Your engine’s oil is one of the most critical liquid in your vehicle. This oil needs to be changed frequently, as stated in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Failing to change your engine’s oil can result in damaging your engine due to overheating.
Luckily, your vehicle would tell you when it is due for an oil change before the time passes. This is using the change oil light.
In this article, we provide you with an overview of what the change oil might look like, how often to change your engine’s oil, what to do when your change illuminates, and other relevant questions.
Why does my engine need oil?
Your engine requires a specific amount of oil at a specific pressure to work properly. Your engine’s oil helps lubricate your engine’s moving components and prevent heat generation due to friction.
Over time of use, your engine’s oil gets contaminated and must be changed to provide the moving parts' required lubrication. Therefore, you need to change this oil to maintain proper engine performance.
Along with the oil change, your mechanic usually replaces the oil filter as part of the oil change process. The oil filter prevents foreign objects from making its way to the engine, which can get clogged over time.
Thus, maintaining frequent oil change helps to save your engine’s life.
What is the change oil light?
There is a very common misconception about the oil light on your dashboard that looks like an old oil can. When this light illuminates, it doesn’t mean your vehicle is due for an oil change. It is a totally different problem related to low oil pressure. This article is not our point of discussion; we are discussing the change oil light or warning.
There is a second light in modern vehicles that looks like an oil can and something like a bar shape. This second light is responsible for illuminating when your vehicle is due for an oil change. The question remains, how do old vehicles tell when your car is due for an oil change? The answer is simply a warning message or a low oil life indicator.
Whatever type of warning your vehicle has, when this change oil light warning comes on, you must perform a quick oil change to avoid damaging your engine.
How often should I change my vehicle’s oil to avoid change the oil light?
The frequency of changing your vehicle’s oil depends on your car’s make, model, and year. The best place to start with is your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If you don’t have a copy of the manual, you can always request a copy from your local repair shop or download a soft copy from the internet.
While the frequency of oil change varies by vehicle, automotive experts suggest some common suggestions and recommendations.
For instance, automotive experts suggest changing your car’s oil once every 3,000 miles, assuming that you are only using the standard oil type.
On the other hand, you might not need to change your engine’s oil up to 10,000 miles if you use very good engine oil as synthetic oil and if you don’t drive your vehicle that often.
Why does my change oil light illuminate when I start my engine?
Your change oil light's typical situation is to illuminate for about two seconds when you first start the vehicle. If everything is in good shape, the change oil light turns off after these two seconds. On the other hand, if the light doesn’t turn off, you need to change your vehicle's oil as soon as possible.
I changed my vehicle’s oil, and the change oil light is still on
Yes, it is not surprising. Unfortunately, the change oil light is one of those light that doesn’t go away on its own, even if you’ve just changed its oil.
After every oil change, you must “reset” the change oil light to turn it off. If you ignored reset the change oil light, your internal computer will not know when the vehicle is due for an oil change. Thus, resetting the change oil light is a MUST after every oil change.
The change oil light is not resetting? Why?
Oil change light resetting doesn’t guarantee to turn off your change oil light, especially when your engine has other problems like low oil pressure. In this case, attempting to reset the oil change light will not work.
That been said, if you were not able to reset the oil change light, you MUST take your vehicle to the closest repair shop as it is an indication of a very serious engine problem.
What should I do when my change oil light illuminates?
When your change light illuminates as you drive, it is important to take a quick action to save your vehicle. This is because a changing light could indicate a very low engine oil pressure. When the engine runs on low oil pressure, the engine’s components do not receive the required operating oil, resulting in increasing your engine’s overall temperature.
Here are some of the best practices to follow when your change light illuminates while driving:
- If you are driving on the highway, try taking the first exit and pull over to the safe side of the road. Try clearing the codes in your car’s internal computer using a car diagnostic tool. If you don’t have this tool, the only option for you is to request immediate help and have your vehicle towed to the closest mechanic.
- While waiting for the towing to come, you can still do some housekeeping. For instance, you can take out the oil check dipstick and confirm that your vehicle has the required oil amount.
- To do so, take out the dipstick and wipe it with a dry napkin. Then, dip it inside the oil and read the oil level. On this dipstick, there is a full line, and your oil must be around this line. If the oil dropped below the full line, it indicates a significant oil drop.
- If your engine’s oil level is very low, it indicates internal or external leaks. Therefore, look for signs of oil leak under the vehicle. If you didn’t find any clear visual signs, the problem could be internal, which is even more complicated.
How to reset the oil change light?
Changing the oil light varies significantly by vehicle’s make, model, and year with modern vehicles relying more on digital resetting.
While the process might differ by vehicle, the overall logic is very similar. Here is what you need to do to reset the change oil light:
- Using your car’s key, start the ignition but not the engine
- Find your vehicle’s reset button by referring to the vehicle’s owner’s manual. The reset button is usually somewhere around the dashboard to the left side of the driver’s seat.
- Press and hold on the reset button until your dashboard shows some oil on
- Follow the dashboard’s instruction until you find a “reset” option and press it. Your dashboard usually asks you to confirm the reset in case you did it by mistake
- Turn the ignition off before restarting it and firing the engine.
- Now, you should see an updated oil life or mileage.
- That’s it, and you are all set!
Remember to keep an eye on your engine’s oil level
Automotive experts recommend not to wait till you see the change oil light. You’d better monitor your oil level once a month or once every oil fill-up.
As we showed before, checking your engine’s oil level is a simple task, and you can do it by yourself. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always take your vehicle to the repair shop and ask them to check your engine’s oil level.
Usually, you don’t need an appointment to get your oil level checked; it is a fairly simple and quick process.
How to check your oil pressure?
Checking your engine’s oil pressure is not as simple as checking the oil level. Unfortunately, it would be best if you usually had a professional mechanic test your engine's oil pressure unless you have the required mechanical skillsets and tools.
Your engine’s oil is very important when it comes to your engine’s performance and safety. Your vehicle lets you know when it is due for an oil change using the change oil light on the dashboard.
If your change oil light illuminates, you must stop driving your vehicle and get it diagnosed by a professional mechanic as soon as possible. This is because the change oil light doesn’t always mean its time for an oil change; it can also indicate low engine oil pressure, a serious engine problem.