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A Costly Negative Result of Using Oil Life Indicators on Honda and Acura Vehicles

Honda and Acura vehicles have had oil life indicators on them for about a decade. These oil life indicator devices keep track of how long the crankcase oil can stay in the engine and base it on a percentage of ‘oil life remaining’. The Owners Manual indicates that proper maintenance should include changing the engine oil and filter when the oil life remaining gets to 15%. These oil life indicators (somewhat) keep track of driving habits as a reference of when the engine oil should be changed, but the average oil change interval is currently around 7,000 to 8,000 miles, if utilizing the oil life indicator.

For many years the recommended (rule-of-thumb) engine oil & filter change was 3 months / 3,000 miles. This was mostly due to the tendency of the engine oil to ‘sludge-up’ in the crankcase, especially if the car was driven in short trip intervals. To counter oil sludge issues if going to longer oil change intervals;  American Honda started specifying thinner viscosities of engine oil – 5W20 and 0W20 in the majority of Honda and Acura automobiles.

While the engine oils do not coagulate (solidify / sludge-up) as quickly; engine oil does become increasingly acidic the longer it is in the crankcase. Engine oils do have corrosion inhibiting additives in them but these additives are obviously breaking down and are not adequate protection for the metals that are being used in the manufacturing of certain engine parts that are exposed to the crankcase engine oil.  As a result, Accurate Automotive has seen a significant number of internally lubricated engine components with corrosion damage; mostly camshafts, rocker arms and valve covers, in Honda and Acura engines.



The most logical way to prevent this problem is simply change the engine oil & filter more often, and ignore the oil life indicator. Engine oil and filters are significantly cheaper than camshafts, rocker arms, valve covers and the labor involved.

Accurate Automotive recommends engine oil & filter changes on all Honda and Acura vehicles be performed every 3750 miles. The 3750 mile oil change interval will also ‘line-up’  with the incremental 15,000 mile major service maintenance intervals. If changing the engine oil & filter every 3750 miles;  an oil change interval will come due at every major service.

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