Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Understanding the Volkswagen Oil Monitoring System and Lights

Understanding Volkswagen Service Indicator Lights -  instrument panel of a Volkswagen with oil change indicator

Most Volkswagen vehicles are equipped with an electronic computer system that is linked to the dashboard, that tells drivers when the oil needs to be changed. If the driver neglects a service light, such as the “CHANGE OIL NOW” 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. Volkswagen’s oil monitoring system is a simplistic on-board computer system that alerts owners about necessary oil changes so they can address the issue promptly and without hassle. At its most basic level, it keeps track of the engine oil level and quality so you don’t have to. Once the oil monitoring system is triggered, the driver knows to schedule an appointment to take the vehicle in for servicing.

How Volkswagen’s oil monitoring system works and what to expect

Volkswagen’s oil monitoring system assesses the engine oil in two ways: by oil level and temperature. When the engine is running, the sensors continuously monitor engine oil temperature and calculate the oil level. Both calculations are sent to the dash panel insert and trigger a service light as necessary.

The computer system also tracks the engine miles from the time it was reset, and the service light will trigger after a certain amount of miles add up. The owner has the ability to have the mileage intervals set to reflect the best possible maintenance schedule depending on how the owner uses the vehicle, and under what conditions he or she drives.

Since the oil monitoring 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, important variables that affect oil life. It is best to speak with a mechanic to help you determine the best maintenance plan for you. Do not hesitate to contact our experienced professionals for advice.

Volkswagen recommends two different maintenance schedules based on the type of oil used, as well as certain driving habits and driving conditions illustrated in the graph below: Understanding Volkswagen Service Indicator Lights - HOW DRIVING CONDITIONS CORRELATE WITH THE SERVICE SCHEDULES FOR A VOLKSWAGEN

When the “CHANGE OIL NOW” light is triggered and you schedule an appointment to have your vehicle serviced, Volkswagen recommends a series of inspections that will help keep your car in good running order, and can help prevent untimely and costly damages to the engine, depending on your driving habits and conditions.

Below is a chart of Volkswagen’s recommended inspections for different mile intervals during the first few years of ownership. This is a general depiction of what a Volkswagen maintenance schedule can look like. Depending on variables, like the vehicle year and model and your specific driving habits and conditions, this information is subject to change for maintenance frequency as well as the maintenance performed: Understanding Volkswagen Service Indicator Lights - RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR A VOLKSWAGEN 1 Understanding Volkswagen Service Indicator Lights - RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR A VOLKSWAGEN 2 Understanding Volkswagen Service Indicator Lights - RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR A VOLKSWAGEN 3 Understanding Volkswagen Service Indicator Lights - RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR A VOLKSWAGEN 4 Understanding Volkswagen Service Indicator Lights - RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR A VOLKSWAGEN 5

Once your Volkswagen has been serviced, the “CHANGE OIL NOW” 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 for newer (2006-2015) Volkswagen models with one of these methods:

Step 1: Insert the key into the ignition and turn the car to the “ON” position. Don’t start the engine.

Step 2: Select the “SETTINGS” menu. Select the menu from the arm that controls the windshield wiper, or the controls on the steering wheel.

Step 3: Select “SERVICE” from the submenu. Then, select “RESET” and press the “OK” button to reset the display.

Step 4: Press “OK” button once more to confirm the reset.


Step 1: With the ignition “OFF”, press and hold the “0.0/ SET” button. This button should be located on the right side of the instrument cluster.

Step 2: While holding down the “0.0/ SET” button, turn ignition to the “ON” position. Don’t start the vehicle.

Step 3: Release the “0.0/ SET” button and depress the “CLOCK” one time. The “CLOCK” button should be located on the left side of the instrument cluster.

Step 4: Wait for the display to go back to normal. After maybe one or two seconds, the display panel will turn back to the normal display setting, indicating the service interval has been reset.

While the Volkswagen oil monitoring system can be used as a reminder to the driver to have the vehicle serviced, it should be only be used as a guideline regarding 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 Volkswagen 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 Volkswagen maintenance system means or what services your vehicle may need, do not hesitate to contact our experienced professionals for advice.

If your Volkswagen oil monitoring 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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...

Related questions

Q: Ignition and AC problems.

Hello! As far as the key, there may be a component binding inside of the ignition lock cylinder. After years of abuse, a key can become very worn and pose problems when trying to turn the ignition. Since your AC...

Q: Change oil remove filter

Hello there, thank you for asking about your 1985 BMW 635CSi. According to the information I have found, your vehicle uses a canister style oil filter. To remove the filter, use a 17mm socket to remove the filter housing. Pull...

Q: My "Service Air Bag" Warning came on, should i worry?

The air bag light is an indicator that somewhere in the air bag system, there is a fault. The system will need to be tested with a compatible scanner that can access the air bag module. You may have problems...