Can I Drive With The Maintenance Required Light On?
Yes, but do so with caution. This light is typically on to remind you that it’s time to change the oil or clean the filter in your car – ignoring it won’t impact your ability to drive, but the longer you leave old oil, the more strain you’re putting on the engine.
It only activates once you have exceeded 5,000 miles of driving once the car’s internal maintenance data has been properly reset. This is apparently enough time for your engine to have run through its oil supply and dirtied up the filter.
Think of it like this: putting off this simple task saves you ten or fifteen minutes of messing around, but leaving the engine unchecked is could rack up thousands of dollars in repair costs when things eventually blow up in your face.
Driving for too long with low oil in your vehicle is asking for damage to the engine and will eventually destroy your motor. It’s impossible to predict how long this will take as every vehicle is different, so pushing your luck really isn’t recommended.
You can also look at it like this – the light indicates that your car needs servicing, so if you take it to your local mechanic they can do all of the necessary checks and little tasks here. Your light will go off even if you’re not sure why it’s on!
If there are multiple lights pertaining to the engine or its oil levels on your dashboard, it’s worth consulting your owner’s manual to find out exactly what each means.
Where one is more of a suggestion of maintenance, the other sort of shouts, “GET YOUR CAR TO THE SHOP IMMEDIATELY!”
How Long Can I Drive After Maintenance Light Comes On?
There is no fixed time – plenty of information circulates the internet saying otherwise, but many factors come into play. Your driving style, how often you drive, road condition, and climate all impact how much your car can withstand before giving up.
If you’re happily driving along and the maintenance light flashes on, you should pull over (in a safe place!) and turn off your engine. Pop the hood and check your oil levels using the dipstick; if it comes out dry or slightly oily, top it up and try again.
Should the light remain on after this, you should book a service in an ideal world, but it’s not that simple for busy people. Other than heading to the garage as soon as you can, there are other key signs to listen or look out for that indicate trouble.
When your brake pads are squeaking or there’s grinding, crunching, or whirring coming from under the hood, it’s clear there’s an issue you have to address. A pulling sensation or feelings of unresponsive when you drive are also alarm bells.
Anything that looks or sounds out of the ordinary is cause for concern and should be investigated. That said, just because there isn’t a visible or audible sign of any problems, doesn’t mean you should stop worrying!
Essentially – stop putting it off! It’s up to you how long you want to risk damage to your vehicle, but you could also be putting your life at risk. Too long without service and the car’s reaction might end up being far more dangerous than you expected.
Is The Maintenance Required Light The Same As Check Engine?
Nope! The various lights on your dashboard all mean specific things. Depending on which car you drive, things might look different on yours specifically, but each light has its own purpose and potential interpretation.
For instance, the check engine light is usually pretty basic. Typically, it’s an outline of an engine, sometimes paired with the word “check” if you’re lucky, or there may be an arrow pointing to the outline itself that becomes illuminated when it’s time.
This light tells you there is a problem that requires immediate solving, or something wrong with the emissions system that cannot be ignored. These range from fixable by you to needing the attention of a mechanic, and also vary in seriousness.
For instance, if you didn’t properly replace the cap last time you topped up your tank with gas, or you filled the gas up with the engine running, your car may falsely detect what it believes to be a leak.
This is quite simple to rectify: tighten the cap and restart the engine – if the light doesn’t go away, it’s something more sinister. Anything else requires you to head to a garage immediately, as there is a serious issue with your car somewhere.
It could be that your cylinders are failing to fire properly or not all of them are firing, your catalytic converter has been damaged or there is an issue with your Mass Airflow Sensor. It might also be that your spark plug has become disconnected.
When it comes to the Maintenance Due or Service Engine light popping up, however, this is simply your reminder to take your car into the garage. It is usually triggered by the mileage counter (depending on your manufacturer) and not an emergency.
There isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s just that your car has gone a while (or driven a specific number of miles) since its last maintenance check. This typically involves servicing the air and cabin filter, as well as changing your engine’s oil supply.
Given that there are multiple stages to a maintenance cycle and you might not achieve them all, it’s best to leave this in the capable hands of a trustworthy mechanic. Head to a shop with a good reputation – this is no time to be cheap.
Once you get into a good maintenance routine, you’ll stop seeing the Maintenance Due light as often, as it’s likely you’ll have sorted any checks before the car detects it’s time to do so.
Plus, your vehicle will drive better and stay on the road longer as a result! Dedicate only a half hour’s work and gain many rewards in return.