Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lexus IS 250/350: How to Perform an Oil Change

When I first bought my IS250, I took it into the dealer for the first several oil changes. It seemed somewhat reasonable: $45 would get me the oil change, a car wash, and a loaner vehicle. However, I soon learned that they were actually putting in regular oil and not synthetic. Quality is huge for me, especially when it comes to Lexi. I always put in 91 octane gasoline (I read that 91+ is preferred for an engine with a 12:1 compression ratio and can lead to better performance and mileage). Likewise, I want synthetic oil in my car to reduce the number of required oil changes and increase the longevity of my car's engine. :) When it comes to keeping my baby in good shape, I don't mind spending a couple more bucks, but even I have my limits.

To upgrade to a synthetic oil change at the dealer, it would cost me $120-$130, which seemed like way too much for an oil change. I then took it to a third-party, where I was charged $85 for the change. Fyi, my car requires 7 quarts of oil and most places will only give you 5 as part of the standard, so you have to pay for the extra quarts when you go over 5. Ugh.

I then talked to my friend Wayne who performs his own oil changes. I researched how to perform an oil change on my car and then we gave it a shot. After seeing how easy it was to do on my own, I bought my own equipment and now do my own oil changes. :D It's very rewarding and I know that it gets done right!

How-To Guide: Performing an Oil Change on a Lexus IS250/350
Note: My car is the 2006 IS250 Manual Transmission model, not sure if newer models are different.
DISCLAIMER: If you follow my guide to perform your own oil change, you do so at your own risk. I am not liable for any resulting damage, injury, or expense. I am not a professional mechanic in any sense and this guide is solely for informational purposes. 


One-Time Purchase:
-Set of Car Jack and Stands ($80 at Sears)
-Oil Drain Pan (shown here is the 15 quarts version, $10 at Checker/O'Reilly)
-Funnel ($1, get it anywhere)
-Oil Filter Wrench: TOYOTA 640 / 09228-06501 - 64mm ($15 at
Note: They have plastic oil filter sockets at Walmart for like $5, but I couldn't get the housing off with the plastic kind. The metal one works like a champ!

Used Each Change:
-Two 5-quart bottles of 5W-30 SAE Fully Synthetic Motor Oil (~$23 for 5-quarts at Walmart)
Note: I usually go with Mobil, but have also used Castrol and would consider Valvoline as well. Only 7 quarts of the 10 are used, so there will be some re-use of unfinished bottles.
-Oil Filter Kit: 04152-YZZA3 ($5 at plus shipping...I buy in bulk)
-Oil Drain Plug Gasket: 90430-12031 ($1 at
-Latex Gloves (cheap, get anywhere)
-Paper Towels and Old Cardboard Boxes ('cause it can get messy)


Use the car jack and stands to properly jack up the vehicle.

On this car, you really only need to raise it about half-a-foot to comfortably access the drain plug and oil filter housing, which are located near the front of the car under the hood.

STEP 2:Place your cut-up cardboard box under the car around the vicinity of the drain plug and oil filter housing to help catch loose/spilled oil. No matter how many times you do this, it'll always be a little messy.
Locate the drain plug, which looks like this:

Place the oil drain pan under the plug and use a socket wrench to untighten the drain plug.

After the drain plug has been untightened, the messy part begins. Once the drain plug has been fully unscrewed, be ready to catch the oil in the drain pain. It's comes out quick!

The oil will take a while to drain, so in the meantime you can change the oil filter. Locate the oil filter hatch, which looks like this:

This is where you absolutely need the Special Service Tool (a.k.a. Oil Filter Wrench). Use the wrench/socket to unscrew the oil filter housing. You may want to place the oil drain pan underneath (or a second one if the oil is still draining from the plug) 'cause there will be some excess oil in there.

Toss the dirty filter and old O-ring.

I like to clean the housing a little before putting in the new filter and O-ring.

Reattach the housing with the new filter inside and make sure it is tightened securely and then place the hatch back on. Also screw in the drain plug (use a new oil drain plug gasket if you like) once it is done draining.

Open the oil lid and using a funnel, slowly pour the new motor oil into the engine. This car requires 7 quarts (6.7 to be exact, but I just do 7 to keep things simple).

After the oil has been poured in, close the lid and check for leaks underneath the car where the drain plug and oil filter are. Congratulations! You've just successfully completed an oil change on this Lexus! But wait, there's still one thing left to do...
The car's computer is programmed by default to turn on the "Oil Maintenance Required" service light every 5,000 miles since last resetting it. 5,000 miles is how often I change my oil and I hear you can go several more if you are using synthetic, but seeing how dark and dirty that oil gets after 5k, I just decide to change it then.
To reset the service light, set the odometer to ODO (not Trip A nor Trip B). Turn off the engine. Holding the trip reset button down, turn on just the electrical components (the method that doesn't actually start the engine but the rest of the car) and keep holding the button down. When done correctly, you will see a bunch of dashes where the odometer mileage is usually displayed, the dashes will disappear one at a time and after about 5 seconds the service light will be reset.
And finally the car is as good as new!!!
So in conclusion, you can see that by doing my own synthetic oil changes, I had a one-time purchase of equipment that cost me about $105. Every change after that costs me approximately $38. I have yet to find a third-party mechanic that will do a synthetic oil change on my car for less than $85 (they usually charge a bit to get that non-standard oil-filter too). If you know of one, please, let me know. So after two changes I've already made up what it would've cost me to take it in somewhere! And thanks a bunch to Wayne who helped me through the first time I tried this!

