Understanding Toyota Maintenance Required Lights

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Most Toyota vehicles are equipped with an electronic computer system that is linked to the dashboard, that tells drivers when something in the engine needs to be looked at. Whether the dashboard lights trigger to tell a driver the windshield wiper fluid is low, or there is low fuel in the tank, the driver must respond to the issue as soon as possible to resolve the issue. If the driver neglects a service light, such as the “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light, he or she runs the risk of damaging the engine - or worse, ending up stranded on the side of the road or causing an accident.

For these reasons, performing all scheduled and recommended maintenance on your 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 scratching your head and performing diagnostics to find the service light’s trigger are gone. Toyota’s “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light is a simplistic on-board computer system that alerts owners about specific maintenance needs so they can address the issue promptly and without hassle. At its most basic level, it keeps track of engine oil life so you don’t have to. Once the “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light is triggered, the driver knows to schedule an appointment to take the vehicle in for servicing.

How Toyota’s maintenance reminder system works and what to expect

The sole function of Toyota’s maintenance reminder system is to remind the driver to take their car in for an oil change. The computer system tracks the engine miles from the time it was reset, and the light will trigger after 5,000 miles of driving. Since the system is not algorithm driven, like other more advanced maintenance reminder systems, it does not take into account the differences between light and extreme driving conditions, load weight, towing, or weather conditions, which are important variables that affect oil life.

Because of this, the maintenance light might not be effective for those who tow often, or often drive in extreme weather conditions and need the oil changed more frequently. That said, it might not be effective for those who drive on the freeway all the time in fair weather conditions. This is not to say that a driver should neglect the maintenance light altogether. Be aware of your driving conditions throughout the year and, as necessary, have a professional determine whether or not your vehicle needs servicing depending on your specific, most frequent driving conditions.

Below is a helpful table that can give you an idea of how often you might need to change the oil in a modern vehicle (older vehicles often need more frequent oil changes): Understanding Toyota Service Indicator Lights - How driving conditions affect the engine oil life of a Toyota

When the “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light is triggered and you schedule an appointment to have your vehicle serviced, Toyota recommends a series of inspections that will help keep your car in good running order that can help prevent untimely and costly damages to the engine.

Below is a list of Toyota’s recommended inspections for different mile intervals during your ownership: Understanding Toyota Service Indicator Lights - Recommended maintenance schedule for a Toyota

Once your Toyota has been serviced, the “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light will need to be reset. Some servicers will neglect to do this, which can lead to premature and unnecessary service light triggers. With only a few simple steps, you can learn how to do it yourself:

Step 1: Insert the key into the ignition and turn the car to the “ON” position. Do not go as far as to start the engine.

Step 2: Make sure the “Trip A” is reading on the odometer. If it is not, depress the “Trip” or “Reset” button until the odometer reads “Trip A.”

Step 3: Press and hold the “Trip” or “Reset” button. While you are holding the button down, turn the car off and then turn it back to the “ON” position, continuing to hold the button down.

The odometer should display a series of dashes that will appear one after the other. After that a series of “0” (zeroes) will display and the “Trip A” reading will return. You can now release the button.

The “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light should be off, and the computer will now begin accumulating miles from zero. Once it reaches 5,000 miles again, the “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED” light will turn on again.

While the maintenance reminder system can be used as a reminder to the driver to have the vehicle serviced, it only be used as a guideline that only takes into account how the vehicle is driven and under what driving conditions. Other recommended maintenance information is based on standard time tables located in the owner’s manual. This does not mean that Toyota 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. It can also provide a greater resale value.

Such maintenance tasks should always be performed by a qualified technician. If you have any doubts as to what the Toyota maintenance system means or what services your vehicle may need, do not hesitate to contact our experienced professionals for advice.

If your Toyota maintenance reminder 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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