PSA: Toyota Prius Needs Special Engine Oil

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If you are new to the Toyota Prius, it is important for you to know that the hybrid car requires special engine oil when servicing. The engine oil must bear the figures 0W20, which is fully synthetic.

0W20 oils are designed for hybrid powertrains and they are very thin in nature. This is so that the oil can flow better when the temperature is cold and it can help return better fuel economy thanks to less resistance.

Equipping the Prius with any other oil will put the car at risk of losing its warranty coverage and the worst part of it all is that it can damage the vehicle. It basically means that you can’t put in cheaper engine oil in your Prius regardless of how insane the promotion is for the fluid.

All in all, you should stick to what Toyota has specified in the user manual. It is also for the best of the Prius as the 0W20 oil requires you to pay more but save more in the long run.


  1. gak

    March 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

    almost all new vehicle manufactures recommend synthetic oil in there engines,because of wear characteristics.
    special oil?

  2. Van

    March 8, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    This oil is nothing new and certainly not “special”. 0w20 synthetic oil has been around for many years and used in many cars not just the Prius. Yes it is designed to be more fuel efficient (although you’ll never really see it but that topic is a much longer discussion lol) but also because today’s engine are built with tighter tolerances/clearances than older engines so a thinner oil is required, some engines have variable valve timing systems in them and require a thinner oil to properly lubricate the tiny valves inside.
    0w20 oil is no more expensive than any other synthetic oil out there. Yes most all cars require a specific weight of oil that you must use, some conventional, some synthetic. The cost difference however is virtual non-existent in the long run since you “should” be changing the oil @ 3-4k miles using conventional oils and 8-10k or longer using synthetics. All of my cars and trucks have been switched to synthetic oil (either Castrol Syntec or Mobil1) and WIX filters even if they were originally using conventional oil.
    How do I know this? 30 years ASE certified Automotive Parts Specialist 🙂

  3. Brian

    March 8, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Did you also complain when 10/40 was replaced by 5/30. Missing your old 20/50 racing oil days? Where did you get any of your information on 0/20 engine oil and what do you base it’s insane promotion on? It is far from special. Many other vehicles have it recommended by the manufacturer. Snowmobiles use it for the minimal friction it provides at -40 degree start ups and the ability to reach critical wear items quickly. Most car manufacturers use it for lower pumping loses, quicker lubrication times to vital wear items and lower frictional losses from striking against internal rotating objects like crankshafts, connecting rods and pistons. You also fail to mention the fact that change intervals for a normal Prius occur every 10,000 miles. Use an easy to acquire coupon and the normal oil change at a Toyota dealer runs around $40 US. And no, I am not a Prius owner. Very happy with my 2002 Honda Insight which also uses the same oil.