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An oil and filter change is a very easy DIY job that should both save you money if you do it yourself, and leave you safe in the knowledge that the job has been done properly.
This guide is produced for information only. Although every care has been taken to produce an accurate and comprehensive guide, I cannot be held legally responsible for any direct or indirect loss or injury due to its use. Use of this guide indicates your understanding of these conditions. Basically, I have produced this to try and help people - please use it in that spirit.
An oil and oil filter change should be carried out at every service interval (A, B and C). The service interval for early cars is 5,000 miles/6 months (whichever comes first), for later cars the mileage limit was increased to 6,000 miles.
Services are split into three: A, B and C. An A service is the most basic, a C service the most complex. When the car was new, its first service (apart from a quick inspection shortly after delivery) should have been an A service. This was followed at the next interval by a B service. The next service after that should have been another A service, followed by a C service. Then the sequence starts again.
Before commencing work you should buy some oil, an oil filter and an oil sump plug gasket. You will need approximately 3 litres of oil, the Toyota recommended viscosity rating is 10W-40. I personally use Mobil1 0W-40 fully synthetic oil, as it is one of the best there is. In my opinion the 0W rating (as opposed to the 10W) rating is not a problem because of the excellent protective qualities of synthetic oils and Mobil1 in particular. Everybody has different opinions on engine oils though, so feel free to do your own thing. I always use a Toyota oil filter, they are not that expensive and some pattern parts are not as well constructed. The oil sump plug gasket is basically a thick compressible washer that seats on the sump plug and prevents leaks. The sump plug is a bolt that plugs the oil drain hole on the bottom of the oil sump.
You will also require some tools. These are what I use:
Both the Toyota workshop manual and the Haynes manual describe the oil change procedure as though you have access to the underside of the vehicle. Indeed as part of any service you should be checking various things under the car, so this is advisable. Probably the best method is to have access to a car lift or inspection pit, but these are not common in a DIY environment! Personally I use ramps and reverse the car up those. Buy the biggest and strongest-looking you can afford and you should find they are stable and provide much more access than a trolley jack and axle stands. If you do work under the car, please make sure you have followed all safety instructions supplied with equipment and use a good dollop of common sense.
Although in my opinion it is easier and better to work from underneath the vehicle, plenty of people carry out this kind of work from the top and side of the car. You can get at the oil sump drain plug from the rear offside wheel arch area, and the oil filter by reaching down next to the exhaust downpipe, although you may have to remove the distributor to do so. Remember though that you will find it impossible to carry out all the service checks without being underneath the vehicle, and this includes checking that the new oil filter is not leaking after fitting.
First you need to drain the old oil. This is achieved by removing the oil sump plug and letting the oil drain into whatever receptacle you have chosen to collect the old oil in. I find an old washing up bowl is ideal. If the engine is hot, the oil will drain out a lot quicker and you will probably drain more oil too, because the oil is less viscous at high temperatures. Obviously this does pose a risk to you in terms of burns from hot components and hot, sticky oil. When I do this I use thick protective gloves and keep myself clear of the engine and the exhaust system (although the latter does cool quite quickly once the engine is switched off).
Place the receptacle under the location of the drain plug ready to catch the drips as you slacken the sump plug. You will find the drain plug near the lower edge of the rear sloping face of the oil sump. You will need a 14mm socket to fit the sump plug, and you will probably need a breaker bar to slacken it initially (I always do). Then use a normal ratchet to continue slackening the drain plug. You can then dispense with the ratchet and simply turn the socket by hand the final few turns. As you do so you will notice oil will start to drip from the drain plug. Reposition the receptacle if necessary. When the sump plug is removed the oil will initially drain quite fast, but the washing up bowl should be more than capable of collecting it all (so protecting your garage floor or drive!). If you remove the sump plug carefully while using the socket, you should be able to avoid getting any hot oil on yourself, especially if you wear thick protective gloves.
The draining oil will soon reduce to just a slow drip, which will continue for hours if you let it! I usually give it 15 to 30 minutes, which should see most of the oil you can easily drain being drained. During that time I do some other work such as the myriad of checks required, changing spark plugs etc. You could leave it draining while you replace the oil filter, but invariably you will get drips of oil on you if you try it, so I always replace the sump plug before crawling right under the car to replace the filter.
Clean the sump plug with a rag, and the mounting face on the oil sump. Fit the new sump plug gasket to the plug and then screw the whole lot back into the sump drain hole finger tight. Use a ratchet to tighten the sump plug as hard as you think it necessary to compress the gasket enough to seal the oil in, but not hard enough to snap the head off the sump plug! I much prefer to use a torque wrench for such things, but there is no specified torque for the sump plug, so you just have to guess. I always tighten it as hard as I can using a ratchet and that does fine (i.e. no leaks and the sump plug is still in one piece!). I suggest not using the breaker bar for this! Give the area one more wipe to remove any oil that has seeped out during fitting, because you should check for leaks later.
Dispose of the old oil in the proper manner, not doing so is an offence. I use a funnel to pour mine into old engine oil containers and then take them to my local tip where there are special facilities for disposing of the oil.
The oil filter is positioned mid-way up the front face of the engine block. This makes it awkward to access! You will need to crawl right under the engine on your back. I wear protective goggles when working underneath the car to prevent engine oil etc. dripping into my eyes. By now the engine and the oil should have cooled down enough to allow you to use rubber gloves instead of thick protective gloves. Manoeuvre into a position on your back so that you can look up and see the oil filter up past the exhaust system, under-body protective plastic plates etc. Grab it firmly and twist it counter-clockwise. If the person carrying out the previous service fitted it correctly then it should slacken by hand. If it does not, you will need to use a tool to loosen it with. If you do not have a tool for the job, you can hammer a screwdriver into the filter and use that as a lever (although this is an unpleasant and messy business!).
Once the filter is slackened, make sure you have your old oil receptacle to hand. Then continue unscrewing the filter. As soon as it comes free tip it upwards so the oil in it does not make a bid for freedom all over you! Then hold it over the receptacle to let the oil drain out.
Now clean the mounting surface on the back of the engine block. Grab the new filter and smear the rubber gasket with new oil to help it seal well. Crawl back under the car and screw the new filter on. Once the gasket touches the engine block, screw it just the specified 3/4 of a turn further and no more! Although it doesn't seem like it, that is all that is needed to make a good seal and allow you to remove it by hand at the next service.
Now roll the car down off the ramps, drop it off the jack or whatever is required to get it back reasonably level. Do not attempt to the start the engine, as obviously without any oil it will be severely damaged in a very short period of time! The oil capacity of the engine is approximately 3.5 litres, but you will not need this much because you can never drain all the old oil. I initially pour in about 2 litres and check the dipstick. I keep adding small amounts until the oil level is above the minimum. I then start the engine and let it idle for three minutes to circulate the new oil, get it warm and allow me to check for leaks. Back the car back up the ramps (or jack up or whatever) so you can again crawl under the car. Use a torch to check that there are no leaks in the oil filter and sump plug areas. Then get the car level again and top up to the maximum mark on the dipstick. All done!
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