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How to Change the Oil in Your Toyota Camry

BY: Dario DiGiuseppe
Girl handing her father a wrench as he changes the oil in his car

As a car owner, your biggest responsibility is keeping your vehicle in good condition. Regular maintenance and scheduled service will go a long way toward keeping your car running smoothly for many years.

Vehicles regularly serviced and kept on a proper maintenance schedule will have fewer problems and are less likely to develop the big, expensive issues that can make owning a car a major financial burden. Out of all the different maintenance procedures, though, getting regular oil changes is perhaps the most important.

When you don’t change your vehicle’s oil often enough, the oil in the engine will start to break down and get dirty. This can cause all kinds of issues, not the least of which is a failure to lube the moving parts of the engine, such as the pistons and camshafts. When the oil gets dirty and old, it can also gum up and clog the small intake openings throughout the engine and cause serious damage. Because of this, it is important to change your oil every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

The Toyota Camry is a car that has built its reputation on dependability and reliable operation. Like any other car, though, it will only deliver if properly cared for. Changing the oil yourself is relatively simple and quick if you want to save money on your Camry’s maintenance.

Preparing for Your Toyota Camry Oil Change: Tools and Materials Needed

While changing the oil in a Toyota Camry is fairly easy, you should have all your tools and materials ready to go before you begin. The last thing you want is to get halfway through the process and find that you are missing something. Laying out all your materials and tools beforehand will let you get a good look at what you have and make sure you are ready to start the process.

Automotive Tools

A floor jack, jack stand, or tire ramp is the most important tool for changing the motor oil in a Toyota Camry. You will have to get under the car to change the oil, and while you might be able to wriggle under without elevating it, it won’t be as easy as it should be. You will also have to have a 14-millimeter wrench to unscrew the drain plug on the bottom of the car and let out the old oil. You should be sure to have a drain pan to drain the old oil and a funnel to help you put the new oil in the engine.

Oil Filter and Motor Oil

The only materials you need to change the oil in a Toyota Camry are a new oil filter and new oil. Check your owner’s manual before you buy oil for your car. It will tell you what weight the oil should be, whether it should be synthetic or conventional, the type of filter change, and the oil change interval.

Oil weight is the measurement of the oil flow when the vehicle is at running temperature, and you must use the correct one. If your Camry is from the model year 2009 or later, it will most likely use 0w-20 full synthetic oil. If made before 2009, it will generally use 5w-30 full synthetic oil. You should check your owner’s manual to be sure, though, because some engine types require different oil weights.

When you change the oil in your car, you should always change the oil filter. Oil circulates through the vehicle and runs through the oil filter, which cleans out all the dirt and debris in the oil. This ensures that these contaminants don’t make it into the engine so your vehicle can run cleanly, and the oil will stay in better condition for longer. When you go to the auto parts store, all you have to do is tell the service technicians the model year of your Camry, and they will get you the correct thread size and depth for your new filter.

How to Change the Oil and Safety Precautions for Oil Changes

Changing the oil in your Toyota Camry is relatively safe, but there are some precautions you should take. When putting your car on jacks, be sure to use a solid point on the chassis and not a point on the body.

You should also ensure that you have put the car in park and engaged the emergency brake, especially if you use ramps instead of a floor jack. Any time you have to get under your car, it is always better to double-check that it is stable and that you will be safe when you are down there.

It may also be a good idea to wear safety goggles when unscrewing the drain plug on your Camry. Sometimes, the oil will be under a slight amount of pressure, especially if the vehicle has only just cooled down, and this can cause oil to spurt a little bit when you unscrew the plug. Getting oil in your eyes is never fun, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Draining the Old Oil: A Step-by-Step Process

  1. Find the drain plug – Once your Camry is up on jacks or elevated on the tire ramps, you can get under it and look for the drain plug. On the Camry, the plug is located directly under the driver’s seat, and it will have a bolt head and a washer.
  2. Center the drain pan – Place the oil drain pan underneath the plug and make sure it is lined up right in the center with plenty of room for the draining oil to splash without getting on your driveway.
  3. Remove the drain plug – Using the 14-millimeter wrench, turn the drain plug counterclockwise. You will notice that oil starts coming out as soon as the plug loosens. Keep hold of the plug, and do not let it fall into the pan with the oil as it drains out.
  4. Let the oil drain out – The oil will take a few minutes to completely drain out, depending on the level of oil in your car. It is best to let it drain completely and leave the plug out for as long as needed until the oil stops dripping into the pan. Once everything has been drained, replace the washer and the plug and tighten it enough to seal it but not so tight that it will be difficult to remove again.

