Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Shane asks: I read your review of the new BMW 4 Series (here) and wanted to ask about something you didn’t mention, the fact that you cannot mechanically check the oil level in new BMWs (I own a new 5 Series). Instead you ask the computer to check it. There is an app you access via the LCD touchscreen. That’s the only way to check the oil that I am aware of. Are you aware of this? And what do you think about it?
My reply: Yup. I’m hip – and don’t like it. Because it is a prime example of rendering something simple needlessly complex – and so, failure prone. The “electronic dipstick” depends on . . . electronics. On a sensor and then data interpreted by a computer and – finally – displayed on a screen. Any one of these is a potential failure point as well as an expensive point. How much cost the “electronic dipstick” adds to the price of the car – and the cost of servicing the car – is hard to say but I can say without doubt it costs more than a simple dipstick, which will last as long as the car does and if it doesn’t, replacing it is as simple as buying a new dipstick (or pressing in a new tube).
Besides which, no false readings – a big then when it comes to oil. Physical oil on the physical dipstick hash marks; it’s hard to get that wrong. It is easier for a sensor to et it wrong – and when it comes to oil, that is a big thing indeed.
I’m old school. I believe that checking oil – as in actually checking the oil – is a matter of due diligence obligation the same as checking tire pressure. These are things that ought not to be left to a gadget.
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