Things to Know About Vehicle Oil Life Monitors - Shingle Springs Subaru Service

If you're like most Americans, you simply get your oil changed whenever the windshield sticker says you should -- or a few hundred miles after that. But what if your car could tell you exactly when your oil needs to be changed, based on the conditions of your particular driving style and conditions? Well, that's exactly what oil life monitors claim to do. But how do they work? And can you trust them? And, most importantly, do you have one on your vehicle? We'll tell you more on this page so you can answer these questions and take the best possible care of your ride.

Some cars with built-in oil life monitors will alert you when the system thinks its time for an oil change

5. What Is An Oil Life Monitor?

In fact, the name "oil life monitor" is something of a misnomer. These systems don't literally assess the chemical health of the oil in your engine. Rather, they use a computer algorithm that accounts for variations in the conditions your engine experiences. By monitoring engine temperature, climate, engine RPMs, idle time and more, they can take a more educated guess at the condition of the oil in your engine, and recommend a personalized oil change interval.

Engine oil coats the engine's rapidly moving parts to provide protection, but it breaks down over time

4. Why Do Subaru Vehicles Lack Oil Life Monitors?

Instead of an oil life monitoring system, the latest Subaru vehicles provide a simple maintenance reminder. Your owner's manual will come with a schedule of regular maintenance services your car will need, like oil changes, fluid flushes and more. The infotainment system can provide you with alerts when you cross mileage thresholds so you don't have to remember yourself. And you can ditch that unsightly windshield sticker, too.

That's because Subaru believes that following the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule, regardless of individual driving conditions, is the best way to keep your car running its best for the long haul.

Using the engine's dipstick, this technician analyzes the condition of the oil inside

3. How Do I Know When To Get My Oil Changed?

If you don't have your Subaru vehicle's maintenance reminder programmed, or you're driving an older vehicle without one, just consult your owner's manual! In the back, you'll find a recommended maintenance schedule for your specific Subaru model.

For instance, every 2015 Subaru model should have its oil changed using synthetic oil every 6,000 miles. Or, if you experience severe driving conditions such as frequent stop-and-go traffic, off-road travel or towing, Subaru recommends replacing the oil every 3,000 miles.

2. How Do I Check The Condition Of The Oil In My Engine?

Using the dipstick, you can visually inspect the level and color of the oil in your engine, to get an idea of how healthy your engine oil really is.

To do this properly, make sure you're parked on flat, level ground. For your safety, allow the engine to cool. You'll also need to clean off the dipstick to remove any oil splash from the last time the vehicle was driven in order to get an accurate reading. 

If the oil level is too low according to the dipstick, visit our service center right away so we can top off the system and assess any possible leaks or oil consumption. And if the oil color is very dark brown or black, it may be time for an oil change. But, if you're still within the recommended mileage limit, your oil level is correct and the color is amber to brown, you're good to go!

1. How Long Should The Oil Typically Last In My Car?

Modern synthetic oils have been designed to last a very long time compared to conventional. Some vehicles may even allow you to go 10,000 miles or more between oil changes when equipped with a pure synthetic oil. However, for the best possible protection for your engine, we tend to recommend changing the oil a little more often. Give us a call to speak with a technician about your vehicle, or just check the owner's manual.

You may choose to use conventional oil rather than synthetic, particularly if you have an older Subaru model with a six-cylinder engine. These Subaru engines were filled with conventional oil from the factory. Because conventional oil breaks down quicker, be sure to have the oil regularly changed every 3,000 miles.