Oil Life Monitor Systems

By Daniel Dillon, April 2, 2009

How the Oil Life Monitor System Works

When the oil is ready to be changed, the system may warn the driver with alerts that are posted in the instrument cluster, which will say something like "15 percent of oil life remains." When the oil change is actually due, the alert will say “0 percent oil life remains; oil change is due" or the change oil light will illuminate each time the vehicle is started.

Changing the oil does not, in itself, cause the change oil reminder system to reset automatically. Each model has its own unique procedure that must be followed to reset the system. If this is not done correctly, the light will remain on or come back on prematurely.

Many vehicles with oil life monitor systems no longer use a traditional maintenance schedule for their routine service. Instead, they might use one of the following:

  • Maintenance I and II
  • Service A and B
  • Inspection I and II

In most cases, the "I" or "A"  service is simply an oil change and a basic inspection. The "II" or "B" service often also includes a tire rotation, air filter replacement, cabin air filter replacement (where applicable), and a more comprehensive inspection.

While these systems will let you know when it is time to change the oil, they often don't notify you when it's time for extended mileage services like spark plug and fluid replacements. Don't let these important additional services go unattended simply because the on board computer does not remind you when it is time!

As always, you should always consult your owners manual for specific service recommendations.

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