Posted under Motor Oil

You’re getting in the car for a grocery trip or driving to work and suddenly it happens: the oil change light comes on. What do you do? First, take a breath; it’s usually a simple fix! But it helps to know how your oil change light (often called a “maintenance light” or “engine light”) really works.

Unless you’re driving an older vehicle, your vehicle is equipped with an engine oil life calculation system. It sounds technical, but it’s really not: a typical system relies on a computer that counts the number of miles you drive and notifies you when an oil change is necessary. Most systems include two dashboard lights: one indicates that it’s time to change the oil, while the other tells you that the engine has low oil pressure. 


First, let’s talk about the oil change light, the most well-known oil light on car. You’ve probably noticed that when you start your engine, your “service oil” indicator will usually light up for a few seconds. This is normal and helps ensure that the bulbs in your dashboard are working properly. But if your light stays on, that’s when you know you’re ready for an oil or filter change

So, when does the oil change light illuminate—every 3,000 miles or so? Not anymore. While that standard used to be true, today’s vehicles have advanced fuel injection technology that make their engines more efficient. Thanks to these advances, vehicles can now go much longer in between oil changes. But when the oil change light does go on, it won’t go off until you change the oil or the filter, or both. If you don’t feel comfortable completing an oil change yourself, bring your vehicle in to be serviced by the highly trained technicians at Jiffy Lube®.


Next, let’s tackle the other oil light on car: the oil pressure light. When this light illuminates, it means that the oil pressure in your vehicle’s engine has dropped, and you need to take action immediately. If you continue to drive with this light on, you may cause serious damage to your vehicle’s engine. 

While running properly, the engine receives a constant supply of oil from the oil pump to lubricate its parts, and the light indicates that something is interfering with that process. You can think about oil as the lifeblood of your vehicle’s engine. With the proper oil level, your engine is protected from friction and heat. But without it, your engine may be damaged in a short period of time. So, it’s important to check your oil and filter regularly. And if the light comes on, you need to address it. Here’s what to do. 

  • First, safely pull your vehicle to the side of the road and turn off your engine. 
  • Next, find your vehicle’s engine compartment (usually by opening the hood) and check the oil level
    • To do this, remove the dipstick, wipe it clean with a rag and then reinsert it into the engine and pull it back out to read its level. If it is below the “full” line, it means the oil level is low. (If you’re having trouble finding the dipstick, consult your owner manual to learn where it’s located.)
    • If the dipstick does indicate low oil, look for any signs of leakage from your vehicle. Dripping oil may mean that a gasket or seal has failed. If you don’t see a visible external oil leak, there could be an internal problem in the engine. 

To refill the oil, purchase the correct oil type and weight for your vehicle and fill the engine until the dipstick indicates “full.” If the light is still illuminated after you restart your vehicle, call for tow assistance to have the issue diagnosed by a professional. 


Whenever you change the oil in your vehicle, you should reset the engine oil life calculation system. As you’ll recall, that system calculates when you’ll need your next oil change. And the good news is that you can perform a manual reset yourself on almost all vehicles on the road today—you just press and hold a few buttons on your instrument panel. Check your vehicle’s owner manual for specific instructions. In the rare case that a special tool is required, visit your local Jiffy Lube® to have a trained technician perform the reset for you.

a jiffy lube trained technician performing an oil change


Keeping up with oil changes and filter changes is one of the easiest things you can do to make sure your vehicle gives you the longevity and performance you need. And following the recommendations of your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) also helps you retain your vehicle’s warranty. 

When you take your vehicle to one of the 2,000 Jiffy Lube locations across North America the trained technicians can let you know which motor oils are recommended by your manufacturer and how often they recommend changing the oil. Then, the technicians can perform a complete oil change on your vehicle, including draining the oil, refilling the vehicle with Pennzoil® products that meet or exceed OEM specifications and replacing the oil filter. Finally, they’ll reset your oil life monitor and apply a removable sticker to your windshield to serve as a reminder of your next oil change. 

An oil light on car can cause concern, and it always seems to turn on when you least expect it. But with Jiffy Lube as your go-to destination for service, you know that you have highly trained experts who are just a call away. 


Learn more about why engine oil is so important to your vehicle’s overall health and performance.

Find out how Jiffy Lube is helping the environment by finding a second life for used motor oil.

Please note: Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube service center or visit for specific services offered.