Do I need to urgently change the oil on Toyota Highlander right now?

The Toyota Highlander is a mid-size SUV that was first introduced in 2001. It was designed to be a more spacious and practical alternative to the Toyota 4Runner, with more room for passengers and cargo. The Highlander quickly became popular due to its reliable reputation, comfortable ride, and practical features.

The first-generation Highlander was introduced in 2001 and was sold in the United States until 2007. It was available with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.0-liter V6 engine, and it was offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The first-generation Highlander was praised for its spacious and comfortable interior, smooth ride, and good fuel economy.

The second-generation Highlander was introduced in 2008 and was sold in the United States until 2013. It was larger than the first generation and was available with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6 engine. It was also offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The second-generation Highlander was praised for its improved handling, more refined interior, and increased cargo space.

The third-generation Highlander was introduced in 2014 and is still being sold today. It is available with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.5-liter V6 engine, or a hybrid powertrain. It is also offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The third-generation Highlander has been praised for its spacious and comfortable interior, smooth ride, good fuel economy, and advanced safety features.

One reason the Toyota Highlander has been so successful is due to its reliability. Toyota has a reputation for building vehicles that last a long time with minimal maintenance, and the Highlander is no exception. Additionally, the Highlander has always been designed with practicality in mind, with plenty of room for passengers and cargo, as well as useful features like folding rear seats and plenty of storage compartments. The Highlander has also received high safety ratings over the years, making it a popular choice for families.

In conclusion, the Toyota Highlander has been a popular mid-size SUV in the United States since its introduction in 2001. It has gone through three generations and has been praised for its reliability, practicality, and advanced safety features. The Highlander remains a popular choice for families and anyone who wants a spacious and practical SUV.

Do I need to urgently change the oil right now?

What is the frequency (interval) of changing engine oil?

The recommended frequency of changing the engine oil in a Toyota Highlander depends on the model year, the type of engine, and the driving conditions. In general, Toyota recommends changing the engine oil every 10,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first, for newer models with synthetic oil. For older models or those with conventional oil, Toyota recommends changing the oil every 5,000 miles or 6 months.

However, there are some situations where the recommended oil change frequency may change. For example, if the Highlander is driven in severe conditions, such as in extreme heat or cold, in dusty or sandy environments, or for frequent short trips, Toyota recommends more frequent oil changes. In such cases, the oil should be changed every 5,000 miles or 6 months for synthetic oil or every 3,000 miles or 3 months for conventional oil.

The spacing between oil changes can also be affected by the type of oil used. Synthetic oil is designed to last longer than conventional oil and can often go longer between oil changes. If the Highlander uses synthetic oil, the recommended oil change frequency may be longer than if it uses conventional oil.

How to check the engine oil level?

To check the engine oil level in a Toyota Highlander, follow these steps:

  1. Park the vehicle on level ground and turn off the engine. Wait a few minutes to allow the oil to settle in the oil pan.
  2. Open the hood and locate the engine oil dipstick. It is usually labeled and has a yellow handle for easy identification.
  3. Pull the dipstick out of the engine and wipe it clean with a rag or paper towel.
  4. Reinsert the dipstick into the engine all the way in, and then pull it out again.
  5. Check the oil level on the dipstick. The oil level should be between the two marks or within the crosshatched area on the dipstick. If the oil level is below the low mark, it is time to add more oil.

If the oil level is low, follow these steps:

  1. Add oil as needed, using the oil recommended in the owner’s manual.
  2. Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes.
  3. Turn off the engine and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle.
  4. Check the oil level again with the dipstick to ensure that the oil level is now within the recommended range.
  5. If the oil level is still low, repeat the process of adding oil until the level is correct.

Visual (express) assessment of the condition of engine oil

To understand the current state of engine oil by visual inspection, follow these steps:

  1. Open the hood of the vehicle and locate the engine oil dipstick.
  2. Pull out the dipstick and inspect the color and consistency of the oil on the dipstick.
  3. Clean the dipstick with a rag or paper towel, and then reinsert it into the engine. Pull the dipstick out again and check the oil level.

When inspecting the oil on the dipstick, here are some things to look for:

  1. Color: Fresh engine oil is typically amber or light brown in color. As the oil ages and becomes contaminated with dirt and debris, it can darken and turn black. Milky or foamy oil can indicate the presence of coolant in the oil, which can be a sign of engine problems.
  2. Consistency: The oil should be smooth and consistent, without any lumps or particles. If the oil feels gritty or has debris in it, this can indicate that it is time for an oil change or that there is a problem with the engine.

