You ask we answer. Here's the latest in our "Ask a Mechanic" series.
Q: I know you're supposed to soak clutch plates in oil but for how long?
A: Five minutes. An hour. Overnight. All three answers are correct however the longer the better. Consider most pro race teams keep clutch plates soaking in a bag until ready for use that should give you some insight into the ideal length of time clutch plates should soak in oil.
Soak clutch plates in the same engine oil used in your dirt bike or ATV.
There is no such thing as a "soaked too long" situation but not "soaked long enough" can actually produce some bad results. The friction plates are made from fibers that absorb the oil. Don't worry the plates don't swell up, probably less than .025 mm. Dry clutch plates lose the fiber material faster thereby burning the clutch and wearing the steel plates faster, eventually causing the plates to slip or stick together.
Ideally, soaking them overnight is best but an hour is OK. You can even soak just a few minutes or at least brush oil over the top of the plates, pop them in and leave them in the bike overnight since the clutch case contains some engine oil.
Now here's the thing: Technically you can install them dry and start the engine. In most cases the engine oil will quickly cover the plates but you leave yourself open for a wide range of potential failures. So why take the risk?
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