GM Oil Life Monitor System Frequently Asked Questions

Discussion in 'General Chevy & GM Tech Questions' started by Dr_Zero, May 21, 2009.

  1. Dr_Zero

    Dr_Zero Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    GM Oil Life Monitor System
    Frequently Asked Questions​

    How does the system work?
    The GM Oil Life Monitor System is not a mileage counter. It is actually a computer
    based software algorithm that determines when to change oil based on engine operating
    conditions. There is no actual oil condition sensor. Rather, the computer continuously
    monitors engine-operating conditions to determine when to change oil. Over the years,
    millions of test miles have been accumulated to calibrate the system for a variety of
    vehicles. The system was first introduced in 1988 and is now on more than 10 million
    GM vehicles.
    How do I operate the system?
    The GM Oil Life Monitor System is very easy to use. First, refer to the vehicle owner’s
    manual for a description of the specific ‘change oil’ message and the instructions for
    resetting the system. When the vehicle has been driven the appropriate miles, the ‘change
    oil’ message will be illuminated on the instrument panel or driver information center
    when the vehicle is first started. An oil change should be done within two fuel tank fillups
    from when the message was first displayed. Immediately after the oil has been
    changed, the system must be reset. After resetting, the ‘change oil’ display will no longer
    be displayed after engine start up.
    I change my oil every 3000 miles, so of what use is this system?
    You can continue to change your oil every 3000 miles if you so choose, but remember to
    reset the system after changing the oil or you will get a false “change oil” message.
    However the GM Oil Life Monitor System will allow you the ability to extend the
    mileage between changes without harming your engine. This will save you time and
    money as well as helping to protect the environment by minimizing the amount of used
    Do I have to use special oil?
    The GM Oil Life Monitor System is calibrated for use with standard “Starburst” mineralbased
    automotive engine oil. Synthetic oils are not required except for the Corvette.
    Make sure to read the owner’s manual and select the viscosity and oil grade that is correct
    for your engine. Any oil selected for use should carry the ILSAC “Starburst”.
    How many miles can I expect to go between oil changes when using this system?
    The beauty of the GM Oil Life Monitor System is that it will automatically adjust the oil
    change interval based engine characteristics, driving habits and the climate in which the
    vehicle is operated. For instance, mild highway driving in a warm climate will maximize
    the interval between oil changes. Depending on the vehicle, this could be in excess of
    7000 miles and as high as 12,000 miles. On the other hand, short trip driving in cold a
    climate may limit the oil change to 3000 miles or less. In general, most people that drive
    a combination of city and highway schedules find that the GM Oil Life Monitor System
    will indicate an oil change every 7500 to 8500 miles.
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  2. Dr_Zero

    Dr_Zero Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    What happens if I change oil and forget to reset the system?
    Since the GM Oil Life Monitor System does not actually sense oil condition, it is
    important that the engine computer knows when an oil change takes place. By enabling
    the reset (read owner’s manual for instructions), it lets the computer know an oil change
    has taken place. In the event that an oil change is done without resetting the system, the
    ‘change oil’ indicator will remain illuminated until the system is rest. The more miles that
    are driven without the system being reset, the more inaccurate the GM Oil Life Monitor
    System will be. If more than 500 miles have been driven after an oil change without
    resetting the GM Oil Life Monitor System, the oil change interval should be defaulted
    back to 3000 miles. After the oil has been changed and the system reset, normal use of
    the system can be resumed.
    The oil change service station recommends that I change oil every 3000 miles.
    Why should I not believe them?

    The 3000 mile oil change is very conservative approach to maintaining your vehicle that
    dates back to 1968. Many advancements in engine and oil technology have been made
    since then. These advancements, in conjunction with using the GM Oil Life Monitor
    System, allow engine oil drain intervals to be increased without risking harm your the
    I change my own oil, should I reset the system myself?
    You can reset per the vehicle owner's manual, or ask your selling dealer.
    Will I damage the car if I don't get the oil changed soon after the light comes on?
    As stated in the owner's manual, change oil as soon as possible. It is recommended that
    oil be changed within 600 miles of the change oil light / message.
    Do I have to check my oil level now that my vehicle is equipped with the GM Oil
    Life Monitor System?

