Today: Do you know the reset procedures for your car's maintenance lights?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 2008

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have an '07 Chevy Cobalt. I like the car, especially because it's red and has a spoiler. But it has an annoying feature. It has a computer that tells you various things, like your gas mileage, temperature, coolant level, etc. It also tells you your "oil life." But it never seems to catch on that I've already changed the oil! I change the oil, and the light still tells me I need an oil change. I've changed the oil a dozen times or so already, and yet the computer keeps saying "change oil soon." OK, there are bigger problems in the world, like war, disease and pestilence, but this little beeping oil thing is driving me crazy. -- Barbara

TOM: Isn't it interesting how you can get obsessed with something so trivial? You have a little, tiny, insignificant problem with an otherwise perfectly good car. But once you notice it, you start to focus on it. And then war, disease and too-tight underwear all take a distant back seat.

RAY: Fortunately, this is an easy one, Barbara. There's a reset procedure. Whoever is changing your oil doesn't know how to perform the reset. If you're going to a Pokey Lube-type place, those guys change the oil on 1,000 different types of cars a week, and they might not even know your oil-life light NEEDS to be reset -- not to mention knowing how to do it on your Cobalt.

TOM: This is going to sound like I'm pulling your leg, but I'm not. On this car, you turn your key to the "on" position (without starting the engine), and then press the gas pedal all the way down three times within seven seconds. Next, turn the key off, then start the engine. The light should go off after a few seconds. You might have to try it a few times to get it right. But that's all you have to do.

RAY: And then, next time you go to the Pokey Lube, when the guy's finished changing your oil, walk over and say, "Hey, lemme show you something interesting."

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