Synthetic In A Corolla And A Previa...



I was telling my father that I was considering switching to syntheitic oil due to sludging problems and the cold winter months here. He was wondering if he should do the same with his '94 Toyota Previa Van? He and I would also like to know if dino oil has to be cleaned out of a car's engine before using synthetic or can you just "drain 'n replace"? Will Jiffy Lube do this, or would you consider them too unreliable?




Accent 1ZZFE

New member
What I would do is get the car up to operating temp and once the cooling fans cut on then off, switch the car off, drain the oil and replace it with new type.

Start the car and run the new oil through the engine.

In winter I would recommend using at minimum a 10W grade, especially if its cold enough to snow.

I would recommend the same be done to your dads car.

From what I have heard about Jiffy Lube, even here in Aus they sound like a drive in drive out cheap place to get an oil change, as long as you keep a watchful eye, like any other place you get work done on a car.

Its not hard to do an oil change yourself, if you know how to unscrew a jar of jam and clean a car then you can easily do an oil change.



My corolla has 124,000 on it and started on synthetic at the 49,000 mile mark (time of purchase). It goes 12,000 miles between oil changes and consumes less than 1/2 quart between changes. ?

What I would do is get the car up to operating temp and once the cooling fans cut on then off, switch the car off, drain the oil and replace it with new type.

This does not guarentee sludge removal. It WILL mean a much longer drain time as you have just recirculated the old oil with all the dirt still in it. If you are really that concerned about sludge either remove the cam carrier cover and inspect (my prefeence when buying a used car), or drain, replace with cheap oil, and add a engine flush, THEN circulate and drain (more time but if you are serious...)

Start the car and run the new oil through the engine.

Be sure to fill the new oil filter with oil before you install it. Most oil change places don't do that. Remember 80% of wear occures at start up and now it has to dump a half a quart of oil into the filter before it reaches the engine. Filling the filter requires several fill attempts so I start it while the old oil is draining.

Never use a filter that costs less than $5. Not that price means anything but you never get a good filter cheap.

Always upgrade the size. Toyota is notorious for extremely small filters.

Never use a Fram. In every INDEPENDENT test they blow chunks.

Never use one internally coated with PTFE or any other junk. PTFE cannot be ADDED to an engine. The bare metal must be heat treated with it.

In winter I would recommend using at minimum a 10W grade, especially if its cold enough to snow.

He meant to say MAXIMUM for the low end viscocity! Please refer to your service specification page of your toyota owners manual. My supra owners manuals are much better as they cover all temp ranges and when to use each grade of oil. Based on their recomendations (and my previous experience in below 0 degree temps) I would use a 10w-30 at night time temps between 35-40 degrees and above, 5w-30 down to 15 degrees or 0w-30 when night time temps are dropping below that. Supra manuals also suggest using 15w-40 or 20w-50 oils when day time temps exceed 80 degrees. However oil galley size may preclude that in these engines but I seriously doubt that is the reason that these heavier oils are not mentioned in the corolla manual where the car's focus is gas milage and not engine longeviety.

The take home message is like Accent 1ZZFE suggested and I recommend...


Quik change places use dirt cheap products and are not staffed by people who dream about the opportunity of taking excellent care of you!

I've taught all my girlfriends how to change thier oil and what to use, and this summer I taught my girlfriend's 14 year old how to change the oil. You can to.

What brand of synthetics to use?

GM was considering putting synthetic in ALL cars from the factory and tested all the major brands about 7 years ago. Honda shipped Accords to the USA in 1979 with synthetic from the factory but the EPA made them drain them while still in the ship and switch to dino oil because Amsoil and Mobil 1 were the only brands availibe in the US at the time.

Amsoil came in first with Mobil 1 full synthetic and (GET THIS!) Quakerstate FULL synthetic tied for second! Quakerstate natural oil is as sludgy as you can get but I guess just because an engineer works for a company with a bad rep in one area dosen't mean they can't excel in another. By the way PEP Boys full synthetic is made by Quakerstate.

GM was too cheap to put all cars on synthetic but the Vette comes w/Mobil 1 in it.

Order of importance to prolong the life of your engine.

1. Dont start it and tear off down the street. Give it 30 sec or more before giving it high rpms.

1A. Dont let your engine overheat!! Warped engins increase wear particles upon restart and allow more fuel into the oil which breaks it down faster.

2. Chang your oil FILTER frequently (every 3000 miles)or use a bypass or dual filter setup.

Oil lasts longer than the filter does.

3. Use a good filter!!!! Your oil is only as good as the size of the particle of contamination in it. DO NOT USE CHEAP FILTERS! Synthetics, if kept clean, will last 12,000 + miles and Amsoil says every 25,000 miles if you use their filtration system. A Fram filters approx 40 microns, A good filter to 20 microns, a race filter to 7-8 microns, and Amsoil by-pass filtration system goes down to 1/2 of a micron (which means fuel particles are removed).

