Generator Oil Guide – Generator Maintenance Tips: With this generator oil guide, you don’t need to have the knowledge of a mechanical engineer before servicing your generator with the right oil that complements it.
By learning what things you need to put in place so your generator can work efficiently, you’ll be far better off than those whose generators pack up after a few days of continuous running and sum it up by thinking they bought a “lemon”.
Oftentimes, a power generator, much like a car or lawnmower will stop working when the oil is low or completely used up.
There’s no denying that machines like these require regular oil changes in order to keep the internal components well-lubricated so they can function optimally.
It is even more important to do it more frequently when using the generator for longer periods such as in the event of extreme weather conditions.
There are other things to check when changing the oil such as the machine’s filters and its spark plug as well.
We will discuss how to change your generator’s oil in this article along with other basic maintenance tips you should know.
How Often Should You Change Your Generator Oil
How often you change your generator oil usually depends on the generator model, its usage, and the manufacturer guidelines.
So, the first thing you need to do is to check your generator owner’s manual. It should provide sufficient information on how frequently you should change its oil.
However, a general rule on generator oil change hours for most portable units requires one after every 100-200 hours of use.
You should know by now that if you’re running your unit during a power outage, for instance, that period could go by fast.
This is why we believe that it would be a wise move to top off the oil whenever you refuel and do a full oil change every 100 hours of use.
On a side note, if your generator is brand new, you may be required to change the oil after the first 25 hours of usage if stated in the owner’s manual. This is often referred to as the break-in period.
Immediately after that first oil change, then the 100-200-hour interval will begin to apply.
Consider the Generator Type
In your owner’s manual, your generator’s manufacturer should provide a list of the type of generator oil you need as well as the right procedures to follow.
However, it doesn’t hurt to have a general idea of viscosity or generator oil weight.
By viscosity, we mean the thickness of the oil at a certain temperature. It is usually indicated on the bottle or keg by a numbered weight such as 10W-30, for instance.
Now, if the first number is higher, then it means the oil will be more viscous in cold temperatures like during winter.
Basically, if you plan on running your generator in extremely cold temperatures, then you will need an oil that has a lower viscosity such as 5W-30 otherwise, it won’t start.
High-viscosity oil becomes thicker in winter and as such, will find it difficult to lubricate the engine sufficiently.
On the other hand, during extremely hot weather, higher-viscosity oils will perform better.
The table below is from a manufacturer’s owner’s manual. You should refer to your manual to identify the recommended oil to use for your generator because in certain cases, you may be required to use synthetic or semi-synthetic.
Below is an example of a chart from a manufacturer’s owner’s manual. Refer to your manual to find the recommended oil to use because, in some cases, you may need synthetic or semi-synthetic oil.
How to Change Generator Oil
The process of changing a generator’s oil is generally straightforward. However, you should still endeavor to follow the specific instructions given in your owner’s manual. The steps below are generally how it should go:
- Make sure the generator is turned off. If just switched off, allow it to cool for some minutes as the oil would be very hot.
- Disconnect the cable from the generator set. If it is an ignition start model or auto-start, disconnect the battery as a safety precaution.
- Place an oil pan or any type of container that can collect the oil underneath.
- Locate and open the drain tube or the cover near the bottom of the motor and allow the oil to drain onto the pan or container.
- Look for the oil filler tube if the generator has one. Otherwise, grab a funnel and pour the right amount of oil as indicated in the manufacturer’s specifications. Generally, the oil should rise to the threadline of the tube or the entrance of the oil compartment.
- You can use a dipstick to gauge the oil level. However, keep in mind that your generator oil capacity will vary depending on the unit’s maker and model.
That’s about it. Changing generator oil really isn’t that hard. Just try not to forget to periodically check the oil levels before each use using a dipstick to be sure you have enough at all times.
If you will be going through the hassle of changing the generator oil, while at it, you may as well take a look at the other components of the unit.
Change the oil filter
The oil filter of your generator helps keep dirt and particles out of the oil. Before inserting its replacement, lubricate the oil filter gasket lightly with fresh oil to enhance its operation.
Have a look at the spark plug
After using your generator for a while, you should consider checking its spark plug. You can follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to learn how to take it out.
You will likely need a torque wrench to get it done. Make sure you do this when the generator engine has cooled. If you discover that it is dirty, clean it lightly with the aid of a wire brush.
If it is so dirty that cleaning it effectively is a difficult ask, then you should replace it with a new one. Otherwise, fix the spark plug back in place using a torque wrench.
When fixing the spark plug back to its position, try not to overtighten it as the threads might strip, or worse still, the porcelain insulator could break, hence leading to irreversible damage to the engine.
Maintain the air filter
Although it is generally recommended to change the air filter, you can still clean the present one and reuse it.
Clean it by washing it in soapy water then dry gently using a clean piece of cloth. However, be careful while at it as you risk tearing the filter, thus, making it useless.
Generally, oil is regarded as the lifeblood of your generator. That is why it is crucial to keep it filled and fresh, particularly during long periods of heavy usage.
Note that these tips are generalized and we recommend that you refer to your owner’s manual for specific oil information about your exact generator unit. Generator Oil Guide – Generator Maintenance Tips