Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

DRZ low oil... uh... experiment results. What to replace?

Recommended Posts

Hello. Almost every search I make on google for bike issues brings me here so I thought it was about time I registered.

I will be taking my bike to the shop for some work soon but I'm wondering what exactly it will need done. I'm figuring at least the cams are shot, and probably the chain too. Here is the full story in case any details might help.

100% stock 2008 DRZ400SM, 19000km.

For about 6 months this sat unused, then the next 6 months (until now) I commuted 30km/day on it. Problem is, for at least this 12 month period and I think even a bit longer the oil was not changed. Yes I have owned the bike for a couple of years, I just can't for the life of me remember when the last change was *dodges spanner thrown by readers*

Anyway a few weeks ago as I was heading home, I noticed the ticking sound from the engine to be much louder than usual. Then a few blocks from home it started to make a noise like little birds chirping, and seemed to be losing power. Finally as I turned into my street it lost a lot more power and gave quite a loud screech which sounded just like the noise a slipping fan-belt makes, and it did this just once as I let the clutch out.

So the next couple of days I took the train but that didn't last cos it's a half-hour walk to the station haha... on the third day I tentatively took it for a spin around the block and surprisingly the power was mostly ok and it didn't screech, but there was a faint chirping sound at certain rpm and the ticking was still louder than it had been before. So I rode it to work for a couple more days *ducks another spanner* and took it to a shop in the weekend. Of course the first thing they asked me was when the oil had been changed and I felt like a complete moron for somehow not even thinking of that, even with all the obvious signs.

The oil was of course very low so they replaced it but otherwise did nothing. A week later I replaced it again and changed the filter as well because *prepares to duck* had not changed it the first time. That was a couple of weeks ago now and I have been carefully riding it to work but it's not the same bike it used to be. I have an overseas trip coming up which will be a good chance to leave it at the shop for a while to get all this worked out properly.

Here is the current state of it. Power is not so great, it's almost like the throttle cable has become longer because I need to turn it further around to get the same power as before - not that I have been turning it much though, relax eh. Every now and then the power feels normal though, for a minute or two.

It sounds kinda wheezy, with whirrings, chirpings and tickings - quite the musical ensemble but not in a good way. The wheezing is just an overall smoothness of sound, rather than the crisp distinct bap-bap-bap firing sound that I have been wistfully listening to in youtube videos recently. The whirring is best described as the sound a VFR400 or VFR800 makes, I think because of their gear-driven cams, isn't it? It's not such a bad sound actually but it was never there before, and only showed up after the oil level had been restored. The chirping sounds a bit like a couple of silver coins being rubbed together - silver mind you, not this nickel clad steel rubbish we have nowdays - this chirping was gradually getting louder between the first and second oil changes but is quieter now. It's quite hard to pick up since the engine noise easily obscures it, but it usually shows up when cruising at a steady speed. Finally the ticking is just the regular ticking that the engine does, but it's more noticeable than it used to be.

I have seen people here mentioning 'hearing the valves'... is that any of the sounds I'm talking about?

Wow that's quite a story, thanks for reading (and not throwing too many hard objects at me). So I'm just wondering if my plan of replacing the cams and chain is worthwhile, or are things worse than I'm expecting? Here in Japan I don't always get a clear understanding of things when I go to the bike shop so I was hoping for some more knowledgable input in English before I call them. Another thing is that because people here tend to look after stuff very well, they hardly ever have to deal with bozos like me who screw things up like this so it might even be their first time, but you guys... oh... ahem... well let's just say I have seen a couple of threads on here where people have actually pulled this low-oil stunt as well *aaaahhh runs away*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SNIP ALL KINDS OF STUFF THAT I DID REALLY READ>>>

From what you described, it sounds like the piston seized… Low on oil, low on oil and dirty.. the sounds and loss of power with a final of stalling.. , it sounds like the piston seized.

The results are likely to be very bad.. Low on oil on this motor tends to cause the cams to gall at the bearing surface, the piston to seize to the cylinder, the oil pump to gall in the case cavity.

BUT ,sometimes it’s just the piston and cylinder.

