The oil service light is on - What should I do?

Posted by Zane Winberg on

What does the oil service light mean? 
Oil Service light

Most vehicles manufactured recently are required to have oil reset light on the dashboard. It also needs to have a computer which counts the number of miles you cover at specific intervals and gives you a notification of oil change when necessary. After using your vehicle for some time and you see the engine light blinking, it tells you to change the engine oil or the filter.

Most modern vehicles feature two lights relating to the oil system; the first one indicates the time required to change the oil while the other one means the oil pressure level is low. For you to diagnose these problems, you might need a car diagnostic tool with Oil Reset function that will read and display the codes for you to reset.

For most vehicles, standard oil change has to be done at an interval of three months or after every 3,000 miles. But some features advanced fuel injection and sophisticated management system which enhances the efficiency of the engine. Though most manufacturers have discovered this function helps to improve engine oil life, some has made this function obsolete.

Typically, when you start off your engine, the oil service oil should come on for about two seconds then it stops. If this light stays on, it will mean your vehicle needs oil or filter change. A car manufactured with an in-cabin messaging system will show the oil life of 10 percent to 100 percent at the center of the dash and takes about five seconds before it goes off.

When the oil life is low or near to 0%, the messaging system will show you an “oil change due” message. Unless the oil or filter is changed, this oil messaging system will not reset, and the oil light will continue to display. Also, this light can come on if the oil pressure of the engine drops.

You might tend to fix this at your home, but an engine with no oil pressure or the one which needs oil change requires immediate concern. When there is enough oil and pressure, oil will continuously be pumped into the tubes lubricating the tubes. The other cause of low oil pressure can be a failure of the oil pump or if there is something which blocks the system.


What to do when the oil service light is on?

Change Engine Oil

If the oil service light comes on while you are driving, it means the oil pressure in the engine of your car has dropped. An engine requires a constant supply of oil typically when moving for its parts to get lubricated. Driving on without addressing this issue might cause serious damage to your car engine. When you see oil service lights popping on, take the necessary action to safeguard your vehicle.

One of the actions to take is to pull over to the side of the road and switch off your vehicle’s engine. Then diagnose the oil light problem using a car diagnostic tool with reset function and clear the codes if necessary. Otherwise, call for help from the car repair experts who will address the issue. Avoid your engine staying without oil for long as this can damage your engine.

Once you have safely stopped at the roadside, check the level of the oil using the dipstick. A dipstick is usually located at the engine bay, remove it and wipe off the oil on the indicator using a napkin or rag. Once you’ve done wiping off the dipstick, recheck the level of oil if it is low. If it is below the full line, it indicates the engine oil is low.

If the level is not okay, look for signs of any leakage. If the level of oil has significantly dropped, it might mean the vehicle is leaking, or the oil was burned out by the engine due to internal leakage. If the oil is dripping down it means the gasket has ruptured or you have not fastened well the oil filter.

In case there is no any leak, then it means there must be a problem with oil pressure. If the level of oil is low, refill and recheck the oil light if it has gone off. Ensure that you use the right oil and fill the oil until the dipstick indicator shows it’s full.


How to fix the oil service light with a diagnostic tool?

Use diagnostic tool

Whenever there is an oil change, you have to reset the engine oil system. This is because the engine oil life system is responsible for calculating when engine oil and filter should be changed. In that case, you have to fix oil service light using a diagnostic tool which supports oil reset function.

To reset oil light, turn on the ignition but do not start the vehicle. Turn on the scanner and wait until the main menu appears. In the main screen, select Oil Reset icon and wait for the vehicle manufacturer information to be displayed then choose the type of your vehicle. When performing oil service reset, there are two ways you can choose, either manual reset or auto reset.

Manual reset can be done on almost all American, Asian and European vehicles. After selecting your vehicle and entering some of the information, the scanner will display manual reset option. At this stage, follow the prompts to finish oil service reset.

In the other hand, auto reset is supported by most American and European cars. Select your vehicle and on the main menu select the auto reset and press OK. At this point, you will see two options displayed: SRI reset and Adaptation depending on the type scanner tool you have used. The SRI function will reset the service reminder, and the adaptation will give an overview of the all relevant adaptation channels.


Keep on top of your oil level?

Top off with oil

Checking the oil level is necessary whenever you are filling up the fuel or when you visit a repair shop at least once in a month. If you have no idea of how to perform this, follow the user manual or visit a repair shop to check. In fact, most dealers are willing to check oil level for regular customers with no charges.


Bottom Line

Oil is like the lifeblood of any vehicle’s engine. Without it, your car will burn up or seize within some few seconds. Oil lubricates the car engine and helps to get rid of friction and heat. Friction and heat usually degrade the vehicle’s engine over sometime, because of this you ensure that you change the oil and filter regularly. Also, check the vehicle’s user manual for precise instructions with diagrams on how to check the level of oil and other functionalities.

Besides checking and changing the oil at appropriate intervals, one extra step you can take to prolong your engine's life and ensure the components are protected even when your oil starts to wear out is to use an additive such as CleanBoost® EMT ™. This additive is designed to work in engines ranging from regular street engines all the way up to 10,000 horsepower drag racing engines.
Besides protection from wear, by using CleanBoost® EMT ™ you would also reduce noise on noisy read differentials. With one 8oz bottle you can treat a 6 quart engine. Not bad!

About the author
Tim Miller - automotive mechanicI’m Tim Miller, an automotive mechanic and blogger from Denver, Colorado. I’m the founder of obdadvisor.com, an automotive blog about OBD2 scan tools.
I’ve had over 10-years experience in car repair and using OBD scanners.
Some of my review articles about car diagnostic tools can be found on my own website https://www.obdadvisor.com
My fan-page is https://www.facebook.com/autozikcom/


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