Is Metal in My ATV Oil Normal?

If you find metal shavings in your ATV's engine oil while doing an oil change service, should you be concerned about it? It's a question our powersports pros John Talley and Garrett Sifford hear all the time.

John and Garrett sat down for a Friday evening Live Q&A session to discuss a variety of topics, and one very common question arose: is it normal to find metal in an ATV's oil and oil filter? Here's what John and Garrett had to say about it.

Metal shavings in ATV engine oil

I have an ‘01 Honda 350. I recently changed the oil and cut the old oil filter open and found a small amount of metal in it. Is that normal?

Garrett Sifford: If it was a brand new engine, and you just freshly rebuilt it, I would say yes, some metal shavings are normal for the break-in procedure, but this is an ’01 so you shouldn’t be seeing any type of metal inside the oil filter. 

John Talley: I’d be a little scared on that one. … how long had it been since you changed the oil in it? How many miles are on it, and are you doing in-between services? But I would definitely keep an eye on that, because if you ride it until it breaks, you’re going to be fixing a whole lot of other problems … You might be having abnormal wear on just one of the gears. But if you keep going, that metal is going to spread throughout the engine, get into the main bearings, your valve train, everything, and just eat the engine alive.  

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We've done countless oil change service videos on our YouTube channel for many motorcycle, UTV and ATV makes and models, including one for the Honda Rancher 350. Thankfully we didn't find any metal shavings in that Rancher's oil, but it's one of the things you need to look out for when evaluating a used ATV, and as Garrett mentioned, something normal to see when breaking in an engine. Watch the videos below to learn more about how to do an ATV oil change and using motor oil while breaking in an ATV or motorcycle engine.

Want to see more live repair questions answered? See motorcycle and ATV repair questions answered here.  



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