New Tundra Owners – Should You Use Synthetic Oil?

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We get asked this question all the time: “I just got a new Tundra and I want to treat it right – should I use synthetic oil? If so, should it be full synthetic or synthetic blend?” The answer: It depends.

Should you use synthetic oil in your new truck? Find out the answer below.

Should you use synthetic oil in your new truck? Find out the answer below.

Synthetic oil has fewer impurities, better properties at high temperatures than natural oil, slightly better viscosity, and it’s more resistant to breakdown. Therefore, synthetic is better for an engine. However, whether or not it’s better for your engine depends on a few things…

NOTE: If you’re rolling in a 2010 or newer Tundra, you’re probably using 0W-20 oil, which is only available as a synthetic. This is the oil of choice for newer Tundras mostly because it improves fuel economy. It’s some of the best oil available, and unless you’re doing something really extraordinary, sticking with Toyota’s recommended 0W20 is best.

Post last updated September 2013.

Should You Use Synthetic Oil?

1. Are you zealous when it comes to changing your oil? If the manual says to change your oil every 5,000 miles, do you have the oil changed at 4999.9 miles?

If you follow a strict oil change regimen, chances are you won’t benefit from synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is highly resistant to breakdown and sludge forming. However, most oil won’t breakdown unless excessive time and/or mileage passes between changes. Because most the benefits of synthetic oil over regular oil don’t show until the oils are subjected to adverse conditions, you really won’t see any benefit from synthetic unless you stress the oil.

However, if you’re the type of person that might forget an oil change (shame on you), or if maybe you don’t get to changing your oil right at 5,000 miles, then you can buy a little insurance against engine damage by using synthetic oil.

2. Are you going a long time between oil changes? Case in point: my grandmother, who drives a few thousand miles a year (less than the Toyota recommended 5000 miles between oil changes), uses synthetic. Why? Because her oil can go more than a year between changes.

Unlike natural oil, synthetic oil will last more than 6 months without any breakdown in effectiveness. So, if you (or someone in the family) is likely to exceed the 6 month time between changes, synthetic oil makes sense for them.

3. Severe duty users. As natural oil gets hot, it starts to breakdown. The longer that natural oils stay hot, the worse the breakdown becomes. If you regularly operate your vehicle in such a way that the engine temperature is always high, you should run synthetic. For example:

  • Letting your vehicle idle for hours at a time (like on a jobsite) will overheat the engine. Because you’re not moving, there is no high-speed air circulating around the engine to keep it cool. In this case, excessive heat can build and normal oil will break down.
  • Constant operation in high ambient temperatures¬†or at high altitudes¬†will also lead to higher engine temperatures. High temperature air has poor cooling properties, so if your truck spends ever waking hour in 100+ degree heat, synthetic certainly isn’t a bad diea. Additionally, while air above 10k feet is usually cool, it’s also “thin” also has poor cooling properties. Synthetic isn’t a bad idea for high altitude residents either.
  • Extreme cold (-10 F or below) can also cause natural oils to break down much faster than normal.
  • Racing, daily towing or hauling, or aggressive off-roading all can create high engine temperatures. Hauling the boat to the lake and back once a month probably doesn’t qualify, but towing the bobcat to and from the jobsite five days a week definitely qualifies.
  • You’re burning a lot of E-85, which tends to create acids that wear down natural oils a little faster. You can learn more about that problem here.

4. Your personal situation may require it. Some experts suggest synthetic oil in stop and go traffic. While I disagree with this blanket statement (we all drive in a little bit of stop and go), you may want to go with synthetic if your typical drive has just as much “stop” as “go”.

5. Short distances. There is some advice out there stating that if you only drive your vehicle short distances, you should use synthetic. The theory is that synthetic coats the engine better in a short time period than natural oil, protecting it better for short-trip drives.

In my opinion, if you only drive short distances, synthetic oil will not save your engine. Short distances are bad because the engine never gets up to full operating temperature, and that causes a host of problems (increased corrosion in the exhaust system, poor fuel economy, increased oil wear, etc.) With modern engine tolerances being so high, I really don’t think synthetic will make much of a difference by sticking to all your parts better than regular oil…if anything, the opposite would be true

Therefore, my advice to people that only drive short distances: Stop doing that. Plan your trips so that your vehicle gets a good 15 minutes of road time. If you can’t do that, buy a cheap old car that you don’t care about to get you to and from work everyday. It’s better than wearing out the engine in your truck.

Beware of Synthetic Blends

If you decide to use synthetic oil, be conscious of “synthetic blends”. While many manufacturer’s have a synthetic blend as their standard oil, the term “synthetic blend” is not regulated. Any mixture of regular and synthetic oil is considered a blend, even if it’s just 1% synthetic and 99% regular. If it’s not a manufacturer provided oil (i.e. Motorcraft, Goodwrench, Genuine Toyota Motor Oil, etc.) then it could be a very low percentage of synthetic in the oil.

Some companies will state the percentage of synthetic vs natural, but you’d be surprised to find that big names like Valvoline, Penzoil, Quaker State, etc., have very low percentages of synthetic in their “synthetic oil” blends.

What Toyota Says About Synthetics

Toyota’s official policy is “Any oil that meets API standard specifications can be used in your vehicle.” In other words, normal “natural” motor oil is just fine. You can use 5W-20 in an engine that was designed for 0W-20 without fear of a problem (or vice versa).

