Oil Life Monitors
Just because the computer says so, doesn't make it exactly right.
Most technological development and innovation probably follow the phrase "There should be an easier way." Since the invention of the microchip, our world has become full of computerized devices and gadgets sold on the promise of making our life easier, faster, and more profitable. And, the modern automobile certainly hasn't been left out.
While there is no doubt that many technological improvements have helped vehicles last longer, operate more efficiently, perform more cost-effectively, and are safer than ever before, it doesn't mean that every device is perfect.
One onboard device that has come under scrutiny recently is the oil life monitor in several GM vehicles.Recently, in an article from AutoWeek.com, entitled, GM to reprogram some oil life monitors, Vince Bond Jr., reports that General Motors is warning owners of almost 800,000 2010-12 vehicles that they may need oil changes more frequently than the onboard oil monitoring systems are telling them. After a high number of warranty claims on several models with four-cylinder engines for worn-out balance chains (These chains link the crankshaft and the balance shaft), GM will reprogram software to make oil change warning lights go on sooner.
This announcement particularly affects the 2010 -2012 Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, the Buick LaCrosse, and Buick Regal models with 2.4-liter LAF and LEA four-cylinder engines. According to Bond, GM sent letters asking 778,956 owners of those vehicles to take them back to dealerships. The service will be done at no charge until.
Alan Adler, A GM spokesman said, "Even if they were out of warranty, they would still be good to have this done through that period." After that, the dealers have discretion to make the customers happy." Adler said the program is not a recall because it does not involve a safety issue.
The theory behind the oil life indicator is it removes the guesswork from knowing when your oil has outlived its usefulness. It lets a driver know when it's time for a change, based not only on mileage, but on actual conditions that affect the quality of the oil. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer and the specific equipment used, oil indicators come in two basic varieties: algorithm-based and direct measurement.
Algorithm-base oil indicators measure lots of factors and then plug the resulting numbers into a formula. Based on the answer, the indicator display will tell you whether the oil is OK. There are no sensors to detect the quality of the oil itself. Instead they combine data on how many miles you've driven, the temperature variations during that time and data about how much work the engine has performed.
Direct measurement oil life indicators measure the condition of the oil -- the opposite approach to the system described above. This method uses sensors to sample the oil and determine its remaining life based on any of the following: Conductivity, Mechanical properties, Soot concentration, and Presence of water.