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How to change the oil in a 1994 Toyota Corolla. Step by step with pictures.

Updated on April 9, 2012

I am going to show you how to change the engine oil in a 1994 Toyota Corolla with a 1.8 liter engine. It is the same for 1993-1997. The procedure is similar for the 1.6 liter engine, but that takes a little less oil (about 3.5 quarts ) I am using Mobil 1 oil and a Fram ToughGuard oil filter. Good stuff. This car takes 4 quarts of 5W30 engine oil. I used automotive ramps to lift the front up and get under easier. You could also use jack stands or just lay down in front of the car and stick your arm under. :) You can lay on a piece of cardboard or carpet so you aren't on the pavement. If you choose to raise the car with a jack make sure that you support the vehicle with jack stands. NEVER get under a car that is supported only by a jack. Jack the car up, position the stand and lower the car onto it. When lifting the car place the jack against the pinch weld below the door and behind the front wheel. Don't lift or support the car by the floor pan or the rocker panel. Always apply the parking brake when the front wheels are off the ground. You should also wedge something behind the rear wheels, like a brick or block of wood, as an extra safety precaution. The owners manual will have important information such as specific locations where you should place the jack when lifting the car and exact fluid types and capacities. All necessary tools and supplies for this job are readily available at any parts store like Auto Zone or CAP, also at Walmart.

Tools required: 10mm and 14mm wrenches or sockets and ratchet, pliers or wrench to remove oil filter, bucket to drain the oil into, rags or paper towels for cleaning up.

Optional: Rubber gloves, funnel for oil, large metal pan to catch stray drips or splashes (available at Walmart)

Time Required: 15-45 minutes.

You'll want to have the oil fairly warm, because it will drain faster and suspend contaminants better. So it's a good idea to let the car run for 10-15 minutes while you are getting your tools and supplies ready. You don't want it to be too hot though, you might get burned. Once the engine is OFF and you have the hood opened the first thing I would suggest you do is remove the oil cap (green arrow) and place it on top of the hood latch (blue arrow). This will help make sure that you don't forget to put the cap back on once you put the oil in! Everyone makes mistakes, haha. BTW the purple arrow is pointing to the engine oil dipstick, who is trying to hide.

The oil filter is lurking in the shadows beneath the exhaust manifold. DO NOT attempt to access it from above when the engine is hot, unless you have the proper tools to do so. You can get badly burned by touching the exhaust before it has cooled down sufficiently. Your best bet is to get under the car and reach up to the filter from below. More room to maneuver safely.

There is a plastic shield under the car that you will have to get out of the way to reach the filter and drain plug. There are several 10mm bolts holding it in place. You can remove some of them and then just pull it out of the way, or remove them all. If they are rusty they tend to break, so I leave them alone whenever possible. Put the bolts carefully aside so you don't lose them. If they break during removal the cover can be fastened in place with string or tape or whatever you have on hand.

This is the engine oil drain plug. It is on the front of the engine oil pan, closer to the passenger side than the driver's side. Break it loose with a 14mm wrench or socket. Once it's loose enough you'll want to carefully remove it by hand. The oil can come out rather aggressively, so try to hold your hand about and in front of the plug and quickly pull it up and forward once the oil starts coming out, that way you'll get less on your hand. Make sure you position the drain bucket beneath and in front of the drain plug, so the stream goes into it properly. Keep an eye on the draining oil, as you will need to re-position the bucket as the stream loses pressure. NOTE: if you are doing this outside the wind can blow the thin oil stream all over the place. If this happens you can put the drain plug back in loosely and let the oil build up behind it, just make sure to take it out again and finish draining the oil after you replace the oil filter.

This is the oil filter. You'll want to loosen it with your wrench or pliers, and then position the drain bucket beneath it. Loosen the filter until oil starts pouring out of it, then leave it to drain for a bit. Once it has drained a enough, take it off fully. Try not to drop it into the bucket, there'll be a big splash. Hold onto it by the base, with the hole pointed upwards so it doesn't pore everywhere. Dump the oil out of it into the drain bucket and set it aside carefully. After you are done put the old filter, hole pointing up, into the box that the new filter came in.