To perform a quick visual inspection of the engine oil using a piece of paper, follow these steps:

  1. Take a white piece of paper and place a few drops of engine oil on it.
  2. Wait a few minutes for the oil to spread and settle on the paper.
  3. Observe the color and consistency of the oil on the paper.

When performing a visual inspection of engine oil using a piece of paper, here are some things to look for:

  1. Color: Fresh engine oil will appear as a light or transparent spot on the paper, while dirty or contaminated oil will appear darker and may have streaks or spots of debris.
  2. Consistency: Engine oil that has thinned out or become contaminated may spread out more on the paper, while fresh oil will remain more contained.
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Preparing to change engine oil

What type of oil should be used for a car?

The type of oil recommended for a car depends on several factors, including the make and model of the vehicle, the engine type, and the age and mileage of the engine. Here are the recommended oil types for the Toyota Highlander across its different generations:

First-generation Toyota Highlander (2001-2007): For this generation, Toyota recommends using 5W-30 or 10W-30 motor oil with a viscosity rating of API SM, SN, or SL.

Second-generation Toyota Highlander (2008-2013): For this generation, Toyota recommends using 0W-20 or 5W-20 motor oil with a viscosity rating of API SN.

Third-generation Toyota Highlander (2014-2019): For this generation, Toyota recommends using 0W-20 motor oil with a viscosity rating of API SN.

Fourth-generation Toyota Highlander (2020-present): For this generation, Toyota recommends using 0W-16 motor oil with a viscosity rating of API SN Plus.

How to choose oil depending on the season and operating conditions?

Choosing the right oil for your car depends on several factors, including the season and operating conditions. Here are some tips to help you select the appropriate oil:

  1. Consider the viscosity: Viscosity refers to the thickness of the oil, and it is important to choose an oil with the right viscosity for the season and operating conditions. In general, oils with lower viscosity, such as 5W-20 or 0W-20, are recommended for colder weather, while oils with higher viscosity, such as 10W-30 or 10W-40, are recommended for hotter weather. However, it’s always best to refer to the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  2. Check the oil specifications: Make sure the oil meets the required API (American Petroleum Institute) and ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles) specifications for your car. These specifications ensure that the oil meets the minimum requirements for engine protection and performance.
  3. Consider the driving conditions: If you frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, do a lot of towing or carry heavy loads, or drive on rough terrain, you may need an oil with higher viscosity and better protection against wear and tear. In these cases, you may want to consider a synthetic oil or a high-mileage oil.
  4. Check the oil change interval: Some oils are designed to last longer than others, and the oil change interval can vary depending on the oil type and operating conditions. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended oil change interval to ensure optimal engine performance and longevity.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different types of oils for Toyota Highlander?

There are several types of oils available for the Toyota Highlander, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common types of oils and their pros and cons:

  1. Conventional oil: Advantages:
  • Widely available and affordable
  • Suitable for most driving conditions
  • Meets basic API and ACEA standards

Disadvantages:

  • Requires more frequent oil changes than synthetic oils
  • May break down faster under high heat and stress conditions
  • Not as effective at reducing engine wear and tear as synthetic oils
  1. Synthetic oil: Advantages:
  • Provides superior engine protection and performance
  • Lasts longer than conventional oil
  • Resists breakdown under high heat and stress conditions
  • Reduces engine wear and tear

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than conventional oil
  • May not be necessary for all driving conditions
  • May not be compatible with older engines or certain vehicles
  1. High-mileage oil: Advantages:
  • Designed for engines with high mileage and wear
  • Contains additives to reduce leaks and increase engine life
  • Provides better protection against engine wear and tear

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than conventional oil
  • May not be necessary for all vehicles
  • May not be compatible with some newer engines
  1. Synthetic blend oil: Advantages:
  • Combines the benefits of synthetic and conventional oils
  • Provides better engine protection and performance than conventional oil
  • Lasts longer than conventional oil

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than conventional oil
  • May not provide the same level of performance as full synthetic oil
  • May not be compatible with all vehicles

Engine oil selection

Recommended viscosity and popular American brands for each generation of the Toyota Highlander:

GenerationYearEngineRecommended Oil ViscosityPopular American Brands
12001-20072.4L 4-cylinder5W-30Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
3.0L V65W-30Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
3.3L V65W-30Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
22008-20132.7L 4-cylinder5W-20Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
3.5L V65W-20Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
32014-20192.7L 4-cylinder0W-20 or 5W-20Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
3.5L V60W-20 or 5W-20Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
42020-20223.5L V60W-20 or 5W-20Mobil 1, Valvoline, Pennzoil
Selection table for recommended Toyota Highlander engine oil

Which oil filter is right for you?

