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How Often to Change Generator Oil?

Portable or Standby Generators are relatively simple devices. They consists of a prime mover in the form of an internal combustion engine, an alternator, and some other electrical and mechanical components. All these components work harmoniously to produce electricity. An important component of the generator’s engine is oil. It helps cool the engine and also lubricates it. As a part of the regular maintenance of the generator, you have to keep an eye on the generator oil. If the quantity is less, you have top it up. But if the oil is old, you have to change it. an important question many generator owners have is how often to change generator oil.

In this guide, let us understand the importance of generator oil and also see how often to change generator oil.

A Brief Note on Generator Oil

We know that internal combustion engines need engine oil for smooth operation. The main component of a generator is, well, an internal combustion engine. So, as we change engine oils in our cars, trucks, and bikes, we also need to check and change generator oil as necessary.

Is generator oil different from automobile engine oils? Generator oil is a special type of oil that is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of generators.

It is typically a high-quality, detergent oil that has a special formula for use in small engines, such as those found in generators.

The type of oil required for a generator depends on the generator’s specifications and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Importance of Generator Oil

Generator oil is necessary to lubricate the engine and protect its moving parts from wear and tear. A generator engine runs at high speeds, generating a lot of heat, which can cause damage to the engine over time.

The oil serves as a lubricant to minimize the friction between the moving parts, which reduces the amount of heat generated and prevents premature wear and tear.

Generator oil also helps to cool the engine by carrying heat away from the moving parts and transferring it to the oil filter, which removes impurities from the oil. The oil then circulates back into the engine to repeat the process.

This keeps the engine running smoothly and efficiently, ensuring that it is ready to provide power when needed.

Using the correct type and amount of oil in a generator is essential for the proper functioning of the engine. A lack of oil or using the wrong type of oil can cause damage to the engine, resulting in costly repairs or even the need to replace the generator altogether.

Therefore, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the type and amount of oil to use in your specific generator model.

What Happens if You Run Generator Without Oil?

It is not safe to run a generator without oil. The design of generator engine needs oil to operate. Generator oil serves as a lubricant to reduce friction between moving parts, minimize heat buildup, and protect the engine from damage.

Running a generator without oil can cause significant damage to the engine, which could lead to costly repairs or the need to replace the generator entirely. The heat generated by the moving parts of the engine will increase without oil, which can cause the engine to seize up or fail completely.

Additionally, the lack of lubrication can cause excessive wear and tear on the engine’s components, resulting in reduced efficiency and lifespan.

It is important to check the oil level in your generator regularly and keep it at the recommended level. If the oil level is low, you should top up before starting the generator.

If the oil is dirty or degraded, you should replace it with fresh oil to maintain the health and longevity of the generator.

How to Check Oil Levels in a Generator?

Checking the oil level in a generator is an important maintenance task. All generator owners must do a regular oil level check to ensure proper functioning of the generator. Here are the steps to check the oil levels in a generator:

First and foremost, make sure to turn off the generator off and allow the engine to cool down before touching it or attempting to check the oil level.

Locate the oil dipstick. The oil dipstick is usually located near the engine of the generator. It is a long metal rod with a handle on the top that goes into the oil reservoir.

Remove the dipstick by pulling it out from the oil reservoir and wipe it clean with a cloth or paper towel.

Reinsert the dipstick all the way back into the oil reservoir and ensure it is fully seated.

Now we have to repeat the previous steps to check the oil level. Pull out the dipstick again. There should be two marks on the dipstick indicating the maximum and minimum oil levels. The oil level should be between these two marks.

Add oil if necessary. If the oil level is below the minimum mark, add the recommended type of oil to bring the level up to the maximum mark.

Recheck the oil level after adding oil. Reinsert the dipstick and check the oil level again to make sure it is at the correct level. Once you are satisfied with the oil level, wipe the dipstick clean, reinsert it into the oil reservoir, and ensure it is fully seated.

Turn on the generator and allow it to run for a few minutes before checking the oil level again to ensure the oil has properly circulated through the engine.

Experts recommend to check the oil level in your generator every 8 to 16 hours of use or at least once a month if the generator is not in use. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidance on oil checks and maintenance.

How Often to Change Generator Oil?

The frequency of oil changes in a generator depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations and usage conditions. However, as a general guideline, most manufacturers and experts recommend to change the oil in a generator after the first 20 to 25 hours of operation as part of the break-in process.

After that, you can change the generator oil every 50 to 80 hours. However, if you use the generator in extreme conditions, such as high temperatures or dusty environments, more frequent oil changes may be necessary.

Also, the usage of generator is also an important factor that decides how often change generator oil. If you use the generator regularly, even then you have to change the oil very frequently.

It is important to check the oil level regularly and top it up as needed to ensure proper lubrication of the engine.

It is also important to note that you should always perform oil changes with the engine cool to the touch to prevent burns and ensure accurate oil level readings. Additionally, always use the recommended type and amount of oil to ensure proper lubrication and protection of the engine.

Regular oil changes, along with other maintenance tasks such as air filter and spark plug replacements, can help ensure the reliable and efficient operation of your generator when you need it most.

Procedure to Change Oil in a Generator

Changing the oil in a generator is a relatively simple process. Even a new owner with no prior experience can do it with a few basic tools. Here are the general steps for changing the oil in a generator.

If your generator is running, do not touch it. First turn off the generator and let it cool down for a few minutes.

There will be an oil drain plug on the bottom of the engine. Locate it and place a drain pan underneath it. Remove the oil drain plug and let the old oil drain out into the pan.

Once the oil has drained out, replace the drain plug and tighten it securely. Remove the oil filler cap. It is time to add new oil to the generator.

Use a funnel to add the recommended amount of new oil into the engine. Check the oil level with the dipstick and add more oil if necessary to bring it up to the recommended level.

Replace the oil filler cap and wipe up any spilled oil. Start the generator and let it run for a few minutes to circulate the new oil through the engine.

Turn off the generator and check the oil level again, adding more if necessary. Dispose of the used oil properly, following local regulations for recycling or disposal.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type and amount of oil to use in the generator, as well as the recommended oil change intervals. Regular oil changes help to maintain the generator’s performance and extend its lifespan.


Generator converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. The source of this mechanical energy is an internal combustion engine that burns fuels such as gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas (depending on the make and model).

Internal combustion engines, whether we use them in car, trucks, motorbikes, or in generators, function the same. Another similarity they have is the need for engine oil.

Yes. Even generators need oil for their engines. The type and quantity of the oil will be different but its job remains the same. As a part of generator maintenance, you have to check the generator oil level frequently and change it when necessary.

But how often to change generator oil? We saw the answer to this question in this guide. We also saw the procedure to check generator oil level and also how to change generator oil.

If you feel we missed something or want us to add anything, do let us know in the comments section below. It will not only help us but also other readers.

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