Q: I own a 2009 GMC. It is equipped with the Oil Life system. My conflict is between this system and conventional mileage to change oil. I've been driving for a little over 50 years, and over the last few years, I've used 5000 miles as my guide to change the oil and filter. I recently lost track, and at 7000 miles the Oil Life system was at 21 percent. I want an unbiased opinion as to mileage versus the Oil Life system, as guides to my vehicle service.

My next question is for tire rotation. I have aluminum wheels that came on the vehicle. When I rotate the tires, it is extremely hard to remove the wheels because of the corrosion that builds up between the aluminum wheels and the steel hubs and rotors. I try to rotate at every oil change. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Oil-life monitoring systems are progressively being used by a larger number of manufacturers. The powertrain control module analyzes input data to determine driving conditions, and adjusts the oil life reminder accordingly. Also keep in mind that today's engines are running significantly cleaner than past gas-guzzlers. Laboratory testing has confirmed the accuracy of these systems. Typically, the driver will be alerted that service is due when oil life reaches the 5-percent range. Oils tested at this point have had a significant amount of usable life remaining. This leaves a window to get your truck in for service.

With that said, you are safe following the oil life guidelines. But the specific vehicle you're driving may warrant tweaking the numbers. How important and how long you intend to own the car or truck can be deciding factors. Planning on purchasing a 2014 Corvette? I'd personally change the oil with Mobil 1 full-synthetic every 3000 miles. Typically trade in and buy a new pickup every 5 or 6 years? Stick with the maintenance reminder. No matter what's said, the more miles, the dirtier the oil.

The tough time getting the wheels off leads me to believe you're located in a harsh winter, road-salt region. Born and raised in New York, I remember wheel removal often requiring a large sledgehammer. The corrosives in these areas are very hard on automobiles. Next time the wheels are off, coat the hubs and lugs with an anti-corrosive such as WD-40 or Liquid Wrench, being careful not to overspray on to the brake discs or pads.


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If you have a technical question regarding your pickup, SUV, or van, feel free to contact Alex, a master technician with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Send a letter to him in care of Truck Trend Garage, 831 S. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA 90245, or e-mail us at trucktrend@sourceinterlink.com. Please include the VIN with your question. Due to the volume of questions received every month, we cannot guarantee that everyone's question will be personally answered or will appear in the magazine.

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