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I have a 2014 Honda Pilot with 3600 miles on it. Historically I have always changed oil in my vehicles every 3000 miles, using good quality non-synthetic oil. Now this Honda has an "oil life indicator" and it reports the oil still has 60% of it's life left. The manual says I should change the oil when there is about 15% life left. This sounds reasonable, but is it?

I plan on keeping this vehicle for a long time. Should I stick with my every 3000 mile habits or will the "oil life indicator" accurately indicate when the oil should be changed to prevent engine damage?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

General Motors has a similar system in my 2002 Silverado. The way I understand that it works is the computer looks at a variety of inputs to determine oil life. It looks at engine load, cold start cycles, engine rpms, conductivity of the oil and some others. I know in my case it works as advertised. In the summer the engine reaches operating temperature during my short daily commute and the change oil indicator light will come on at 3500 to 4000 miles, longer if I am doing some extended highway use during vacations. In the winter my vehicle will frequently not run long enough to reach normal operating temps for days at a time. In these situations the light will indicate an oil change is due in as little as 1500 miles. I am still cautious and change the oil at 5000 miles if the light hasn't come on. But that is my personal preference. Because of the fact that it doesn't come on at a regular interval I have to assume it works. The oil gets dirtier if I do a lot of very short stops and extra condensation builds up. The important thing is to use the type of oil the program is designed for. If the manufacturer specifies synthetic use synthetic. If you use something other than what is specified you won't get the benefits of the program.

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The engine oil life indicator should be more than sufficient. Just make sure to check your dipstick every now and then to make sure you still have a good amount of oil. The indicator is alright, and I have trusted the one on my Avalanche so far with no problems.

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Ive been a mechanic for 15 years and will tell you that you can go by the oil life indicator, but Ive always recomended changing oil every 3k miles. It never hurts to change the oil and in some cases if your engine does use a little oil then your more likely to not run it low. Of course always check the oil frequently. Also a good rule is always give your engine a little time to get the oil flowing and warm up especially in the winter months!

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