This is the stud that you'll tread the new filter onto. MAKE SURE that the rubber gasket from the old oil filter is NOT stuck to the metal sealing surface. If it is, simply scrape it off before putting on the new one. Be sure to wipe any dirt or debris off of the sealing surface.

Be sure to apply a coat of fresh oil to the gasket before installing it. This will create a better seal, and also ensure that you will be able to loosen it easier next time. When you are installing the new filter tighten it until the gasket seats against the engine block. Do not over tighten it! About 3/4 of a rotation after the gasket makes contact will be sufficient. Tighten it by hand, unless you can't get a good grip, then it is okay to give it a little twist with your pliers or wrench.

When you first start a car after changing the oil there is a brief moment when some parts of the engine are not properly lubricated, before the fresh oil can circulate. You can lessen the effects of this by filling the oil filter with oil before installing it. This is called priming the filter, and it is a guaranteed way to make BIG mess, haha. A lot the the oil will just pour back out while you are installing it. The best method is to fill it about halfway and then make sure that you quickly get the threads started. This is NOT necessary, most people don't bother with it. I would only recommend doing this if you really care about the car and don't mind making a bit of a mess. It is not a vital part of the procedure, just a little extra step if you really love your engine like I do. :)

Be sure to let the oil drain thoroughly. Especially if you have just the front of the car lifted up, the engine will be tilted in a way that will make it harder to drain the very last bit of oil, but this is not a major issue. The drain plug will have a gasket/washer on it to provide a better seal. Toyota generally uses plastic ones, which can be reused until they get too squished and fall apart. You can get replacements from the Toyota dealership or online or a parts store. I have been using Nissan gaskets for this car. They fit, but get crushed and need to be replaced every time, if possible.

You may have trouble getting the old washer off, you'll have to be violent with it using a screwdriver or pliers. This is a picture of a new Nissan washer on the plug, not the one specified by Toyota, but no matter. Pay no attention to my goofy, grinning mug in the background, haha. Before putting the plug back in, make sure that there is no dirt or contamination on the plug, this will go straight into the new oil! Tighten the plug until the gasket/washer is tight against the pan, but don't tighten it too much. Just use a moderate amount of force, depending on the leverage and tool and amount of muscle you have to work with. Before putting oil in the engine MAKE SURE that you have fully tightened the drain plug and oil filter. Don't forget to re attach the plastic cover, but you may want to hold off until the last minute for that, so you can confirm that there are no oil leaks from the plug or filter. Be sure to wipe away all old oil from around these, so that you'll be able to see leaks easier if they do occur.

It is a good idea to use a funnel when pouring oil, but if you don't have one you should be sure to pile rags around the hole. This will catch and absorb any oil that doesn't make it in. Every time you do an oil change on a car for the first time it's a good idea to add 1 quart less than you think it will take and then check the oil level. This will save you the trouble of having to drain some oil if you overfill the engine. This is only necessary if you are unsure of the engine's oil capacity. Once you have the oil in MAKE SURE you put the oil filler cap back on. It can make a mess if you start the car with it off.

Before you check you oil level you will need to start the engine and let it run for a few moments, (check for leaks during this time). This will fully circulate the oil and heat it up a bit, giving you an accurate reading on the dipstick. You'll also want to have the car as level as possible when checking the oil level. This means taking it off of the ramps or jacks (don't forget to re attach the lower plastic cover if you haven't already). With the engine off, remove the engine oil dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag. Place it all the way back down it's tube and leave it there for a second. Carefully remove the dipstick again and hold it level while reading the oil level.

