Oil change really needed with little use?

Discussion in 'Prime Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by stevepea, Jun 20, 2021.

  1. stevepea

    stevepea Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2017
    520
    566
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    I wrote a similar question over a year ago, but let me ask people again.

    It's been about 14 months since my last oil change. And in that time I've barely driven -- at most 2,500 miles -- and almost all of it on EV.

    I know there are "recommendations" -- and if I call Toyota they'll naturally tell me that of course I need an oil change.

    But to those here better in the know than me (I don't know a thing about engines), let me ask: do I really have to take it in for an oil change?

    There is no "maintenance" light on or anything. And I'm still driving it only occasionally (a bit every couple weeks, to the point where I almost have to drive it around the block just to make sure the 12v doesn't die).

    I realize oil probably becomes not as effective after a while... but would it okay to wait another 6 months (assuming driving remains the same paltry amount) or at least until a light goes on?

    Thanks!
     
    kenoarto likes this.
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,225
    42,713
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    i think toyota recommends yearly, but my mech has said bi yearly is fine. not sure what he bases it on though
     
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    45,066
    32,186
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Permission to procrastinate? Sure.

    Your engine miles ARE very low; that IS a good argument. OTOH, that you’re asking, and a second time, suggests some lingering misgivings.

    I wouldn’t dismiss that, the sleep-at-night factor. When there’s sufficient doubt/angst, just slamming in fresh oil and filter every 12 months keeps everything Jake; there’s that.
     
    jerrymildred and MTN like this.
  4. privilege

    privilege Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2021
    475
    121
    0
    Location:
    Birmingham
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    with that low milage....
    twice a year, oil / oil filter / air filter (the engine air filter!) / and take a long drive every couple months to burn some gas and get the engine fully up to temperature
     
  5. bat4255

    bat4255 2017 Prius v #2 and 2008 Gen II #2

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    626
    235
    0
    Location:
    Dodge Co. Wisconsin
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Two
    I'm in the same boat with our '08 w/156k on it. I changed it after 2 years and 3,000 miles. The oil was still fairly clean but I did anyway. If the oil was dirty, I would have done it sooner.

    PS it's NOT an oil burner
     
    bisco likes this.
  6. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2016
    4,350
    4,665
    0
    Location:
    Columbia, SC
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    I think if you're using a high quality synthetic oil, it really doesn't matter.
     
  7. farmecologist

    farmecologist Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2015
    1,625
    1,504
    0
    Location:
    Southern MN
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I agree....for me it would be a yearly 'might as well do it'..when I do maintenance on one of our other vehicles. Of course, I have all of the equipment to do it myself, so that make it a lot easier.

    I would also suggest getting a battery minder to maintain the 12V battery. Another "can't hurt" thing to do. (y)
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  8. mmmodem

    mmmodem Senior Taste Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2011
    2,666
    1,640
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    I think the reason Toyota recommends a mileage or time interval whichever occurs first is because moisture can get into the oil due to the vehicle not being driven. Because of that, looking at the color of the oil is not a good indicator of whether it is still good.

    Given, a few manufacturers have 2 year oil change intervals, I'm comfortable with an upper limit of 24 months. Me? I preferred as little contract with others as much as possible during the pandemic. So I had it done at 15 months only because I had to get an inspection anyway. Basically, I would not rush to get it changed. I got it done at the next opportunity.
     
    kenoarto likes this.
  9. stevepea

    stevepea Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2017
    520
    566
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius Prime
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    Thanks everyone. Yeah, I'll wait. Maybe when/if a light comes on then I'll bring it in. If not I'll take it in at the end of the summer.
    Not losing sleep over it but was just curious.

    ONE MORE WEIRD (Hypothetical) QUESTION:
    Say a Prime owner NEVER EVER used gas. Ever.
    He drove it 100% EV only.
    In that case, would the Prime have any need for oil at all?

    (This is a hypothetical of course, I'd never try it in real life, but I'm wondering... is there ANY need for motor oil in the Prime if it's ALWAYS EV and NEVER, EVER on gas? Or is oil still needed for some things on the Prime even if driven only on EV?)
     
  10. mmmodem

    mmmodem Senior Taste Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2011
    2,666
    1,640
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    There-in lies the problem. There is no way to keep the Prime in EV mode forever. There are a list of conditions which causes the gas engine to turn on.
    Why does Prime switch from EV mode to gas engine mode? | PriusChat
     
    Hicksite likes this.
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,225
    42,713
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    no, the theoretical owner might as well remove the engine, create a frunk, and save weight.

    of course, the engine is connected to the tranny, so it is more complicated than that.

    they could also remove the gas tank, but it might be easier to trade for a bev, and get more ev miles in the deal
     
  12. eliteconcept

    eliteconcept 700 mile club, top tank mpg 69.5

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    400
    153
    0
    Location:
    Indiana
    Vehicle:
    2021 Prius Prime
    Model:
    XLE
    I'd personally do it no longer than once a year or so. If you are doing the changes yourself its like $25 for a filter and mobil 5qt synthetic oil. Thats just me, $30k car not worth jackin around to save $20.
     
