How to Reset the Oil Change Light in a Car

Has the "Maintenance" or "Oil Change" indicator light appeared on your vehicle? Learn what it means and how to get it to turn off.

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Introduction

Modern vehicles are equipped with several indicator lights to owners when something needs attention, and the oil change light (also called the maintenance light) is one of them. This light is designed to let you know when the engine oil needs changing, based on the car's odometer reading. The oil change light won't turn off on its own, even when the old oil has been drained and fresh oil added. That's where resetting the oil change light comes in.

Not all vehicles have an oil change light, but if yours does, resetting it is worth doing, and not just because of the annoyance of seeing the light on constantly. Unless the light is reset, your vehicle will have no way of telling you the next time an oil change is needed.

Here I'll be demonstrating the reset on a 2003 Toyota 4Runner, and although the exact steps vary from make to make, the basic procedure is similar. Some makes and models have different procedures, like late-model Dodges, which require three quick presses of the gas pedal to reset. If you try the procedure shown here and your light doesn't reset, look at your owner's manual, or check online for help regarding your particular vehicle.

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Find the Reset Button and Turn On Vehicle System

  • Search your vehicle's gauge and dashboard area for a button, switch or stick the says "Reset."
  • Turn the ignition to the ON position so your gauges and electronics light up, but don't start the engine.

Turn On Vehicle SystemSteve Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 2

Set Odometer to Display Mileage

  • Cycle through the different odometer modes until it shows total mileage driven.
  • Turn the ignition OFF.

Set Odometer to Display MileageSteve Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 3

Hold the Reset Button and Turn the Key

  • Press and hold the reset button.
  • Turn the ignition back to the ON position while holding the reset button.
  • Watch the oil change or maintenance light carefully. It should start to blink.
  • Allow the light to blink ON and OFF for a few seconds, then release the reset button and turn the ignition OFF.

Hold the Reset ButtonSteve Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 4

Start the Vehicle

  • Start the engine and make the sure the oil change or maintenance light is now OFF.
  • If it's still ON, repeat the reset procedure.
  • If the dashboard light remains ON after two tries, refer to your owner's manual or the car manufacturer's site for more information about the process for your vehicle.

Start the Vehicle