There are rumors that Toyota won’t warranty your vehicle if you use the “wrong” oil, if you switch from synthetic to natural (and back again), etc. This is all BS. The truth is:

  • It’s against the law for Toyota to mandate a specific brand or type of oil be used as a condition of their warranty. They can only specify that API certified oil be used.
  • If you don’t use the oil recommends, it’s incumbent upon Toyota to prove that this non-spec oil caused a problem in order for them to invalidate your warranty.
  • Believe it or not, you can extend the manufacturer’s suggested oil change interval as you see fit. If you’re running some particularly excellent oil, and if you’re babying your motor, you may find that your oil is functioning as it should after 15k+ miles. While I would never recommend this particular decision, you can choose your own oil change interval as well.

To sum up, Toyota doesn’t have one thing to say about synthetic oil. They recommend synthetics on newer engines because they improve fuel economy and reduce ownership costs…not because synthetics are markedly better.

After all, synthetics are only better than natural oil in specific situations…right?

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  1. tony says:

    i talked with the dealer and he states not to use synthetic on the new tundra because, if anything happenes to the engine, the dealer will use any excuse to void your warranty. 50W-20 or 0W-20 regular oils is the only oil recommended by toyota.

    • larry says:

      To start, forget dealers. They will tell you your warranty is void if you start the motor and drive.

      He is my synthetic oil history going back to 1994, 2 Subarus, 1 Toyota T100 810 thousand miles total.

      1994 Subaru 350,000 miles still running just dead from rusting out.

      1995 Subaru 300,000 miles still going strong.

      1994 T100 160,000 miles and still running like the day I got it.

      All three have been run with Mobile 1 10W 30 from the first oil change. New filter every 5000 miles. Only changed the oil every 15,000 miles. 1 oil chance for every 3 filters.

      MIght not be the thing to do according to so called experts but it has worked for me.

  2. admin says:

    Toyota’s not going to deny a warranty claim on the basis of synthetic oil use — that would be against the law. Your dealer is just trying to dissuade you form using synthetic.

  3. bugchucker says:

    I was told that using 100% synthetic voids your warranty. Toyota does not recommend it and your warranty states that using fluids not recommended by Toyota is improper maintenance and voids your warranty. I believe this is a way for Toyota to save money on the pre-paid maintenance program.

    Now, I agree this is silly, but it is the warranty. I’m not a lawyer but I don’t understand how this would be illegal?

  4. admin says:

    The “synthetic will void your warranty” line is incorrect. Toyota can’t leverage your warranty against you to force you to purchase a specific type of oil. That would be a violation of the “Tie-ins” provision of the Magnusson-Moss act. Read all about the act here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline.....nuson-Moss

  5. Kyle says:

    As far as I know 0w20 only comes in synthetic and not a conventional oil. The tundra manual says 5w20 or 0w20 oils can be used.

  6. DeathWind1 says:

    Nothing Was Said About The 15 Thousand Mile Synthetic—What Happens IF You Use That Oil And Dont Change Your Oil For Close To The 15 Thousand Mile Mark—Does That Void My Warranty—If It Does Is The Oil Company Lying About There Milage Claim—It Looks To Me Like, If The Oil Company Says 15000 It Should Be All Right To NOT Change My Oil Till Then ??

  7. Kaptain says:

    Your new 2007 Tundra is shipped from the factory with synthetic oil. 0w20 Toyota Motor Oil that the dealer has now changed twice in my 5.7 is sythetic!

  8. admin says:

    Deathwind1 – Sorry I didn’t respond to your question sooner. the 15k mile oil should not be used for 15k miles, as it will definitely violate your warranty. Regardless of the type of oil used, it must be changed every 5k miles or so to keep your warranty in good standing.

    Kaptain – True. New tundras do come with synthetic. However, it’s not needed to ensure proper performance or operation. If your dealer is providing you with synthetic 0w20 for the same cost as regular old 5w20, by all means take the synthetic. On the other hand, if you’re paying an extra $40 per oil change for synthetic (or a blend), than it might make sense to switch to regular oil and save…Toyota’s official line is that they don’t endorse synthetic.

  9. Mickey says:

    I’ll pay the extra $40. I’ve been synthetic since day one. And Loving it…

  10. Todd says:

    When the local dealer changes my oil he is putting in 5w-30. He states that this is fine and that is all they use. He does not explain why the owners manual states 0-20 or 5-20, just that they use 5-30 and it will be fine. Is this OK.

  11. Todd – The best would be to use what Toyota recommends, but your mechanic is right – one batch of 5w30 shouldn’t hurt your truck.

  12. Murph says:

    What about “break-in-period” and the use of synthetic oil. I have a new GMC 5.3 gas burner … 3,000 miles on it. What type oil came in the engine as “break-in oil” and what should I change to … I didn’t see synthetic or blend mentioned in the manual … or did I overlook it ? Murph

  13. Murph – Break-in on most new motors is the first 500-1000 miles. During this time, all the parts are still “seating” (mostly valves) and the gaskets are still soaking up fluids. The break-in oil is likely a little better than whatever GM recommends for regular use – likely a synthetic blend. Most of the time, the factory recommended oil IS a synthetic blend (it’s just a mild blend, say 5%). The more I read and talk to people, the more I come to the conclusion that a good premium “natural” oil is best. These premium oils contain some synthetic as well as a few additives, and they have the best combination of longevity and viscosity. Premium synthetics can’t bond with important additives nearly as well as a natural, imperfect oil can.

  14. Danny G says:

    I use 0/20w amsoil in my 2007 tundra, they claim you don’t need to change oil until15,000 in severe conditions and 25,000 in normal conditions. Amsoil claims it will warranty your vehicle against any engine breakdown due to an oil failing issue. but you are saying toyota warranty anything if the oil has gone beyond 5000 miles. our toyota dealer uses a kendall synthetic. I called and spoke to my dealer mechanic and he agreed amsoil was outstanding oil, but would’nt go beyond 15,000 miles and it was fine to use. also amsoil 0/30w signature series oil is supposed to protect my engine even better, they claim the lighter weight is a gas mileage increase gimmik that is imposed by the epa so all auto manufacturers meet the regulations to produce so many vehicles that get x amout of gas mileage. so 30 will make your engine last longer but 20w will get you better gas mileage?

