Balancing Act

DIY: How to Change the Engine Oil On Your Prius c

Changing the oil on the 2012 Prius c is pretty straight forward and should take approximately 30 minutes. There are a few subtle differences compared to changing the motor of on a 3rd generation Toyota Prius, however. 

For one, the front jacking point is positioned almost 1/3 into the chassis. It literally is below the area where the front passenger seats are. So if your Prius c is lowered, this can pose a problem. If your Prius c is not lowered, getting a floor jack to the jacking point definitely requires some maneuvering.

The filter is also different. Instead of using a filter cap with replaceable oil filter element, the entire oil filter is a one piece cartridge that is completely replaced. It screws onto the chassis and located close to the front of the chassis, and positioned perpendicular to the ground.

The drain bolt is the same 14 mm bolt. It also uses the same nylon crush washer. So if you have spare nylon crush washers for a 3rd gen Prius, you do not need to purchase a different set for the Prius c. Otherwise, you can purchase them by following this link: Genuine Toyota – Oil Drain Plug Gaskets – 90430-12031.

Another thing I noticed is that the 64 mm 14 flute fuel wrench designed to remove the oil filter cap from the 3rd generation Prius also works with the Prius c cartridge filter.

There is a caveat though. The oil filter cartridge on the Prius c must not be tightened more than the recommended spec (18 lb/ft). I find that an adjustable fuel filter wrench works better for the Prius c in subsequent oil changes.

If it is over tightened, then the flutes on the Motivx wrench may slip. The reason this happens is because the Motivx oil filter wrench designed for the 3rd gen Prius is 64 mm where as the oil filter cartridge on the Prius c is closer to 62-63 mm. To counter the slip, you may place a sheet or two of printer paper into the filter wrench before coupling it onto the oil filter cartridge. The paper will close up the gap and act as a grip. However, I find that if I push the Movix wrench hard against the oil filter cartridge, while untighening, it removes just fine.

The Toyota recommended motor oil weight and viscosity is 0W-20. At 75,000 miles, I started using Mobile 1 High Mileage 0w-20 synthetic motor oil created for vehicles with over 75,000 miles to mitigate oil consumption and promote engine seals.

While you are changing the engine oil, you may want to take the opportunity to rotate your tires as well.

Tools and Materials Needed

Change the Engine Oil

Step 1

Start by driving your Prius around the block for about 10 minutes to adequately heat up the motor oil. This loosens up the oil and helps drain the old oil easier and quicker.

Step 2

Place a pair of wheel chocks on the rear wheels. Jack up the Prius c with a floor jack and place a pair of jack stands on the front jack stand locations.

Step 3

Remove the oil filter cap from the engine block and set aside. Place an oil catch pan below the oil pan.

Using a 14 mm socket, locate and remove the oil filter drain plug from the oil pan. If the drain plug is over tighten, use a breaker bar to break it free.

Once the plug is freed, untighten it by hand and allow the oil to drain into the oil catch pan. It may take 10 minutes for this to complete.

Step 4

Remove and replace the drain plug nylon crush washer and tighten the plug back onto the oil pan using a click type torque wrench.Set the torque to 28 lb/ft and tighten until you hear a click.

Step 5

Locate the oil filter cartridge and position the oil catcher pan beneath it. Couple the filter cartridge onto a Movix or similar oil filter wrench. Then, couple the oil filter wrench to a 27 mm socket. Finaly, attach the 27 mm socket to a breaker bar or a long handle ratchet.

The Movix wrench has a 3/4 driver and a 27 mm bolt pattern. I used the 27 mm socket to couple with the 27 mm bolt pattern for the added torque. Turn the wrench counter clockwise to remove (remember, lefty loosey, righty tighty). If the oil filter cartridge is not over tighten, then it will come off easily. If it is stuck, your Movix oil filter wrench may slip and if this happen, you will need to sandwich two sheets of printer paper between the wrench and the oil filter cartridge for added grip.

Once the oil filter cartridge is loosened enough, hand twist it to remove it. Allow the used oil to slowly leak out of the filter cartridge compartment for about 1 minute before completely removing the oil filter cartridge. Otherwise, you’ll have hot oil gushing out and possibly landing on you. Allow the oil to drain completely.

Step 6

Rub some of the used oil around the rubber gasket that is seated in a groove on the new oil filter cartridge.Make sure this gasket is completely seated and not out of place. Screw the cartridge back into the chassis and torque it to 18 lb/ft. Using a shop towel, wipe residual oil from the area surrounding the oil filter cartridge and the oil drain plug. Set the Prius c back to the ground and remove the floor jack and jack stands.

Step 7

Pour 4 quarters of 0w-20 motor oil into the engine oil filler. Start your Prius c and allow the internal combustion engine to run for 3 minutes then take it for a drive around the block. Turn the car off and look for any leak from the drain plug and the oil filter cartridge.

2 thoughts on “DIY: How to Change the Engine Oil On Your Prius c

  1. Dusty Bottoms

    Thanks for the link to the Motivx wrench. When you use it on your Gen 3 do you find the filter house gets stuck? Seems reviews are mixed on this issue. My cheapie wrench got so stuck I damaged the house prying it out.

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Do you mean the filter housing gets locked onto the wrench? No, it removes quite easily. If you mean the oil filter cap being stuck on the car, then yes due to over zealous Toyota mechanics over tightening it in the past.

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