Does Your Prius Prime Need an Oil Change?
Here at MotorBiscuit, we get literally zero emails a week about the ins and outs of Prius Prime oil changes. However, the Internet is abuzz with quite a number of people asking. Given the all-new Prime’s unbelievable step forward in style, power, and innovation, many are taking notice of Toyota’s go-to PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle). And that got us wondering, how long can it go between oil changes?
The Prius Prime isn’t electric only
Battery packs may not need oil changes, but internal combustion engines do. First and second-generation Primes had a 1.8-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine as a primary power source. For the third-generation PHEV debuting in 2023, the block was punched out to 2.0 liters, but it remains matched with a dual motor-generator hybrid system.
Toyota’s newest Prius Prime is now the most powerful ever. Together, the engine and hybrid system put 220 horsepower to all four wheels. This also made the Prime the quickest to date, hitting 60 mph from a standstill in just 6.6 seconds.
How do you maintain Prius Prime’s driveline?
Maintaining a Prius Prime is much like any other car. It has fluids that need to be checked and topped off, tires that need to be rotated, and much more. According to Toyota, the following are recommended maintenance points:
- 5,000 miles: Rotate tires, inspect wiper blades, fluid levels, and brake pads.
- 10,000 miles: A typical 5,000-mile service, plus an oil change.
- 15,000 miles: The 5,000-mile service, including inspection of the driveline and suspension components.
Other than any repairs that may need to be completed, maintenance on a Prius Prime is rather simple. However, Toyota also recommends adding an additive to clean the engine’s electronic fuel injectors every 5,000 miles for owners who live in Hawaii. Regardless, every time the Prime travels a five-digit distance, the oil must be drained and the filter replaced.
What type of oil does a Prius Prime take?
Toyota’s Prius Prime takes a very, very thin oil. Typically, trucks and SUVs can run 10W-30, 10W-40, and other dense mixtures. But Toyota recommends 0W-16 for the Prime.
There’s an issue with the type of oil the Prius Prime takes if you’re doing it yourself. While it’s a type of oil that will stand up to uncompromising applications, it’s uncommon, thus, much more expensive. Lover-viscosity oils like 0W-16 have been used overseas for decades but are relatively new to the U.S.
Experts at Tire Review explained that 0W-16 oils would be part of the ILSAC (International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee) GF-6 rollout as GF-6B oil. They note that GF-6B spec oils aren’t backward compatible. For instance, the compatibility of GF-6A lubricants means they have a conventional viscosity grade acceptable for use in cars recommended for previous GF categories (GF-1 through GF-5).
Which is better: 0W-16 or 0W-20?
If you’re at your local auto parts store, you’ll likely see a nearly 50% decrease in price for a five-quart jug of 0W-20 over 0W-16. Do four viscosity points matter that much? The Prius Prime owner’s manual indicates that 0W-20 can be used for the 10,000-mile oil change interval. But it does clarify at the service period 5,000 miles later, “If 0W-16 oil WAS NOT used at the last oil change, replace engine oil and oil filter.”
0W-16 oil reduces hybrid engine warm-up times and increases fuel economy by lowering overall internal friction. Considering that the Prius Prime is built with hypermiling as a priority, it’s best to stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations. But if you really need to save that $10, just remember to spend it the next time the oil change interval comes up.