Should I follow the oil life gauge on my 2011 Odyssey or change it more often?

We have a 2011 Odyssey with 97,000 miles on it we bought used about 6 months ago that had been a rental. The dealer told us just to follow the oil life gauge on the dash and change it when it reads 15%. I’m not sure how many miles it took us to reach that but it was around 8,000-10,000 which seemed like a lot. I checked the owner’s manual and could not find anything other than the 15% gauge rule the dealer told us. I know it uses synthetic oil. Should I just follow the gauge or change it every how many miles? My dad is convinced we still need to change it every 3,000 miles and this is just a dealer ploy to get the van to wear out faster and us to need a new car. We hope this van will last us 10 years and are guessing it probably needs some TLC due to it being a rental, but don’t know if it’s OK to follow the dealer’s recommendation and the gauge or if we should change it more frequently. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

As mentioned many times now, I change oil at about 50% on all cars. This is about 5000 on one, 3000 on the other, and once a year on another one. I will not go beyond that regardless of what the computer says. Others of course will disagree but I would not buy a used car that had the oil changed at 8000 mile intervals.

While my car does not have an oil life indicator, if it did, I would react to it exactly as Bing does.

As one of the other long-term members of this forum says, “the idea is to prolong the life of your engine, not the life of the oil”. Because going for extended intervals between oil changes can lead to the formation of damaging oil sludge in your engine (the engine equivalent of clogged arteries, with similar outcomes), you want to avoid sludge formation at all costs.

Because engines are very expensive, and oil (even synthetic oil) is relatively cheap, I recommend that you not go beyond the 50% indication on the oil life system.

I had a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander with the oil life indicator. In stop and start winter driving, it would indicate an oil change was needed before 5000 miles. In the summer with interstate driving it would not indicate the need for an oil change until 9000 miles. I followed the indicator and my son now has the Uplander and uses the indicator. The Uplander has about 115,000 miles and uses no oil.
Especially with synthetic oil, 3000 mile oil changes aren’t necessary.

100,000 miles? No offense but I’m talking 300, 400, 500,000 miles.

The auto manufacturers are sort of between a rock and a hard place. They want happy customers, and so they want the owner to get the maximum life from their car; but they also know that when people are deciding which car to buy, they look at Consumer Reports and the like to see what the total estimated cost of ownership is. And how often the manufacturer suggests the oil changes should be is one factor. If the Honda owners manual for example says to change the oil on the Odyssey every 3,000 miles, then Consumer Reports might dock that car because of higher than normal predicted maintenance costs.

So you as the owner need to make some common sense judgement due to this conflict of interest the auto manufacturer has. 3,000 miles betweeen changes seems sort of excessive unless it is all stop and go city driving. If the car is driven sort of normally, some stop and go city driving, some expressway suburban driving, and some freeway driving, then maybe 5,000 to 6,000 miles might be the best interval, something like that. On my 200k miles early 90’s Corolla, I use plain 'ol Penzoil 10-30, change the oil somewhere between 5,000 miles, and never had any oil-related trouble in 20 + years.

We have an Olds Silhouette with 143,000 miles on it. I followed the OLM and changed the oil when it got to 10%. The van still doesn’t burn oil. My kid’s have Chevy’s and we use the OLM to monitor oil changes. They get to 10,000 miles before it goes below 20%, and I change it then. Since one car has had just one oil change and the other 3, I can’t tell you much, except they don’t burn oil. I have no qualms bout using the OLM to monitor oil life.

And the dealer did not install the OLM, Honda did. Honda would not knowingly put a device in that would shorten the life of the vehicle. That would cost them a lot of customers that they earned with high reliability. BTW, GM has provided OLMs in their cars since the late 1980s. It’s 25 year old technology, and I haven’t heard of any premature engine failures directly attributable to the OLM.

It won’t hurt the van to change oil prematurely. It will only hurt your wallet. Let’s say it costs $30 to change the oil. If you go 9000 miles instead of 3000 between changes, you save $60 that you could use elsewhere. Some say changing oil early and often is cheap insurance. I don’t buy that.

Oh, and I have an older OLM in my 2005 Accord that is really just a mileage reminder. The CEL glows a little longer starting at 7000 miles when you start the car. I’ve changed the oil in that car at about 7000 to 7500 mile intervals since new. It has about 115,000 miles on it now and…it doesn’t burn oil. I have a similar engine and transmission to yours. You will be fine if you start arranging the oil change when you get to 20% or even 15%.

@donchanka–Does your 2011 Odyssey really have 97,000 miles or is it 9700 miles? This would have to be road miles unless the Odyssey was used for taxicab service.

I have a co worker and friend, he has an 07 civic with 235k miles. He followed the OLM and changed it anywhere form every 6k-10k miles at the Honda dealer using bulk oil.
The car uses no oil, he has never had any trouble with it. I would follow the OLM. I think changing it sooner is a waste of money and resources.

I’m not sure that “burning oil” or not is the issue but rather sludging and maybe bearing and camshaft wear. Tester and others in past posts have provided graphic images of engines that have had extended oil changes and its not pretty and not easily corrected. I believe one had very low miles on it and was sludged up already. Hondas especially. Just because the car isn’t burning oil doesn’t mean that its not damaged. Lots of transmissions out there too with over 100K on them without ever being serviced, but doesn’t mean they are in great shape.

