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Understanding Your Service Reminder Light

Most of us don’t read the owner’s manual, if you even have one anymore. Many car manuals can only be found online now. Carmakers have come up with service reminders in the form of a warning indicator light, that appears on the gauge cluster (near the speedometer). Often, it comes on well before the service is required to give you time to schedule the appointment.

There are several types of warning systems:

  1. Set mileage system. The light comes on every time you have driven a set number of miles and an oil change is needed. This varies among different carmakers, but it is roughly every 5,000 miles. In some systems, you can set the interval yourself.
  2. Oil sensor system. An onboard computer analyzes how the car is being driven, and the light comes on when an oil change is required. Driving only short trips will trigger the light sooner; highway driving means you can go many more miles between service visits.
  3. Oil Level or Low System. This light should not be ignored! It means the oil level is low and needs immediate attention. You should visit your trusted shop for advice or check and add the correct type of oil for your vehicle. Using incorrect oil is not recommended unless it is an emergency and you have no choice.

Servicing your car is a choice made by you. I recommend finding a trusted maintenance shop and consulting with them for service intervals. The random statement of changing oil every 7,500 miles does not apply to every car. Some manufacturers have issued service bulletins to rescind the extended oil change interval due to excessive engine sludge build up

New technology, the direct fuel injection, the 0W20 oil, the higher system temperatures and the smaller engines creating more power is great for fuel economy, but makes servicing your car on time a must. Ignoring your fluid changes will cost you big time in the future.

 

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