2008 Scion xB Long-Term Road Test


2008 Scion xB: DIY Oil Change

March 25, 2008

I'm on my way home from the office, about to spend the next few days on vacation with my family in our 2008 Scion xB, when I notice the "Maint Reqd" lamp was on. Oh dear. I hate it when my maint gets reqd.

A sticker in the top corner of the windshield indicates the next oil change is due at ... the exact same mileage now displayed on my odometer. What a co-inky-dink. Too late to turn back now. I guess I'll do it myself.

Just before I arrive home, I stop in at the auto parts store. For $19.14, I walk out with a filter, 4 quarts of the recommended 5w-20 motor oil and a 2-foot long receipt. (Why do they do that?) Since the Scion has just broken 15,000 miles, I'm going to do the other things on the maintenance schedule while I'm at it: rotate the tires and inspect the brakes, brake hoses, tie rod and axle boots, etc.

I've done this before. I've got the tools: a floor jack, jack stands, a 14mm box wrench for the drain plug, an oil filter wrench, a screwdriver for the wheel caps, a speed handle/breaking bar and 21mm socket to remove the wheels and a screw-top drain pan to get the waste oil to a disposal point without spilling.

The right stuff: the oil fliter wrench is key. A screw top oil drain pan and a speed handle breaking bar are my secret weapons.

It's going well. I find the filter on the front of the engine, just below the air-conditioning compressor. A flap in the splash guard needs to have three button-clips pried loose with the screwdriver before I can get my hand in there. The filter comes off easily with the oil-filter wrench.

The new filter I bought, however, is problematic. It only spins on 1 1/4 turns before the seal makes contact. Thats not enough. I recheck the old one I just took off. It spins 2 3/4 turns before the seal makes contact. I decide to go and buy a genuine Toyota filter for the xB.

Hard to see it here, but the threaded portion is set deeper on the Purolator I bought (left), so it doesn't engage many threads before it seats.

The Toyota part costs just $5.19, and that includes a new drain plug washer. The Purolator that I'm now leery of, the cheapest of three options I had at the auto parts store, cost $4.99--without a new drain plug washer. Not a bargain at all, really. And when I peer inside, the new Toyota filter has a visible check valve in there. The aftermarket filter has nothing of the sort.

I get a more-reassuring 2 3/4 turns on the new Toyota filter before it seats and I crank it down the required 3/4 turn more. With a new washer on the drain plug, the oil poured-in and the "Maint Reqd" lamp reset (a one minute procedure found on page 99 of the owner's manual,) I'm done with part A.

Rotating the tires is simple enough, as my "real" floor jack can lift the side of the car up high enough to allow me to make a direct front-to-back swap. During the process, I check the brakes and all of the rubber boots and hoses on the list. No leaks, nothing is loose or cracked. Everything looks new.

Like just about every car these days, the Scion has TPMS sensors in the wheels. Rotating the tires moves the sensors around, but the system is smart enough to deal with that. I don't have to reset anything.

I'm done in 50 minutes, with photo breaks included. If you count the time trudging to the nearest Toyota dealer to get the second filter, add 39 more. While at the dealership, I asked how much they charged for an oil change and tire rotation: $39.99 and $20.00, respectively.

How much does my dealer charge for a 15,000 mile service? $159.99. But that includes a lot of stuff NOT listed in the Scion scheduled maintenance guide. A new air filter was one of several premature items on the list. In fact, the maintenance guide only requires an air filter inspection at 15,000 miles, and only if the car was subject to severe service.

Lessons learned? Always buy your filters from the dealer. Buy several at once to cut down on future trips. If you'll have the dealer do your service, know what the maintenance schedule really says and order your service a la carte if the package price seems too high or includes too many premature or ambiguous items.

Total Cost:

$24.73 (Subtract $5.38 for the second filter and chalk it up to experience for a total of $19.35)

50 minutes of time (add 39 for the trip to the dealer for the second filter)

1 drop of blood (I always smash my knuckles on something)

5 drops of oil on my driveway (I keep kitty litter handy)

1 drop of oil on my jeans (I wear old ones)

4 quarts of oil to dispose of properly

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 15,427 miles

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