Oil change, dumb question

2011 Toyota Venza, V6, about 95000 miles, garaged.

Gets driven mostly in town most days of the week, supermarket, library, etc, about 3000 miles per year, even less since Covid.

Uses no oil between changes.

Oil light doesn’t come on, but at about nine months and a coupon from the dealer has arrived, I get the oil changed.

Have been doing this since I bought the car in 2016.

Am I being cheap, not getting the oil changed often enough?

Or am I doing fine, and should continue relying on the dash indicator to tell me when to change the oil? (Actually, I’ve never seen the indicator light come on. If it’s approaching a year since the last oil change, I go in for one.)

I have a coupon that expires end of this month, and it’s been six months since the last oil change, 700 miles ago.

Take it in? Wait another six months? Wait for the indicator light to come on?

Appreciate all advice.

What does your owners manual say? By ‘indicator light’, do you mean it has an oil life monitoring system?


That qualifies as severe service. Get the oil changed at 6 month. An oil change twice a year is about the same as one dinner and a movie for two.


Appears to be an oil life monitoring system.
When the MAINT REQD light comes on, page 565 of owner’s manual says,
“Comes on and remains: engine oil should be changed.”

Hard to go wrong by changing the oil more often than needed. Changing the oil and filter is probably the singular best thing you can do for your car. And following the manufacturer’s guidance on oil change intervals is generally the best policy. But if it has only been driven 700 miles since the last oil change 6 months ago, me, I’d probably wait another 700 miles & 6 months before doing an oil and filter change.


That’s how I’m leaning too.
Every time I take the car in for an oil change, I ask myself “why have I doubled my chances of a trainee screwing something up?”

I agree. At least that’s how it used to be before fuel-injected, computer controlled engines, no?

But still like that?

The car’s not driven much, but enough for the coolant temp to reach normal readings. I know that doesn’t translate directly to oil, but seems a normally hot engine should help keep gas from leaking past the rings and diluting the oil.

Disclosure (as if there was any doubt): I am not a mechanic. I’ve never even played one on TV.

You do what you feel comfortable with. Me, no way I would change oil before 12 months if it only had 700 miles on it. I’d wait to the 12 month mark.


On mom’s 2010 Toyota Prius which is driven under the same conditions but more like 8,000mi a year goes in for an oil change around 6,000mi at an independent shop that we’ve had amazing service with since the early 90’s. Their shop’s had them change the oil after a year regardless of mileage but it’s only $55 plus tax. Rarely do they need to do more than put it on the lift and check it over and say “see you in 6,000mi”

On our wife’s Toyota, a 2013, the “maintenance required” message will display at 5k miles regardless of mileage. It’s not much of an oil life monitoring system. May be why you’ve never seen the reminder, since you’re changing before 5k and whoever’s changing the oil is probably resetting the maintenance minder.


That makes sense. Thanks.

You have only driven it 700 miles, but that is only part of the equation. Was that 700 miles a series of very short trips or a few long trips. Long trip would be 14 miles or more.

If it is a lot of short trips, particularly trips under 7 miles, or even worse, under 3 miles each, then the oil does not get hot enough to vaporize moisture and volatile contaminants. It should be changed at 6 months.

If it is a few long trips, then you can wait for a year between oil changes, no problem. In this case, I would even go two years.

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Mostly short trips.

What you say about oil not getting hot enough to vaporize contaminants makes sense.

Believe I’ll start doing twice-a-year oil changes from here on out.


My extended warranty requires once a year. Maybe 2000 miles since the last year oil change. Short drives, dipstick rusted to the tube, fixed no charge, a year ago, just telling my story.