Understanding the Maintenance Required Light and What It Means

Understanding the Maintenance Required Light and What It Means

6th Dec 2019

maintenance required light on vehicle dash

Maintenance Required Light

Is the maintenance required light illuminated on your vehicle's dashboard? If so, you may assume that your vehicle is in dire need of immediate repairs. After all, most dashboard lights do indicate a potentially serious problem, such as low engine oil pressure, low battery charge, nonfunctional airbags and dangerous high engine temperatures.

What Is the Maintenance Required Light?

The maintenance required light is an indicator light that's used to remind drivers to service their vehicle. Because automakers typically recommend basic servicing -- oil change, filter change and inspection -- every 5,000 miles, it activates in 5,000-mile intervals. After driving for 4,500 miles, the maintenance required light will begin flashing for a few seconds each time you start your vehicle. If left unchecked for an additional 500 miles, meaning you've driven for 5,000 miles, the maintenance required light will remain illuminated.

Resetting the maintenance required light is a relatively simple process. For most vehicles, it can be reset by performing a series of steps that involve turning the ignition and pressing the odometer button. Once reset, the maintenance required light will turn off until the vehicle has been driven for 4,500 miles.

Maintenance Required vs Check Engine Light

Many drivers confuse the maintenance required light with the check engine light (CEL). While they look similar, though, they aren't the same. The maintenance required light doesn't indicate a problem with your vehicle; it only means that you've driven for at least 4,500 miles since the last time it was reset. In comparison, an illuminated CEL means your vehicle's engine control unit (ECU) has detected a malfunction.

When to Visit a Mechanic

If your vehicle's maintenance required light is illuminated, you don't necessarily need to take it to a mechanic. The maintenance required light is only used as a regular service reminder. Assuming you change your vehicle's oil and oil filter according to the owner's manual, you shouldn't be concerned if this indicator light is illuminated.

When the CEL is illuminated, on the other hand, you should probably take your vehicle to a mechanic. If you have an OBD scanning tool, however, you can perform your investigation to determine what triggered the CEL. An OBD scanning tool will return the fault code or codes that caused the CEL to illuminate. It won't necessarily tell you what's wrong with your vehicle. Nonetheless, knowing the fault code or fault codes can point you in the right direction.