Do I need to be actively monitoring my car miles usage to insure I'm changing the oil and or oil filter regularly?

I had been told by others that you need to monitor the miles to know when to change the filter. It seems to me that this should be automated with an engine light but I have been told this isn't the case. I have been taking my car in when the oil light comes on. It is a 2007 Honda Element and my first car.

  • as a side matter, be sure to check the level on a regular basis. If you just got the car (10 years old) check every 500-1000 miles at first and up that to 2-3000 if you are satisfied it isn't consuming any oil. Some of the computer driven change intervals are way long and you dont want to forgo checking the level until the light tells you to have it serviced.
    – agentp
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 0:18
  • When you say "oil light", are you referring to the red warning light? Or an oil service light that is yellow?
    – CharlieRB
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 13:01

2 Answers 2


You should be monitoring miles, but the oil light should be doing that also. Your owner's manual will recommend how often (how many miles) you should change the oil. It's ok to be a little late. :)

  • I guess I have to be more careful then hmm or have maybe been lucky. So the number of miles apply to both the oil filter's age and oil's age I am guessing and therefore are similar? Sorry if my question isn't clear my main concern is the oil filter. My other assumption is that the oil will run out before the oil filter and therefore should be a nonissue. I will read the manual.
    – William
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 18:15
  • The oil filter is replaced at the same time as the oil. "New with new," like my mama always says. You can't get all the old oil out of the engine without removing the filter, and an old filter will dirty your new oil, and old oil will dirty your new filter.
    – tlhIngan
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 18:23
  • I used a 5W50 fully synthetic in a turbo diesel and as it was so expensive I changed the oil every 15k, but the filter every 5k - filters are / were very cheap then... especially compared to the oil price.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 19:01
  • 1
    It's also worth noting that the light may go off every 3k or 5k miles but you prefer to change the oil every 7k or 10k for example, or that the counter wasn't reset at the last oil change, or that the light has quit working or.... I'm saying it's probably still worth it to track your miles even if you have a reminder light.
    – nexus_2006
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 20:30

If the vehicle has an oil life monitor (hence the light stating to change your oil), you shouldn't have to worry about it: the light will tell you when to change your oil. The oil life monitor uses all the factors of your engine and driving to determine when the oil needs to be changed. These factors include distance driven, engine heat, engine revolutions, time since last oil change, and other factors. It takes all of it into account when it decides you should change the oil in your vehicle. Normally when you change your oil, the filter is changed at the same time, so there is no need to separately monitor your mileage or time since your previous oil change. Just change both together and you'll be golden.

  • That is true of recent vehicles (at least in the last 10 years), but older vehicles just have the light come on so many miles after it was last reset.
    – tlhIngan
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 19:37

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