Thanks for all the replies everyone. @Triedaq, yes, it really does have 97,000 miles on it. It was a rental in Kansas so we’re guessing people used it for family vacations and it takes a long time to get anywhere from there. :slight_smile: Those have to be mostly highway miles or at least we hope. I’m glad to see 3000 miles is probably a waste. I’ll keep an eye on our mileage as well as the gauge and will probably change it sooner than 15% depending on mileage. Thank you all!

Three thousand miles it not necessarily a waste; as a lot of car owners have tragically discovered after the fact.

I live in northern OK and KS is not immune to the same dirt and humidity that exists here; meaning more frequent oil changes.

One thing to keep in mind is that at least one manufacturer has recently had a lot of problems with premature engine failures with owners that have followed the oil life monitor.

Is the goal truly to get every last mile you can out of your oil? Would you wait until your gas gauge was on E to fill up or until you’ve used every last dish in your cupboard before loading the dishwasher? I would not go more than 5-6K miles, even with synthetic, unless you drive mostly highway miles or have had an oil analysis done to truly determine how much life is remaining. Oil changes are cheap–engines are not.

“One thing to keep in mind is that at least one manufacturer has recently had a lot of problems with premature engine failures with owners that have followed the oil life monitor.”

GM recently announced that it will begin providing oil change service for 24mo/24,000 miles with a new car purchase. They are doing this in an effort to reduce warranty claims on premature engine failure. Many people fault the OLM for premature engine wear. I do not. Aside from the timing gear failures on the 3.6 engine, the OLM is perfectly fine and does not cause any problems when the car is serviced properly. But I know some things you don’t.

Most people here are somewhat maintenance minded. But you would be surprised how many folks don’t even know how to open the hood. You would be surprised how many people come in for an oil change only because the low pressure light is on. Extended oil life does not mean you never need to check it. I don’t car how often you change the oil, if you regularly drive 2 qts low, you’re going to have problems.

I hired a guy who spent time at a local dealership. He was surprised to find 7 or 8 different weights of oil in stock here. I asked him what they used for the different lines of cars they serviced. He said they had barrels of 10W30 and were told to use that in everything, no matter what the car required.

I had lunch with a friend who also runs a small indy shop. He asked me if I was still stocking those expensive AC Delco oil filters. I said “Sure.” He replied that he just switched to XYZ brand and was able to get his price down to $1.63 each.

So you’ve got engines habitually low on oil, the wrong oil on top of that, and with the cheapest oil filter you can find. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster…

Keep the oil full. Quit using Wal-Mart oil and stick with the proper oil, and pay a little extra for a decent filter.

i would worry more about your transmission before engine failure. service your trans now. drain fluid. use honda fluid.

Should I follow the oil life gauge on my 2011 Odyssey or change it more often?

Some won’t agree with me on this, but whether we like or not, the world has moved to oil life monitors and extended change intervals.

As with any change, problems surface during the transition and it’s not always black and white. So the cautions echoed by the replies in this thread should be heeded, but not to the point of rejecting the new norms the industry has moved to.

Some people follow this guy like a religious leader. Check out what he has to say about the GM OLM-

“One thing is that I know personally from years of testing and thousands of oil analysis that the oil life algorithm works. There is simply no argument to the contrary. If you don’t believe me, fine, but, trust me, it works.”

“There were fleets of cars operated under all conditions that deteriorate the oil life for any and every reason and , thru oil sampling and detailed analysis of the oil condition, the algorithm was developed, fine tuned and validated to be the most accurate way invented yet to recommend an oil change interval by. As just one example, I have seen cars driven side-by-side on trips, one towing a trailer and one not, for instance, to prove the effectiveness of the oil life monitor in deteriorating the oil at a faster rate just because of the higher load, higher average RPM, higher temps, etc…and it works flawlessly.”

“There is considerable safety factor in the GM oil life monitor. Typically, I would say, there is a 2:1 safety factor in the slope of the ZDP depletion curve…in other words, zero percent oil life per the ZDP depletion is not zero ZDP but twice the concentration of ZDP considered critical for THAT engine to operate under all conditions reliably with no wear”

I read this elsewhere when researching the fundamental algorithm. When the monitor reads 0%, it’s actually 20% left so as to include some headroom as any good design will do.

I use the monitor to indicate change intervals and have been doing so since they have been available for that purpose. As stated previously, it is no substitute for checking oil LEVEL and making sure you’re not running low…

Do it when you are most comfortable.

The OLM is fine to follow, however…you must check and top oil if needed every 1-2k miles. The failures occur IMHO NOT long oil changes from OLM. Oil fails when owners who do not top the oil and the small amount left gets beat up faster.

Unfortunately you are due for an timing belt at 105k miles so save up.

I dunno, not convinced. Not against technology or new ways, just don’t want to be the one discovering they were wrong. If I followed the OLM for my Olds Northstar engine, it would only need a change every five years or so. So something is wrong or missing from the algorythm.

Just as an aside, does GM really allow employees to hold their own patents? I would have thought that patents from work done on the payroll would be the property of the employer. Maybe Dr. Scwartz was a contractor.

I used a 4k interval since I started driving back in the late 70s. If I followed the OLM on my 2010 Cobalt and 2013 Equinox the oil changes would be 9k and 7k respectively. I decided to go with a 5k interval as it’s easy to remember.

Ed B.