  15. Danny – I think that Amsoil makes a great product, but I can’t recommend it. The reason is that Toyota’s warranty is quite specific about the 5k mile oil-change interval. While it’s highly unlikely you’ll have any engine problems, if you DID, Toyota would have cause to deny your warranty claim. I know – Amsoil is better – but that’s not what the warranty fine print says, regardless of what the Toyota mechanic said. I would stick with cheaper oil and change it more often. Heavier oils do reduce fuel economy, but that’s not the only reason that manufacturers avoid them. Will 30w oil make an engine last longer than 20w? It depends. In a warm climate, it’s reasonable to assume that 30w protects better with only a slight fuel economy hit. In a cold climate, where heavier oils flow poorly, not so much. There’s also some concern that a heavier oil will have trouble circulating right at engine start-up (regardless of climate) – yet another reason to go with the factory recommended oil. The engineers that build these engines are pretty smart, and unlike engines of 20 or even 15 years ago, they’re not leaving a lot on the table. Messing around with super-long-lasting oils and heavier than recommended oils isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Don’t get me wrong – you seem to know what you’re doing – but I wouldn’t recommend either of these practices to someone with limited knowledge of engines and oil (and what to look for before things go wrong).

  16. Danny G says:

    Jason
    I don’t want readers to be mislead , and this is not a plug for amsoil. I don’t sell the stuff, my only experience with amsoil is this past year I put it in a 1991 toyota camry that has a 170,000 miles on it, and my new 2007 Tundra. The Tundra is to new to really tell a difference. But the old camry runs smoother and has jumped up from 26 mpg to 29 mpg at best, varies on where we buy the gas. Your statement ” Toyota would have cause to deny your warranty claim” on using extended drains with synthetic oils such as amsoil. We may need to clarify by reading the Magnuson-Moss Act. If you are interested in using AMSOIL motor oil, but concerned that using a synthetic oil or extending your oil drain interval will void his warranty, you have no need for concern. Congress in 1975 enacted the federal Magnuson-Moss Act to regulate written consumer product warranties. An examination of the law reveals warranties remain intact when AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants are used.

    The law was meant to give consumers detailed information about warranty coverage before they buy.

    Congress charged the Federal Trade Commission with creation of the specifics of the law.

    The FTC set down three rules under the Act: the Disclosure Rule, the Pre-Sale Availability Rule and the Dispute Resolution Rule.

    Those rules require warrantors to title their written warranty as either full or limited, provide a single, clear and easy-to-read document that spells out certain information about coverage and ensure that warranties are available where the products are sold so that consumers can read them before buying.

    In passing the Act, Congress meant to give consumers access to warranty information, let consumers comparison shop for warranties, encourage warranty competition and promote timely and complete performance of warranty obligations.

    While the Magnuson-Moss Act does not require manufacturers to provide a written warranty, it provides specific rules when one is provided. Among those provisions, FTC regulations state: (c) No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumers using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name; except that the prohibition of this subsection may be waived by the Commission if (1) the warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with the warranted product, and (2) the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest. (15 U.S.C.2302(C))

    That means your warranty stands when you use AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants.

    Vehicle manufacturers recommend lubricants according to their viscosity grade and service classification. Any oil, whether its conventional petroleum motor oil or synthetic, meeting the correct viscosity grade, 5W-30 for example, and the current API and ILSAC North American service classifications may be used without affecting warranty coverage. AMSOIL motor oils are recommended for use in applications requiring these specifications.

    Furthermore, the practice of extending oil drain intervals does not void warranties. Original equipment manufacturers pay or deny warranty claims based on the findings of failure analysis. To affect the vehicle warranty, the lubricant must be directly responsible for the failure. If the oil didn’t cause the problem the warranty cannot be voided, regardless of brand or length of time in use.

    Synthetic motor oil was introduced to the automotive public in 1972 by AMSOIL, INC., with the world’s first API rated synthetic motor oil specially formulated for long service and superior performance and protection to that of conventional oils.

    Nearly 30 years ago, AMSOIL synthetics represented a vision of the future and technology ahead of their time. Since then, every major engine oil manufacturer has introduced synthetic oils of their own. To be sure, many original equipment manufacturers would like you to believe you can only use their products. However, it’s a violation of the consumer protections set forth in the Magnuson-Moss Act, unless they’re willing to provide you those products free of charge.

    AMSOIL offers a warranty that covers the cost of repair or replacement of a proven mechanically sound engine damaged as a result of using AMSOIL synthetic motor oil. However, it has never happened. Thirty years of experience proves AMSOIL can be installed in any vehicle with complete confidence.

    AMSOIL further backs its products with action when a Dealer or customer reports being told their warranty is voided if they use synthetics.

    If you have heard from any member of a business that the use of AMSOIL Motor Oil or the practice of extending drain intervals will void warranties, send AMSOIL all the details including the name of the business, business owner or manager and the individual making the claims, in a signed and dated letter. Send the letter to the Technical Services Department at corporate headquarters and an AMSOIL representative will send them a letter explaining the facts.

