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I got a 2016 Ford Focus last January that has 1169 miles on it. I barely drive it, just to campus and back, about 2 miles each way weekdays. About a week ago the indicator came on for an oil change. My next service isn't due until 5000 miles, and I heard you're supposed to change oil every 3000 miles. This car came from the dealer with a faulty sensor wire issue, that the dealer denied despite the warranty, which was graciously fixed by Lincoln. As you can imagine, I'm not in a hurry to go back to the Ford dealer for service. It occurred to me that this could be yet another sensor wire issue, since they lied before and who knows what else could be secretly wrong with it.

Is it normal for an almost new car to need its oil changed?

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    Oil will break down due to use and time. I believe they used to recommend changing the oil every 3k miles or 6 months, whichever came first. Now days you can safely run double that mileage and more, but I wouldn't use oil that been in the car more than 1 year. I have nothing to back that up, that's just my personal opinion. – MooseLucifer Feb 28 '18 at 20:52
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    You describe severe driving conditions ( very short trips); yes you need an oil change. – blacksmith37 Mar 1 '18 at 20:42
  • Hey all! Thanks for the answers. I took it to the local shop, and the technician said the oil was pristine and to come back at 5000 mi. So looks like it was just a sensor flub that needed to be reset. Needless to say, not impressed with Ford's sensor quality... – MMDavey Mar 11 '18 at 1:50
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The oil change indicator on these newer Fords (and other makes) don't have some sensor that sticks in the oil to determine how good it is. They use the car's computer to measure run time and driving conditions and they calculate when to change the oil based on that data. Extreme driving conditions should shorten the "life" of the oil and more typical driving should make it last longer.

Your oil change interval should be somewhere between 7500 and 10000 miles. The faulty sensor could have made the engine think it was operating under extreme conditions, so your oil change interval could be lowered to around 3000 miles. It's also possible there is a time component in that oil life calculation.

Honestly, if you've never had the oil changed then you don't know when the last time it was changed was. When I first get a car, I'd rather change the oil early than assuming it was just changed and trying to wait. You don't have to take the car back to the dealer for that, however. Any trusted shop can change the oil and reset that oil life indicator.

  • @SolarMike, OP said that they had some other engine sensor that was faulty, so not an oil sensor. They don't mention what the other sensor was, so I'm saying it's possible that the engine "thought" it was working harder than it was because of possible bad readings. – JPhi1618 Mar 1 '18 at 15:30
  • I like your answer anyway, and the short trips could be the cause... so will delete my other comment as I see where you are coming from. – Solar Mike Mar 1 '18 at 15:39
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Even little use can cause some contamination in the oil because the engine does not likely always get up to full operating temperature. This is why time is used as part of the calculation and not just mileage.

According to the Ford owner manual for this vehicle you need to change your oil.

Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor™

Your vehicle is equipped with an Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor that determines when you should change the engine oil based on how your vehicle is used. By using several important factors in its calculations, the monitor helps reduce the cost of owning your vehicle and reduces environmental waste at the same time. This means you do not have to remember to change the oil on a mileage-based schedule. Your vehicle lets you know when an oil change is due by displaying a message in the information display.

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Driving only short distances is very bad for an engine because it doesn't warm-up properly. I wouldn't be surpised at all if your engine oil contains a lot of moisture. If the situation continues the engine oil will eventually look more like mayonnaise than actual oil. If the car has an Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor™ it could very well be that it triggers the oil change warning based on (mis)use of the car and not because of a faulty sensor.

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Most new vehicles have a break-in period, which includes using a break-in oil and driving gently for a short interval, then changing the oil. It could be that the truck has reached the end of such a break-in period and need new, normal oil.

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