DIY Oil Change Guide: Save Money & Learn How To Change Your Oil & Filter For Your 3rd Gen Tacoma
So you bought yourself a 3rd Gen Tacoma. With every car and truck, proper, timely maintenance is paramount to ensuring you get the most out of your vehicle.
Changing your oil is arguably one of the most important maintenance items you can perform. Your engine is pretty much the heart of your truck and as far as maintenance goes, there is nothing that requires more attention than your oil.
Some sources recommend that you change your oil every 10k miles, but the majority of us (including Toyota) recommend that you change your oil every 5k for maximum performance and longevity. If you’ve never worked on your truck before, doing your own oil change is a great place to start.
The following is a detailed step-by-step guide to performing an oil change at home. Follow the procedure, and you’ll be a professional in no time!
Tools & Materials
So your first question is probably, “what exactly do I need to perform a DIY oil change?”
Tools & Materials
- 6-7 Quarts of 0W-20 Oil (I use Mobil 1 Full Synthetic, find it here.)
- Oil Filter: Check Price (OEM or TRD – Either Includes Oil Filter Drain Tool, Seals & Gaskets)
- 64mm Oil Change Wrench: Check Price
- Oil Catch Pan: Check Price
- 3/8″ Ratcheting Wrench
- Socket Extensions
- Metric Socket set
- 10mm Socket
- 14mm Socket
- MotivX Tools Oil Change Kit for 3rd Gen Tacoma: Check Price
- Fumoto Original F103S Engine Oil Drain Valve: Check Price
A Few Notes On Installation
You might be wondering why there is a range for the amount of oil you need. Well, depending on how much oil drains, whether or not you have an oil cooler and a few other factors, the amount of oil you pour back into your crankcase can vary. For example, I added almost 7 quarts of oil for this particular oil change, to get the oil level dipstick to read the proper amount. Others have added just over 6 quarts. Long story short, plan for at least 6 quarts but be prepared with 7.
The bottom line? Add enough oil until your dipstick shows oil up to the second marker/divot.
Pro Tip: Don’t waste your money on 1-quart containers. They are significantly more expensive than buying in bulk. You should purchase two 5-quart containers, or, you can find 12-quart containers online and at certain retailers. The same thing goes for filters. Buy in bulk!
The optional part of this oil change is the previously mentioned MotivX Tools oil change kit. Do you need this kit? No. Is it extremely convenient and does it make your life easier? Heck yeah! The kit includes everything you need and then some. The kit contains the following: an oil filter wrench, a drain tool, and an oil funnel set.
Step 1. Remove Engine Skid Plate
To begin, make sure your vehicle is on even ground. This will ensure that you fully drain the used oil and replace as much of it as possible with the new stuff.
In the 3rd Gen Tacoma, the oil filter and drain plug are located at the bottom of the engine.
This is mildly inconvenient because you need to remove your skid plate in order to change the oil.
There are a total of four bolts that hold the front skid plate to the frame.
You can see the front two above. Grab your 10mm socket and loosen both of the front bolts.
Next, find the two bolts in the rear and loosen them as well.
Once you have all four bolts loosened, support the skid plate by hand (it’s not very heavy) and remove all four bolts. There are two tabs at the front of the skid plates which prevent it from falling, even when not being held up by the four bolts you just removed.
Maneuver the skid plate in a way to unhook it from the tabs and place it off to the side.
Pictured above, you can see me pointing to the location of the oil filter.
This is simply for reference if this is your first ever oil change.
Step 2. Drain Old Oil
Above, you can see the drain plug for your engine oil.
It sits right in between the cross-member and the smaller portion of the engine skid plate. You’ll need your 14mm socket for this one.
Before you loosen this bolt, check the next paragraph.
Since the engine compartment is essentially a sealed system, you’ll want to relieve the pressure inside the crankcase to allow the oil to drain faster and more efficiently.
Before you loosen the drain plug completely, unscrew your oil cap and place it to the side. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and remove the drain plug bolt. Make sure you have your oil catch pan under the bolt.
If you’ve recently run the motor, be careful! The oil is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn you.
It’s suggested that you wear gloves to avoid too much skin contact with the oil as well.
Side note. The oil comes out fairly forcefully and quicker than you might imagine.
As seen above, if you’re not ready for it, you can make a mess. Take your time so you don’t have any issues.
Once all the oil has completely been drained, grab your new supplied gasket and reinstall the bolt.