    Yes, the system does not sense oil level. As stated in the owner's manual, it is
    recommended that you check your oil every time you stop for gasoline.
    Will I void my warranty if I don't go by the GM Oil Life Monitor System?
    Complying with the owner's manual recommendations will maintain the warranty.
    I had my oil changed recently and now my GM Oil Life Monitor System light came

    If the system was not reset (refer to owner's manual) at the time of oil change, the system
    can be reset as long as it's been less than 500 miles since the last oil change. If this
    mileage has been exceeded, change the oil at 3000 miles and reset system.
    I prefer to have my oil changed still around 3,500 miles, what should I do?
    It is ok to change oil prior to being notified by the vehicle. Be sure the system is reset
    even if the GM Oil Life Monitor System light has not illuminated.
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  3. Dr_Zero

    Dr_Zero Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    My oil seems dirty, I have 6,000 miles and no light, do I have a problem?
    Discoloration will take place under normal conditions depending on driving conditions.
    Refer to the Owner’s Manual for further information
    Can any dealer other than my selling dealer perform Simplified Maintenance

    While we like to recommend the selling dealer, any GM Goodwrench dealership can
    perform the Maintenance I and Maintenance II service and reset the GM Oil Life System.
    I use synthetic oil, should I expect to get more miles before the trigger point with

    The GM Oil Life System is calculated based on the factory fill requirement. While some
    benefits may exist, the oil drain interval is not extended due to the use of synthetic oil.
    During Summer I drive my vehicle in a very hot climate, do I need to change oil
    more often?

    The beauty of the GM Oil Life System is that it calculates for severe climate use and
    determines the oil change interval just as it does for trailer towing as well as stop and go
    operation. There is no need to adjust the oil change based on climate, as well as vehicle
    I continue to get 3,000 mile follow-up mailers from my dealer, what should I do?
    Inform you servicing dealer that you prefer to go by the Maintenance I and Maintenance
    II driven by the GM Oil Life Monitor System so that they may adjust the way you receive
    follow-up mailings.
    I have another GM vehicle a 2002 model with the GM Oil Life Monitor System, can
    I use the Simplified Maintenance Schedule with it also?

    While it is equipped with the GM Oil Life Monitor System, Maintenance I and
    Maintenance II was not yet introduced. The proper recommendation would always be to
    follow the owner’s manual.
    1 person likes this.
  4. meash20

    meash20 Rockstar

    Well you just confirmed my thoughts... What a great post! thanks for sharing this info!:great:
  5. Dr_Zero

    Dr_Zero Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    No problem! I was not sure myself so I looked it up and thought heck if 2 of us are interested maybe there are others out there. :great:
  6. TRPLXL2

    TRPLXL2 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Yep I have always wondered this question as well, I kind of figured that it didn't take in to effect synthetic oils because no one runs them really. I am surprised that diesel trucks aren't calibrated for synthetic oil, almost every diesel driver I know has synthetic oil in there truck. I figured the Corvette would be tuned for that, typical GM thinking.:happy:
  7. masterfoxscout

    masterfoxscout Rockstar ROTM Winner 100 Posts

    Good info!

    Part of the deal when I bought my truck new was free L/O/F changes for life, so every 3 months I get it changed no matter what the Oil O' Meter says
  8. redneckarmyMP

    redneckarmyMP Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    very good info.i recently went on a hunt to find out how to reset my oil life after my oil change.much easier than i thought!
  9. poncho08

    poncho08 Rockstar 100 Posts

    Me personally it's either 5000 km or three months whichever one comes first.that's what I was taught in school and that is how I still do it.

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