Table with the popular oil filter brands for each generation of the Toyota Highlander:

GenerationYearEnginePopular Oil Filter Brands in the USA
12001-20072.4L 4-cylinderFram PH4967, K&N HP-1003, Bosch 3323
3.0L V6Fram PH3614, K&N HP-1002, Bosch 3330
3.3L V6Fram PH3614, K&N HP-1002, Bosch 3330
22008-20132.7L 4-cylinderFram PH4967, K&N HP-1003, Bosch 3323
3.5L V6Fram PH3614, K&N HP-1002, Bosch 3330
32014-20192.7L 4-cylinderFram PH4967, K&N HP-1003, Bosch 3323
3.5L V6Fram PH3614, K&N HP-1002, Bosch 3330
42020-20223.5L V6Fram CH9972, K&N PS-7026, Bosch 3300
Table with the number of files for the Toyota Highlander

Necessary tools and conditions

To perform an independent engine oil change for a Toyota Highlander, you will need the following tools and materials:

  1. Oil filter wrench: To remove the old oil filter from the engine, you will need an oil filter wrench that fits the size of your car’s filter.
  2. Drain pan: To collect the old oil that will be drained from the engine, you will need a drain pan with a capacity of at least 5 quarts, which is the typical amount of oil used in a Highlander.
  3. Funnel: To add new oil to the engine, you will need a funnel that fits the oil fill port on your car.
  4. New oil filter: You will need a new oil filter that is designed for your specific car model and engine.
  5. New engine oil: You will need enough new engine oil to fill the engine to the proper level. Refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended oil type and viscosity.
  6. Oil filter drain tool (optional): Some oil filter wrenches come with a drain tool that can be used to drain the old oil from the filter before it is removed from the engine.
  7. Gloves and safety glasses: It’s always a good idea to wear gloves and safety glasses when working with engine oil to protect your skin and eyes.

How to warm up the engine before changing the oil?

It is generally recommended to warm up the engine before changing the oil. This is because warm oil flows more easily and will drain more completely, allowing you to remove more of the old oil from the engine. Additionally, warming up the engine will help to suspend any contaminants in the oil, making them easier to remove.

To properly warm up the engine before changing the oil, you should start the car and let it idle for a few minutes, or take it for a short drive around the block. This will help to raise the temperature of the engine and the oil, making it easier to drain. However, it’s important not to overheat the engine, so you should avoid revving the engine or driving aggressively while it’s warming up.

After the engine has been warmed up, turn it off and allow it to cool down for a few minutes before you begin draining the oil. This will allow the oil to settle in the oil pan and reduce the risk of getting burned by hot oil or components. Once the engine has cooled down enough to touch, locate the oil drain plug and oil filter and proceed with the oil change as you normally would.

Step-by-step instruction

Step-by-step instructions for changing the engine oil on a Toyota Highlander:

  1. Gather your tools and materials: You will need an oil filter wrench, a drain pan, a funnel, a new oil filter, new engine oil, gloves, and safety glasses.
  2. Warm up the engine: Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes to warm up the oil. Turn off the engine and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Locate the oil drain plug: The oil drain plug is typically located on the bottom of the engine oil pan. Consult your owner’s manual if you are unsure of the location.
  4. Place the drain pan: Position the drain pan underneath the oil drain plug to catch the old oil.
  5. Remove the drain plug: Use a wrench to loosen the drain plug and allow the old oil to drain completely into the pan.
  6. Replace the drain plug: Once the old oil has finished draining, wipe the drain plug clean and reinstall it.
  7. Locate the oil filter: The oil filter is typically located near the bottom of the engine. Consult your owner’s manual if you are unsure of the location.
  8. Remove the oil filter: Use an oil filter wrench to loosen and remove the old oil filter.
  9. Install the new oil filter: Apply a thin layer of new oil to the rubber gasket on the new oil filter. Install the new filter by hand, tightening it until it is snug.
  10. Add new oil: Remove the oil fill cap and use a funnel to add the new oil to the engine. Check the oil level with the dipstick to ensure that you have added the correct amount.
  11. Start the engine: Start the engine and check for any leaks around the oil drain plug and filter.
  12. Dispose of the old oil: Dispose of the old oil and filter properly at a local recycling center or mechanic shop.

