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Prius 2012 Oil Change

Is it really o.k. to wait until I reach 10,000 miles for the first oil change for my Prius 2012?

Wouldn’t be anything I would do. I’ve taken mine in at 5000 when the OLM said 50% for a change. Had to argue a little with the dealer since they are programed into the long changes but I’d never go that long. Others will disagree but you have to figure what, a $30-40,000 car, and an extra $65 oil change with full syn? What’s that in the long run?

Compared to replacement engines, motor oil is very inexpensive…

If you are one of those who trades as soon as the warrantee runs out, then by all means, go the 10,000 miles before the oil change. If you plan on keeping the vehicle for as long as possible, normally the most economic choice in the long run, then a shorter interval could extend the vehicle life enough to bring down the TOCM, (total owner cost/mile).

Does your car have an oil life monitor? If not, does Toyota recommend a 10,000 mile interval? The other complication is whether your car sees severe service or not. If you drive only short distances or only stop and go driving, you should change twice as often as the normal change interval. While oil is cheap compared to engine repairs, changing twice as often as you have to creates twice the pollution. I doubt that Toyota would give you a change interval that is likely to wreck your engine. I’d follow Toyota’s recommendations.

The gas motor in a hybrid runs at a more constant speed than a conventional engine. It is also a super clean running motor so conditions are maximized to make it relatively easy on the motor oil. More frequent oil changes won’t do any harm. I you live in a very cold climate a more frequent oil change interval in the winter makes sense.

You will receive wide and varied input on this question - from many well respected and very skilled contributors.

Toyota owners manuals are beginning to recommend 10,000 mile oil changes for normal driving conditions (see the 2012 Prius or the 2013 Venza manual). It qualifies that 10K range by saying if you continuously do short trip driving at temps below 32 degrees, or tow with the car, or drive a police/taxi, then change it more often.

Europe has been at 10K-15K oil changes for quite a while now, although they use higher spec oil and often larger oil pans.

If I were you, I might get an oil analysis first, perhaps at 7.5K, just to verify if it’s OK to continue to the recommended 10K interval. You may find it’s OK to wait till 10K, or you may need to change it sooner than 10K.

Personally, I think it’s insanity to go 10k miles between oil changes as there are so many factors that go into that recommendation.
You should keep in mind that the reason given for extended intervals is done for one reason; to make your car appear to need less maintenance and it also promotes that warm, fuzzy green feeling.

Toyota has been down that extended oil change recommendation road a few times in the past.
Do a net search about Toyota engine sludge problems and understand that extending those intervals is what led to those complaints; nothing more.

You might consider perusing this.


“twice the oil changes creates twice the pollution”

Really? What pollution, exactly? Motor oil is either recycled or reused as home heating oil.

It’s highly, highly unlikely that a commercial garage would dump the oil (not least because it has cash value)! And if OP intends to change the oil himself, pollution (or lack thereof) is entirely up to him.

Policy makers advocate for extended changes because of a minority of motorists are jackwagons who dump their oil. For the consumer, this is irrelevant: one is either a jackwagon, or not!

How much of that 10,000 miles does the engine actually run? Using mileage as a sole indicator of when to change oil on a hybrid is a poor method. Toyota put some thought and effort into the Oil Life Monitor, I would rely on it given that you are using the proper oil for your car, not what you get with your plain old $29.95 oil change.

In fact, I rely on oil life monitors on Toyota hybrids enough that we no longer put oil change reminder stickers in them. Just read the display.

The gas motor in a hybrid runs less than a motor in a ‘standard’ car, and as such, maybe 10K oil changes are appropriate. But I would go 5-6K personally. The gas engine also starts and stops frequently, and has a lot more heating/cooling cycles than a normal vehicle. It also is a dinky little thing and works harder when it is running. All factors that I would consider making it fall under the “severe service” oil change interval.

I might note that looking up half a dozen sites for the recommended interval (including three dealer sites) call for the oil and filter to be changed at 5k miles intervals.

The Toyota Motor Company site says 10k miles BUT, they have a few addendums to that.
This would depend on the type of oil used, driving conditions (dust/humidity), and the type of use the car sees such as idling, stop and go, and so on.
In that case TMC says 5k miles also and seeing as how most cars fit that category it’s better to be safe than sorry.

This forum is plagued with the “sorry” cases now due extended oil change intervals or running an engine out of oil due to faith in the OLM and so on.

Whatever you do, extended oil change interval, every 3k, 5k, whatever, be sure to physically check your oil level on a regular basis. Do not assume that it will never change, or that, because it’s a new car, you don’t have to check the oil. Sludge is one possibility that can come from extended oil change intervals, but another very common discussion we often have on here is the results of a vehicle owner who was following an extended oil change interval while also never checking their oil level. It is possible for any engine to consume an appreciable amount of oil, or even the entire contents of the sump, in less than 10k miles. My recommendations: follow the schedule recommended by Toyota, use their recommended spec or better, do more frequent oil changes if it makes you feel better or plan to keep the car forever, and above all, check your oil level frequently and maintain it full. Also, keep in mind that if you run the engine out of oil during the warranty period and ruin it, you will not get it replaced under warranty because it is your responsibility to maintain the oil level. Many people don’t know this.