If the shop finds the head and cams show signs of seizing, galling, bearing surface damage, and the piston and cylinder show the same.. I’d highly recommend a complete tear down, inspection and anticipate a large bill.. To the point a good used motor will likely be a better financial choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

one thing I do when changing oil is write the month/year on the filter with a sharpie. doesn't help with this but something to consider.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is not enough information in your protracted story to give much advise. Did it actually run out of oil? How much oil came out when it was finally changed? Without knowing that it is only an assumption that it seized due to lack of oil. Good assumption but you didn't actually say. E.Marques advise is about as good as it gets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mmm, start looking for a used engine and ride this one till it pops ?

(i wouldn't trust it on the highway/interstate)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me see... Where's a good hard wrench!! LOL!

You're in a bad place, for sure. Assuming anything is just guessing. It's going to have to come apart to know what you've got. From the sounds of it, it never actually stalled/locked up, that's a plus. But ran dreadfully low for a long time. The most likely victims- cams, buckets, piston/sleeve, and bearings. But, some may be reusable. Just no telling. Would like to hear the outcome, that's for sure! One thing you can count on- you better take your good wallet with you to pick it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow... that bad huh?

Yes E.Marquez diagnosis could be right. I didn't think of the piston seizing actually, I had thought that seizure was a permanent thing. Maybe it was the huge throttle I gave it right at that moment that helped it pull through hehehe... I guess I'm lucky that I usually only use it for about 40 mins at a time and half of that is spent sitting at red lights.

Strangely it seems to be gradually improving lately, I could be mistaken but it feels a little stronger every day. I am sick of riding around like a granny though so I will use this upcoming time away to have it checked thoroughly. It sure deserves some attention after all this neglect. Thanks to all who replied, I will post the outcome when it's all done!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Running very low on oil is a real no brainer.....oil is the life blood of an engine..

The consequence is vastly increased wear to valve train ,piston, and bearings , bringing a near engine seizure along for the ride...

It's a fast aging process...like a 20 year old turning into a 80 year old overnight....

be prepared for a full engine rebuild is my guess...Good Luck...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I talked to the shop earlier, they said I might as well ride it until it can't be ridden no more, and then overhaul. I think the cold weather lately is helping it behave, and hopefully riding like a granny is helping too so it could still be a while before that happens, but I'll be back here when it does. At least it won't come as a surprise now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I talked to the shop earlier, they said I might as well ride it until it can't be ridden no more, and then overhaul. I think the cold weather lately is helping it behave, and hopefully riding like a granny is helping too so it could still be a while before that happens, but I'll be back here when it does. At least it won't come as a surprise now.

Thats sounds like really bad advice to me. Just asking for more trouble in the long run. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I talked to the shop earlier, they said I might as well ride it until it can't be ridden no more, and then overhaul. I think the cold weather lately is helping it behave, and hopefully riding like a granny is helping too so it could still be a while before that happens, but I'll be back here when it does. At least it won't come as a surprise now.

Absolutely a bad idea.. Repairing a engine BEFORE it destroys itself is much cheaper then fixing a catastrophic failure.

UNLESS your intent is to install a completely new engine you’re getting bad advice. Your choice, listen to the local shop or a few guys from the internet.. But I’ll wager a bet……. Many of the folks responding to your posts here, have much more experience and specific knowledge of the DRZ then your local shop, and some here likely have more general motorcycle experience then many shop techs you will find in a local shop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope you have a good tow company... :lol:

Pushing your bike 10 miles or more home after it locks up sux...:)

If its in the budget, have it fixed BEFORE it makes one last loud clank, it will be much cheaper!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If its in the budget, have it fixed BEFORE it makes one last loud clank, it will be much cheaper!

Yep, for sure! Don't forget, that repair shop is in the repair business! They aren't looking out for your best interest! A broken rod because of a seized wrist pin or broken valve can go through the case. Cha ching!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thats the funniest thing Ive seen in a long time Eddie.

:lol::lol::):lol::banghead::lol::cheers::lol::smirk:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Used DRZ's are fairly cheap here in the United States. I would look for a used DRZ, change the engine, and keep the rest of the bike for extra parts, or try to part out the rest of the bike to regain some of your money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×