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Hands-on with the 2012 Toyota Prius c for the DIY maintenance mechanic

One thing many new car owners want to know, especially those who operate on a budget, is how easily the routine maintenance can be done by the do-it-yourself owner. Since the Prius c is aimed at buyers that are likely in this situation, during hands-on with the 2012 Toyota Prius c, we looked closely at this aspect and were impressed.

As a long-time Toyota owner (my first car was a 1984 Toyota Corolla and I currently own a Toyota pickup truck), I have known for years that the company puts a lot of design effort into making routine maintenance points accessible. The new Prius c is no different.

The engine compartment is very tight and, on first glance, looks impossible to work in (see photo). To the left is the internal combustion engine (a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine) and to the right is the Hybrid Synergy Drive control box and components, underneath which is the front-wheel-drive transmission for the car.

Most of the maintenance concerns are going to be with the ICE to the left. I have marked the points of interest we'll be discussing in the photos below so you can easily follow along with my analysis. Obviously, you'll want to use the owner's manual to learn maintenance intervals, best practices for removal/replacement, and so forth. This analysis here is only regarding how easily these components can be accessed and worked with.

In red are marked the four spark plug points. These are covered in a spark controller module. All four are easily accessed with only the heavy wiring harness needed to be pushed aside for the left-most plug.

In yellow are marked the engine oil filler cap and, slightly below that, the engine oil dipstick. Both of these are very obviously easy to access as well. Note that a funnel would be recommended for adding oil. Underneath the car (see photo at bottom), the yellow arrows indicate the oil pan drain plug and where the oil filter is located (larger arrow), just above the cowling; not visible in the photo, but easily accessed without need of removing the cover. This makes oil changes an easy prospect.

Green arrows indicate other filter and fluid points. Starting from the top-left, we have the cabin filter, the windshield washer fluid reservoir filler, the engine air filter (with thumb-release clips), radiator cap, and coolant overflow reservoir.

For the hands-on, DIY maintenance mechanic, everything routine is easily accessed. Even for someone with large hands and a heavy frame like myself, getting into and underneath the car to remove the drain plug, replace the filter, etc. is not so tight of a squeeze that it can't be done without lifting the car.

Once again, Toyota has proven that they care about the mechanics who maintain the vehicles the company sells. For the owner that does his or her own maintenance, this is a real selling point. Despite its diminutive size and space-optimization, the 2012 Toyota Prius c does not deviate from the company's devotion to accessible mechanics.

Updated on May 11, 2018.


Bill Munger (not verified)    November 5, 2014 - 4:46PM

I own a 2012 Prius C. I need to replace the transmission fluid due to being at 65k miles. I cannot locate the fill plug. I have ordered a Haynes Motor Manual but it is horribly inept. Car/truck maintenance along with involved and in depth repairs are not above me. I have been doing this for years on many different models and makes. I need to locate instructions or a manual that will help me locate the drain and fill plugs for the transmission fluid.