    Access to the complete Magnuson-Moss Act is available on the Internet by key words Magnuson-Moss Act or Federal Trade Commission.

    either way I bet it would be like pulling teeth to get amsoil to fork out the money to replace my engine if it were to fail. I choose to gamble on this and stick with the synthetic and extended oil changes. I can get an analysis on my oil when it has 15,000 miles on it for 24 dollars. If it passes with flying colors that would give me peace of mind to continue using the product.I agree with you on sticking with the recommended oil wieght

  17. Danny – You’re absolutely correct about the Magnusson Moss act and how it relates to Amsoil. Using Amsoil and extending the drain interval can’t, in and of itself, void your warranty. HOWEVER, imagine sitting in an arbitration hearing with an arbiter that doesn’t truly understand engines and lubricants, and you can guess as to how often this situation works out in the manufacturer’s favor. Hence my comment about anything other than 5k mile intervals being grounds to void a warranty. It’s not what the Magnusson Moss act says, it’s what the arbiter believes…Regardless, the bottom line for me is that consumers shouldn’t use the same oil for 15k miles because they often FORGET an oil change (crazy, but I’ve seen it happen quite a bit). If a person forgets to change their oil at 5k miles and accidentally goes 10k between changes, no big deal (once in a while, not as a matter of habit). They’re probably fine using the recommended oil. However, the best oil in the world won’t take anyone 30k between changes. SO, unless they’re experienced (and not the type to ever forget), my advice to the typical consumer is to stick with the recommended regular old oil and get it changed every 5k. Still, great comment Danny – you’re 100% correct.

  18. johnny wall says:

    i purchased my 2007 toyota tundra with 90000 km on it. it has warranty up to 140000kms its been sitting in the shop for 2 months. the block blew at 122000 kms. they want me to find all service records since day one. how the hell can they expect me to find that? option 2. they want to rip the old block out so a special tech from toyotas head office can look at it to make sure it doesnt have oil sludge. a multi million/billion dollar company will slime there way around paying for a new block. and even if they rip out the old block to see if there is sludge, and if there is, its going to cost me a thousand dollars. i love my truck but holy shit keep the customers happy. so we continue to buy toyota vehicles.

  19. johnny – I understand where you’re coming from, but a couple of items to consider: 1) You bought the truck used, which means you bought all the problems it came with. It sounds like the previous owner didn’t take care of it, because there’s no reason except abuse that you should need a new motor at 122k clicks (about 76k miles). 2) Toyota doesn’t owe you because you didn’t buy the truck from Toyota. Here’s what the dealership (and Toyota) are thinking: Since you decided to save some money and buy a used truck instead of a new one, you have the responsibility for this problem. In terms of getting your problem solved, I would suggest you check out this post for a process to follow:
    http://www.tundraheadquarters......em-solved/

  20. johnny wall says:

    yes i understand that, but the truck was bought from a toyota dealership and the extended warranty was bought from toyota. and just cause i payed 35000$ instead of 50000$ shouldnt matter. so toyota doesnt stand by there extended warranty because i didnt buy it new? and i shouldnt have to worry about this problem i have extended warranty to worry about this problem. so as soon as the first owner sold his vehicle to the dealership the warranty doesnt mean shit anymore? even if it had 50000k left on it? im not trying to be a dick but all i got out of it was, if you dont buy brand new then toyota doesnt help?

  21. Johnny – You didn’t buy your truck from Toyota man – that’s the problem. You bought it from someone who forgot to change the oil. If I buy a used TV and I get it home and plug it in and it doesn’t work, that *might* be a warranty issue. But if the TV repairman says it looks like someone poured out an entire Coke into the back of the TV, that means I got hosed. Your beef isn’t with Toyota sir – it’s with the guy you bought the truck from. Whoever forgot to change the oil is responsible – not the company that made the truck that someone forgot to change the oil in. There’s an important difference.

  22. Mickey says:

    Jason I hate to disagree but he did buy a Toyota at a dealership even if it was used. Now for starts that dealership apparently didn’t do their multi inspections prior to selling that vehicle. Along with the warranty that was sold too. To use an excuse that he didn’t buy new that he was cheap is an insult as far as I’m concerned. Not everyone, let me repeat “NOT EVERYONE” can afford to buy a new vehicle and wait till one comes available that is within their price range. If that’s Toyota’s response to Johnny Wall then I must have the wrong truck and go back to the crap of GM. Jason that’s not an attitude Toyota should do. They know darn well he can’t come up with all maintenance visits on that truck. All he needs to do is show from what date he bought it from. To expect him to come up with before is ludicrous. He bought it from a Toyota licensed dealership. The inspections should have been done before resale of the truck. If sludge was apparent it would have shown then. If Johnny did all maintenace requirements then how can Toyota void the warranty? I’m sure Johnny will be forced to take them to court for this. You know as well as I do they are taking the cheap way out and void his warranty. With that said I’m very dissatisfied with Toyota. Johnny Wall keep us in touch in what happens.

  23. Mickey – I’ve re-read Johnny’s comments and my own, and here’s what I think. First, my comment about Johnny being ‘cheap’ was framed with “Here

  24. Steve says:

    It doesn’t matter what website or blog you’re on the comments are always the same when people are talking about synthetic oil, synthetic blends, oil change intervals etc. There are always comments from Amsoil Dealers, but don’t worry I’m not here to sell anything. Amsoil Dealers tend to know a little more about the Magnusson-Moss Act then most people because we are exposed to it during discussion about synthetic oil.

    The bottom line is you can use synthetic oil in any car or truck as long as it meets the API requirements period. I have been using Amsoil since 1996 and yes I go the entire 25,000 miles between changes. Most people would never consider doing this, but I have 14 years experience plus over 800,000 miles driven between 4 vehicles and I haven’t had one problem nor has any Car Dealer questioned my use of Amsoil for such long drain intervals.

    I had the opportunity to travel to Europe in 2007 and did a little research while I was there. First of all there wasn’t one quick lube in the entire country of Italy. Why? because in Europe they have been changing their oil once a year for over 25 years. Most Europeans take their vehicle back to the Dealer once a year for a complete maintenance check list and that’s about it. All fluids are changed if necessary and out the door they go. They don’t talk about voiding warranties over there because they use oil that last and doesn’t break down unlike the cheap crap being fed the American public. Cars in Europe last twice as long as they do here in America and you can relate that to the use of high quality synthetics.

