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Oil condition from appearance?

2014 Hybrid uses 0w20 oil. They recommend 10k oil changes but I don’t believe that for a minute.
Anyway, at about 5k the oil looks about the color of honey, maybe dark honey. You can easily
see things on the dipstick thru it. This is at the end of a winter of driving, lots of short trips, but
twice a month I take it out on the highway for 30 min. There’s no froth or other bad symptoms in
appearance. Got a large trip coming up, 2k. Would you change the oil before going??

I would. Others will disagree.
While the honey color is excellent, and your owner’s manual recommends a longer distance between oil changes, fluids cannot be too fresh for me. I too am uncomfortable with the 10K regimen.

Others like to go as far as possible between changes. Some believe frequent oil changes will destroy the earth. I disagree, as long as the used oil is recycled. Dump it down the drain and I’ll agree with them.


No more than 5k miles intervals and that’s if the bulk of your driving is open road. If it involves mostly short hop driving then 3k miles; especially if the environment where you live is dusty and/or humid.

If’ you’ve ever read about oil sludging problems then extended oil change regimens is the main cause of that; and also the cause of many oil consumption issues in my humble opinion.

A little reading on the issue if you’re interested.

I concur 100% with both mountainbike and ok4450. As mountainbike once said, the goal should be to extend the life of the engine, not the life of its oil.

IMHO, you should change it now, rather than waiting another few thousand miles.

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If it makes you feel better, change it. I use a 7500 mile interval on my hybrid MKZ. Obviously, others disagree…

Oil is cheap and engines are expensive. My Toyota gets its oil changed every 5000 miles even if at that mileage it is still clear. Some additives get used up and for the small price of an oil change I don’t want to risk excessive wear.

Last time I did INTERNAL engine work was the summer of 1964 on a 1957 Plymouth 6. That’s the kind of comfort frequent oil changes give me!!! And I keep my cars a very long time!

One poster here has said it several times: “We want to maximize ENGINE life rather than oil life”

OK, thanks everyone

I change at 5000 miles regardless of what anyone says. While the oil still looks OK on the dip stick, its pretty black in the drain pan.

The driving pattern you described constitutes severe service. What is the recommended oil change interval under those circumstances? Chances are, you are due.

I test drove an Avalon Thursday and asked about oil change interval. The salesman said 5000 miles. If the owner’s manual says 10,000 miles for normal conditions and you do not drive in severe conditions, you can use the 10,000 mile interval. Do you really think that Toyota would mislead you?

If you drive in severe conditions, you should do whatever Toyota recommends, which is probably 5000 miles.

I change oil when the manufacturer recommends and have done so for 20 or more years with no ill effects on my cars. That is 7000 on my 2005 Accord, 7500 on the 2003 Silhouette (OLM), and about 9000 on the 2009 Cobalt (OLM). Your car doesn’t care as long as it is often enough. You seem to think that you can guess better than Toyota tests show is reasonable, assuming normal driving. Do what works best for you.

The 2014 Toyota Hybrid factory manual says to change your oil at 5,000 miles instead of 10,000 if the majority of your driving was for trips less than 5 miles and at temps below 32 degrees.

You can’t go wrong following the advice in the replies you’ve received thus far.
But millions of owners are doing fine following Toyota’s advice as well.

Yeah I had that discussion with the Acura service manager too who said they invested a lot of time getting the computer right. Of course then the dealer said to change the differential at the first 10,000 miles too that wasn’t anywhere in the book. So I just remain a little skeptical of the engineers and will continue to be conservative in maintenance. Particularly because they are off the hook in 50,000 miles but I’m still on the hook.

Because of climate change (yes boys, I know it’s a hoax :}) very few of the trips have been below freezing. Still,
I am going to change it.

I think the oil looks fine because this car is a hybrid and the electric engine has done most of the work in local driving. I think 10K oil changes might just be fine.

BUT, if it was my car, I would change it earlier. On my new car, I am not following the manual either. At 1000 miles I changed the factory fill, put in synthetic oil and am going to follow the severe schedule even though most of my driving is freeway.

Since I DIY the oil changes it costs me less, it is not that bothersome and even doing the math, after 150K miles it doesn’t add up to anything outrageous.

I think oil changes around 5-6 K make sense. So with 5 k on the clock now and a 2 k trip coming up, probably a good time for an oil & filter change. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it tho, if that’s an inconvenient thing to do b/c of trip stuff you have to do first, just do it when you get back instead.

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The OLM on my 2014 CRV calls for roughly 12K mile oil change intervals. That’s with very gentle, low RPM service with no real short trips (I always let the Temp gauge get up to normal before shutting off).

While I believe some cars can tolerate a 10K oil change interval, why push it? It is a great sign that the oil is still golden at 5K miles. My Honda (at 105K miles) always was. I could have gone longer but the OLM in the car said change it, so I did.

As others have said, oil is cheap, engines are not.

My concern with long oil changes is fine particulates, soot etc.
I’m talking particles under 10 microns that are not efficiently caught by the oil filter.
They gather and circulate in any detergent oil no matter how “good” (synthetic) it is.
While these particles might be smaller than the oil film in a bearing you can’t say the same between a ring and cylinder wall or a cam lobe and lifter.

I’ve had this fight many times in the Highlander forum. The new highlanders also says to use 0w-20 and 10k oil change intervals. I think I’m the only one there who’s changing their oil at 5k miles. But based on what they’ve told me most of them don’t keep their vehicles much past 100k miles.

I think you’re the only smart one. I don’t subscribe to the new extra long oil change regimen. To me the goal is to make the engine last, not to make the oil last.