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Haynes’ World: hybrid car oil changes and vehicle-based service records

Haynes World updates

Haynes' World is a regular feature that takes a look at what the people at Haynes are doing with their cars, bikes and other vehicles.

Car: Lexus RX400h hybrid

Owner: Martynn Randall

I've just changed the engine oil and filter on my hybrid SUV. This one uses the electric motor and battery up to about 25mph (if you accelerate gently), then the petrol engine starts and contributes to the effort.

While this allows for a very smooth and economical driving experience, it does create an issue, as I'll explain in a minute. However, changing the engine oil and filter proved straightforward:

  1. Short drive to warm the engine oil
  2. Remove the engine undershield
  3. Remove the oil filler cap
  4. Undo the sump drain plug and drain the oil
  5. Unscrew the old filter from the front of the engine

Once the old oil had finished draining, I replaced the drain plug using the new sealing washer supplied with the new filter, and tightened it to the recommended torque (thanks to AutoFix).

The correct specification oil was then added. When adding new oil after a filter change, I always bring the level of the fluid on the dipstick to 3 or 4mm above the maximum line, knowing that the level will drop once the engine is started and the filter fills with oil.

Lexus RX400h hybrid engine oil filter

It’s starting the engine that’s the issue with the hybrid version of the RX. With it sitting on the driveway with the ignition on, there’s no start button or any way of forcing the engine to start – unless I select drive, then give the accelerator pedal a big prod.

Bearing in mind there is almost 300bhp of combined power available, the car then leaps forward and the petrol engine bursts into life. Luckily I managed to bring it to a stop just before hitting the fence… that was close!

The oil level on the dipstick was spot-on.


Car: 1991 Volkswagen Passat GT

Owner: Craig Stewart

The previous Passat update outlined my issues getting hold of the correct replacement starter motor, and – hallelujah! – now I have one and as you can see it is identical to the original except, er, newer.

I also said last time that I couldn’t wait to get out in the Passat again, so why is the starter still sitting on the floor of my garage? Life got in the way, as it has a habit of doing, and I should have better news in next month’s instalment.

starter motor VW Passat


Car: BMW 2 Series

Owner: Rob Keenan

I've sold the Ford Focus and Mercedes SLK since my last update and have bought a used BMW 2 Series. It's the first car I've owned that has a vehicle-based service history, rather than an 'old-fashioned' physical book with stamps and hand-written bits and bobs. In my car's case, this information is accessed via the menus in BMW's infotainment system, iDrive. 

Unfortunately, although my car has a full service history, it's not all showing on the system – the 'running-in' service, which was done at around 1500 miles, somehow never made it onto the car's computer. No problem, you'd think. Surely any BMW dealer can plug in their kit and upload the necessary info? Apparently not. It has to be the dealer that did the work. Annoying, because it means I'll have to make a trip to Oxford (from Poole) at some point for that to be done. At least it wasn't done in Inverness!

There are ways of adding the service history yourself, via a laptop plugged into the OBD socket, but the resulting entry gives you a '00000' where the BMW dealer code should be (the same thing happens if any non-BMW dealer services the car). I'd prefer have the car's first service show as having been done at a main dealer on iDrive, even though I have paper proof that it was actually done in Oxford. Blame my OCD for that!

BMW iDrive service history