Lexus IS 250/350: How to Replace the Cruise Control Lever


  1. Very detailed instructions Andy, good work. Maybe I should start changing my own oil, you make it look so simple. ;)

  2. Where is the oil filter access panel in relation to the oil pan? I've been looking underneath my car all day and haven't found it.

  3. Whoa, sorry to leave ya hangin' like that Chad. Blogger doesn't have a comment notification option. Anyway, hopefully you've figured it out by now, but on my car the oil filter panel is about 2 feet from the front of the car under the hood, pretty much in the center. The drain is then another 1.5 feet further from that. My IS 250 is the manual transmission, so not sure if it's different on the automatic or 350. Hope that helps!

  4. Hey Andy,
    Great explanation. I like how you make it simple for simple minded people! this Irontoad site seems great...cheapest OEM stuff i've step is to do my own rotors and brake pads. :)

  5. Wish you had one of the transmission oil.... im almost at 100,000 and i need to change the oil for it but its a sealed transmission and the dealer charges almost 400 for it i dunno what to do..!

  6. Yeah, I feel your pain Luis. Fortunately for me I drive a manual transmission, so I didn't have to go through that. :\ Good luck and hope you find something affordable!

  7. Andy,

    How long do you go before changing your oil? How many miles?


  8. Nick,

    Lexus recommends that you change your oil every 3,750 miles.
    I've read that you should change non-synthetic oil (regular) every 4,000-5,000 miles and synthetic every 5,000-7,000 miles.
    With that said, I personally change my oil every 5,000 miles, which is what the service light is set to anyway. Hope that helps!

  9. Here's a video for it

  10. You are most helpful. I performed the task according to your instructions....saved a bunch !!!!! Thanks :-)

  11. Any difference between Oil Filters: 04152-YZZA3 vs 04152-YZZA5 ??

    It appears dealerships in the area are using 04152-YZZA5

    -2009 IS250 AWD

  12. Jason,

    I looked at the YZZA5 online and it didn't appear to be physically different than the YZZA3. An oil filter is pretty standard stuff, so I'd be surprised if they were significantly different. Irontoad still sells and sends me YZZA3; I just bought a bunch earlier this month.

  13. I'm very pleased to meet you, Andy. Your tutorials are very easy to digest. However, the problem with most of us is the equipment to the DIY oil change. Materials for DIY are big expenditure, and must be well organized. The changed motor oil contains toxic chemicals that could pose a large threat. This means, that they must be disposed properly.

    Cody Strub

  14. What year is this is250?...mine 2010 looks a little different from these pictures

  15. I have the 2006 model, which is the first year they came out with the smooth body look. :) They have kept the same base, but tweaking a few things here and there, so yeah, not surprised if your 2010 model looks a little different than mine!

  16. What is that little white plastic piece that comes with the oil filter for? Do you use it or toss it?

  17. Hey Thang, I'm not sure what little white plastic piece you are talking about unfortunately. All my 04152-YZZA3 filters come with only two pieces: the filter itself and a rubber o-ring. If it's a drain plug and it's plastic, I would rather use a different drain plug that you can get off the irontoad site for like a buck.

  18. Andy, I appreciate your great info regarding how to change the oil on the IS250. I see that you are from Tucson, I just moved here myself. And I also own a 2006 IS250 with a manual transmission and just love it! Do you know exactly how many that year they built with the manual? I know it's not common, especially for a Lexus. Thanks


  19. Zach, Always a pleasure to meet a fellow Tucsonan! Actually when I see another IS250 in town I like to peek inside and see if it's a stick or not. :) I don't know how many stickshifts they made that year, but I know in AZ there are not many at all. Whenever I take my car to a dealer, they say there is maybe 1 or 2 other stickshitfs in town that they see. In fact, they sometimes ask me if I'm planning on selling mine since they are rare and in demand, but I'm like no way Jose! :P

  20. 04152-YZZA3 is for the RWD. It only comes with the filter and one rubber o-ring
    04152-YZZA5 is for the AWD. It comes with the filter, two rubber o-rings and a plastic drain plug.
    The AWD has an extra nut at the end of the metal oil filter casing that can be removed with a 3/8" socket wrench end. Once the nut is removed, you can spin the plastic drain plug into the removed nut area to drain the oil before removing the extra metal casing. The second rubber o-ring is to replace the o-ring on this extra nut.

    1. Thanks for the clarification DC!

  21. This guide is awesome! I tried to change oil when I was younger with minimal instruction and it was mostly via trial and error. This comprehensive guide of yours is helpful, to say the least, to anyone wanting to do this themselves on their "lexies". Thanks and more power to you!

    Kenny @

  22. How can I change the reminder from 5000 to 7000 miles? Thanks

    1. Unfortunately I've never tried changing it myself, but I believe the dealership can access the car's computer and change the setting for you.

  23. Amazing Blog Thanks For Sharing information. Fleet Service. No one does quick, easy and trusted fleet maintenance better than Valvoline Instant Oil Change. Help keep your drivers on the road

  24. How funny I just got an is 250 and live in Tucson. I recently just bought and have wanted this car for a while. They recently had a black is 250 in phx with 35,000 miles and stick.

    1. Wow, that's amazing @rjlouis20! I have never met someone else with the same car as me, they are quite a rarity! Mine has over 160,000 miles on it now though, so I fear it's only got another 3-5 years left in her...

  25. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Ie. I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon. Thanks tire shops Calgary