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Oil circulation problem

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hi folks, 

so my 2001 xr400 shut off abruptly just as i was exiting the highway. no sputtering or anything, just off. i rolled to a stop and immediately checked the oil. nothing on the stick. i dumped a quart in, waited a few minutes and it read well over the full line, so i rode it around the block and ran it through some gears, shut it off and checked the oil again. still well over the full line. i didn't have tools to drain the excess, but i was able to make the short ride home. it sputtered and died on me once or twice and when i got home the stick read dry again. i pulled the drain plugs and out came about 3 quarts.

what do you think? fussy oil pump? is there a thermostat in the oil cooler?

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There's a specific procedure for checking oil level. After riding the bike and getting the engine to operating temp, you need to let it set idling for 5 mins, to let the level stabilize. Then shut it off and "Immediately" pull the dip stick, wipe it off, reinsert and check the level. Don't let it sit after shutting it off before checking the level.

There is no thermo in the oil cooler.

Your problem sounds more like a fuel delivery problem. Next time it sputters and dies on you like that, immediately open the gas cap to see if you get a rush of air as the tank equalizes pressure with outside atmospheric. If it does, the cap isn't venting properly. If you have one of those stubby one way vents in the cap, ditch it.

Make sure the petcock is turned to the proper ON position. Be sure you have gas in the tank. If it's below the ON pick up point, turn it to reserve to see if the sputtering goes away.

Edited by Trailryder42
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thanks for that. i'd been told to check it immediately, but i found an owners manual online that agrees with you.

would you expect it to read dry if i was to let it sit a couple of weeks and then check it before starting? seems to me that even if this is exactly how to get an inaccurate reading, there should be something on the stick if it's holding 3 quarts. been riding it several times a week for at least 8 months, always checking oil the same way. this is the first time i've seen the stick anywhere near dry.

Edited by watermillvillage

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After the bike is shut off, oil starts draining out of the frame tube back into the engine. So yes, if you checked level after the bike has been sitting for weeks, it's going to show low or not at all.

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