4. Fill your filter as much as the angle of installation will allow. No dry startups.

5. Improper grade of oil. I now live in Florida and got lazy because in the winter the days stay warm. One week it dropped below freezing every night and I had only 1500 miles on Mobil 1 20w-50 oil. Those cold starts dramatically increased my oil consumption (That supra had 250,000 miles on it and alot of hard driving, but my oil usage went up dramaticallyafter those cold starts).

6. NOW we come to oil selection. Synthetic IS better than dino oil. It handles the cold and especially the heat much better. It is the ONLY way to go in a turbo car in my experience.

If you must use dino oil remember valvoline is the best but burns off faster than others.



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
If you know that the engine is "sludged" then just switching over to synthetics will not help right away. Engine flushes vary quite a bit - some work slowly, others are very agressive. With the little oil filter they use - I'd be inclined not to use any flushing solvent.

Accent 1ZZFE has a good tip - that oil should always be changed when warmed up - helps remove more contaminents in there. Also tends to drain out pretty quick, because it is hot.

willkorver has good tips on the steps to ensure good engine life. There is no guarantee with anything in life - but if you follow those steps - you'll know it wasn't your fault if the engine dies for some reason. I also agree with that Fram filters are crap - used to use them 15 years ago on other cars - they were fine. The three I used in the past few years (were on sale) - all had the element collapse on the inside from a normal 3K oil change interval.

Synthetics ARE better oils than convential motor oil - but if they will help make the car last longer? - depends on how you drive and the conditions.

Depending on where you live at - you may not be able to work on your own vehicle. In that case, Jiffy Lube or other quick change places are OK - as long as you oversee their work and better yet, provide the oil and filter.

Good Luck.



New member
I began changing my own oil just this spring because it’s cheaper and I can put in better parts (i.e. better filter and oil) and ensure it gets done correctly.

Most places charged me just shy of $45 CDN for an oil change but I can change it myself using a generic filter and oil for less than $15. So I use premium oil and a premium filter for $20ish.

This change, two weeks ago, I put in Mobil 1 synthetic because it get so cold here it has better flow faster; less wear during the winter I hope. Synthetic oil runs and a premium filter place the cost nearly at what it costs for a change by Minute Lube.

So for investing the whole 30 min or less it takes to change your oil suing synthetic is well worth it in my opinion.

The bottle of Mobil 1 claims it mixes with convention oil – for whatever that’s worth.

Humm – but I have been using FRAM filters, I always thought they were good. How bad do you guys think they are? Like bad enough I shoudl re-do the change I did just the other week?



New member

Thanks for your comments, some good info there.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the idea of filling the oil filter before you install it. I can understand this would reduce the time required to get oil into the engine during start-up, but wouldn't this only be beneficial during the first start-up after the oil change ? Assuming the filter holds some oil, wouldn't all future start-ups take place with some oil already in the filter ?

Do you just pour some oil into the filter until it is full to the point that it won't spill out when you install it ? I never thought of that. Makes sense !

Thanks again for your comments. I just wanted to make sure I was understanding things correctly.



New member
Just did the second oil change in my Corolla at 4700 miles, had 2000 OEM fill, 2700 SuperTech 5W-30 and now switched to primarily 5W-30 Mobile1.

I prefilled the filter with oil. Basically, I heard about three complete engine cycles which sounded like there wasn't enough oil up top even with prefilling the filter.

I'm sure there was something lube left up there, just not enough to quiet the top of the engine. Am I worried about what damage could have been done in that 1/2 of a second? Not at all...but I will keep prefilling the filter




New member
Sorry I'm so stupid !

When you talk about pre-filling an oil filter, does it matter where you pour the oil in ? I mean, do you pour it into the threaded hole in the center or do you pour it into the holes around the edges ? I'm guessing it doesn't matter since at this point it is all clean oil.

The amount I would pour into the filter is not added to the normal amount that I would put into the engine, is it ? For example, if I usually put 4 qts of oil into the engine when I change the oil, I would still put 4 qts in, but now I would put part of a qt into the filter and the rest into the opening at the top of the engine.

Thanks for your help !



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
As for how to pre-fill the oil filter - really doesn't matter as long as you fill it up as much as you can. I usually use the center opening as is it less messy to fill. Fill it some - then turn the filter at an angle to soak the element then continue filling until it get almost to the top - not too much or it will be pushed out when you install the filter.

You have to account for the oil you pour into the filter - about a 1/4 to a 1/3 of a quart. So you are correct that you still have to pour in three full bottles and the remainder of the bottle used to pre-fill the oil filter.

Then button everything up - fire it up and check for leaks - if none, you're golden.

Good Luck.



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
That is what the forums are all about - we all had to learn something, for the first time, at some point.



Inspired by discussion at this forum and cold weather outside, I decided to switch to synthetic oil. On my Corolla'99 I tried Castrol Syntec 5W50 (Our Costco has a good deal) with Toyota oil filer. Was it a good idea at all?

