Virago Oil Leaks – Yes, Viragos Can Leak Oil

Do Viragos Leak Oil?

        The answer is yes. Nancy’s (my wife) 1986 700 Virago developed an oil leak on the way to the Reunion this year. We couldn’t really see exactly where it was coming from because there was oil everywhere, but it didn’t seem to be all that bad. We stopped every 60 miles or so and made sure we kept a close eye on it. After we got to the Reunion and after going almost 700 miles the oil level had dropped maybe an 1/8th of and inch in the sight glass. So we where convinced that it was not life threatening.

We filled it up, cleaned things up and I checked the bolts on the oil filter cover, the bolts holding the two halves on the engine cases together, the bolts for the oil level switch and any others that I could think of to make sure they were tight. It looked as thought the oil level switch o-ring or the switch itself was leaking. We again made sure we kept a close eye on it on the way home.


        Back home and safe in the garage I could actually see a drop of oil fall from the oil level switch cover, reconfirming my suspicions of where the leak might be. I drained the oil, removed the switch and inspected the switch and the O-ring for possible leaks. Nothing really jumped out at me, so I went to my local dealer. The O-ring is not sold separately and the switch is $88 from Yamaha. I went back home took the O-ring off and headed for the hardware store. I found that a #18 O-ring is almost an exact fit and it was only 50 cents. So I bought two.

I put everything back together with the new O-ring and guess what, it still leaked oil from the oil level switch cover. When I removed the switch cover I could pour the oil from the switch cover this time. Not good! But as I was cleaning things up again the next night I still had the cover off when I saw a drip form somewhere higher up.

After looking more closely I found that there is a little metal strip coming from the bottom bolt of the oil filter cover running down to the little metal piece that sticks up from the oil switch cover, where they meet. These strips are there to protect the wires going to the oil level switch.

 The oil was dripping from this metal piece. In talking with Mac McCurdy he reminded me about the O-ring on that bottom bolt of the filter cover and how easy it is to lose it. I had either forgotten all about this O-ring or I just never realized it was there. So once again I drained the oil. I took the cover off and no O-ring So back to my local dealer. This time I got the O-ring for $1.20. Later that same day I went back to the hardware store. A #78 O-ring fits very nicely, thank you very much and for only 25 cents.

After replacing the O-ring (which is very easy to lose while changing the filter which is exactly what I had done just before leaving for the Reunion) the oil leak was finally subdued. It had been running down that little metal strip on to the connecting metal piece sticking up from the oil switch cover and dripping out the drain hole in the cover. Do things like this ever happen to you?

So remember to check for that O-ring when you install your oil filter cover next time you change your filter.

Virago Oil Leaks Submitted by Mike Risk

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