The entire process should take approximately 30-60 minutes, depending on your level of experience and the specific model of your Toyota Highlander.

Replacing transmission fluid in automatic transmission

What is the frequency (interval) of changing the transmission fluid in an automatic transmission?

The frequency for replacing the transmission fluid in Toyota Highlander automatic transmissions varies depending on the model year and driving conditions. Generally, it is recommended to change the transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles for normal driving conditions. However, if you use your Highlander for heavy-duty or towing purposes, you may need to change the transmission fluid more frequently.

In addition to mileage and driving conditions, the frequency for changing the transmission fluid can also be affected by the type of transmission fluid you use. Some high-performance synthetic transmission fluids can last up to 100,000 miles or more, while conventional transmission fluids may need to be changed more frequently.

Which transmission fluid to choose?

Table with the selection of transmission fluid for Toyota Highlander:

Generation (Years)Engine NameFluid CapacityPopular Brands in USCatalog NumberApproximate Cost
1st Gen (2001-2007)2.4L 4-Cyl4.5 quartsValvolineMaxLife DEX/MERC$16-20
3.0L V63.7 quartsMobil 1Synthetic ATF$9-12
3.3L V63.7 quartsCastrolTransmax Import$9-12
2nd Gen (2008-2013)2.7L 4-Cyl6.9 quartsValvolineMaxLife DEX/MERC$16-20
3.3L V63.7 quartsMobil 1Synthetic ATF$9-12
3.5L V66.9 quartsCastrolTransmax Import$9-12
3rd Gen (2014-2019)2.7L 4-Cyl6.0 quartsValvolineMaxLife DEX/MERC$16-20
3.5L V66.9 quartsMobil 1Synthetic ATF$9-12
3.5L V67.6 quartsCastrolTransmax Import$9-12
4th Gen (2020-2021)3.5L V67.6 quartsValvolineMaxLife DEX/MERC$16-20
2.5L 4-Cyl4.4 quartsMobil 1Synthetic ATF$9-12
3.5L V67.6 quartsCastrolTransmax Import$9-12

Required tool

Here are the tools and conditions needed to replace the transmission fluid in a Toyota Highlander automatic transmission:

Tools:

  • A socket wrench set
  • A drain pan
  • A funnel
  • A torque wrench (optional)
  • A new transmission filter (if applicable)
  • A new gasket or sealant (if applicable)

Conditions:

  • The vehicle should be parked on a level surface
  • The engine should be warmed up to operating temperature to ensure that the transmission fluid flows easily
  • The transmission fluid should be at the correct level before beginning the fluid change procedure
  • Safety glasses and gloves should be worn to protect against fluid contact

Step-by-step instruction

Step-by-step guide on how to change the transmission fluid in an automatic transmission of a Toyota Highlander:

  1. Park the vehicle on a level surface and engage the parking brake. Turn off the engine and allow it to cool down for several minutes.
  2. Locate the transmission fluid dipstick under the hood. Use a clean rag to wipe the dipstick clean, then reinsert it into the dipstick tube.
  3. Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes to warm up the transmission fluid.
  4. With the engine still running, remove the transmission fluid dipstick and use a funnel to add new transmission fluid into the dipstick tube. Be sure to use the correct type of transmission fluid for your Highlander (consult your owner’s manual).
  5. Check the transmission fluid level using the dipstick. Add more fluid as needed until the fluid level is between the “full” and “low” marks on the dipstick.
  6. Turn off the engine and wait for several minutes to allow the fluid to settle. Recheck the fluid level and add more fluid if needed.
  7. Locate the transmission pan underneath the vehicle. Place a drain pan underneath the transmission pan to catch the old fluid.
  8. Use a socket wrench to remove the bolts that hold the transmission pan in place. Allow the old fluid to drain out completely.
  9. Remove the old transmission filter (if applicable) and install a new one. Be sure to use the correct filter for your Highlander.
  10. Clean the transmission pan and gasket surface with a clean rag. Apply a new gasket or sealant (if applicable) to the transmission pan and install it back onto the transmission.
  11. Use a torque wrench (if available) to tighten the bolts on the transmission pan to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  12. Use a funnel to pour new transmission fluid into the dipstick tube. Add the fluid slowly and check the fluid level using the dipstick periodically.
  13. Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes. Check the fluid level again and add more fluid if needed.
  14. Take the vehicle for a short drive to warm up the transmission fluid and check for any leaks.

