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Toyota Rav4 Oil Change: When Does It Need It?

So, you know the Toyota Rav4 is a reliable, long-lasting, and durable vehicle. Its maintenance costs are lower than other SUVs and Rav4 drivers in online forums have continuously boasted about their Rav4 and how they rarely need to take it for a service.

It is recommended by Toyota that you replace the oil in your Rav4 at least every 7,500 – 10,000 miles or once every year. To ensure the longevity and superior performance of your Rav4, you might consider changing the oil at least every 5000 to 7,500 miles or every six months.

Oil changes aren’t the most expensive service at the garage but if you must change the oil in your vehicle often, the costs do add up. Especially if using synthetic oils, which are proven to last longer and improve the engine performance. What you want is a vehicle that rarely needs servicing and hardly ever needs an oil change. Read on to find out when your Rav4 oil needs a change.

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When Should the Toyota Rav4 Oil Be Changed?

The advice of when to change the oil in your Rav4 changes from dealership to dealership and you’ll find online information that states you should change your Rav4 oil at least every 5000, 7,500, or 10,000 miles.

Here is what Toyota has to say on the matter:

  • If your vehicle takes regular, conventional oil you should have your oil changed every 3000 – 5000 miles.
  • If your vehicle takes synthetic oil, you should have it changed every 7,500 – 10,000 miles

We’d recommend that you should change your Toyota Rav4 oil at least every 7,500 miles. If you’d rather wait it out to 10,000 miles, check your oil dipstick to ensure there’s still enough oil in the motor and then book in at 10,000 miles. It’s completely up to you.

If, however, you want your Rav4 to last longer than the average 250,000 miles, we suggest having your oil changed at 7,500 miles or every 6 months.

What is Synthetic Oil?

Toyota uses what’s called “synthetic oil” in most of their cars which improves the engine performance.

The Toyota Rav4 is one of Toyota’s many vehicles that takes synthetic oil in its motor, and this is part of the reason why the engine performance is superior to its competitors and lasts a considerably long time on the road.

Here is what you need to know about synthetic oil:

  • Synthetic oil is man-made
  • Just like conventional oil, synthetic oil is a lubricant that keeps your engine running smoothly
  • The base of synthetic oil is distilled crude oil (conventional oil)
  • Synthetic oil chemicals are not always the same
  • Synthetic oil is mostly created from artificial substances
  • Synthetic oil is better for your car’s engine
  • Synthetic oils improve your vehicles fuel efficiency
  • Synthetic oil is more expensive than conventional oil
  • Your engine gets extra protection and performance enhancement from synthetic oil

The components in synthetic oil prevent the oil from oxidizing and acidifying which means it is more chemically stable and is harder to break down, so it keeps its qualities intact.

What Type of Oil Does a Rav4 Use?

Your Toyota Rav4 most likely uses synthetic oil but it’s always best to check with your dealership and consult your Rav4 manual to be sure.

A Toyota Rav4 gets its best engine performance from using SAE 0W-20 synthetic oil.

This may change depending on your trim and year model but the most popular and performance-enhanced synthetic oil most Rav4 vehicles use is the SAE 0W-20.

This type of synthetic oil provides better fuel efficiency in the Rav4 and prevents blockages and build-up in colder months, allowing your vehicle to start easier when it’s cold outside.

  • The oil capacity for most Rav4s is 4.6 quarts

You can also use the following synthetic oils in place of the 0W-20 if it’s not available:

  • SAE 0W-16
  • SAE 0W-30
  • SAE 5W-20
  • SAE 5W-30

But the next time you change your oil you’ll want to go back to the preferred SAE 0W-20 for better engine performance and to improve the longevity of your engine and car lifespan.

What Happens if I Don’t Change the Oil in my Rav4?

This advice goes for all vehicles, not just your Toyota Rav4. If you do not change the oil and have your oil filter flushed regularly, you will cause damage to your engine, reducing the lifespan of your vehicle, and eventually will result in costing you more than it does to change your oil every 6 months to a year.

Here is what happens when you do not change your oil and flush your oil filter:

  • Engine oil over time picks up dirt and debris and transferring this through your engine can damage it
  • Motor oil becomes sludge if it is not replaced after a prolonged amount of time
  • Oil that usually prevents the engine from overheating no longer draws heat from the engine
  • Your vehicle’s engine will overheat when the oil becomes sludge
  • Overheating engines result in cracked engine heads and cracked pipes
  • Cracked pipes lead to oil leaks
  • Cracked heads and oil leaks result in a damaged engine
  • Replacing your engine is costly

This isn’t a way for us to scare you into getting your oil changed and your filter flushed. This is generally what happens if you do not allow for a change of oil at least once a year.

If you want to get your money’s worth from your Rav4 and if you want your vehicle investment to last as long as possible, you’ll want to have your oil changed regularly. For the Rav4 this means changing the oil at least every 7,500 miles.

Is it Expensive to Get an Oil Change?

Changing your Rav4 oil is an inexpensive task, and you can even do it yourself. Synthetic oil is slightly more expensive than conventional oil but on average will only cost you approximately US$32 – US$64 more a year, depending on how often you change your oil.

If changing your Rav4 oil at the recommended 7,500 miles, it may cost you up to US$140 annually.

It is cheaper to change the oil yourself but if you’re unfamiliar with the task and not confident with the mechanical workings of a car you’d best get it done by a mechanic who can also flush your old oil out at the same time. This, of course, will cost slightly more again.

  • To change the synthetic oil of a Rav4 by a mechanic it will cost roughly US$70.00
  • To change the synthetic oil of a Rav4 by yourself it will cost roughly US$45.00
  • According to Your Mechanic it costs, on average, around US$138 for an oil and filter change

These prices will vary depending on your state and if there are any other issues with your engine oil and filter that need to be addressed.


In the short term, it may sound like having your oil and filter changed twice a year is expensive. But when you regularly change your oil and keep the maintenance of your Rav4 on track, you can get more than the average mileage out of your Rav4 in its lifetime.

The average lifespan for a Toyota Rav4 is currently around 250,000 miles or 16 years. This is because the maintenance costs are low, and owners regularly have their Rav4 serviced to prolong its longevity. Having your synthetic oil and filter changed every 7,500 miles will work out cheaper for you in the long run, and believe us, your Toyota Rav4 will thank you for it by lasting decades.