Dirt Bike Fork Seals Leaking? (Here’s How to Fix, Prevent, and Clean)
BraapAcademy.com earns a small commission from qualifying purchases.
This does NOT cost you extra.
I’ve owned several dirtbikes over the years and a few of them had fork seals that ended up leaking at one point. When I was younger, I thought this was the end of my dirt bike. However, I eventually learned how to fix leaking fork seals on my dirt bike. Good news – it’s not necessarily difficult to do.
Preventing your dirt bike forks from leaking can also be simple with a few tricks (see below).
Not only are there a few different cleaners and tools that make cleaning your seals easy, but there are also products that prevent the fork seals from leaking in the first place.
How to Stop Fork Seals From Leaking
The best way to stop fork seals from leaking is to keep your forks clean and free from contaminants.
Seal Savers and Risk Racing both make a great fork seal saver that is cheap (compared to rebuilding, anyway) and easy to use. They feature a quick and easy installation, and you don’t have to remove your forks. Whether you go with Seal Doctor or Seal Savers, both are affordable and effective.
Basically, they keep out any dirt, dust, and mud that has accumulated on the forks.
Best Fork Seal Cleaning Tool
There aren’t a whole lot of fork seal cleaning tools out there, but there are a few. One of the most popular ones is the Seal Mate.
Not only is Seal Mate popular because it is cheap, but it also works. The cleaning tool is made by Squatch Racing and the company offers a 100% guarantee of satisfaction. In the end, an affordable tool like this beats the fork seal replacement cost of around $100 any day.
Click here to view pricing and read reviews of this fork seal cleaner on Amazon.
How to Clean Dirt Bike Fork Seals (video)
Here’s a great video of how to do this DIY. While I do recommend picking up an actual tool designed for this, it isn’t always necessary. If you’re in a pinch, this should get you by.
What Causes Leaking Fork Seals
There are a few common issues that will cause the fork seals on a dirt bike to leak. The most common reason that fork seals leak is from dirt or debris working its way into the tube and seal.
Here are the main things to look for if you ever ask yourself why do my fork seals keep leaking.
- Dirt and Debris
- Seal Wear and Tear
- Improper Maintenance
- Seal Damage
- Incorrect Installation
- Pits and Scratches
- Excessive Compression
Dirt and Debris
Dirt, sand, mud, and other debris can get lodged between the dirt bike’s front fork tube and seal. This causes damage and creates channels for the oil to leak out.
Wear and Tear
Eventually, typical wear and tear can cause the fork seals to leak. This wear can cause the seals to lose their ability to effectively seal the fork tube. Once the seal is broken, leaking occurs.
As indicated in your owner’s manual, regular maintenance is required to prevent the fork seals from leaking. A lack of regular maintenance (cleaning and oiling) can decrease the life of your seals and increase the chance of leaking.
Fork Seal Damage
Of course, any direct impact to the forks and/or seals can cause leaking. Even minor damage, like a small nick or scratch, can compromise the seal’s integrity and lead to leaks.
Like the seals, damaged fork tubes can also cause the forks to leak oil. Basically, any pitting or significant scratches can cause the fork seals to wear and leak.
If you continually tie down your dirt bike too tight it can compromise the forks. Even if you use the best quality tie downs for dirt bikes, you can still compress your front forks too much. It’s this excessive pressure on the forks that can lead to leaks and early wear.
Because of this wear and tear on the suspension and seals, the lock n load dirt bike mount is recommended for transporting. However, it isn’t cheap and not 100% required for everyone.
Is a Leaking Fork Seal Dangerous?
Looking down to see a little oil leaking from your front forks can make you a little nervous. Not to worry, you should be okay to ride your dirtbike home (or back to your truck or trailer) without doing too much damage. However, riding your dirt bike with leaky fork seals can be dangerous.
The main concern is how well (actually, how poorly) your dirt bike will handle if you continue to ride with leaking seals.
Is it bad to ride with leaking fork seals?
It is not a good idea to ride with fork seals leaking. Not only can the bike tilt to one side (not much, but enough to affect the handling), but it can also lead to poor braking power. This can happen when fork oil leaks onto the brakes, and this happens when the oil runs dry and the forks can no long compress and dampen as they should.
Without proper front tire grip, the front end of your dirt bike is more likely to wash out.
Okay, so we understand that it isn’t safe. But, can you ride a dirt bike with leaking fork seals? Technically, yes, you can ride a dirt bike with leaking fork seals. However, you shouldn’t. Only ride it as much as necessary before getting it fixed.
As mentioned, leaky dirt bike fork seals can be dangerous (for the rider and the bike) to ride on. If your seals are leaking, make sure to get them handled. Again, there are some great cleaning tools and leak-preventers out there that are cheap and easy to use.