That’s it! With these steps, you should be able to successfully change the transmission fluid in your Toyota Highlander’s automatic transmission. The time it takes to complete this task may vary depending on your experience level and the specific year and model of your Highlander.

Possible questions after self-service

What problems can arise after an incorrect self-changing engine oil?

If the engine oil is changed incorrectly, several problems may arise, including:

  1. Insufficient lubrication: If the oil level is too low or the wrong type of oil is used, it can lead to insufficient lubrication of the engine components. This can cause increased wear and tear on the engine, leading to decreased performance and potentially even engine failure.
  2. Overheating: If the oil is not changed frequently enough, it can become contaminated with dirt and debris, which can reduce its ability to dissipate heat. This can cause the engine to overheat, potentially leading to costly repairs.
  3. Clogging: If the oil filter is not changed or installed properly, it can become clogged with debris, reducing oil flow to the engine. This can cause engine damage and potentially even engine failure.
  4. Leaks: If the oil drain plug or oil filter is not tightened properly, it can cause oil to leak out of the engine. This can lead to engine damage and potential safety hazards on the road.
  5. Engine knocking: If the wrong type of oil is used, it can cause engine knocking, which is a sign of engine damage. This can lead to costly repairs or even engine failure if left unchecked.

Overall, it is important to follow the correct procedures and use the recommended type of oil when changing the engine oil on your Toyota Highlander to avoid these potential problems.

How can I check for engine oil leaks after changing it myself?

To check for engine oil leaks after changing the oil yourself, follow these steps:

  1. Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes to allow the oil to circulate throughout the engine.
  2. Turn off the engine and wait a few minutes to allow the oil to settle in the oil pan.
  3. Open the hood and visually inspect the engine and the surrounding area for any signs of oil leaks, such as drips or puddles of oil.
  4. Use a clean rag to wipe around the oil filter, drain plug, and oil pan gasket to check for any signs of oil.
  5. If you see any signs of oil leaks, try to pinpoint the location of the leak by following the oil trail. Check for any loose or improperly tightened oil filter or drain plug, damaged oil pan gasket, or damaged oil lines.
  6. If you are unable to locate the source of the leak, take your vehicle to a professional mechanic for further inspection and repair.

It is important to check for oil leaks after changing the oil to prevent potential engine damage and ensure safe operation of your Toyota Highlander.

How to reset the oil change counter?

To reset the oil change counter on a Toyota Highlander after an oil change service, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the ignition without starting the engine.
  2. Press and hold the “Trip” button until the odometer displays the total mileage of the vehicle.
  3. Turn the ignition off.
  4. Press and hold the “Trip” button while turning the ignition on.
  5. Continue holding the “Trip” button until the odometer displays “000000”.
  6. Release the “Trip” button.
  7. Turn the ignition off, and then back on to confirm that the oil change counter has been reset.

Note: The specific steps for resetting the oil change counter may vary depending on the year and model of your Toyota Highlander. If you are unsure of the correct procedure, refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual or consult a certified Toyota technician.

What to do with old oil after replacement?

Proper disposal of used engine oil is important for protecting the environment and preventing contamination of soil and water. Here are some guidelines on how to dispose of old used engine oil after a self-replacement:

  1. Drain the old used engine oil into a clean, leak-proof container with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Do not mix the used oil with other fluids, such as antifreeze or brake fluid.
  3. Take the container to a recycling center or service station that accepts used oil for recycling. Many auto parts stores and service centers also offer used oil recycling services.
  4. Do not pour the used oil down the drain, on the ground, or into a garbage can. This is illegal and can cause serious harm to the environment.

Remember to handle used engine oil with care and avoid skin contact. Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling used oil and dispose of it properly to ensure a safer and cleaner environment.

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