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Wife and I purchased our Highlander in October 2019 and since have not driven it much (Currently only has about 1600 miles). My question is should I go ahead and change the oil at 6 months vs the 12 months/10k miles as stated in the maintenance guide? Will Toyota dealers honor the Toyotacare plan and do the oil change free prior to one year or will they make me wait until next year? Also I believe the vehicle we purchased was ordered/built back in April of 2019, so is there anything wrong with the factory oil sitting in the car for so long?

I plan to keep the car for a long time (as all my other cars), but due to some unforseen circumstances I am not putting a whole lot of miles on it yet. I like to be as proactive with my maintenance as possible and typically would change using SYN every 7500 miles or so but for such a low mileage car I wonder what my change interval should be.

Thank you!
 

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Some dealers will do an early oil change if you ask them to, so long as you only get two free ones during the first two years of free service. Other dealers may not do that. Ask you service advisor.

Motor oil, especially synthetic oil, does not deteriorate sitting in the crankcase. But if you want to change your oil early, it up to you. You are not the only one who thinks it is good to do the first oil change early, but I don't know of any scientific studies that can prove that.

Even after the first oil change, some people will use a shorter change interval than the 10K mile interval required by Toyota to maintain the warranty. Even if you don't drive it 7500 miles per year, you will have to change the oil once per year to maintain the warranty.
 

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The owners manual lists conditions under which the oil should be changed more frequently, at 6 months. Although infrequent use or just low annual mileage is not specifically one of them, When I purchased my 2019 HL, my dealer was aware that my annual mileage would be less than 5,000 miles, and agreed to change the oil and filter at 6 months for the first two years.
 

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Yup......And I have a liftime powertrain warranty where I am as long as I keep up the maint. which includes tire rotation etc.
 

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Time or mileage, whichever comes 1st

So, if the dealer doesn't do what YOU want, go elsewhere and pay.

Oil and oil additives do deteriorate with time as does fuel. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer at your fill ups.
 

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Oil and oil additives do deteriorate with time as does fuel. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer at your fill ups.
Gas can start to deteriorate in a matter of weeks.

Synthetic motor oil (even Group III synthetic) will not deteriorate after 6 months sitting in a crankcase. In fact, I have never seen any scientific study on motor oil deterioration just sitting in the crankcase.
 

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The owners manual lists conditions under which the oil should be changed more frequently, at 6 months. Although infrequent use or just low annual mileage is not specifically one of them, When I purchased my 2019 HL, my dealer was aware that my annual mileage would be less than 5,000 miles, and agreed to change the oil and filter at 6 months for the first two years.
There is a big difference if driving less than 5,000 miles per year under the following different scenarios:

1. Drive the car 6 days a week on average, about 4 miles per one-way trip on average, 2 round trips per day (about 16 miles per day on days that the car is driven).

2. Drive the car 2 or 3 days a week on average, about 15 miles per one-way trip, 1 round trip per day (about 30 miles per day on days that the car is driven).

The first scenario would require severe service maintenance schedule. The second scenario can follow the normal use schedule if desired. the above recommendation assume a full synthetic motor oil is used (as required by Toyota).

But doesn't hurt to get some extra free oil changes from the dealer. Once you start paying for oil changes, you might analyze the need to follow severe service schedule to see if you really need it.
 

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I have three Toyota's, each driven less than 5,000 miles per year, usage is a mix of the scenarios listed by mark888. I change the oils in two of them at 5,000 miles and /or every spring (once a year) whichever comes first, using the factory recommended (synthetic) oils and Toyota filters. I will include the Highlander after the "free" Toyota service expires, or, after the first oil change they screw up.
 

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If I recall correctly, with a fully broken-in engine, approximately once driven 80-100 miles after an oil & oil filter change, there is sufficient amount of containment introduced in the oil to cause it to deteriate over time (take longer for full synthetic than regular & semi-synthetic of course). As for new oil in a sealed bottle vs. new oil poured in to an engine for storage (depending on the storage environment - temperature stability, low vs. high humidity and air circulation within the storage), the in-engine oil will deteriate and deteriate faster than the oil in a factory sealed bottle (shelve-life ~2 years @ 65 degrees F undisturbed) as combustion engines are not seal units - the rate of deterioration depends on storage condition).
 

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Keep an eye on your coolant temperature when you shut off the engine. If you know the coolant needle is in the middle most of time when you shut off, you can change the oil yearly if driving 5000 miles a year. If you make frequent short stops and the coolant wasn't warm enough, then change the oil every 5000 or 6 months. I used to change oil with Mobile 1 for my RX400h every 5000 miles or 6 months, but my Used Oil Analysis from Blackstone recommend 7500 mile oil change. And I drive less than 7500 per year on the RX. My commute always include 10 minutes of highway driving. The higher temperature of the coolant means contaminants such as water and gasoline will likely be burnt off from the engine oil.
 

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"factory sealed bottle (shelve-life ~2 years @ 65 degrees F undisturbed)"
I wouldn't call 2 years old sealed bottle deteriorated. Blackstone, the Used Oil testing lab, run some really old motor oil on test vehicle, conventional oil no less, and they are fine. The base oil and additive package may be break down by acid, heat, or mechanical shearing, but age is not that important.
 

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"factory sealed bottle (shelve-life ~2 years @ 65 degrees F undisturbed)"
I wouldn't call 2 years old sealed bottle deteriorated. Blackstone, the Used Oil testing lab, run some really old motor oil on test vehicle, conventional oil no less, and they are fine. The base oil and additive package may be break down by acid, heat, or mechanical shearing, but age is not that important.
No body called 2 years old sealed bottle of oil deteriorated. Remember, there is still serviceable use of the oil once the shelve life is reached, absolutely not saying the store clerk has to throw away the oil as garbage. The shelve life is an estimate guideline for storage.
 

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I subscribe by minimum change interval at 6-months for Dino oil and 12-months on synthetic for super low mileage use vehicles. I put over 25k miles a years on my cars. My ‘07 Camry-h has just shy of 300,000 miles and never a single engine problem, still runs smooth and quiet with 10k mile interval changes since new with synthetic.
 
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