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A maintenance reminder indicator comes up on nearly all modern vehicles’ instrument clusters when a maintenance service is due.
Each manufacturer has slightly different criteria to determine when the indicator illuminates. Common criteria include: distance traveled, number of hours the engine has run, and operating conditions.
The maintenance reminder is usually reset by pressing a button or through a combination of actions, such as pressing the pedal while turning the key in the ignition. Some vehicles are equipped with a simple button in the fuse access panel. Other cars allow you to alter the setting to allow you to account for oil quality and other factors.
Some reasons the reminder may come on prematurely or fail to illuminate include: a faulty speedometer/dash input, a fault dash bulb, or an incorrect setting that was programmed.
For example, if you purchased a vehicle and the setting is set to 3,000 miles and you use an oil that's rated for 5,000, your system will not know of the difference and it will keep reminding you every 3,000 miles until the setting has been updated. At the same time, if the car is programmed for a service every 4,000 miles, and you get an oil change at 3,000 miles, it is possible for a mechanic to forget to reset the maintenance reminder, in which case the light would illuminate 1,000 miles after the oil change. In these scenarios, the reminder system would be inaccurate.
Your maintenance interval will be inaccurate if you reset your maintenance reminder without performing your scheduled service.
Your maintenance interval will be inaccurate your maintenance reminder is not reset after a service even if the reminder did not display at the time.
Some manufacturers allow you to adjust the reminder interval. It is not recommended you do this without first consulting a professional mechanic.
Always have a second (backup) method of reminding yourself when the next maintenance is due.
Use a second method of tracking your next service, such as placing an oil change sticker on your windshield, or tracking your maintenance history through a YourMechanic online account. If the light is not coming on, or if it comes on too early, have a mechanic diagnose your vehicle and reset the reminder.
The maintenance reminder is a convenience item and is strictly a guideline for the timing of your next service. If this reminder system is faulty, monitor your vehicle maintenance schedule manually until it is fixed and have your regular maintenance services performed accordingly.
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