DIY 2nd Gen Tacoma Oil Change (Step-By-Step With Video!)

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Tacoma 1GR-FE engine

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Allow me to open this article with a bold statement: the 2nd generation (2005-2015) Toyota Tacoma is quite possibly the easiest vehicle to do a DIY oil change on. Seriously. 

All of the components are well laid out and easy to access. There are very minimal tools required. Quite frankly, anyone can do this in a matter of minutes and it’s nearly impossible to mess up.

So if you’ve never changed the oil in a vehicle before, don’t worry – your trusty Tacoma will make the job super easy for you!

2nd Gen Tacoma oil cap

What oil to use in your 2005-2015 Tacoma

Unlike modern Toyotas, you don’t have to worry about running any fancy, extra thin synthetic oil in your V6 Tacoma. You can keep it old school if you want with conventional oil.

Part of the charm of these simple old trucks is that you can feel free to grab whatever oil happens to be on sale at the auto parts store. With that said, there’s no reason to keep you from upgrading to synthetic oil in your truck either. You might find a minor increase in fuel economy and you can take advantage of longer oil change intervals.

Note: Toyota recommends either 0w20 or 5w20 for the 2.7L 4-cylinder. The 4.0L V6 engine requires 5w30 oil.

The 2.7L 4-cylinder engine is a bit trickier to understand. Some owners claim their manual says to run synthetic 0w20, some say 5w20 or 5w30. Unfortunately, I don’t own one myself so I can only take the word of other Tacoma owners online.

When in doubt, you should always go by what is stated in your owner’s manual. If you don’t happen to have one, you can check your oil cap – as long as it’s the original one for the truck, it’ll say what oil to use on it.

Tacoma 1GR-FE 4.0 V6 engine

What oil filter to use in your 2005-2015 Tacoma

Personally, I prefer to use Toyota oil filters on all of my vehicles. I’ve used aftermarket ones before and I noticed quickly that they’re smaller than the Denso ones from Toyota. Oil filtration is important for the health of your engine so in my opinion, OEM filters are worth the extra bucks.

The 2TR-FE 4-cylinder engine uses a 90915-YZZG2 filter but many owners use a YZZD1 or D3 filter without issues. The 1GR-FE V6 engine uses a 90915-YZZD3 filter.

Tip: If you’re buying your filter from your local dealership, buy a few at a time – they’ll usually give you a better price and it’ll save you a trip next time!

DIY Tacoma oil change tools required

Tools required to change the oil on your Tacoma

Optional:

As I mentioned earlier, there are no specialty tools required to do this job. If your filter is on tight, you might want to use an oil filter wrench. You can also use a torque wrench on the drain plug if you’re a “perfectly-to-spec” kind of person. 

How to change the oil on a 2005-2015 Toyota Tacoma

2nd Gen Tacoma oil pan drain plug

Step 1: Drain the old oil

This is likely going to be a bit messy, especially if it’s your first time. Using a 14mm socket, loosen the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan. Make sure you’ve got the engine oil pan, and not the drain plug for the transmission.

The engine oil is near the front differential, in between the front tires. The transmission drain plug is further back near the driveshaft and exhaust pipes. Don’t get these mixed up! 

2nd Gen Tacoma transmission drain plug

Get your drain pan positioned under the oil pan before you take the plug out. You might want to throw a rubber glove on your hand for this part as it’s nearly impossible to avoid getting your hand soaked with motor oil. Be careful not to drop the bolt into your pan full of oil or you’ll be fishing for it!

Some people prefer to remove the oil fill cap at this point to help the oil to drain quicker. This isn’t required but it can speed up the process a bit.

Give it a few minutes to fully drain while you clean up the drain plug and install a new gasket if you have one. Once the oil is down to a slow drip, you can reinstall the drain plug, being careful not to cross-thread it. Most people will tighten this up by feel but you can torque it to 30 ft-lbs if that makes you happy.

Step 2: Remove the old oil filter

This is the part where the design of the 1GR-FE V6 engine comes in handy. You see, having the oil filter on the top of the engine where it’s easily reached makes life much easier – but the downside to this location is that the oil in the filter can leak out and cause a mess all over your engine when you remove it. 

Toyota has a great solution for this. They built a shroud around the filter to catch any oil that drains out, and put a nipple on the bottom that you can either attach a 5/16” rubber hose to (so it drains into your oil pan) or you can simply hold a small empty bottle under it like I do. 

Loosen the oil filter a bit until oil begins running out of it. There’s a little rubber cap on the underside that you’ll need to pop off so you can drain the oil that runs into the shroud into the bottle. Then you’ll be able to remove your oil filter the rest of the way without any mess.

The oil filter on the 2TR-FE 4-cylinder engine is on the bottom of the engine near the oil pan. You can skip the above step and remove it like normal.

Tacoma 1GR-FE V6 oil filter

Step 3: Install the new oil filter

This is pretty self explanatory. Make sure to rub a bit of oil on the seal of the new filter before you install it. If you’re using an OEM Toyota filter, it likely already has some grease on it so you can skip this.

Be careful spinning the filter on – you don’t want to cross-thread this. It should spin effortlessly with your fingertips. Tighten it until the seal makes contact with the housing, then add an extra ¼ or ½ turn to snug it tight. Don’t overtighten this or you’ll have trouble getting it off at your next oil change!

Step 4: Fill the engine with new oil

I know you just tightened the new oil filter and the drain plug but go back and check them again. Maybe I’m a bit paranoid, but I’m happy to report that I’ve never accidentally dumped 5 liters of motor oil all over my garage floor either! It doesn’t hurt to double-check.

Both the 2.7 and 4.0 engines require 5.5 quarts of oil according to Toyota. I typically start by filling it with 5, then check the level on the dipstick. You never truly know how much oil you drained out of the engine so it’s best to go by the dipstick reading.

Once it’s full, start the engine up and let it run for a few seconds. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then check the dipstick. This should give you the most accurate reading and you can decide whether to add more oil or not.

If you’re more of a visual learner, make sure to check out this video where I walk you through an oil change on my 2006 Tacoma V6:

What to do with your old motor oil

I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of our parents and grandparents dumping used motor oil down the sewer in front of their house but the world has changed. This is absolutely unacceptable now.

Most auto parts stores will allow you to bring your old oil in to recycle it for you. They may or may not charge a fee for this. Where I live, there’s actually a used oil drop-off at our local garbage dump. You simply pull up, empty out your jugs of motor oil into the big vats and you’re on your way, free of charge. 

Tacoma 1GR-FE engine

Final word: Why change your own oil?

Despite being an easy job, changing your own motor oil takes time and usually costs nearly as much as paying a quick lube shop to change it for you. So why waste the time doing it yourself?

Well, my opinion is that it’s a great way to get comfortable with working on your vehicle. You’ll get to know it better and have more confidence the next time you need to do something like change a flat tire or top up your fluids. 

Another reason to change your own oil is that it gives you an opportunity to take a good look at the condition of some vital components on your vehicle. Keep an eye out for any leaks, take a look at your brakes for wear, and do any other routine maintenance like rotate your tires or grease your driveshaft.

Perhaps the biggest reason not to take your truck to a quick lube shop is because quite frankly, the people that work there don’t care about your vehicle the way you do. They make mistakes (often) because they’re usually pretty inexperienced.

We’ve all heard stories of these places forgetting to tighten drain plugs or starting the car with no oil in it. That can’t happen to you when you’re the one doing the work and ensuring it’s done right.

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