    Most people error on the side of safety and choose shorter drain intervals, but you’re really wasting a lot of money. Don’t let the Dealer scare you into using cheap oil because all that will do is shorten the life of your vehicle, which is probably their ultimate goal.

  25. Mickey says:

    You definitely have a point there Steve. Very Good comment….

  26. Jason says:

    Steve – Interesting notes about Europe – thanks for commenting. I completely agree that dealers are paranoid when it comes to oil changes, btw.

  27. Herbie Lowery says:

    4 time Toyota owner- 2 celica’s, a 4 runner, and now a 2010 tundra 5.7 Xsp- Man what a truck, I only have 4999 miles on it but have enjoyed everyone of them. A little humor, I have always changed my oil, I use very good oil and filter as well, I crawled under the tundra to take out the plug and remove the filter, I quickly found the oil plug and removed it, man did I make a mess, the oil came out so fast it went everywhere, a little went in the pan, I got all the oil out and began looking for the filter. After 1 hour of looking and 1 hour of researching the owners manual I had no choice but to forget about the filter and replace the oil with full synthetic. The next day I broke down and called Toyota and asked where in the hell is the filter? Great guys even sent me a text picture of the filter, but never told me exactly where it was. I decided to hit the site and bingo there it was, TAKE OFF THE SKID PLATE- OK I will but my question is this, due to changing the oil and the truck only has 4999 miles on it, can I wait to change the filter the next time or should I go on and do it now???????Thanks Herbie

  28. Jason says:

    Herbie – Definitely want to change the filter every 5k. As for the fact the filter is behind the skid plate, every Toyota dealership oil change technician HATES it. LOL.

  29. Rick says:

    I just bought a 2007 5.7L Toyota Tundra – 54,000 miles. The previous owner told me he got oil and filter changed every 5000 miles – using “synthetic blend.” Is it ok to start using regular oil from now on? I plan on changing oil and filter every 5000 miles.

  30. Jason says:

    Rick – The main reason to use a synthetic blend is because it’s recommended, but that’s not much of a reason. Part of Toyota’s recommendation is based on fuel economy concerns. You will have no trouble using conventional oil.

  31. Garry says:

    Just received a letter from toyota and a new maintenance book due to my switching to 0w20 synthetic oil my changes are now recommended every 10,000 miles or 1year.

  32. Jason says:

    Garry – Are you driving a 4.6? We covered that in this post: http://www.tundraheadquarters......hetic-oil/

    If you’ve got a different motor, let me know.

  33. mk says:

    Agree with Jason on this one. I use regular oil every 5K and before the 6 months is up. Will continue to do so since 100% synthetic at 8 qts. every 6 months is way too pricey and the .1 to .2 increase in gas mileage at most using synthetic oil is useless to me. Been doing it for 20+ years and will continue to do so. In fact, if I ever buy a vehicle that ‘requires’ 100% synthetic oil to maintain the engine’s warranty, I will NOT buy it, plan and simple. Hope that day does not come in the tundra 5.7L though. I do, however, use 100% synthetic Amsoil (one of the best out there) in my Honda cycle (4 qts.) and 3 ATV’s at between 8 and 10 bucks per qt. simply because I only change these machines once per year and none of them see over 5K miles per year. I figure since only 2-4 qts. vs. 8 qts. with the tundra and the low miles driven (under 5K per year) with the long change between oil changes (once per year), I can afford and makes sense then using 100% synthetic oil. Personally, I would never go much beyond the 1 year interval with synthetic oils since I live in WI where the cold winter months can cause condensation/moisture buildup in the engines oil thus breaking the oil additives down much quicker. Common sense if you ask me?

  34. Jason says:

    mk – Makes sense man!

  35. Ramin says:

    Guys, I have a 2010 Tundra and I live in Calgary, Canada. We have cold climate here and I tow around 8000 pounds couple times a month, those are the reasons I asked the toyota dealer if I should use synthetic oil. The answer was that I have the option of both and it doesnt void the warranty. The only thing that he recommended was that I shoud use regular oil for first three oil changes.

  36. Wayne says:

    A few quick points about your article.Engine temps are controlled by the thermostat not “high speed air”. The variables in temp are small.Synthetic oil is far superior to dino oils in many regards. The most important being it’s viscosity stability in all temps.Pour points of the two can be tested in your home garage.Place a container of each on a shelf and pour them on a frosty morning or a blistering hot day and you will easily see the differnce yourself.Cold dry starts are all but eliminated with systhetics.There are many other benifits but too many to discuss here.The only debate here is the low mileage recommendations of the manufacturer’s warranty programs.Changing systhetics at 10k is a waste of money because you dont get the benifit of sythetics longevity.Once warranty mileage is passed you can easily bouble the mileage between oil changes just change the oil filter and top up oil.Contamination is the devil in engine oils and with todays clean burning engines that is almost non existant so a fresh filter is usually all thats required.My last truck had 225k miles at time of sale and never had the engine opened.Canged oil at 25k and changed filter once in between.It’s always best to do your own research though! Mine came from working 30 years in the luberication industry.

  37. Jason says:

    Wayne – Disagree completely with your point about the thermostat. An engine that sits at idle can overheat very quickly, especially if the person in the driver’s seat has the A/C going. Air must circulate through the radiator to give the engine a mechanism to release heat…high speed air (like the air that passes through the radiator while driving) is needed to keep an engine cool.

