Harley Primary Oil

Q: Hello, while doing my 10k service, I drained my Harley primary oil and it came out very silver on my 2014 FLHTK. Took it to the dealer and they pulled the case and said they found nothing wrong and said it was normal. Talking to several other people they all said the same, you better get it check, they have never seen oil that silver( I have pics). What’s your opinion on this? I would love to ride this bike over a 100k. They did the 1k service with synthetic oil in all 3 areas.

A: Usually that silver color is aluminum. We suggest removing your outer primary cover and inspecting further. Look for any unusual wear or markings inside.

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8 Responses to “Harley Primary Oil”
  1. Elwin

    My 1997 Heritage Springer has 13,000 miles. I bought it with 2,500 miles on it and it’s always made a whining sound in the first 4 gears. Then when you shift into 5th everything was perfect, no weird sounds. I had a Road Max six speed installed thinking it was the tranny. However, it has the same noise in the first 4 gears and 6th gear is almost unbearable. Fifth is perfect!!! The shop that installed it insists its just the nature of the beast. I don’t think so. It sounds like it’s mostly coming from the primary side. I was going to have the compensator replaced but friends have told me they think that’s a waste of money & won’t cure the problem. I really don’t know what else to do as no other shop has the answer. One shop owner said he thinks the ‘harmonic balance’ is way off when in all the gears except for 5th, which I understand is a 1/1 ratio. Any ideas??

    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Hi, Elwin. It’s unfortunate that you are without your Harley transmission and are still experiencing the same problem.
      Really not a fan of that Road Max (or Revtech, for that matter). Your original HD transmission is a top quality piece. The Road Max pales in comparison. If we were to address this; we would suggest going back to the Harley transmission. Rebuild the transmission.
      Replace every bearing; all main drive gear bearings, door bearings, mainshaft bearings, countershaft bearings, throw out bearing. Check to see if your mainshaft is true. Replace your shift pawl assembly with HD, or Jims while in there.

      Other definite areas of concern:

      Inner primary bearing & race
      Clutch hub bearing
      Make sure that the engine and transmission are aligned correctly.
      Make sure your primary chain is tracking correctly and the chain tension is correct.

    • Robert

      Hi Elwin, sorry to hear of your troubles. These days I run with an 07 Electra Glide Classic but prior to that, my introduction to HD was on a brand new Sportster. It also had a whine in all gears but much less so in 5th gear. I am an auto technician by trade and can relate many issues straight over to bikes. In the first 5k miles I thought to myself that perhaps it just needed to be broken in but as the miles progressed, the whining seemed to get higher pitched and a bit louder. I had seen this issue in standard transmission vehicles in my career and in all but one case, I had diagnosed it as the clutch throwout bearing and in fact, that’s what the issues (but one) turned out to be.

      Being that the Sporty was still under warranty, I took it to the local HD shop and was told the same thing you were, that it was “the nature of the beast”. When I challenged them to let me ride another Sporty they had there, they finally relented and listened to what I was saying. (I guess their technicians don’t want to work on warranty items either just like us in the car business! lol) I relayed to them about the clutch throwout bearing issues in cars before I let them have it stay for a few days, lo and behold, they replaced the throwout bearing and voi’la, no more noise!

      I am not saying that this is your issue positively, but I would have myself a long look and listen to the T-bearing before thinking about doing something drastic.

      Do you happen to know if at the time you had the road max installed that they changed your clutch, and T-bearing? If they didn’t, it pretty much deduces that that is why you ended up having the same noise after all was said and done.

  2. Doug

    I say this is completly normal. You should get some wear on the friction plates on the clutch and this is what you are seeing suspended in the oil. Completly normal wear. No worries.

  3. Andrew

    I too usually get a small amount of silver in my primary oil. But I emphasize small amount. Are you changing the primary oil on the Harley recommended maintenance schedule of “every other engine oil change”? Personally, I change my primary fluid with EVERY engine oil change. Considering the trace amounts of aluminum are being circulated not only around your clutch, but around your stator. Aluminum is conductive, and abrasive to the stator windings, and the winding insulation. Changing the oil more often will clean out the contaminents quicker, and prolong the life of the components in the case. Oil is always cheaper than parts. Also double check the slack on your primary chain. Too much slack can allow the chain to contact the aluminum case, causing excess metal contamination suspended in the oil.

  4. Dale Burke
    Dale Burke

    That much fine aluminum in your primary is definitely not normal. It indicates abnormal wear. I certainly wouldn’t ride it another 100k without identifying the source of that metal.

  5. tbryan

    I joined fixmyhog to see how change my oil in my 2010 FLHTK. The into $3.00 deal isn’t a great deal if I can’t try out the fixmyhog site for the main purpose I wanted to see in the first place. It seems that should be a standard free video!

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

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