2012 Nissan Altima Oil Capacity Guide

If you want to change your 2012 Nissan Altima’s oil at home, you’ll need to know its oil capacity. Find out more here.
Written by Emily Maracle
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Nissan Altima
is one of the most popular and affordable mid-size vehicles on the market and has been manufactured by Nissan since 1992. And the 2012 Nissan Altima is no different, receiving high marks in road tests and reviews. For your Nissan to keep on driving for years to come, you’ll need to know its engine oil capacity. 
Maintaining a car can be expensive, but there are ways to cut your costs. If you’re looking to save money, consider easy at-home tasks like changing your oil. That said, to complete an oil change, you’ll need to know your Nissan’s oil capacity. 
That’s why
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, has everything you need to know about your 2012 Nissan Altima oil capacity, including what it is, the best oil for your Nissan, and how to change it. 

2012 Nissan Altima oil capacity 

Before starting any DIY maintenance task, reviewing your owner’s manual is an important first step. It’ll typically list important information like your car’s engine oil capacity and the best oil for your Nissan. If you’ve checked your glove box and junk drawer and can’t find your manual—that’s okay! We’ll break down everything you need to know.  
Your 2012 Nissan Altima 2.5L engine oil capacity is 4.8 quarts while the 3.5L engine has a capacity of 5.1 quarts
However, be sure not to confuse your engine’s liters with oil capacity. Your engine size is called engine displacement and refers to how much volume your engine cylinders take up. Oil capacity is the amount of oil you’ll need when changing your engine oil. 
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What kind of oil does a 2012 Nissan Altima need?

Now that you know how much oil you need, the next step is finding the right kind. There are a lot of options for engine oil, and it’s important to know they aren’t created equal. Using the wrong type of oil in your Nissan can damage your engine, costing you much more than a mechanic would charge to change your oil. 
Nissan recommends using SAE 5W-30 motor oil that has been certified for energy conservation. Although the numbers are straightforward, it can be overwhelming when you’re surrounded by hundreds of choices. Understanding what the numbers actually mean can help reduce your stress. 
When looking for the right oil, the numbers refer to the oil’s viscosity, meaning how thick it is. The “W” stands for winter, so 5W means it has a low viscosity during winter, while the 30 describes its viscosity at 212 degrees—your engine’s normal operating temperature. 
A variety of vehicles use 5W-30 oil as it performs well in most temperatures, and the lower viscosity reduces the stress on your engine. 

How often to change oil on a 2012 Nissan Altima

Once you’ve found the right oil and purchased the correct amount, you’re ready to
change your oil
But before you pop open the hood, you’ll want to be sure it’s time to change it. Cars have a set maintenance schedule, and it’s recommended you change your Nissan’s every 7,000 to 10,000 miles if you’re using manufacturer-recommended full synthetic oil. If you opt for conventional or don’t follow Nissan’s recommendations, you’ll need to check and potentially change your oil more frequently—typically every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or six months
Life gets hectic, so if you forget how long it’s been since your last oil change, there are other ways to determine when it’s time to change your oil. Regularly checking your oil levels every month is a great way to determine whether a change is necessary. When checking your oil, if you see any of the following, you’ll want to change it: 
  • Dirty oil: Clean oil is typically the color of tea or amber; dirty oil will be black or dark brown.
  • Gritty oil: Coarse oil indicates your oil is contaminated with dirt and debris. 
  • Unusual engine noises: Strange sounds from your engine typically indicate it’s working harder than normal.
  • New smells: Any unfamiliar smell is cause for concern, especially if you smell oil, burning, or smoke smells. 

How to change your oil and oil filter

When it’s time to change your Nissan Altima’s oil, there are a few supplies you’ll need, including: 
a socket wrench, drain pan, a filter wrench to remove the old filter, a replacement filter, and at least five quarts of synthetic 5W-30 engine oil
After gathering your supplies, you’ll need to warm up your engine and oil. Start your car and let it run for about five minutes—closer to ten to fifteen in the winter. Then, turn off your Altima, open the hood, and get to work:
  • Locate the drain plug or nut—it’s underneath your car
  • Place the drain pan under the plug 
  • Use your wrench to open the plug and drain the old oil
  • Remove the oil fill cap at the top of your engine 
  • Take out the old oil filter and replace it with a new one 
  • Replace the oil drain plug or nut
  • Add new engine oil and replace the oil fill cap
After changing your oil, it’s a good idea to turn on your car and let your engine run for about 30 seconds before you check the oil level. This will give you a more accurate measurement, and you’ll be able to top it off if necessary.
While you know your Altima’s engine oil capacity, still check the oil levels are filling. Then, to check for leaks, start your car and leave it running for a few minutes. If everything's good, the
maintenance oil light
should turn off once you begin driving.  
And most importantly, dispose of the old oil properly! You can’t throw the oil away in your garbage or dump it on the ground. Check your local auto shops or recycling center to determine where you can dispose of it. 

Don’t forget regular insurance policy maintenance

If you keep up with regular oil changes and your Nissan’s maintenance schedule, it should last for years to come. And if you’re looking for other ways to save on your car, consider using the
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