Toyota was indeed burned badly a decade ago with engines that cooked oil (and cooked many engines). The company paid dearly for that mistake - many hundreds of millions, perhaps into the billions.

Unless they are knowingly inviting that same problem to occur again (unlikely), what is different now that enables them and many other manufacturers to consciously extend their oil change intervals to the 10K range?

How Old Is This Prius ? A 2012 Is Possibly Older Than A Year Old Now. Most (All ?)Manufacturers Agree That The Oil Should Not Go Beyond A Year, Regardless Of Miles Driven.

Time is a factor for oil change intervals and I’m not sure the OLM factors it in for you, I really don’t know. Driving less than 10,000 miles per year can be tough on a car’s engine, especially if it makes frequent short trips.

Anyhow, I agree with most others, here. I use full synthetic that is supposed to have added life, but I change oil and filters every 5,000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first.

10,000 miles as has been pointed out is for “normal” driving. There almost is no normal driving. For instance, I drive mostly longer trips on clean paved highways. Great, that’s even better than normal. However, It gets really cold here in the winter and I believe that puts me more into the “severe” area.

Temperture extremes, both hot and cold are factors in oil life and I’m not sure the OLM factors it in for you, I really don’t know.

I do know that my engines last longer, are clean inside, and don’t use any oil as they age. Also, for me, written documentation (receipts, logs) of shorter oil change intervals, 3,000 to 5,000 miles, adds to the value of a car at resale to either seller or buyer. That could pay the extra cost of more oil changes. In other words a well maintained car is more likely to draw the higher value of a market price range.

Personally, I’d pass on buying any used car that had an owner who went 10,000 miles between oil changes, for any reason, unless I could get the car at substantially below suggested values, but more than likely I just wouldn’t touch it.

I run 5 cars on the road at any given time and the family drivers drive quite a bit, so I’m changing oil frequently. That’s one reason I do it myself. The scheduling is much easier and I probably save money and use the exact OEM filters and Mobil-1 Extended Performance oil that I want to use. I stock filters and gallons of oil and I’m always ready to go.


Chances are you and your car will never notice the difference of changing oil at 5K or 10K Under normal conditions there will be no material difference. We have yet to fully adjust to modern cars and lubes.

That said, oil and filters are cheap and of higher quality and more durable than the oils and cars of just 20 years ago. If it makes you feel more comfortable, then change it more often, if not and if you want to change at 10K, do so, it is extremely unlikely to result in any material difference and the cost is minimal.

It could be argued that 500 mile changes would be better, but we learned that we don't need oil changes that often and I predict that in another 15 - 20 years will will be saying 10K is clearly over doing it and likely we don't need to change oil until 200K.

Do want you want and don't worry.  Just don't ignore oil changes for over 500,000 miles. (Under the right conditions I would suggest 500,000 would be OK. 

BTW a argument can be made that too many oil changes are a bad idea for your car.

Prius hybrids should theoretically be more forgiving with the gas motor then non hybrids. Much of the propulsion is augmented by the electric motor. I would have no problems with 10k or one year oil changes. If you can’t realize these subtle benefits from a hybrid in addition to the mileage, why buy one. The dealer makes his money on service after the sale. Go by the manufacturer.
Jos. Is absolutely right. If you had a plug in hybrid and drove less then the 20 mile limit between charges, you coukd very well go 500 k miles. Gos motors used occasionally feel better once a year…at least you can show minimal financial support for the dealer.

@meanjoe75fan, 100% recycled oil is not reused. It is cleaned and reconditioned before resale. Whatever is left over is a pollutant. If you change oil twice as often and all oil is recycled, there is twice as much pollution; more if it isn’t recycled.

Regarding comments about adhering to what the manufacturer states rather than the dealer I will add 2 remarks.
One is that the manufacturer does state the oil should be changed every 5k miles on a 2012 Prius based on some very common criteria.

Two is that the manufacturer is not always right. They have a vested interest in proclaiming your car needs little in the way of service. It helps to sell the cars.

(One manufacturer comment I’ve posted before bears repeating. A Subaru owner was told by corporate Subaru when they inquired about how often the auto trans fluid should be changed, “The fluid should be changed with it’s really black and smells bad”.)
Anyone with one molecule of mechanical common sense knows that statement is ludicrous at best.

@jtsanders: so you recycle the oil, less the unusable stuff like sludge, soot, and wear metals.

Wouldn’t twice as used oil therefore have roughly twice as much “unusable” gunk? Meaning that more frequent changes result in minimal increased pollution?

And this is mostly beside the fact, as used oil is predominantly utilized as heating fuel.

I stand by my statement that the main ecological downside of frequent oil changes is the statistical percentage of DIYers that dump the stuff. Meaning that–on a personal level–you can change the oil without undue “green guilt,” provided you (or the professional you employ) utilize proper housekeeping procedures.