Understanding Ford Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor (IOLM) System and Lights

Performing all scheduled and recommended maintenance on your Ford vehicle is imperative to keep it running well so you can avoid the many untimely, inconvenient, and possibly expensive repairs that come from neglect. Luckily, the days of the standardized manual maintenance schedule are coming to an end.

Smart technology, like the Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor (IOLM) from Ford, automatically monitors the oil life in your vehicle using an advanced algorithm, on board computer system that alerts owners when it’s time for an oil change, so they can address the issue promptly and without hassle. All the owner has to do is schedule an appointment with a trusted mechanic, take the vehicle in for servicing, and a mechanic will take care of the rest -- it’s that simple.

How Ford’s Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor system works

The Ford IOLM system is not just a simple oil quality sensor, but a software based, algorithm-driven device that takes into account various operating conditions of the engine to determine when the oil needs changing. Certain driving habits can affect the life of the oil, as well as driving conditions such as temperature and driving terrain. Lighter, more moderate driving conditions and temperature will require less frequent oil changes and maintenance, while more severe driving conditions will require more frequent oil changes and maintenance. Read the table below to see how Ford’s IOLM system determines oil life: Understanding Ford Service Indicator Lights - How driving conditions affect the engine oil of a Ford

The Ford’s IOLM meter is located on the information display on the dashboard, and will count down from 100% oil life to 0% oil life as you continue to drive the vehicle, at which point the computer will trigger a reminder for you to ‘change engine oil soon.’ Around the 15% oil life threshold, the computer will remind you that an ‘oil change is required’, giving you ample time to plan ahead to have your vehicle serviced. It is important not to wait to have your vehicle serviced, especially once the indicator reads 0% oil life. If you do wait, and servicing is overdue, you risk severe damage to the engine, which could leave you stranded or worse.

The following table outlines what the information on your dashboard means when the engine oil reaches a certain level of usage: Understanding Ford Service Indicator Lights - When to change the oil in a Ford

When your vehicle is ready for an oil change, Ford has a standard list of inspection for every servicing:

  • Change engine oil and oil filter
  • Perform a tire rotation
  • Perform a multi-point inspection of the engine and other parts; perform changes or repairs as necessary
  • Inspect the automatic transmission fluid level and condition; change as necessary
  • Inspect the brake pads, shoes, rotors, drums, brake linings, hoses and parking brake for wear; change or repair as necessary
  • Inspect the engine cooling system strength and hoses for wear; change fluids or repair as necessary
  • Inspect the exhaust system and heat shields for wear; change parts or repair as necessary
  • Inspect the rear axle and U-joints; lubricate any areas with grease fittings on all-wheel drive vehicles; perform repairs as necessary
  • Inspect the half-shaft boots; change or repair as necessary
  • Inspect the steering linkage, ball joints, suspension, tire-rod ends, driveshaft and U-joints; change or repair as necessary
  • Lubricate any areas with grease fittings on all-wheel drive vehicles; change or repair as necessary
  • Inspect the tires, tire wear and measure the tread depth; change as necessary
  • Inspect the wheels and components for abnormal noise, wear, looseness or drag; change or repair as necessary

  • Tip: If your vehicle has not been serviced for over a year (10,000 miles or 16,000 km), it is recommended that you schedule to have your vehicles checked out by a professional as soon as possible. Understanding Ford Service Indicator Lights - The recommended maintenance on a Ford

After your oil change and servicing is complete, you will need to reset the IOLM system in your vehicle. Learn do this by following the directions below:

Step 1: Press and release the ‘SETUP’ button on the steering wheel until you see the oil life indicator on the dashboard information display.

Step 2: Press and hold the ‘INFO/RESET’ button on the steering wheel for two seconds and release it. The oil life monitor will be reset to 100%.

  • Tip: If for any reason you need to change the percentage of your oil life, simply press and release the ‘INFO/RESET’ button again to reduce the oil life by 10% each time.

While the engine oil percentages are calculated according to an algorithm that takes into account driving styles and other specific conditions, other maintenance information is based on standard time tables such as in old-school maintenance schedules, located in the owner’s manual. This does not mean Ford drivers should ignore such alerts. Proper maintenance service will greatly extend the life of a vehicle, ensuring it is reliable, safe to drive, covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and also providing a greater resale value. Such maintenance tasks should always be performed by a qualified technician. If you have any doubts as to what the Ford IOLM system means or what services your vehicle may need, do not hesitate to contact our experienced professionals for advice.

If your Ford IOLM system is indicating that your vehicle is ready for servicing, have it checked out by a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic. Click here, choose your vehicle and service or service package, and book an appointment with us today. One of our certified mechanics will come to your home or office to service your vehicle.


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He came, did the job quickly and let me know what is needed to keep my van running at its optimal level.
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