Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Krista asks: My ’05 Toyota RAV4 has a “maintenance required” light that has come on and won’t go out. Does this mean I need to get a code cleared?
Is it ok to drive the car?
My reply: Your Toyota’s “maintenance required” light is actually an oil change reminder light that automatically comes on after a certain mileage/time interval . . . to prompt you to have the oil changed. Many people understandably confuse this light with the more serious “check engine” light – which indicates a problem with one of the car’s systems, usually emissions control-related.
The “maintenance required” light will come on – and stay on – even after the oil has been changed, unless the system is reset (see pic below for the procedure). Either way, there’s no mechanical (or electrical) problem with the car and so no reason to stop driving the car. It’s mainly an irritation – if the light comes on and you can’t figure out how to make it go out.
The “check engine” light, on the other hand, should prompt action. It may have come on for a minor reason such as a loose gas gap but it could be something else, such as a bad oxygen sensor or some other thing which – if not corrected – could lead to expensive troubles if not dealt with.
You’ll need to have the vehicle connected to an OnbOard Diagnostics (OBD II) code reader, to find out what’s wrong – and to clear the code (which will turn off the “check engine” light).
The car companies ought to do a better job of explaining the difference between “maintenance required” and “check engine.”
Since they haven’t, I hope this helps!
. . .
Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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