    However, if you’re saying that a hot idling engine isn’t much warmer than an engine at normal temp, I think you have a point (although it depends on the circumstances). I know of many Crown Vic police cruisers that suffered failures due to excessive idling.

    As for your point about long intervals between changes, I think you’re absolutely correct…but I don’t recommend it to the average consumer. Fresh oil is as much an insurance policy as it is anything else – unless you’re carefully watching oil levels and cognizant of sources of contaminants, the impact of excessive heat, etc. Still, you are technically correct on all points and I appreciate your comments.

  38. Tyler says:

    Just to make this clear late 2010 into 2011 toyotas certain models in 2010 and all in 2011 require synthetic oil because they require 0w20 and it only comes in full synthetic the only way to manufacture 0w20 and have it meet the specs of 0w20 is for it to be full syn i work at a valvoline instant oil change prius some 2010 and all 2011 require the 0w20 along with 99 percent of all toyota models mainly due to fuel mileage and wear protection because of its film strenth and for there trucks its the oil cap says 5w20 and 0w20 syn is not required by manufacter just recomended is certain driving situations all things concidered it is a truck and as for other vehicles in 2011 that require syn is gm using dexos oil subaru toyota some kias bmw mercedes and volkswagon audies have required syn oils for quit some time as well as corvettes cadilacs r factory filled with syn but dont require unless its cts ctsv or certain temp ranges the manufacter cannot deny a claim based on syn oil due to if u buy a warrenty u get a warrenty NO matter what do your research

  39. Jason (Admin) says:

    Tyler – Thank you. Your comments about 0W20 oil being fully synthetic are correct of course, as are your comments about 2010+ Tundras needing synthetic (see the end of the article above).

    Also, thanks for listing off all the automakers that have similar requirements – I think it’s good for people to see that it’s not just Toyota. As you say, the main reason that manufacturers are requiring full synthetic is that it helps improve fuel economy (less friction – can improve fuel economy 1-2%).

    Finally, your point about warranty is mostly correct. 2010+ Tundra owners should probably stick with full synthetic is they plan on changing oil every 10k. While you’re technically correct that warranty claims can’t be denied unless damage due to excessive wear can be proven, it’s not a conversation if owners follow the manual to the letter.

    See more info about vehicle warranties here: http://www.tundraheadquarters......-warranty/

  40. Tyler says:

    Most brand new Models require syn oil for 2011 no matter make nor model and alot of vehicles that have been in existance for years r going through updates requiring syn oil like gm or chevy which now require dexos oil which depending on the oil maker is full syn oil it all depends on the oil specs like the gf-5 spec dexos is a gf5 spec but if using valvoline it has to be durablend or synpower just like 0w20 or 5w20. 5w20 is already a partially syn oil it has to be to meet the spec and how many toyotas do u know of that require 5w20 alot infact over 60 percent so y should it be any diff from 0w20 if u car requires it put it in it has to be full syn to meet the spec and nebody who knows nething bout motor oil should know this and iv seen cases of people using 5w20 where 0w20 is required u either use alot of oil or they complain bout gas mileage and iv seen brand new cars doing this with only 8k on there car and we only get a half a quarte out of it and they wonder y when they refuse to use wat is required and its been proven that the 0w20 doesnt do that where its required so dnt be a fool use what ur manf requires u will regret it and iv also read a forum of a guy using 10w30 syn in his honda hybrid what a dumby it also requires 0w20 and then he wrote bout his issues with gas mileage and engine tapping on cold mornings which i dnt see possible when iv pulled drain plugs on hondas and filters and yet nothing has came out i mean nothing and they pulled into the shop sounding like a brand new car so theres alot of speculation on all this new synthetic requirement my official statement is do exactly wat ur manf says and u shouldnt have any problems and if u do thats on them for a warrenty not out of ur pocket then i wont have to listen to all these people complain bout there problems when its mostly the persons fault

  41. Tyler says:

    O and just one more thing i forgot for the people that say syn oil doesnt add life im affraid u r dead wrong we offer a 300,000 mile eng gaur for full syn oil we have a guy that comes in regulalry with an early 90s toyota van with the midmount engine it has been in our shop since brand new using syn oil and has over 680,000 miles on original engine and an 80s tercel wit 430,000 miles on original engine once again same guy and used valvoline synpower oil since day one and all valvoline oils meet all specs for all manf except where 20w50 and 5w50 and some odd weights like that r required in porshe and lamborginis they meet the spec we just dont carry the odd foreign weights oil except 5w40 full syn

  42. Michael says:

    Ok, if my owners manual tells me onething(5w-20) synthetic on my 07 Tundra and the dealer is using 5w-30 non sythetic is there a problem. I was told at onetime once you use synthetic you should never change back?? I let no one but the dealer change my oil..

  43. Jason (Admin) says:

    Michael – No problem. You can change oils as often as you like – the idea that you should switch to synthetic and stick isn’t supported by any data or analysis. I’ve never seen anything that “proves” you have to use synthetic all the time…I think that’s something lube shops say to sell people pricier oil.

    As for 5w-20 vs 5w-30, the difference is that the 5w-30 is a slightly better lubricant. The 5w-20 isn’t quite as good (not as much protection) because it’s less viscous. Less viscosity = better fuel economy, which is why manufacturers are now recommending 0W-20. They can improve their EPA fuel economy rating by using very light oil…but there’s a lot of argument about the long-term impact on engine wear.

    Anyways, you’re good to go.

  44. Cary says:

    I have a 2005 Tundra. I just had the oil changed (5-30) and the tech called me over toshow me the oil fill cap and spout. They were both coated with a heavy yellowish creamy emulsion. The truck has 68k miles on it and no evidence of this emulsion was found on the dipstick or in the old oil.. Anyone know about this?