Personally, I tighten the bolt by feel. Toyota recommends torquing the bolt at 30 ft/lbs. To make your life and the next oil change even easier, consider installing a Fumoto Valve. I wasn’t able to order one in time, but during the next oil change, I’ll be swapping one in to save time and make less of a mess.
Find It Online
- Fumoto Original F103S Engine Oil Drain Valve: Check Price
Step 3. Drain Oil Filter
The first step to removing the oil filter housing is to take off the metal covering.
Take your ratcheting wrench, along with the extension (3/8″), and remove the cover. A small amount of oil usually collects inside the cover, so be prepared with a rag to wipe it up to avoid making a mess.
Once the cover is removed, you’ll be able to see the exposed filter housing.
The next step is to drain the oil filter.
For this part, I grabbed by MotivX drain tool and screwed it into the filter housing.
Once that is done, place the tubing into your oil catch pan and loosen the bottom portion of the drain tool. This will allow to old oil to drain through the tube.
You might be wondering, how the filter drain tool works?
Basically, it has ports on the inside which all the oil to drain when the tool is loosened. Pretty neat!
If you didn’t buy the MotivX kit, you’ll most likely have a plastic piece that looks similar to the one above.
Place your oil catch pan beneath the filter and be ready for the oil to drain as soon as you insert the plastic tool.
Step 4. Remove Filter Housing
Next, its time to remove the filter housing.
Using your filter wrench, extension and ratcheting wrench, remove the oil filter housing.
Step 5. Replace Filter Medium & Seals
You can see the removed filter housing above.
Next to it, you can also see the newly provided seals.
Remove and replace the large o-ring, being careful not to use anything like a screwdriver to remove the old one.
The housing is plastic and you do not want to damage the threads. What a massive headache that will turn this relatively simple job into. Before you install the new seal, dip it in some oil to ensure that you get the best possible seal when reinstalling.
Now, replace the seal at the bottom of the housing.
Same process as above.
If you’re like me, and you tinker with things too much, you might accidentally take apart the part which holds the oil filter in place.
For the record, don’t! (lol). Reinstalling the above pieces can be a pain and requires you to bend the two outermost tabs on the cylinder to get it to properly seat again. Then, you’ll have to bend them back to ensure that the cylinder remains firmly in place.
Drop the new filter into the housing.
You’re now ready to reinstall the housing with your newly replaced filter.
Just for reference, you can see the old and new filter above.
If that’s not enough evidence that filters need to be replaced in a timely manner, I’m not sure what is!
Step 6. Replace Filter Housing in Reverse Order
This part is self-explanatory. Install the housing in the reverse manner in which you removed it.
There is a small metal tab that helps to prevent the housing from slipping off in case it becomes loose. You don’t need to mess with it. Just screw in the housing and you’re done. Again, I do this by feel, but Toyota recommends 18 ft/lbs of torque.
Step 7. Pour Fresh Oil into Crankcase
You can see the MotivX funnel above. The two best features of this funnel are the viewing window and the fact that it screws directly into where the oil cap goes.
This frees your hands to ensure you don’t make a huge mess.
Finally, add 6 quarts of oil.
Once you’ve poured the oil in, check your dipstick. If you do not see oil up until the second marker/divot, add more oil until it is. Put the cap back on the oil filler neck and start the vehicle. Let the truck run for a minute or two and check for any leaks. Typically, once the new oil has been circulated, you’ll see that you will have to add a little more oil to ensure the engine has the perfect amount.
Reinstall your skid plate and you’re finished! You’ve just completed your oil change. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 45-60 minutes if it’s your first time. Congrats! You’ve just performed your first oil change. Great work.
The final step is to reset your maintenance light:
- Hit the start/stop button twice, or if you have a physical key, turn it to accessory power.
- Wait for all the welcome messages to display on the screen.
- Change the odometer to trip A.
- Click the start/stop button to turn off the car.
- Once again, hit the start/stop button twice, or turn the key to accessory power.
- You will see five dots flash where the odometer normally is, and disappear one by one.
- The maintenance light should be reset. You’re finished!
As a final step, you can also go to the Maintenance tab in the vehicle apps and add an additional reminder.
That about wraps it up. If you follow the step-by-step instructions you shouldn’t have any issues. You’ll learn a new skill and save yourself some time and money. Remember, synthetic oil is superior to conventional oil and regular oil changes are the key to making sure you have miles and miles left in the life of the motor!