The level is usually hard to read on one side of the stick, but fairly clear and precise on the other. In this picture the clear line was on the side without the level marks. Regardless of this, the oil level should be between the F and L marks. Ideally you will want it to be a tiny bit below the F right after the oil change, if the oil hasn't been fully heated up yet. When the engine gets really hot the oil level will go up a bit due to thermal expansion. If you have a hard time telling where the level is, feel free to wipe the oil off, put the stick back down the tube, and re check it. Repeat this as many times as it takes to get a good reading. If the oil level is significantly below the F, you should add a half quart of oil and check it again. The distance between the F and L marks is usually about 1 quart. If the oil level is at all above the F mark when the oil isn't hot you'll want to carefully drain some oil. Too much oil can hurt an engine just as badly as too little. Do this by loosening the drain plug, pulling it out by hand, and screwing it back in after a small amount of oil has come out.

Well, there is the procedure for changing the oil in a 1994 Toyota Corolla. I think you'll have a hard time finding more thorough instructions on how to change oil, haha. I hope you find it useful, and not too boring. :)

And one final note: if you are inexperienced with cars, and have never changed oil before, it is a good idea to have someone else around who can instruct you. A friend or family member who has some experience, for example. You may be embarrassed to ask for help with such a basic task, but believe me, you DO NOT want to mess up an oil change. It can do major damage to the engine. It is a fairly straightforward job, but it can't hurt to have someone around to help if you run into any problems.

Thank you very much for reading my hub. PLEASE leave comments and feedback. Even negative comments, this is only my second hub, I'd like to know if there is anything I could be doing better.

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    • profile image

      marksnuff anthony 2 years ago

      I love the step but could you seal me a engine?I a car like that one been service. my Email address is marksnuff31@gmail.com I am very cerious

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      Sally92 2 years ago

      It was very informative. I loved the step by step illustrations. Now I'm changing my oil like a pro. Thanks!!

    • alanfish91 profile image
      Author

      alanfish91 3 years ago from Greenfield, Massachusetts

      maxcarson, thanks so much for the comment. Sorry it took 11 months to respond. I had changed my email address and missed the notification about your comment. Better late than never, I hope. Haha

    • alanfish91 profile image
      Author

      alanfish91 3 years ago from Greenfield, Massachusetts

      Thanks! I'm really happy to hear that. I hope you do change your own oil some time, it can be pretty fun and satisfying once you get comfortable doing it. Like I said at the end of the guide, it's a good idea to have someone there with more experience so they can help if you run into any trouble, or at least have someone you can call on the phone if you have any questions or problems. Good luck and thanks for the feedback!

    • greenthumb0000 profile image

      greenthumb0000 3 years ago

      Thanks for this well-written tutorial! One of my goals in life has always been to change the oil in my car (I'm a woman, lol). You wrote something so detailed that I might actually get the guts to do it!!!

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      maxcarson 4 years ago

      Great instructions and visual aids. Well written. Thanks!

    • alanfish91 profile image
      Author

      alanfish91 5 years ago from Greenfield, Massachusetts

      Hey, John Kelly! Thank you very much for the feedback! I usually try to edit/update my hubs from time to time, and this kind of suggestion from my readers is extremely helpful. It is greatly appreciated!

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      John Kelly 5 years ago

      Good tutorial! I'd suggest one improvement: say exactly where the oil drain plug is: towards the front of the car. I say this because the first time I tried to change the oil on my '86 Toyota Tercel I got the wrong drain plug--drained the transmission instead of the engine, and couldn't understand how the engine filled up with oil so fast. (I was much younger and dumber then; now I'm older and smarter. At least older, anyway.)

    • alanfish91 profile image
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      alanfish91 5 years ago from Greenfield, Massachusetts

      Thank you very much! I appreciate the feedback. I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

    • alanfish91 profile image
      Author

      alanfish91 5 years ago from Greenfield, Massachusetts

      Happy to hear it!

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      Mr.tunde 5 years ago

      Thanks for your assistance it surely help me in doing some mechanical work.

    • alanfish91 profile image
      Author

      alanfish91 5 years ago from Greenfield, Massachusetts

      Thanks for reading and voting up, KDF! :D

    • KDF profile image

      KDF 5 years ago from Central Illinois

      Great pictures and step by step. I can't count how many of the inside arm burns I had from those oil filters back in the day! Voted Up@!