As a Prius owner, I have learned a lot about how to troubleshoot any issues that might arise. Luckily, I'm willing to share my findings!
A Simple Job With a Minimum of Tools
Changing the oil in a Toyota Prius is quite simple and can be done with a minimum of tools in less than half an hour. Just because the Prius is a hybrid—that is, it uses both gas and electricity—doesn't mean that changing the oil should be any different than a typical non-hybrid car.
The recommended oil grade for use in the Prius is 5W-30. Most owners prefer synthetic and swear by it as an MPG enhancer over conventional "dino" motor oil. There is no one particular brand of oil or filter that is preferred for use in the Prius. If you're like me, you'll buy whatever is on special for X amount of quarts plus the free filter.
- 4 quarts of 5W-30 motor oil (we'll only be putting 3.5 quarts of oil in, just pick your poison... er, brand)
- Filter specified for fitting the Prius (If you're not sure which part number will fit or your auto parts store doesn't have the filter fitting guidebook handy in the oil filter section, just ask an employee.)
- 14 mm socket wrench
- Oil catch pan (an old Tupperware or Rubbermaid food storage container works)
- Shop towels
- A ramp, lift, or jacks, along with something to block the tires to prevent rolling (wood will suffice)
If you want to get fancy, you can buy replacement drain plugs with new gaskets if you prefer, and some owners do. You can get away with reusing them a few times, but they aren't very expensive from either your dealer or auto parts store.
Toyota Prius Oil Drain Plug
Step-By-Step: How to Drain and Replace the Oil in Your Toyota Prius
Step 1: Lift up your Prius by either driving onto a set of ramps or by lifting it up with a set of jacks and block the wheels to prevent rolling. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PRIUS IN READY MODE!!!
Step 2: Locate the oil drain plug as shown below.
Step 3: Position an oil catch pan below the oil drain plug.
Step 4: Remove the oil drain plug with a 14 mm socket.
Step 5: Allow the oil to drain out into the catch pan until it drips infrequently.
Step 6: Wipe down the surface near the drain port and replace the oil drain plug and tighten down appropriately, you can either reuse the same one or use a new part from your dealer or auto parts store.
Step 7: Reposition the oil catch pan to be beneath the oil filter. Loosen the filter by hand or with an oil filter wrench. Some oil will drip down out of the filter because it is still full of oil. Dump the excess oil from the filter into the catch pan and dispose of the filter in accordance with your local law.
Step 8: Wipe down the area where the oil filter was located.
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Step 9: Take a quart of oil, open it, dip a finger into the clean oil and then lubricate the seal on your new oil filter.
Step 10: Install your new oil filter and tighten down appropriately by hand.
Step 11: Open the engine bay hood and prop it up with the support arm.
Step 12: Remove the oil fill cap on the rear left of the engine as shown in the appropriate photo on the right.
Step 13: Insert a funnel into the oil fill port and proceed to fill your Prius's engine with 3.5 quarts of motor oil. No more than that, or you run the risk of engine damage or reduced fuel economy. Trust me, using a funnel will definitely keep you from making a mess and dripping oil all over your engine and other components! Then screw the fill cap back on.
Step 14: Check for leaks around the oil filter and drain plug.
Step 15: Put your Prius into READY mode. The engine will start up after a few seconds.
Step 16: Check for leaks again while your engine is running.
Step 17: Lower your Prius back down and drive to as flat and even a surface as possible and power it off.
Step 18: Check the oil level with the oil dip stick, it should be between the two indicated dots and not below the lowest or above the highest. If below, add more oil, if above, remove some oil, start your Prius, run the engine 15-30 seconds, shut it down, and check the level again.
What Do I Do With the Used Oil?
The oil that we've drained from the engine can and should be recycled. The easiest method to have this done is to take the oil catch pan itself (or the oil in a bucket or other large container) to your auto parts store, where they more than likely have a recycling program in place. They'll dump it in to a tank and have it taken care of for you.
Congratulations! You have successfully changed the oil in your Prius. How's that for nerd cred? Be sure to reset your "Maintenance Required" indicator as well. If you're ready for another DIY challenge or just are curious about other things you can do to make sure your Prius is in tip top shape, why not check the health of your 12-volt battery?
Waste Oil Drain Pan Container
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.