Reader Question: Mindless Oil Change Monitor?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

John asks: My 2014 V6 Mustang oil change monitor is down to 15 percent.  I only have 2,200 miles since the last oil change.  The car is driven infrequently – but 10 to 50 miles per trip.  Does the oil minder actually measure oil degradation or is it an arbitrary time\mileage factor?

My reply: According to Ford (see here) the Intelligent Oil Life Monitor (IOLM) in your car triggers a service reminder according to how the vehicle is driven, based on “several important factors” (e.g., trip duration, periods of “extended” idling and so on) rather than just mileage/time intervals.

The type of driving you do appears to qualify – per Ford – for the “severe” (but not “extreme”) changeout intervals, which are shorter than “normal.”

My attitude toward oil/filter changes is to err on the side of caution given the relatively low cost of oil/filters vs. the very high cost of major engine work/replacement.

So, if the the IOLM says it’s time to change, I would.

. . .

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  1. Unsure if the monitoring system physically samples and measures the condition of the oil, or if ancillary data such as time at temperature, run time, oil pressure, total engine revolutions, etc., aren’t kept by the car’s computer then sent into an algorithm to compute oil life. My ’14 VW Jetta has 10k service intervals, and I am like with other guy’s opinions here: I will not wait that long to change the oil.

  2. Ford achieved twice as long intervals on my ’12 Mustang by using twice as much oil. (8qts)

    Anyway the ford oil reminder light seems to keep track of time and driving style and distance. I haven’t found an issue with it thus far except for draining oil that was perfectly good IMO (low mostly hwy mileage but in the engine for a year) should the warranty be needed.

  3. We usually change at about 50% on the oil condition indicator, which is usually around 6K miles.

    But that’s virtually ALL highway driving as we don’t drive the car anywhere unless we are going out on the highway.

    • Zane, changing oil and filter is all about how a vehicle is driven, how long it takes to put on the mileage and the oil and filter itself.

      I changed a few of my friend’s vehicles over to Amsoil because they drove mileage almost like a trucker, in fact, at times, more than a trucker. They’ve had their oil checked at 25,000, what Amsoil says it will do and found out it was still doing a good job. One guy figured up how much he’d saved and wouldn’t even hear of changing to anything else and yes, his cars lasted virtually forever. He got away from Honda and began driving the Toyota Avalon using Amsoil oil and filters. I guess he still has it and drove it probably 100,000 miles per years.

      In the case of changing oil, it isn’t what you think you know but what you can find out with things such as oil evaluations at varying mileage.

      A common number of miles for newer big rigs with engines like the Cummins ISX(extremely clean piston design allowing almost no carbon into the crankcase) is 22,000 miles. I know a guy who had nearly 960K on one of these when the head developed a crack in an injector seat. He decided to overhaul it. Once he had the old engine completely disassembled he found the main bearings to measure the same as new. He found not a mark on a piston skirt and rings still well within spec, nearly like new. The rest of the engine was pretty much the same. He said for a fact he wished he’d have simply fixed the head and got another million miles out of it or traded when the rest of the truck was getting to need more parts replaced. As an aside, he substituted a gallon of GL5 for engine oil every change. I never heard of anyone doing that but a “like new” engine at 960K you can’t fault.


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