I'm coming up on my first oil change with my Prius and have a couple of questions.
First, I see the word "synthetic" being thrown around the forums, is that something I should be considering for my Prius, and if so, what brand/weight/etc.?
Second, is there anything different about changing the oil in a Prius versus say, a Dodge Ram Truck, or Chrysler Minivan? I mean, there's an oil pan on the bottom and a fill cap on the top still, right? I guess this is the real important question since I live in Western North Dakota, and when I called the dealership today to ask if they've ever changed the oil in a Prius before I got "What kind of car is that?" I'm assuming that Toyota dealerships have some kind of service manual that the guy can follow in order to change the oil without breaking something. These people are farmers. Most of them don't know what to do with an engine that doesn't have eight cylinders.
Is there anything I should keep my eye on while they're changing the oil? Anything magic that has to be done afterwards to let the car know it's oil has been changed or anything?
Anyone have a checklist that I can go through while they change the oil?
I have this feeling that I should be more nervous than I am with taking my Prius in for an oil change here.
If you do it yourself, be sure to keep the receipts for the oil and filter for warranty purposes. I prefer to let the dealer do it since, that way, there's an indisputable record that the required work has been performed. Don't let them sell you services you don't need. Insist they only do what is required to keep up the warranty. Around here an oil and filter change, with a "free 19 point inspection" runs around $25.
The most important thing is to make sure they don't overfill the crankcase. The Prius takes 3.9 quarts, no more. Some people put in 3.5 to be sure they don't overfill. I make my dealer put "do not overfill crankcase" on the service order. That way, if they do, I can make them take out the excess.
The manual calls for a 5W-30 oil. I just don't see the value of synthetic oil since, to keep the warranty up, you have to change the oil at 5,000 miles or 6 months anyway. With your cold winter temperatures, synthetic might be worthwhile in the winter.
All very good points. IIRC, the warranty period for the drive train is 50,000 miles. You might consider synthetics and performing your own changes after the warranty period is over if you are concerned about voiding your warranty.
I have owned Hondas, Acuras, Subarus and now my first Toyota. I have put on between 100 and 250K on all except for the Prius which is at 47K. I have never had a problem other than normal wearing items such as brakes or clutches (which wouldn't be convered by the warranty anyway) in any of them. Thats why I don't get too concerned about voiding the warranty. But obviously my view is biased by the fact that I have never been burned. Lets hope I continue my streak with the Prius.
Synthetic oil is less susceptible to thermal breakdown and has more detergents in it than regular oil. My first oil change was to Mobil1 5w30, which is the correct weight for all Prii, and a Purolator Pure One oil filter. I had my selling dealer do that oil change, but I provided the materials. My cost out the door was a little of $11 including disposal fees and taxes, plus what I paid for the materials. All in all paying only for labor and having parts and fluids used that you prefer is a very good deal.
By the book the sump is 3.9 quarts, however I fill with 4 quarts. If you read this forum and a number of others you will find a continuing debate over fill amount. To put it in perspective, a 10th of a quart is about 2 shot glasses of fluid. So the difference between 3.9 quarts and 4 quarts is insignificant. The difference between 3.9 quarts and 4.5 quarts is significant. See what I mean. Also, your vehicle comes from the factory “overfilled”. Or rather, it is filled at the factory to 4 quarts. A slight “overfill” on your vehicle is not dangerous, not damaging and not risky. The factory wouldn’t be doing that if it were. I’ve heard people calling that a “break-in” fill and that it was meant as one time only, however there is no automotive history I can reference which supports that practice, especially with regard to Toyota’s manufacturing processes and how tight and exacting they are. In no circumstances would I under fill a crankcase. That is just a horrible thing to do. Oil provides cooling to the engine in addition to coolant. Lots of manufacturers have moved over to larger sumps on their engines so they can gain from the benefits of oil cooling. The only way you can have cooler oil running through an engine is if you have more of it there in the pan (or running through a dedicated cooler) than you realistically need.
Toyota’s oil change interval is 5,000 miles. That should be safe enough, but I moved to synthetic for that type of schedule. I’ve seen dino oil on cars that didn’t run nearly as efficiently as the Prius at 5,000 and I just don’t trust that schedule on conventional oil. The oil is too thick and too dirty. Synthetic seems to “hold up” better over the long haul.
For what it is worth, I expect many to come back and accuse me of being ignorant, or participating in back yard mechanicing regarding my recommendation to use the standard 4 quarts of oil in your change. However, it came from the factory with 4 quarts, my dealer put in 4 quarts, and the amount of oil above the full dot on the dipstick is so insignificant that I can’t see that having to dink around with the last quart of oil in trying to get a full to the dot makes sense.
It has been said: Hybrid drivers come in 3 flavors, greenie, techie and cheapie. Pick any 2.
2005 Prius, Melinium Silver over gray, package 5 (AI)
___My local Honda dealership is one of those that offer $19.95 basic oil change specials on a continuous basis. When I bring in my own 0W-20 and SuperTech filter, it costs less then $10.00 for a change in any of my automobiles. Not that the oil change tech does a good job vs. yourself (they do not) but I make sure I receive the excess quarts I request back (.5 when I owned the Insight and .5 with the Accord) for the next change. The main item is that there is now a history at the Honda dealership in case any questions were to arise. If you ever do sell your Hybrid, a detailed - regular maintenance history can only help. The Ranger is probably the easiest to change out given its height above the ground but I still take it in for the $9.3x deal so I have a paper trail on her just in case.
___Another advantage … Watching the dealerships TV while enjoying a coffee on them (I unfortunately do not drink coffee ) instead of climbing underneath any of the automobiles for the change and disposal of the used oil afterwards is actually quite nice!
I'm putting in 3 quarts of Mobil 1 syn and a new Toyota filter every 5K. The dipstick shows oil dead center between the low dot and the full dot. I'm rotating tires at that time too. Takes about an hour. Call me crazy, but it brings me closer to my Prius, meaning I feel more attached to it and such. Yeah, that is crazy, it's just a car...but , really, it's an awesome piece of transportation technology that just so happens to be pretty "normal" in many maintenance aspects. Enjoy!
'04 Seaside Pearl #7. Fumoto oil drain, mudflaps, rear bumper scuff protector & rear warn system, compass mirror, EV mode button, 8" subwoofer in right rear cubby & 6" subs under seats, power lumbar & seat heaters in the front seats, Coastaletech hitch w/ Aspen bike/snowboard rack. iPod2car, 2 amps, Alpine component speakers, and DVD video, solid 47 MPG @ 75000 miles.