In early September, I purchased a brand new 2006 Honda Civic LX that has the above dashboard display reminder that starts out at 100% and descends down to 0%, even negative percentages if the oil and filter aren't changed. This is all new to me since I'm used to changing the oil and filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Since we drive about 8,000 miles a year, I'm wondering how this will work out with our type of driving. We take few long trips, with about half over 10 miles and about half under 10 miles. What are your thoughts on the Mileage Minder or is it best to go with the 3,000 to 5,000 mile changes? Do you go along with this new technology?
Auto manufacturers have gone through a lot of testing. Essentially, their software engineers worked together with the mechanical engineers to determine how to tell when the oil needs to be changed. They came up with a formula that takes into account not only mileage, but also your driving style. Basically, they monitor oil temperature, rpm, and mileage, plug it into a formula and it spits out an oil life value.
In the early days of this type of device, it was just a mileage tracker. Nowadays, it is much more sophisticated. The only thing that it doesn't seem to do well with are short trip cars. You see, it's not the life of the oil or the dirt that becomes a problem, but moisture. If you don't run the car long enough, you wont boil off any accumulated moisture that gets into the oil. And this, in turn, creates acid.
Based on your driving habits, the oil minder might not tell you to change the oil but once a year and that is far too long. At a minimum, I would change the oil every six months or take the car out for a nice long drive at least once a month.
Bob, The Auto Answer Man
If you have a question for Bob send it to: . He's able to answer many of them personally and we'll include the best questions in future issues of The Dollar Stretcher.
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