And second question: How many miles I have now until next change? I am afraid that syntec oil may outlast the filter, please correct me if I'm wrong.



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
Castrol Syntec is decent stuff - some like it, some don't. 5W-50 is a bit thick for our cars - but you shouldn't see too much problem with it other than maybe increased fuel consumption (Toyota recommends 5W-30 - yours will have similar low cold temperture behavior but will not thin out less than a 50 "weight" oil when hot - kinda thick). That might be better for the summer, if you drive in hotter climates, or if you need the high temperature protection.

The oil change interval depends on driving condition, driving style, and condition of engine at the time. Just be cause you are using a synthetic oil - doesn't guarantee an extended oil interval. If all this are the same - except the oil - you can expect the synthetic to last longer in the engine for a given amount of miles. So you are technically correct that the oil should outlast the filter. But most don't a chance and change both at the same time. Your change interval should be based on your driving - UOA can help there, or you can just change it at your normal Toyota recommended intervals. Don't assume you can extend your interval right away - the synthetic fill may actually have a more frequent drain interval, at first, due to its solvency (could loosen up some stuff in the engine).

Good Luck



Thanks for detailed answer, fishexpo101

I am still confused regarding 5w50, why it's not so good as I have learned that this is the most all-season oil. And I see contradiction in your two statements:

will have similar low cold temperture behavior but will not thin out ... when hot
That might be better for the summer
I understood that it's similar to 5w30 in winter and even better in summer, what else do I need?
Again, please correct me if I'm wrong



I know Karate, Kung Fu, and 47 other dangerous wor
No contradiction there - just the way these multi-viscosity oils are rated. The first number is the base "weight" of the oil - in this case a 5 weight. All motor oils thin out as they get hot - how thin is set by the second number. Comparing a 5W-30 to a 5W-50 - both have the same base "weight" so at cold startup, they have the same characteristics. As they reach operating temperature - the 5W-30 will thin out to no less than a 30 weight base oil would at the same temperature. The 5W-50 will thin out to no less than a 50 weight base oil at that temperature.

You have to be careful with these ratings as it is very dependant on driving conditions. These viscosity ratings are an indication of the amount of shearing stress that can be maintained dependent on flow and the continued resistance to flow. Thicker oils generally have a higher viscosity (higher weight, larger number) and thinner oils a lower viscosity (lower weight, smaller number). Too low a viscosity can shear and loose film strength at high temperatures. Too high a viscosity may not adequately get to components at low temperatures and the film may tear at higher RPMs. As far as thick oil being better - only in certain cases like NASCAR or at the drag strip. For the street - 5W50 is a bit thick.

Generally, you want to get a motor oil that has the least range between the two numbers (with synthetics, becomes less important or non applicable - depending on composition). With the tight clearances within the motor - you have to balance film strength and surface tension with reduced drag on internals. A higher viscosity than normal at operating temps can reduce overfal fuel economy and may lead to oil starvation at elevated RPMs (when filter is in full bypass - not enough oil gets through). In the summer - when the temps are really high (depends on where you live) - higher viscosity oil may protect your engine from oil shearing. That is why some people run 10W30 with no problems.

Castrol's stance as the oil providing the widest range of protection applies to a few cases. For about 95-99% of the other times - 5W30 will give you better results.



New member

i suggest don't switch over to full systhetic first, use a semi synthetic oil on your next oil change and after that you coul use the full synthetic.

rey t



Thanks fishexpo101, I feel more educated now

And thanks reyt32, I guess it's too late now to change anything, but I believe I still have some reminder of old non-synthetic there, so my oil is actually semi- at the moment. G'bye!



you can switch over to full anytime you want.... and you can switch back. I don't know why there is so much concern over sludge... if you change your oil frequently then you'll be fine.

when i first heard of the "corolla sludge problem," i got all worked up and actually opened up my valve covers to check. They are in perfect condition. i think it's BS. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt.

I use syn blend because i like to change my oil every 3k miles. If you switch over to full syn then you change it every 6k... some people change it at 5k.

Also, at the auto store you can buy a bottle of engine flush (diesel pretty much). You dump a bottle into your engine... run your car for about 10mins.. then flush out the oil and refill it with oil. Personally, I just go to the gas station and buy diesel to flush out my engine which is the cheaper approach.


If you want to go Full Syn then I would recommend you do it yourself. mainly because it is a lot cheaper. Syn oil is a$$ expensive.. around $5 a bottle. You will need about 4 bottles. Your Previa, though a 4 banger too, will take more because of its larger engine. If you pay Jeffy Lube to do it.. it might run you around $50-60.

I recommend Mobile 1 Full Sync BTW. I also like Bosch oil filters...but whatever.

also, when you install the oil filter...make sure to oil up the rubber ring a little bit. if you put it on dry then you're just asking for a leak.

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