When it comes to servicing my Toyota Prius, I do not let any other hands touch it. I have learned that not all oil change shops are created equal.
Something that caught my attention the other day is why people are not taking their Prius in for an oil change but rather doing it themselves. I had to find out why and came up with these three reasons owners should not take their Prius to Wal-Mart or Jiffy Lube.
You Can Do A Better Job For Less Money
When it comes down to it, the Prius is a car that screams economy. The catalytic converters being stolen are worth more because Prius is meant to have incredibly low tailpipe emissions vehicle. The converters have a higher density of precious metals in them, making them way more valuable. We are not here to talk about that, though.
Everything in the Toyota Prius DNA points us to eco-friendly. The excellent fuel economy, the low rolling resistance tires, the minimal amounts of engine oil, transmission oil, and coolant required to keep this car on the road are also factors in this equation. The Toyota Prius has a minimal mindset to keep the impact it has on the planet low.
Prius is the car of the future, and Toyota intended it to be cost-effective. I know that changing my oil has opened my eyes to a couple of things. First, performing the oil change allows me to pick out what oil and filter brands I want to use. I can get premium synthetic engine oil and a premium synthetic filter. The best part of that is I can usually get it cheaper.
I called up my local Toyota dealer to see what a Toyota oil change would cost me on my Prius. I asked for synthetic. The dealer told me $59.95. It does not seem too bad honestly until you break it down. I can go to my local parts house and get a better filter and oil for about $40 or less depending on what is on sale. What most people do not realize is that the engine needs to meet specific requirements for your car.
For instance, my car needs a 5w30 API grade engine oil that is certified SM. The current standard for engine oil is SN-plus. Prius is not a super picky car. As long as you put in the correct API standard of engine oil, it will be fine. Engine oils are like different flavors of ice cream. They all have varying amounts of additives that allow them to protect in a certain way, so when it comes right down to it, an oil that meets the requirement for your Prius that is 2.99 a quart can still perform just as well as the stuff that is 5.99 a quart.
I would be happy to talk to anyone about oil if you want to. I have spent years researching engine oil. If you find yourself confused, check out this article I wrote about Amazon Basics engine oil. It is a real eye-opener.
The point being is you can get a better quality oil change for a lot less money. In the amount of money, I do not spend on an oil change, and I can usually get about half a tank of fuel or more. Save your pennies and learn how to do oil changes today on your Toyota Prius.
Your Prius Could Have A Better Service In Your Hands
I am a stickler for excellent service. I have been in this industry for over 15 years now. I can tell quickly if a person knows what they are doing, or if they are faking it. Most of the time, and especially with some choice lube joints, these workers are faking it.
Jiffy Lube and Wal-Mart are the two worst places to take your Prius to get an oil change. They do not take the care and pay attention to what they are doing. They also hardly provide any training if at all. Wal-Mart trains all its employees to be versatile throughout the store to minimize expenses, creating some serious problems. When you are taking your Prius to a place that should know how to change oil and cannot, you end up with many broken parts, replacement engines, and oil leaks.
Knowing what I know now about the lack of professionalism in these establishments, I will never go there again, nor will I send friends or family members to them either. I would rather travel the country teaching people how to do this than throw them into the lion's den from whence there is no return. Hey, Wal-Mart, if you want to make a change, contact me, and I can show you how to do it right.
If you are a wise Prius owner, stay away from these places. I know that 9.99 dollar oil change price looks attractive, but I can promise you this, you will get the cheapest filter possible that will distort and break down within a few thousand miles of driving. The oil they also use, while it may be up to specification, may not hold enough additives to keep protecting and ensuring excellent engine health. The moral of the story is do not go there. I am the voice warning you to stay away. Here are 3 tips on how to choose your own engine oil.
Personal Satisfaction Is Priceless
I love taking care of my Prius, and I think that many car owners do. There is something that is just utterly satisfying about the small things. Changing the oil for me is one of those satisfying joys. I love watching all the dirty oil drain out into my bucket. Then I remove the old oil filter, fill up the new one, and spin it on.
Cleaning all my surfaces along the way and giving my Prius a pretty thorough undercarriage inspection, allows me to know what is going on with my Prius. I can inspect for leaks, see if anything is missing or damaged and get a feeling of total confidence that my car is 100% ready for the next road trip.
I want every Prius owner to know that I care about you and your vehicle. I would not be writing about them all the time if that were not the case. I hope that everyone here can get a better sense of direction when it comes to choosing a place to get your oil change done. The Valvoline Instant Oil Change does train their technicians about oil and how to do a service properly on your Prius. What a great alternative.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about changing the oil on your Prius. Please be sure to check out my other article, What the "lifetime" of a Toyota Prius means.
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See you in my next story where I am discussing 2 promising advances in solar technology that could make a solar Toyota Prius and make it run "forever."
Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting