Motul 4T 5W-40 full synthetic oil looks like red wine salad dressing, but most certainly does not taste like it

Yes, that dipstick there.

While checking over Terror1, the 2016 Vespa I recently bought from a nearby Vespa dealer2 to use in the 2023 Scooter Cannonball, I discovered they’d drastically over-filled the engine oil. 

The oil on the dipstick was way above the MAX mark – which is not good, of course, since too much oil means too much pressure inside the engine, causing leaks and other damage.

I put about 8 miles on Terror just riding it home, which shouldn’t present a problem.

The discovery sent me scurrying to the Vespa manual.

The dealer said they’d changed the engine oil and transmission oil before selling it. I asked about brake fluid, since it’s hygroscopic and absorbs water over time.

You really don’t want that. Water in brake fluid compromises braking and causes rust in steel brake lines and elsewhere in the system.

They said they didn’t know when it was last changed but said their mechanic “looked at” the brake fluid, presumably in the reservoir, and said it was okay.

Apologies, but that’s bullshit, too. You need to test the fluid with special test strips or an electronic meter – you can’t just “look” at it. Everything I’ve ever read says you should change the fluid every two years or so.

This 2016 Vespa is six years old.

Terror, with proper oil level, shortly before departure for Richmond.

But back to the engine oil. On Friday night, after sticking a clean plastic straw down the filler hole, I laboriously and patiently and carefully sucked out the excess oil like it was a toxic milkshake.

Motul 4T 5W-40 full synthetic looks like red wine salad dressing but most certainly does not taste like it.

I got the engine oil level down to where it should be. The excess went into a gallon jug that formerly held Arizona iced tea. It was about ¾ inch deep, which seems a frightful amount.

Moto Richmond’s new digs, at 6000 Midlothian Turnpike. A nice upgrade for them.

On Saturday, I rode the Vespa 153 miles south to Scoot Richmond3. They’ll change the brake fluid and engine coolant, to give me a baseline of maintenance. Linda and I will pick it up on Saturday, Aug. 6.

And that was the latest Vespa adventure, with the apparent lesson being you have to check everything.

Linda and I had lunch at the Riverside Tavern in Richmond. It was pretty good, you should try them.

_ _ _

1 — Which is named after the second ship of the James Clark Ross expedition to the Antarctic in 1839. We’ve been over this before, right?

2 — Who shall remain anonymous. The sales person was very nice, though.

3 — Who has the only Vespa mechanics I can trust, apparently. It doubles my regret at not waiting and purchasing a similar vintage Vespa that popped up on their site after I bought Terror.

One thought on “Motul 4T 5W-40 full synthetic oil looks like red wine salad dressing, but most certainly does not taste like it”

  1. George me old fruitcake I agree and that’s why I much prefer to do the easy stuff myself cos I also write everything down in my little black book for future reference too!!

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