  13. Colorado Boo

    Colorado Boo Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2021
    214
    122
    8
    Location:
    Monument, Colorado USA
    Vehicle:
    2021 Prius
    Model:
    LE AWD-e
    I had the same issue with my wife's 2017 Prius 2, she's retired so doesn't drive it much. The tech book says every 10,000 miles but I've NEVER gone that long with any vehicle, even with synthetic. But I checked her oil at 5,000 and it wasn't even dirty...so I waited and checked every 1,000 miles and it didn't start looking dirty until around 9,000...amazing! (We once had a Chrysler van whose oil would look midnight black after 1,000 miles...not a good engine.)
    Anyway, I do mine at 10,000 OR every year because my friend who's been a mechanic for 50 years said yearly is the longest you want to go. (I do almost all maintenance on our cars and only use Toyota filters as much as possible...I avoid anything Fram like the covid!)
    Good tip on taking cars that aren't driving much out on longer drives at least monthly...good for the engine and tranny and exhaust and batteries.
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  14. FuelMiser

    FuelMiser Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    994
    697
    0
    Location:
    Monument, CO
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    The maintenance light is a simple miles counter. It comes on 5,000 miles since it was last reset. It knows nothing about months, years or driving conditions
     
    Mendel Leisk and PA Prius like this.
  15. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    45,066
    32,186
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Toyota could take a cue from Honda: their vehicles have had Maintenance Minder system, for well over a decade now. It DOES monitor various parameters of usage, counts down on percent to next service interval, AND when down to 15% it displays an alpha/numeric code which you can look up in owners manual, where exactly what’s required is spelled out.

    One side benefit: it gives owners a solid argument, when dealerships start pushing the “premium devices”.
     
  16. Valiant V

    Valiant V Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2021
    239
    158
    0
    Location:
    Winnsboro, TX
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    An old carryover from ICE days is that if you're driving a lot of short trips, you need to change the oil more often.

    Sounds like that is where your driving habits fit. You're not driving long distances to get the engine and oil hot enough to boil off the moisture that gets into the oil. That creates acids and other corrosive chemicals in the oil and is good reason to change your oil frequently. If you don't, the acids sit in your engine attacking the surfaces and accelerating wear - as well as creating sludge and other fun stuff that likes to shorten engines' lives.

    You'd probably need to drive a Prime for some time after the ICE kicks in to get it fully warmed up and give the moisture some time to boil off. Longer than a conventional ICE vehicle or even a non-Prime Prius. If you're not getting out on the highway for a decent cruise, you're probably not doing that.

    Another factor is the additives in oil that combat acids and sludge. It may be true that "oil never wears out" (the old rallying cry for opponents of oil changes) but the additives DO become depleted over time - and you're talking about extending that time.

    Oil (and filters) are cheap insurance for expensive engines and repairs. The cost of an "additional unneeded" oil change are pretty low compared to other expenses like auto insurance as well.

    Just an old mechanic's reasoning.....
     
    Hicksite likes this.
  17. farmecologist

    farmecologist Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2015
    1,625
    1,504
    0
    Location:
    Southern MN
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Uh oh...another oil thread...this might need to be moved to the Politics & Religion forum at some point. :whistle:

    Seriously though....for every 1000 people, there are approximately 1000 different opinions of how to handle oil in your vehicle. What the heck do those Tesla guys argue about? :ROFLMAO:
     
    Salamander_King, amos and Valiant V like this.
  18. Valiant V

    Valiant V Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2021
    239
    158
    0
    Location:
    Winnsboro, TX
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    I tried to keep it apolitical - but I suppose it does verge on "religion"....

    We should put an agent provocateur on the Tesla forum just to stir things up since they don't have oil to debate.
     
    farmecologist likes this.
  19. Valiant V

    Valiant V Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2021
    239
    158
    0
    Location:
    Winnsboro, TX
    Vehicle:
    2017 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    I'm curious why "agent provocateur" displays up as a link - and clicking on it takes you to a lingerie web site......
     
  20. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    45,066
    32,186
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Must be site generated link. I’m using an ad blocker and it’s just plain text for me. This site singlehandedly motivated me to get ad blocker, first on pc and recently on phone as well.
     
Loading...