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Is ATV and Motorcycle Oil the Same? ATV Oil Facts

Is ATV and Motorcycle Oil the Same? ATV Oil Facts

When it comes to different machines, they all seem to have nuances that require them to use certain types of fuel. Oil is one of the most commonly “different” things needed to operate different engines. Just look at lawnmowers and weed whackers – or two different cars. It is important to know what you are putting in your vehicle and why. ATVs are no exception to this rule.

Is ATV and motorcycle oil the same? While ATV and motorcycle oil share very similar properties, there are slight differences between them. ATV oil is rated JASO MA, while motorcycle oil can be rated JASO MA2 or MB. This means normally for a manual wet clutch they are the same, but for an auto clutch ATV you should use ATV (JASO MA) oil.

At first, this answer may sound like gibberish to someone, especially someone who has never dealt with ATV or motorcycle oil, but the reality is that there are differences in the composition of the oils that help the vehicles perform for their intended purpose.

Just like an everyday minivan requires different oil than an 18-wheeler, an ATV and motorcycle require different oil, too. Continue reading to learn more about the difference between ATV and motorcycle oil as well as how to best take care of your ATV engine.

Difference Between ATV Oil and Motorcycle Oil

As mentioned above, there is a minor certification difference when it comes to the oil that is used in ATVs versus motorcycles. These differences may seem minute, but they are critical in the ways in which they affect your vehicle’s engine. Here are the distinct differences between these types of oils.

The JOSA MA is for vehicles with a wet clutch. A wet clutch is different from a dry clutch in that it has a lubricant between the friction plates. Due to this, JOSA MA oil is needed because it has more friction that helps to prevent the clutch from slipping.


The JOSA MA2 is specifically for motorcycles, particularly when they have a catalytic converter (to decrease the toxic and harmful gases and pollutants in the engine’s exhaust system). It has more zinc and phosphorus to help it perform best.


JOSA MB is the type of oil that should be used for automatic transmissions. They have friction modifiers which help the gear transition operate as smoothly as possible, and help offer fuel economy benefits as well. Not all ATVs have automatic transmissions, hence another reason to be hesitant about using this for your ATV.

Here’s a quick video showing a couple wrong and right options for ATV oil.

Best Oil For an ATV

Most oils that are made specifically for ATVs (including various brands and models of ATVs) are going to be good for your machine and will be ready to go upon purchasing and refueling. All you have to do is to fill the tank and get ready for a thrilling afternoon filled with high levels of adrenaline and memories for a lifetime.

To make this search easier for you, I have some personal preferences that I use regularly that are included below.

Honda GN4 Motoroil

The Honda GN4 Motoroil (link to Amazon) is my personal favorite. I like Honda, in general, as they are always taking things to the next-level (did you know they were the first to have a maintenance-free battery?). I have great results and use this oil most regularly in my ATV.

Since this oil is tailor-made for ATVs, there are no worries about it causing any issues with my vehicle. ATVs do not come at a low cost, so it is important to maintain them with the proper oil and other parts as well as consistent maintenance.

YamaLube OEM 4 Stroke

Yamaha is another contender for the best oil to use with your ATV. Similar to the Honda company, they are constantly working to bring out the best products. I love how long their machines last which is probably enhanced by the oil used. You can find the YamaLube OEM 4 Stroke here on Amazon.

If you are looking for a long-lasting ATV, and the right oil to go with it, this is a great option. Not only will you find that you receive a great value for your vehicle’s longevity, but you can have confidence that you are maintaining it with the right oil and supplies.

Valvoline for ATV/UTV

Valvoline for ATV/UTV (link to Amazon) is the most standard name among oil. Think about it- your mom has likely heard of this brand but may not know of the various ATV oil providers. If you are in a pinch or want to shop in person (not at a specialty shop), it is likely that Valvoline will be the best way to go to ensure you are getting a top-notch oil at a good price.

Valvoline’s reputation for oil is that it is a quality product at a respectable price. Instead of paying for motorcycle oil that does not belong in an ATV, instead, choose this option that is both affordable and appropriate for your vehicle. The only worrying you will have to do is about which trail you will take your ATV on next.

Lucas Oil 10720

Lucas Oil 10720 (link to Amazon) is what I recommend for anyone who wants a more affordable oil option. It is still a great source of oil and will keep your machine running well. However, the upfront cost is going to be less expensive than others that I have recommended on this list.

In my experience, it does not last as long as the Honda or YamaLube, but it is still great for your ATV. Keep in mind that this could mean that it is less cost-efficient overall, as you might have to refill your tank more frequently. But, if you are only planning a few shorter trips with your ATV, then this will do the trick and will keep your machine well-oiled.

These oils come in a variety of sizes, so you can get the one that most suits your needs in that regard. Also, these are going to be higher quality than a lot of store-brand oils and will help your vehicle perform its absolute best.

If you are spending the time and money to invest in ATV riding in the first place, then surely you can understand the importance of providing your vehicle with the correct “nourishment” to help it achieve its highest performance.

Related Questions About ATV Oil

When it comes to oil, this can be one of the more complex topics in regards to ATV. Between certifications, friction, and clutches, to someone who is new to the ATV oil world, this would be a lot to take in. Below, I have answered a couple of standard questions about ATV oil to help you get a more straightforward response. Hopefully, this can help you to understand the basics.

Can You Use Regular Motor Oil in an ATV?

You should not use regular motor oil in an ATV. Regular motor oil is made for cars and trucks and is not going to live up to the same standard that the more intricate friction ratings of your ATV needs. It is best to use ATV-specific oil, or at least an oil that is of the same nature as an ATV-specific oil.

A list of ATV-specific oils to use for your ATV has been recommended above and include Honda GN4 Motoroil, YamaLube OEM 4 Stroke, Valvoline for ATV/UTV, and Lucas Oil 10720. Be sure to check for the oil rating needed (JOSA MA, JOSA MA2, or JOSA MB) before using a brand of oil on your ATV.

Can I Use Synthetic Oil In My ATV?

Synthetic oil is often the best choice for your ATV. If you ride a lot, synthetic oil will help your ATV to perform most efficiently. Synthetic oil holds up better to higher temperatures and stays cleaner longer. It will help you not need to change your oil as often if you are riding multiple times a week.

When it comes to using synthetic or non-synthetic oil for your ATV, the choice is ultimately up to you. However, you should consider that synthetic is recommended and will give you the best results in the end. As it can help your ATV to remain in its top performance quality, it is questionable why you would choose otherwise.

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