Replacing the Oil Filter

The oil filter is a small cylinder about the size of a standard soda can. It will be located between the oil drain plug and the engine to the front of the vehicle’s oil pan. Put your oil drain pan under the filter to catch any oil that might have been trapped in there and didn’t drain out through the plug. In some cases, there will still be a lot of oil in that filter, so having the pan under it will be your best bet.

If your oil filter was installed properly the last time it was replaced, you should be able to remove it by hand. Most oil change professionals know the filter should not be completely wrenched down. If the filter is not loose enough to remove with your hand, there are special oil filter removal tools that look like a clamp with a handle. These wrap around the filter and give you more leverage so you can remove it easily.

Let all the excess oil drain from the opening and dispose of the old filter. Then, you can replace it with your brand-new filter. Be sure to tighten it, but only tight enough to remove it by hand the next time you change your oil. Oil filters have a rubber gasket that makes a tight seal without having to wrench the filter down. As long as it seals and you don’t notice any leaks when you put new oil in your Camry, it is tight enough.

Adding New Oil to Your Camry

Pop the hood of the Camry and look for the oil cap. It will most likely be a black cap with a yellow center with a symbol for an oil can on the top, and it is usually located directly over the manifold on the top of the engine. Unscrew the cap and pour in your new oil using the funnel. The Camry takes 4.3 liters of oil, but check your owner’s manual to make sure you are putting in the right amount.

Checking Oil Levels and Cleanup

After you have put the new oil in, tighten the cap and get the car back on level ground and off the ramps or jack. Then, start the engine and let it idle for five to seven minutes to warm up. Take it out for a short drive around the block or down the street so all the oil can circulate throughout the car and get to the proper temperature. This usually takes a total of about ten minutes.

Bring the car back to your driveway or garage and pop the hood. Look for your oil dipstick, usually on the engine’s right side. Carefully pull it out, ensuring you do not burn yourself or get too close to anything that has heated up while driving. Wipe off the dipstick and put it back in the holder for a moment before taking it out again and checking the level.

The dipstick will have two small lines that say “FULL” and “LOW.” If the dipstick is wet with oil at the “FULL” line, you have the right amount of oil in the vehicle, and it doesn’t need to be topped up. If it is at the “LOW” line, add a little more oil and drive around the block again before checking it until it is at the “FULL” line. You should also look under the car for leaks and tighten the filter and oil plug if you see one.

To get rid of your pan full of engine oil and the old filter, look for a Household Hazardous Waste facility in your area. They will take your old fluids and filters and dispose of them properly. You want to ensure they are handled responsibly and in the most eco-friendly way possible. After you have disposed of your oil and filter and cleaned everything up, you can take your Camry out, knowing it is good for another 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Benefits of Auto Protection from Endurance

Working on your own car is a great way to better understand the vehicle and get the satisfaction of doing something yourself and doing it right. It can also save you a lot of money at the shop. Not everyone has the time or the space to do their own vehicle maintenance and repairs, though. If this is the case for you, an extended warranty, more accurately called a vehicle service contract (VSC), can help. With a high-quality auto protection plan, you can get the help you need for costly vehicle repairs and services – and keep your car in great shape for many years.

Endurance has many different plans customized for drivers and vehicles of all kinds, starting at just $99 per month. With everything from basic powertrain coverage up to exclusionary protection, there is a VSC for almost everyone. Endurance will also cover vehicles that other VSC providers won’t, such as Canadian Gray Market vehicles, rebuilt or salvage title cars, or vehicles used for commercial purposes like delivery and rideshare.

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If you want more auto expert resources, check out the Endurance blog. Explore FAQs, warranty provider comparisons, DIY maintenance tips and tricks, and more.

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