The “5” means that your car’s oil has been used for 20% of its expected lifespan. In other words, if you’re at 5% oil life, that means your car needs an oil change in the next 80%.
This percentage is based on a number of factors determined by your car’s onboard computer. A modern vehicle’s engine is typically capable of running with up to 5,000 miles between oil changes, but driving in severe conditions can use up more than 20% of the oil’s lifespan much faster—sometimes in as few as 1,000 miles. So what does all this mean for you? If you’re at 5% oil life and need an oil change soon, it could be because it’s time to switch from conventional to synthetic motor oil.
How long can you keep driving on 5 oil life?
Your vehicle includes a low-oil-life indicator that alerts you when it’s time to change your oil. This is typically based on how far you’ve driven and how long the engine has been running. When the system detects that your motor oil is approaching the end of its useful life, it will display a message on your dashboard indicating how much life remains in percentages. For example, if you’re at “9% oil life,” this means that your vehicle has slightly less than one tenth of its original motor oil left, while “2% oil life” means that only two percent of the original amount of motor oil is still usable.
If you see any percentage below 15%, it’s time to get an oil change as soon as possible (5% or lower is even better!). However, if you have absolutely no other option but to keep driving with 5% remaining, then go ahead and do so—just not for very long! The good news about having only 5% left is that your vehicle won’t suddenly stop working when it hits zero; rather, this indicator simply lets you know that your engine might start experiencing problems sooner than expected.
When the indicator reaches 0%, some people choose to push their luck by going even longer without an oil change—but they run the risk of causing damage to their engine if they do so. For this reason, we strongly recommend changing your motor oil before hitting 0%.
How often should I change my oil?
If you’re wondering how long you can safely drive your car before getting an oil change, the reality is that it depends on the make and model of your vehicle. Unless you have a specific reason to drive your car above and beyond what’s necessary, 5% oil life remaining should be a signal to get your vehicle in for an oil service.
Newer cars are built with components that can last longer than their older counterparts, so these newer vehicles can go longer between oil changes. However, since this varies by manufacturer, it’s important to check with your car manual for the exact intervals needed. This will ensure optimal performance from both your vehicle and its powertrain components.
If checking your owner’s manual is not practical for some reason, using every 5,000 miles as a general guideline isn’t necessarily bad advice—this just means being extra cautious about how far you will allow yourself to push the envelope before getting an oil change.
You can drive for about 1,200 miles or so on 5 oil life.
- You can drive for about 1,200 miles or so on 5 oil life.
- It’s not a good idea to wait until the oil life is 0, which might be when you’re on a road trip far from home or your trusted mechanic. Don’t drive your car until the oil life is 0!