Are Motorcycles Easier To Maintain Than Cars? A Guide that is Unbiased

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Maintenance on any machine can be a bit of a pain, so it’s no wonder that people are looking elsewhere for vehicles that require less work to keep them working in mint condition. This is especially true for those who don’t like to perform the maintenance themselves and pay someone else to do it.

A common debate you’ll hear is whether or not motorcycles are easier to maintain than motorcycles. This particular comparison is often misunderstood.

Are motorcycles more difficult to maintain than cars? No matter how much mechanical knowledge you have, motorcycles are simpler to maintain than cars. Motorcycles are smaller, require less maintenance, are easier to maintain, have fewer parts to look after, are easier to access, and are easier to do DIY projects than cars.

I am a gearhead and have restored and maintained several cars, as well as more than a dozen motorcycles. I’ve been able to see first-hand the work required for each and provide a good argument as to why motorcycles are easier to maintain than cars.

Car Maintenance vs. Motorbike Maintenance

To prove that car maintenance is more difficult than motorcycle maintenance, let’s take some specific examples and explore the maintenance required for each type of vehicle.

To maintain a vehicle means to regularly check up on certain parts that’s important to the functionality. Neglecting to check on these parts can cause severe damage that could lead to costly repairs or even total vehicle loss.

First, let’s look at the similar maintenance both a car and a motorcycle will require. Both require regular tire maintenance, including checking tire pressure, tread checks and balancing. After a certain time, new tires may be required.

Both require regular oil changes. Even though motorcycles have smaller engines than cars they still run in the same manner. They also require proper lubrication for optimal operation. For both a car or motorcycle, regular oil checks are essential.

Regular coolant top-offs are required for motorcycles that are water-cooled. If you don’t do this, your engine could overheat and eventually cause a seized engine.

For optimal performance, both cars as well as motorcycles need to use the correct gas.

One of the only basic parts of maintenance that a motorcycle requires that a car doesn’t is chain maintenance. Chain maintenance for motorcycles includes regular chain lubrication and tension checking.

This sums up basic maintenance for a motorcycle. Although most of these maintenance points can be applied to a motorcycle and a vehicle, A car needs more than these tasks.

Apart from the regular maintenance discussed above, cars also need to be inspected regularly for any belts they have such as the serpentine or timing belt. Timing belts should be replaced approximately every 100,000. They are labor-intensive.

Regular transmission servicing is essential for a car. This includes maintaining the correct fluid levels, changing the oil every 60,000 miles, as well as performing a full transmission flush. Most motorcycle engines share the same oil with the transmission, so something like this isn’t necessarily with them.

Many hoses are found under cars. These hoses connect to fuel lines, heaters, radiators, power steering, vacuum lines and air conditioning. Each hose can become brittle or fall off. Any leak in them could lead to numerous problems. It is possible to count the number and types of hoses that a motorcycle uses on one hand.

Power steering is another component of a car that can’t go unchecked after a while. You should check the fluid in your power steering every now and again. The system can leak and, if it is not checked regularly enough, steering becomes difficult.

An average person spends between $800 and $900 per year on car maintenance. A person will spend between $200 and $300 a year on maintaining a motorcycle. These estimates do not include gas or insurance. These averages don’t include insurance or gas for a more costly car or motorcycle.

Parts of a Car Vs. parts of a Motorcycle

It’s obvious that cars are a bit bigger than motorcycles which means they have more parts to maintain and fix. And there’s more to a car that most people aren’t aware of.

A basic motorcycle includes an engine, transmission and two tires. The crankshaft in the engine spins a shaft when the engine is running.  The front sprocket spins and turns a chain connected to the rear sprocket.  The rear sprocket spins a rear wheel connected to a chain. This propels the motorcycle forward.

While the transmissions of a motorcycle and a vehicle’s engine work in the same way, they have their own unique functions. A motorcycle has a fraction as many moving parts than a car, so it is very simple to use. You can read my other article to find out more about the motorcycle’s workings.

Every machine moving part has the potential to cause friction and heat buildup, which can eventually lead to failure. Essentially, the less parts you have the less likely you’ll have failure and parts that require to be fixed.

A car engine is very similar to a motorbike. It can power more than a motorcycle engine. Other belts are connected to the engine and help produce other parts of your car, such as the steering wheel, air conditioner, or cooling fan.

Transmission also receives power from the engine. This gives the wheels the ability to move. The drive line is connected to the four tires of four-wheel drive vehicles and two wheels for two-wheeled vehicles. Many parts of a car are dependent on each other. When one part fails, it can sometimes cause a ripple effect that causes other parts to fail.

DIY Maintenance

I have restored or fixed up thirteen motorcycles over the years. I’ve also fixed up several cars including classic and modern ones. Repairing a motorcycle is much simpler, faster, and more affordable than fixing up cars. A lot of this was due to the fact that I could do most of the repairs on the motorcycles myself.

I reached a point in which I could completely restore a motorcycle from its original state to its former glory in just two to three weeks. That’s a time frame that would be impossible with a similar task on a car. I’ve been restoring a 1969 Bronco since last year and I’m not even half way done with it.

Because they are so simple, motorcycles are a great vehicle for doing do-it yourself maintenance. And let’s not forget about the accessibility they have compared to cars.

It’s completely possible to perform do-it-yourself fixes on a car, but there’s not near the amount of fixes on a car you can do yourself compared to a motorcycle. It is best to leave some repairs and other forms of maintenance to professionals. Because of the large equipment needed, such as car lifts, ramps and large air compressors, it is difficult to drop an engine or transmission. These are tools that most people don’t have laying around.

Because of the more complex mechanics of cars, diagnosing problems can prove difficult. Many systems are interconnected, so one symptom may be caused by many different malfunctions. It is more difficult to pinpoint the cause than on a bike.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember basic maintenance on a car simply because we can’t see all the parts on it. There could be underlying problems that aren’t even visible until it gets so bad that it starts impacting some other system.

Special Attention A Motorcycle Needs That Cars Don’t

A lot of motorcycles are equipped with carburetors and require certain types of gasoline. Motorcyclists should only use high-octane gas with no ethanol. Anything else could cause damage to the carburetor. Some cars require certain types of fuel, but motorcycles have a much higher tolerance. You can read my article here for more information about what type of gas a motorcycle should use.

Leaving a car outside during rain or snow doesn’t have much of an impact on them. It’s much different putting a motorcycle in the same type of circumstances. It’s okay for a motorcycle to go out in the snow and rain for a while. It is possible to eventually have engine or carburetor problems if it is left out in these conditions for too long.

It’s pretty annoying, let alone expensive, to have to take a car in to a dealership to have certain parts fixed or maintained. But the nice thing about car dealerships is that they’re everywhere. This is not true for motorcycles. You might have trouble finding the right mechanic if your motorcycle needs a particular repair.

I needed to fix a problem on my 1969 Triumph. Triumphs require certain tools that I didn’t have laying around in my garage so I needed a Triumph professional to do it for me. Only one Triumph shop was within 200 miles of my home (and that was a good thing).

It is easier to maintain a motorcycle than a car’s basic maintenance. motorcycles will have certain caveats especially if you’re going to own an expensive and/or rare kind of bike.

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