Performing all scheduled and recommended maintenance on your Chevrolet vehicle is imperative to keep it running well so you can avoid the many untimely, inconvenient, and possibly expensive repairs that come from neglect. Luckily, the days of the standardized manual maintenance schedule are coming to an end.

Smart technology, like the Oil-Life Monitor (OLM) system from General Motors (GM), automatically monitors the oil life in your vehicle using an advanced algorithm, on board computer system that alerts owners when it’s time for an oil change, so they can address the issue promptly and without hassle. All the owner has to do is schedule an appointment with a trusted mechanic, take the vehicle in for servicing, and a mechanic will take care of the rest; it’s that simple.

How the Chevrolet Oil Life Monitor (OLM) system works and what to expect

The Chevrolet Oil Life Monitor (OLM) system is not a simple oil quality sensor, but a software-based, algorithm-driven device that takes into account various operating conditions of the engine to determine when the oil needs changing. Certain driving habits can affect the life of the oil, as well as driving conditions such as temperature and driving terrain. Lighter, more moderate driving conditions and temperature will require less frequent oil changes and maintenance, while more severe driving conditions will require more frequent oil changes and maintenance. Read the table below to see how the OLM system determines oil life:

The oil life meter is located on the information display on the dashboard, and will count down from 100% oil life to 0% oil life as you continue to drive the vehicle, at which point the computer will trigger a reminder for you to “Change Engine Oil Soon.” Around the 15% oil life threshold, the computer will remind you that an “Oil Change Is Required,” giving you ample time to plan ahead to have your vehicle serviced. It is important not to wait to have your vehicle serviced, especially once the indicator reads 0% oil life. If you do wait and servicing is overdue, you risk severe damage to the engine - which could leave you stranded or worse. GM recommends that an oil change should be completed within two fuel tank fill-ups from when the first message was displayed.

The following table outlines what the information on your dashboard means when the engine oil reaches a certain level of usage:

When your vehicle is ready for an oil change, GM has a standard list of inspection for servicing your Chevrolet:

Chevrolet recommends these scheduled maintenance items throughout the life of the vehicle as well:

After your oil change and servicing is complete, you might need to reset the OLM system in your Chevrolet. There are two options for first generation and second generation models. Learn how to do this by following the directions below:

For third generation models (2014-2015):

Step 1: Insert key into the ignition and turn the vehicle to the “ON” position. Do this without starting the vehicle.

Step 2: Press the left arrow button on the right side of the steering wheel.

Step 3: Select the “INFO” option.

Step 4: Scroll up until you find “OIL LIFE” and select it.

Step 5: Press and hold the “CHECK” button. Hold until the “OIL LIFE” display changes to 100%.

For second generation models (2007-2013):

Step 1: Insert key into the ignition and turn the vehicle to the “ON” position. Do this without starting the vehicle.

Step 2: Press the accelerator pedal to the floor three times within five seconds. The “CHANGE OIL SOON” light should begin to flash, which means the system is resetting.

Step 3: Turn off the ignition once the light stops flashing.

While the engine oil percentages are calculated according to an algorithm that takes into account driving styles and other specific driving conditions, other maintenance information is based on standard time tables such as in old-school maintenance schedules, located in the owner’s manual. This does not mean Chevrolet drivers should ignore such alerts. Proper maintenance service will greatly extend the life of a vehicle, ensuring it is reliable, safe to drive, covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. It can also provide a greater resale value. Such maintenance tasks should always be performed by a qualified technician. If you have any doubts as to what the GM Oil Life Monitor (OLM) system means or what services your vehicle may need, do not hesitate to contact our experienced professionals for advice.

If your Chevrolet’s Oil Life Monitor (OLM) system is indicating that your vehicle is ready for servicing, have it checked out by a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic. Click here, choose your vehicle and service or service package, and book an appointment with us today. One of our certified mechanics will come to your home or office to service your vehicle.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Understanding Chevrolet Oil-Life Monitor (OLM) System and Lights and was authored by Brent Minderler.


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