2002 Toyota Corolla CE
How to perform an Oil Change
(Also applies to any Toyota Corolla from 1993 through 2002)
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes
The following article describes the necessary tools, equipment and process to perform an oil change on a
Normally oil changes and other routine maintenance are performed at strict intervals at my house. Every five thousand miles the oil
in the better half's Corolla gets changed. Sure, a Corolla isn't sexy like the Austin-Healey, but it does make a great commuting car
for a woman who is known to occasionally drive by feel.
Well, SWMBO arrived home last night and told me that it must be time to change the oil, because the oil light came on. After a moment of,
"Hey, wait a second, the Corolla only has an idiot light for oil....", I realized that the "Honey-Do List" was going to trump any planned
activities for Saturday.
The 1.8 liter engine for the Corolla takes 3.7 quarts of oil. It also uses STP Oil Filter #S4967. In addition to oil and a filter I also
picked up sone ring restorer (it helps if only for a little while on high mileage cars).
The first step was to check the oil level on the dipstick.
So, if you look closely you'll note that all the colour on the dipstick is burned oil, not wet oil. In fact, in checking the dipstick I didn't
see any oil at all on there. I wasn't necessarily suprised, as it takes a fair drop in the oil level to trigger the idiot light. While I had
it out I went ahead and wiped it down with some steel wool to get the old burned oil off and make it easier to read/see when we check it in the
Now, when I last changed the oil, I put the full 3.7 quarts into the engine, so the question then became, where did it go? Well, there's really
not too many likely places for it to have gone, and they're generally pretty easy to figure out. First step was to look under the car.
So the undercarriage looks pretty clean. There was a little bit of older goo on the bottom, but nothing that looks like it would have been
as recent as the past four thousand miles. So, the more or less rules out an oil leak somethere. Next was to look in the top of the radiator and
the oil fill. The point is to look for milky white good that indicates that the oil and coolant is mixing. Since the car wasn't having any
other problems I thought that this would be highly unlikely, but it's still worth checking just in case. When I checked the coolant was clean
and the oil fill looked fine. That really only left one place for the oil to be going, out the exhaust. Sure enough she fired it up and as the
car was warming up tell-tale puffs of smoke were coming out the back. So this indicates a more serious internal problem, hopefully it's just a
matter of age. So, the plan is to replace the oil and then monitor it to determine the consumption rate.
The Oil Drain plug on the Corolla is a 14mm bolt with a rubber washer. When loosening it, do so by hand as soon as feasible. If you put some
upward pressure on the bolt it will help to minimize the amount of oil that spashes out on you. Make sure you have the oil drain pan positioned
appropriately, and let the oil drain off into the pan.
Also check the Drain Plug for wear. Make sure that the washer is in good shape and that the threads are clean and straight.
The oil filter for the Corolla is convieniently placed in a location that renders traditional oil filter wrenches useless. Get yourself one
of these Oil Filter wrenches that fits onto your socket wrench. They're only a few bucks at Autozona and make it much easier
to get the oil filter off. They size these wrenches based on the oil filter #.
Use the wrench to loosen the oil filter until you can turn it by hand. Reposition the oil drain pan until it's underneath the oil filter.
Finish removing it by hand. Again, if you place a little upward pressure on the oil filter it'll minimize the oil spill. Lower the oil filter
down and tip it over into the oil pan.
Now remember that this particular Oil Change was to look at a problem. We know the car is burning oil, but wanted to determin how much.
Based on what we have drained off, it appears like there's ~2 quarts of oil in the drain pan which is a little more than half of what should
be there. It's always good to determine how much oil comes out of the oil change because it's the first good indicator of interior engine wear.
For the more anal retentive among us, you can funnel off the oil into the now enpty oil bottles to get a more accurate measurement.
Take a cloth and wipe the old oil off of the oil filter location on the block. After that take some of the new oil and wipe it on the gasket
of the new oil filter. This helps to prepare and seal the surface once you install the filter. Sping the filter onto the oil filter mount point
and tighten it up. You don't need to tighten it down super hard. Hand tight plus 1/2 turn with the wrench is more than adequate.
Now that we've drained the oil, replaced the oil drain plug and the oil filter we can now put the new oil into the sytem (Double check the oil
filter and drain plug first, if you have forgotten either of these you will make a big old mess.) Also make sure you've put the dipstick back in
the proper place. Open the oil fill cap (located on the top of the engine dead center) set your fill funnel in place and start pouring in the
new oil. Once the oil is poured in and the oil fill cap is replaced you've finished changing the oil.
Now, while you're at it it's a good time to check on the car's air filter. I like to have a new air filter to compare against as air filters often
don't look too bad until you see them against a new one.
See, it doesn't look too bad, now let's see what it looks like next to a new one.
So now it doesn't look too hot, so we'll go ahead and toss the old one and install the new air filter. Remember that air filters impact your
fuel economy. A clean air filter means more MPG and less time and money spent at the pump!
As a precaution, take the car for a short drive, make sure it sounds and feels right when driving it. When you get home look underneath and
double check to make sure that nothing is leaking.
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