: Engine coolant is extremely toxic, so make sure all of the drained coolant is captured in a reservoir, and keep it away from children and pets.
Draining Honda Motorcycle Coolant
Step 1. Remove the cover on the left-hand side of the motor that protects the thermostat housing and drain bolt. It's held in place by several 5mm Allens that ring the perimeter of the cover.
Step 2. Remove the filler cap. On the Honda VTX 1800, it's located on the left side of the engine and visible once the fuel tank is removed.
Step 3. Access the drain bolt down below where the thermostat cover was just removed. Have a drain pan handy, and then loosen the bolt. The coolant will flow out of the system.
NOTE: You don't need to remove the bolt all the way to drain the system, but if you do, make sure not to lose the crush washer on the drain bolt.
Step 4. Remove the cover protecting the reservoir. It's held in place by a couple of Phillips screws.
Step 5. Remove the reservoir, which is also held in place by two Phillips screws. Next, disconnect the top and bottom hoses with a pair of pliers.
NOTE: Before refilling the motorcycle coolant, first close off the system.
Refilling Honda Motorcycle Coolant
Step 1. Replace and remount the reservoir, reconnecting the top and bottom hoses, and replacing and tightening the Philips head screws holding the reservoir in place.
Step 2. Re-tighten the drain bolt. If you removed it completely, make sure you have the crush washer.
Step 3. Refill the reservoir with Honda motorcycle engine coolant. The coolant capacity on the 2005 Honda VTX 1800 is 3.3 quarts, so begin pouring it into the opening for the fill cap. Use some coolant to top off the reservoir as well.
Step 4. Run the engine. If you moved your fuel to an auxiliary fuel container, connect that tank to the fuel line on the motorcycle. Be sure to plug the fuel drain line.
PRO TIP: A bolt pushed into the drain hose that fits nice and snug makes a great plug.
Step 5. Leave the radiator fill cap off and start the engine.
Step 6. Add more coolant as you see the fluid level inside the radiator drop. As you're running the machine, rev the engine a few times to move the coolant around. After two or three minutes, stop the engine. Finally, replace the radiator cap; the covers over the thermostat and drain bolt; the reservoir; and the fuel tank and seat.
Now that you know how to change out the coolant on a Honda motorcycle, why stop there? Watch the video above to see how to change the oil in a Honda VTX1800 motorcycle.