How To Change the Oil on a 3rd Gen Tacoma

How To Change the Oil on a 3rd Gen Tacoma - Tacomavibes

 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma Oil Change Guide

If you own a 3rd Gen Tacoma, proper maintenance is crucial to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Changing your oil on your 3rd gen Tacoma is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can do to ensure the longevity of your truck. 

Your engine is the heart of your Tacoma, and proper oil maintenance is essential for longevity and performance. While some sources suggest changing your oil every 10k miles, Toyota and most experts recommend changing it every 5-6k miles. 

If you're new to working on your truck, changing your oil is an excellent place to start and gain experience underneath the hood. Follow this step-by-step guide to perform an oil change on your 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma. You’ll become a pro in no time and learn about the best tools to get the job done efficiently!

3rd Gen Tacoma Oil Change Tools and Materials:

Let me first preface this by saying that there are a myriad of different options available, but below I linked my personal favorites that helped ensure my Tacoma's oil change is done correctly, smoothly, and efficiently.

3rd Gen Tacoma Oil Change Oil Capacity & Consumption:

The amount of oil you need can vary depending on factors such as oil cooler and drainage. Plan for at least 6 quarts, but be prepared with 7. Add enough oil until the dipstick shows oil up to the second marker. 

3rd Gen Tacoma Engine Oil Capacity Oil Weight
2016-2023  2.7L 5.5 qt 0W-20
2016-2023 3.5L 6.2 qt 0W-20


I recommend buying oil and filters in bulk to save money! Places like Amazon, Walmart and other bargain shopping locations have been a game changer for me. For context, I used to pay $110 for someone to do my oil change but once I started doing it myself I found a way to keep it under $70 (max). Of course this does not include the cost of tools, but in my opinion, investing in tools will be an investment that comes back 10x fold. 

With that said, the MotivX Tools oil change kit is optional but highly convenient and includes an oil filter wrench, drain tool, and oil funnel set. Hindsight 20-20, I would have purchased this at the onset of my journey to avoid the headaches I encountered without it. 

All right, let’s dive in and get dirty!

How To Change The Oil On a 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma (Step by Step)

Personally, I enjoy being organized going into any maintenance or install being done on my 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad. I always lay out all my tools and materials to make sure:

  1. I know I have everything I need (or realize BEFORE STARTING that I’m missing a fresh oil filter for the Tacoma)
  2. The tools are easily accessible
  3. I can be efficient with my time

If possible, I'd recommend finding even ground to park your truck on before you begin the oil change on your 3rd Gen Tacoma. Once parked, I’d recommend placing some cardboard down or a moving blanket to keep yourself more comfortable and to mitigate any mess in the driveway. 

Step 1.) Removing Your 3rd Gen Tacomas Front Skid Plate

The oil filter and drain plug are located at the bottom of the engine, so you need to remove the skid plate to access them. 

Removing the Stock Skid Plate: Remove the four bolts that hold the front skid plate to the frame using a 10mm socket. Loosen the front two bolts and rear two bolts, then support the skid plate by hand and remove all four bolts. Maneuver the skid plate to unhook it from the tabs and place it aside. The stock skid plate (if we even want to call it that) is incredibly lightweight so you won’t need too much help maneuvering it.

Removing the Cali Raised LED Front Skid Plate: If you’re like me and upgraded your wimpy front skid plate from OEM, the first step will be slightly different. The front skid plate for the Tacoma has the perfect oil filter access panel to easily access your oil filter without removing the whole skid plate. This can be done with an allen key to remove the 4 simple bolts that hold the oil filter access panel in place. 

Cali Raised LED Front Skid Plate for the 3rd Gen Tacoma

With that being said, I personally opt to remove the entire skid plate to allow myself the opportunity to inspect for any leakage as well as removing any leftover dirt on the skid plate from the trails. This can be done by removing the 17mm bolts and the 13mm bolts that fasten the Cali Raised LED front skid to the Tacoma.

Step 2.) Draining your 3rd Gen Tacomas Oil

This might seem like common sense, but I was always told “common sense isn’t so common”. I recommend before you start draining your oil that you consider the temperature of your vehicle. For example, if the 3rd Gen Tacoma was running for a while the oil will be fairly hot. Consider allowing the oil to cool before placing yourself in a position where you could severely burn yourself.

I wish someone told me this before I first endeavored to change my 3rd gen Tacomas oil, but I highly recommend loosening the oil drain plug to relieve the pressure inside the crankcase by unscrewing the oil cap and placing it aside (but making sure no debris can get in).

Once pressure has been released from the crankcase, place an oil catch pan beneath the drain plug and remove the drain plug bolt using a 14mm socket. 

Below is the 14mm oil drain plug

Fair warning, the oil almost ALWAYS comes out faster than you’d anticipated so circling back to previous notes make sure you place down some cardboard, cloth or a moving blanket to avoid spillage.

Once all the oil has been drained you’re more than halfway done! The next step here is to grab the new supplied gasket and reinstall the 14mm bolt. Some prefer to tighten by feel, but I typically opt to go by what Toyota recommends. For the 3rd Gen Tacoma oil filter torque specs it might vary year by year (so always consult your owners manual), but my specific 2019 Tacoma, Toyota recommends 30ft/lbs.

Step 3.) Draining the Tacoma’s Oil Filter

Take off the metal covering on the Tacoma’s oil filter housing by inserting your ratcheting wrench paired with the ⅜” extension. Again, there may be some oil that’s collected so be prepared.

Whenever you purchase an oil filter, there is typically a plastic drain that allows you to clear out all the oil from your old oil filter. Be sure to place your oil catch pan beneath the Tacoma’s oil filter and insert the plastic tool. From here let the Tacomas oil filter drain out.

Step 4.) Removing your Tacoma’s Oil Filter Housing

First and foremost, remove the oil filter housing using a 64.3mm 14 flute socket.  I’ve personally encountered a lot of issues with the OEM plastic version of the oil filter housing and ended up switching to metal (something I’d personally recommend). I’ll reiterate this product because I do believe it's worth mentioning, I specifically use my MOTIVX socket to make this process as easy as possible.

Step 5: Replace your Tacoma’s Oil Filter and Seals

First remove the old large o-ring (do NOT using anything sharp to accomplish this) and replace the new one provided with your Tacoma’s oil filter. Next, remove the seal from the bottom of the housing and replace it with the one provided with your Tacoma’s oil filter. Then lastly, remove the old oil filter (consider inspecting it for anything abnormal like metal) and swap with the new oil filter.

Step 6: Re-Install the Tacoma’s Oil Filter Housing

Re-install the Tacoma’s oil filter housing in the reverse manner in which it was removed. So now that the filter and seals are replaced, re-insert the oil filter housing and torque to spec. Then re-insert metal cover and torque to spec with your ratcheting wrench paired with the ⅜” extension.

Step 7: Pour Fresh Oil into your 3rd Gen Tacoma

The easiest yet most important step, add 6 quarts of oil to your Tacoma. Once the oil reaches the second marker on the dipstick you’re good to place the cap back on the oil filter neck and start the truck. 

I usually let the truck run for a minute or two. During this time I’m checking for any leaks, cleaning up, and putting away tools. 

Once I’ve confirmed there are no leaks, I rein-install my Cali Raised LED front skid plate and reset my maintenance light by navigating to the maintenance reset option in the settings tab of my Tacoma’s computer. 

Congratulations, you're all done with changing the oil on your 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma!

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