4Runner Oil Change Intervals – How Often Should It Be Done?




4runner V8

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We all want our Runners to last forever. One simple way to extend the life of your 4Runner is to change the oil at regular intervals. Failure to do so can lead to premature engine failure so think of it as extremely cheap insurance for your 4runner.

How often do 4runners need an oil change?

Believe it or not, the recommended oil change interval for all generations of 4runner is pretty much the same. Toyota recommends:

  • 3,000- 5,000 miles for conventional oil
  • 7,500-10,000 miles for synthetic

How often you need to change your oil also depends on the kind of oil you use, (regular or synthetic), and the type of driving you do. If you make a lot of short A to B trips or do a lot of city driving, you’ll want to change it more frequently to avoid any sludge build-up. For highway driving, you can go longer between changes.

When in doubt, it’s always best to change it too often rather than too late. Ensuring you have clean oil in your engine is important when it comes to longevity. 

4runner oil cap

What kind of oil to use in a Toyota 4runner

If you’ve ever looked at the motor oil aisle of any auto parts store, you’ll know that there are tons of different options available. The good news is that in general, Toyota 4runners are pretty easy on engine oil.

Unlike some vehicles, they aren’t super picky about having the best of the best or a very specific type of oil. It’s important to use high-quality oil from a reputable company, but as for the brand, it really doesn’t matter. Feel free to get what’s on sale!

If you’re unsure of what type of oil to use in your 4runner, you can check your oil cap, owner’s manual, contact your local dealer, or refer to the detailed list below.

How much oil does a 4runner require to fill?

This all depends on the year, model, and motor you have. Toyota has used different motors in the 4runner throughout the years.

Here’s a complete list with a breakdown for each year and engine (NOTE: some years may require a different amount of oil even though the engine model is the same).

EngineOil TypeOil Amount (With Filter)
1st Gen 4runner
2.4L 4-Cyl (22RE)10W-30,10W-40,10W-50 (above -23)
15W-40,20W-40, 20W-50 (above -12)
4.5 qts or 4.3 L
2.4L 4-Cyl TURBO (22R-TEC)10W-30, 10W-40, 10W-50 (above -23)
15W-40, 20W-40, 20W-50 (above -12)
5 qts or 4.7 L
3.0L 6-cyl (3VZ-E)10w-30, 10W-40,10W-50 (above -23)
15W-40, 20W-40, 20W-50 (above -12)
4.8 qts or 4.5 L
2nd Gen 4runner
2.4L 4-Cyl (22RE)10W-30,10W-40, 10W-50 (above -23)
15w-40, 20W-40, 20W-50 (above -12)
4.5 qts or 4.3 L
3.0L V6 (3VZ-E)10W-30,10W-40, 10W-50 (above -23)
15W-40, 20W-40, 20W-50 (above -12)
4.8 qts or 4.5 L
3rd Gen 4runner
2.7L 4-Cyl (3RZ-FE)10W-30 (above -18)
5W-30 (below 38)
5.7 qts or 5.4 L
3.4L V6 (5VZ-FE)10W-30 (above -18)
5W-30 (below 38)
5.5 qts or 5.2 L
4th Gen 4runner
4.0L V6 (1GR-FE)5W-30 (ALL TEMPS)5.5 qts or 5.2 L
4.7L V8 (2UZ-FE)10W-30 (above -18)
6.6 qts or 6.2 L
5th Gen 4runner
2010 – Current
2.7L 4-Cyl (2TR-FE)OW-20 (ALL TEMPS)6.1 qts or 5.8 L
4.0L V6 (1GR-FE)OW-20 (ALL TEMPS)6.6 qts or 6.2 L

*You can always confirm you have the right oil by checking the oil cap

Should you use synthetic oil in your 4runner?

This really comes down to your personal preference. The battle over conventional vs synthetic has been going on in the 4runner community for a long time and with strong points on both sides. 

Lots of owners prefer synthetic because it keeps the engine cleaner, reduces engine wear, and improves performance. Other benefits include better protection at high temps, better performance at low temps, better starting, and better protection of turbocharged & performance parts. You also have the advantage of longer intervals between changes.

Synthetic costs more than conventional oil, but many owners feel it’s worth the extra expense due to the added benefits synthetic provides.

4runner V8

Conventional oil is cheaper but needs to be changed more often – even before the recommended interval if you’re especially particular about maintenance.

Now, if you find that you don’t drive your 4runner often and have to base your interval on time vs mileage, you might find that by running synthetic, you’re throwing away clean oil every oil change. Some see that as a good reason to stick with conventional oil since you’re keeping it clean and free from breaking down by changing it early.

The cost of synthetic has come down over time and it can often be found on sale for a pretty good deal. In that case, it’s hard to argue against it. There are other strong points to using it as well, although your 4runner’s engine might not necessarily benefit from them.

The only way to really know how happy your engine is is to have an oil analysis done. This will tell you all about the wear and tear in your engine and if you’re changing your oil too often (or not often enough). It’s a good starting point if you’re trying to make the decision between synthetic and conventional oil for your 4runner.

3rd gen 4runner engine bay

What’s the best oil filter for Toyota 4runners?

 The best filter for your Runner would be a genuine Toyota filter. Unlike filters from some aftermarket brands, you don’t have to question the quality. Toyota recommends using a filter that meets or exceeds OEM specifications – so why not stick with the original OEM one?

There have been plenty of documented cases of engines blowing up from poor-quality oil filters. The cost is very close to any of the cheap brands so it really isn’t worth risking it. 

Here’s a tip: you can buy oil filters from your local Toyota dealer in bulk – if you buy a few at a time, you can get them for even cheaper.

If sourcing Toyota filters is difficult, many 4runner owners recommend using a Napa Gold or WIX filter. 

4runner V8

Final word

So that’s the low down. It’s an easy, cost effective way to ensure your 4Runner lasts a long time and provides many reliable years of fun and enjoyment. These are tough motors and with something as simple as regular oil changes you should have many years on the road or out on the trail.

2 responses to “4Runner Oil Change Intervals – How Often Should It Be Done?”

  1. Thomas P Azzara Avatar
    Thomas P Azzara

    I tried synthetic once in my 2005 4runner (from new) after 100,000 miles, but changed back to conventional the same day after I had oil leaking from the pan and elsewhere.
    No problems with 5000-mile conventional oil charges IMO

    I’m now at 260,000 miles with no oil leaks (except a drop or two). Synthetic will be a horror story in a 20-year-old car or truck.

  2. Thomas P Azzara Avatar
    Thomas P Azzara

    I have a 2005 4runner V6 with 255,000 km. I purchased it in 2005 – brand new.

    I change the oil and filter every 5000 miles in the DW.

    Car has run like a top for 21 years and counting. I’ve replaced 4 starters INCLUDING THE OEM which failed after 4 years.

    Will likely buy another two-year-old 4runner locally (when this one develops a “miss” or starting issue/ or any / faint knock) but with the current 2005 running so well, I keep putting this off.

    Not a speck of rust on the painted upper body

    Toyota was the number 2 auto manufacturer when I bought my 4runner, but has since moved to become the world’s largest car and truck manufacturer WW!

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