Check. Check. Check.
Pre-ride checklist almost complete. Shoot, no coolant. You need some and you don't have any. Then out of the corner of your eye you notice the half-filled jug of fresh coolant used last summer after a flush and refill of your car's radiator.
Can you use coolant made for the car in your dirt bike? OK, what about oil? Or a spark plug? Actually, some lubricants and other automotive products indeed crossover for use in dirt bikes, ATVs and the powersports industry, in general. And vice versa. But not all products.
Check out what you can and can't use both in your car and dirt bike or ATV.
Some oil, not all oil. Obviously the growing popularity of 5w-20 and the commonly used 5w-30 weight oil for cars doesn't translate to a 2-stroke or 4-stroke dirt bike. However, some riders use Rotella T oil manufactured by Shell with little problem. Rotella T, made for diesel engines, does not meet or exceed the specifications required for dirt bike and ATVs. You might find other riders who swear by Rotella T but don't use Chevron DELO 400, a diesel oil for cars, in any type of powersports application. A MotoSport employee once used Chevron DELO 5w-40 in his gasoline-powered car engine not realizing at first it was for diesel and that was like 70,000 miles ago. But don't expect a similar no-harm, no-foul outcome if you make a similar "mistake" with your dirt bike.
Additionally, MotoSport sells oil weights (like 5w-30, 10w-40 and 15w-50) often used for many gasoline powered engines in cars but these powersports-specific oils don't contain the friction modifiers found in car oils or hold the anti-wear additives needed for optimum performance in motorcycles. You can likely get away with using the motorcycle version to top off your car but not the other way around. Car oils don't work well in dirt bikes and using car oil for motorcycles and ATVs that have an oil-bathed clutch - shares the engine oil with the transmission oil - is a definite no.
Bottom line, a quart of oil manufactured specifically for dirt bikes or the powersports industry in general sets you back a bit more financially than car oil but saving a few bucks eventually costs you much more in the long run.
Mechanic's Note: 2-stroke oil poured in the fuel tank of diesel engines helps increase the lubricity of the fuel.
Most car owners have probably never used gear oil and perhaps wondered the purpose of this 85w oil on the shelf at the local automotive store. Gear oil goes into a differential or transfer case and though both dirt bikes and cars require this heavy-weight oil swapping doesn't work both ways. Gear oil for a dirt bike or ATV works in a car but gear oil made for a car tends to foam causing the clutch to lock up and ruining the clutch fibers. Eventually, seals fail and you gotta whole lotta mess. Like motor oil, gear oil for the powersports industry contains specific additives to address the high demands of motorcycle and ATV engines.
Yes! Coolant works both ways unless you have one of those fancy European cars like Volkswagen with their special proprietary coolant. And that probably works in a dirt bike but nothing made for dirt bikes or ATVs works in a Volkswagen. So, while the short answer is yes, better to do your homework if you don?t have Evans and want to use Prestone. Also, keep in mind that some powersports industry coolants don?t protect from freezing so leave the Engine Ice for your dirt bike and not your car during winter when the temperature drops to zero.
Go for it! Brake fluid is all the same. One caveat though is the DOT rating. Most cars use DOT 3; dirt bikes, ATVs and anything powersports for that matter need DOT 4. The DOT acronym stands for "Department of Transportation" and the classification rating refers to the "dry boiling point" and "wet boiling point." The higher the rating the higher the boiling point. You can use your car's DOT 3 in your dirt bike but don't get mad when it boils (it probably will so just don't use it) and you most certainly can use your dirt bike's DOT 4 rated brake fluid in your car.
Too bad transmission fluid doesn't taste as good as it looks. The pinkish hue that defines transmission oil is simply dyed hydraulic oil with some additives for friction. Did you know it's also pretty much the same as power steering fluid? Again, with some different additives. So long as you use the correct weight, dirt bike and ATV transmission fluid works in a car and vice versa. In fact, you can use transmission fluid for the power steering but - stop right there - not the other way around.
On the other side of the coin you might walk into the garage one morning and find a flat tire on your car. You can call AAA, pop the spare tire on or do it yourself if you own a tire plug kit. Most ATV owners especially those riding the trails own an ATV tire repair kit. This same kit works for cars, trucks and vans.
The does it or doesn't it work windshield spray also works or doesn't work on goggles and helmet shields. Seriously, if you have found the magic touch to RainX then feel free to use it on your goggles.
Most tools crossover as well like screwdrivers and wrenches. T-handles get their popularity in the pits but also work on cars. Battery tenders charge most batteries whether for four-wheels or two-wheels and chain lubricant works on car doors and anything else that needs a little grease.
Disclaimer: Of course we have a disclaimer! We always recommend using products made for dirt bikes and ATVs that meet or exceed manufacturer recommendations. We also realize life happens and people do what they want to do especially if it sometimes means the difference between using a product made for cars that probably works in a dirt bike, and not riding. So avoid all of this, keep up-to-date on your bike and ATV and keep tabs on your parts and supplies stock with The MotoSport.com Dirt Bike Pre-Ride Checklist and The MotoSport.com ATV Pre-Ride Checklist.
Written By: AndrewT