  45. Sam says:

    I bought my 2007 Tundra used, with 8,900 miles on it. The guy I bought it from was a perfectionist (evident by his records and the condition of the truck). He said he changed the oil every 5k miles. (the maint light came on right around 9,000 miles). I’ve been getting the oil changed every 5k miles. The last time I took it to the stealership, it had 23,600 miles on it, and I requested synthetic oil. (like others, I am paranoid about what actually got put in it). The oil change reminder sticker doesn’t say anything about what was put in. Most shops usually put what grade oil was put in, regular/synthetic, etc. The sticker just says to bring it back in in 6 months or 5,000 miles. I asked the tech if I could stretch it out to 7,500 since it was synthetic, and he said yes.

    The maintenance reminder light just came on, just as it hit 5,000 miles since oil change. I don’t put a lot of miles on it, so it took me 9 months to get to 5,000 miles since last oil change. I reset the maint light.

    Should I wait until I hit 7,500 miles to get my oil change? (which could be 13-14 total months on oil change). Or should I get it changed after 12 months, no matter what the mileage is? (should be around 6,666 miles based on my current driving habbits).

    I don’t pull or tow or beat the truck up. I’m in Florida, and drive around 20 miles a day back and forth to work, in average traffic. I’m keeping this truck forever, I love it! :)

    Thanks!

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      Sam – I think the definitive way to answer this question is to have your oil tested at 5,000, 7,500, and 10,000 by a competent lab and see what they say. However, my opinion is that once oil is 6 months old it needs replaced regardless of miles. I’ve read that many of the additives start to lose their properties when the oil is exposed to oxygen.

      • Sam says:

        Hi Jason,
        Here’s an update. A few months back, I pulled an oil sample from my truck. There was almost 5K miles on the oil, it was Mobil 1 Synthetic 5w-20. Sent it in for analysis, and they said it still had a TBN of 3.0, which was acceptable, but I’ve heard of guys having more than 3.0 TBN with 10k miles on their oil. When I pulled that sample, I drained it, and put in Amsoil Signature Series 5w-20. When I hit 5k miles on that oil, I will pull a sample and send it in. I’m working towards 10k mile oil changes, but the UOA’s will help me determine what kind of miles I should be able to run on the oil. I plan to keep the Amsoil in when I pull the oil sample, but will replace the filter and top off the oil. I’ll try to remember to come back here and post results in a couple months, when it is time for the UOA :)

        • Jason (Admin) says:

          Sam – Wow – that’s pretty cool. Thanks for sharing!

          • Sam says:

            Here’s another update on my oil changes on my 2007 Tundra SC’d 5.7.

            I just finished putting 8,300 miles on some Amsoil Signature Series 5w-20 oil. I had the oil in for 10 months. (Drove a little more miles than I normally do, had a couple unexpected road trips last year). When I drained it, I took a sample and sent it in to Blackstone. They said everything looked good, it had a TBN of 2.6 (active additives remaining), and to try 10,500 miles on the next oil. When I drained the Amsoil, I filled it with the GC 0w-30. I’ll sample it at 10k miles and see what Blackstone says. Looks like I’m well on my way to being able to accomplish 10-15k mile oil change intervals, without “time” really being a factor :D

  46. [...] years, anyway heres some decent reads. 5th Gen Oil Change Interval 10K miles with Synthetic 0W-20 Synthetic vs Regular Oil – Toyota Tundra | Tundra Headquarters Toyota Owners – [...]

  47. [...] Motor Oil – Fully Synthetic or Conventional??? This article should help clear it up for you. Synthetic vs Regular Oil – Toyota Tundra | Tundra Headquarters Steve __________________ AIP Override/Bypass Instructions <– Block-Off Plate Drawings [...]

  48. shane says:

    i have an 2001 4.7L tundra. i’ve used toyota filters and castrol syntec for 10yrs and 200k miles while changing both every 3500miles. don’t leak and doesn’t use oil. runs like the day i bought it and it has been through it all.

  49. tyler baer says:

    U dnt.have to unless it requieres it though if it does then u must or it will void the warrenty the only way u can use conv oil is if there is nothing else available and it states in ur manual that if nothing else is available then u must promptly change it asap with the correct oil the only way it will req syn oil is if it req 0w20 0w30 in which most cases its 0w20 when it comes to toyota if ur oil cap staes 0w20/5w20 then syn is recommended but not req

  50. Jason (Admin) says:

    Shane – Cool – sounds awesome. Congrats.

    Tyler – There’s no way using synthetic will void warranty…I hate it that dealers tell people such and such will hurt their warranty, because that’s what get rumors like this started. Check this out: http://www.tundraheadquarters......-warranty/

  51. Bruce says:

    next oil change i thinking about making my own blend using durablend and 2 quart of synpower. durablend got 30% synthetic as what valvoline said.

  52. tyler says:

    Actually if it req syn oil like 0w20 it will void the warrenty there is a reason it req it and im not.from a dealership read ur owners manual dummy if it doesnt req anything special u can put whtever u want in it if it happens.to req 0w20 that means it req syn oil cause they dont make a 0w oil thats not syn and that WILL void ur warrenty if something happens to.ur engine they will ask u to see service records and if u didnt use the req oil if it req syn oil they will not stand behind it it is my job as a service tech to.know what engine req wat kind of oil and to know the facts iv seen this myself first hand from.customers that had a similar issue now not using syn oil in an engine that req it prolly wnt hurt it other than.gas milealge and seals and gaskets but the company does not have to.stand behind it if u did not use the req oil if it req syn

  53. Bruce says:

    this is a 07 tundra 4.7 5w30 might not try durablend with the synpower. i meant to say use thier dino oil with synpower mix. it be a durablend oil. i know about the newer engine.

