What Does Metal Shavings In Motorcycle Oil Look Like? – FAQ

So what do metal shavings in motorcycle oil look like? Generally, metal shavings are tiny, and one of two things have to occur to be truly visible to the naked eye: 

  1.  The metal shavings in the oil are large enough to be seen.
  2. The oil has enough metal shavings together and becomes visible to you.

How To See Metal Shavings In Motorcycle Oil Better.

It is not unusual for used motorcycle oil to contain particles from normal wear and tear. For example, the motorcycle clutch has pads that wear with time and, once broken free from the clutch plates, float around in the oil till your following oil change.

In high numbers, these clutch pad wear particles aren’t good for your motorcycle oil, but they are soft and often too small to clog ports or damage wear surfaces. Usually, it’s hard to see them, and they give the oil a ‘grey’ look. Not a normal concern.

Metal shavings in oil can be a real concern.

Using Light To See Metal Shavings In Oil.

To better see these metal shavings, a bright light angled into the oil can help reflect light shining off metal shavings in the oil. The idea is the oil is dark grey, and reflected light(in this case from metal shavings) will appear very bright, and the metal shavings will glint and sparkle.

Gathering Metal Shavings In Oil To See Better.

Now, this only works for ferrous material(magnetic iron ), but with a strong magnet, you can move it around under the oil pain and cause the magnetic metal shavings to collect. If enough collect, you can see them move with proper lighting and a shallow oil level.

Collecting the metal shavings helps see them. Magnets are great for steel particles, and if you have a magnetic oil drain plug, you might see the ‘fuzz’ that collects on it. These are magnetic metal shavings.

Example of large metal shavings found in used oil from motorcycle.
Fine and large metal shavings collected on magnet from used motorcycle oil.

After you drain the oil, you can take a clean, strong magnet, stir it around in the drained oil and look for any collected metal shavings.

Magnetic metal shavings on oil drain plug magnet.
Fuzzy picture of metallic metal shavings fuzz on magnetic oil drain plug.

Seeing Metal Shavings Without Any Tricks.

This condition is the scariest. If you see metal shavings without trying, the shavings are large. You might want to consult with a mechanic and take a sample of your used motor oil for the mechanic to examine.

My Experience With Metal Shavings In My Oil, My Poor Motorcycle.

I’ve had a couple of overheating incidents( Overheated Motorcycle Engine Problem(s) ), followed by finding metal shavings after I did an oil change( Metal Shavings In The Motorcycle Oil!!! ).

My TaoTao TBR7 has had many upgrades ( TaoTao TBR7 Upgrades To Do List ) to make it ride faster and further, but I did nothing to help cool down the little engine working harder. The engine ran well when riding, but when coming to a stop the engine, quickly the engine shifting would become difficult, and the smell of overheated oil would become evident.

I did more oil changes, and when I changed the TBR7’s clutch ( TBR7 Clutch Replacement (& Hawk 250 Info) ), I used a magnet to collect as many magnetic metal shavings as possible from the engine casing. However, I never found the source of the large metal shavings in the oil.

In the future, I plan to change the clutch plates and upgrade the springs, and when I do, I will again check the condition of the internal engine components for any damage. Stay tuned.

Picture of me, as a New Motorcyclist.
Just Me…Newly Licensed.

Hi I’m Tom, A New Motorcycle Rider and Blog Author.

I am a new rider(Pa Learners Permit at the end of 2020, and I received a Pa Motorcycle License in 2021 after passing a Motorcycle Safety Course).

I bought my first motorcycle, a TaoTao TBR7, at the beginning of 2021 and have been doing upgrades on that motorcycle since.

I added to my motorcycle collection by buying a Boom Vader Gen 2 in 2022, and that Grom-Clone motorcycle has been upgraded by me as well.

I continue to ride my Boom Vader Gen 2 motorcycle as well as my TaoTao TBR7 dual-sport bike.

Read more on my About Me page.

Fun Fact: I’ve only been on one group ride.

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