  54. Jason (Admin) says:

    Tyler – I wasn’t saying you worked at a dealership, I was saying that someone at a dealership has lied to you.

    It’s illegal to require synthetic oil, or any oil for that matter, is used as part of a warranty. HOWEVER, if a manufacture recommends synthetic and you don’t use it, they have grounds for denying a claim.

    If you look at your manual, you won’t find the word “required” in the text describing the oil you need to use…

  55. Mark says:

    I bought a 2012 Tundra 5.7 engine. It came with full synthetic and my two year free maint. agreement gives me free oil changes with synthetic at the dealer.

    • Matt says:

      Well, I have 2011 Tundra 5.7 also. It came with synthetic from the factory. I’ve been using the complimentary oil change from my local dealership. I got suspicious and I was right, they “lube techs” haven’t been changing the filter. I’m thinking the filter hasn’t been changed in over 18K miles!! They also have been using 5w 20 standard oil in all the oil changes since. They told me the first time “oh that’s all we use on the Tundra’s”… Yep, you guessed it big lie!! I’m so pissed right now I can’t believe it! All they’ve offered so far is to comp me a free oil change, REALLY! Did I mention all the trash I found in the canister with the old oil filter.

      • Jason (Admin) says:

        Matt – They’ve never changed the filter? That’s outrageous. I would immediately send a certified letter to the general manager – that’s an egregious mistake on their part. As for using 5w20 natural oil instead of 0w20 synthetic, you’ve entered some gray area. Technically Toyota can’t require anyone to use full synthetic, and if you look at the owner’s manual the only requirement is that you change the oil on a regular basis and that you use ASE certified oil when you do it…

        Still, it’s pretty shady to use an oil other than the one they would sell you were you paying for them out of your own pocket. You just know the dealer would sell you full synthetic if you were paying on your own dime.

        I’d send that certified letter ASAP – that’s the best way to get their attention. As far as what to ask for, I’d suggest that the dealer buy a 6yr 100k mile powetrain warranty for you for your trouble.

  56. KurtK says:

    Why does Toyota use this type of oil filter system on the 5.7 engine? Does it do a better job of filtering than a standard canaster oil filter?

    • LJC says:

      Most canister filters have a built in bypass valve. As expected, these bypass valves will not operate consistently, i.e. they may open too soon or not open when needed. For the Tundra, it has its own bypass valve, which will operate consistently and thereby extended engine life.

  57. tyler says:

    actually it is illegal to say u have to use syn however if ur vehicle req 0w20 and nothing else then ur kinda stuck putting syn oil in ur vehicle lol my dad went from 0w20 which was only oil toyota listed to 5w20 and his gas mileage dropped bout 4 mpg lol theres a reason toyota switched to 0w20

  58. Bruce says:

    I had my oil change at Jerry’s Toyota dealership I have a 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6 liter v8 engine they installed 5w-30 synthetic blend oil says they change the gasket but not the whole filter will this be okay for my truck on a regular basis or should I make them install what is supposed to be in the truck and that is.0 W 20 or 5w 20

  59. Sven says:

    Just an update since your informative article still comes up in searches, and the end of the article may now be misleading as it is incorrect for some vehicles: some Flex Fuel recent model (2011 onward) vehicles require Synthetic oil changes every 5k miles. Here’s from Toyota with specifics:

    *The 2TR-FE (4Runner / Tacoma) and the 3UR-FBE (Flex Fuel Tundra / Sequoia) are the exceptions to this new change interval program; these engines have not been approved for the 10,000 mile interval at this time. A 5,000-mile/6-month oil change interval is still required for these vehicles. Also, the Flex Fuel 3UR-FBE requires a 2,500 mile interval when operated on E85.

  60. Jose Martinez says:

    I am happy i researched this before deciding to do it myself. This helped me find the information i was looking for. From now on i will be changing my own oil the right way for my truck.

  61. Anonymous says:

    So how long is an oil change interval for a 2010 tundra 0w20

    • LJC says:

      As long as your driving doesn’t fall under severe duty, it’s 10K miles. I just went 9742 miles on Toyota 0w20 synthetic. Also, I took an oil sample to have it analyzed. I expect to have the report in about 2 1/2 weeks-yes, I change the oil myself; it’s not hard and is well worth the peace of mind. I’ll post the analysis at TundraTalk in the UOA Analysis thread.

      I buy Toyota 0w20 synthetic at a local dealership, along with the OEM filter. I buy it by the case at $7 a quart. A premium conventional oil is not much cheaper than that.

  62. Mickey says:

    Anonymous read your owners manual. It will tell you either 5k or 10k miles. Even though mine is an 07, I still do every 5k miles with full synthetic. I use to let the dealership do it for $75 a shot for 95k miles. Since 95k miles I do it myself with Pennzoil full synthetic. The cheapest I find at Walmart since I have to buy 2 five quart jugs. The filter I get there if they have it or go to Advance Auto and get one.

  63. mk says:

    as far as synthetic oil getting better gas mileage, I don’t buy it. It may be .2 more mpg at most, but don’t see the difference at all really. Best think I feel synthetics do is protect better at engine startup idling smoother quicker and not as rough in my experience. It will of course last longer between oil change intervals as well.

  64. Engineer Ernie says:

    My 2013 came with synthetic. The change interval is 10,000 miles, and the first 5 changes are free from the dealer. I figure I’ll stick with it.

  65. john b says:

    I have Amsoil synthetic in all my vehicles, boats & lawnmowers…including my 2003 Tundra..bought new. I change oil every 30,000 miles…yes 30,000 & have 215k miles. Amsoil is the absolute best synthetic oil. I also have a 94 Chevy S-10…bought new..with 377k.. Amsoil in motor, trans, & gears…..never had to replace any.

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