BMW Engines


What is the general opinion of buying a new BMW that does NOT have an oil dipstick?

I can not understand why BMW would not have this in their engines.

They replaced it with a sensor and dashboard gauge. You still get a reading and you don’t get your hands dirty in the process.

Are these sensors reliable knowing that German cars do not excel in the electronics department?

No way to really know how reliable they are (so new), I share your concerns.

Have you checked for TSB’s relating to sensor concerns?

Oil guages on the dash aren’t new, but they are more expensive than a dipstick. I had an oil level guage on an '81 Renault 18i when they partnered with American Motors. A lousy car but the oil guage worked just fine.

If might be that BMW engines are designed with crankcase pressures and systems where a dipstick seal wouldn’t be helpful. Otherwise I don’t see why having a physical dipstick as a back up to the guage would cost much to put on the motor. I can’t remember if the Renault had a dipstick or not, but the guage was accurate.

As many modern motorists seem to think checking the oil level between oil changes isn’t necessary a guage on the dash sounds like a good idea. Some cars do use oil and why not a guage to tell you that you are a quart low?

I’ve owned BMWs for over 30 years. Not one touched a drop of oil between changes. My 1967 Porsche 911 S was crazy for dash gauges – oil pressure, oil temperature and oil quality gauges. It really does not matter with modern engines.


I’ve had German cars in the past and not had electrical problems.

I am very concerned because I believe that turbos requires special care for them to last a long time, and their performance is based on the oil-base intercooler (quality of the oil and quantity). The oil now has “double-duty” for smooth engine performance.

I understand that one cannot drive a turbo like a naturally aspirated engine at the start and the end of the drive. Is this true with current day turbos?

I have known several people whose BMW are leaking oil after 80-100K miles. A couple of weeks ago, the Click and Clack had a call about a late model 7-series.

It shaves about 40 cents off the assembly line production cost and is just plain stupid in my opinion.
That’s right up there with no transmission dipsticks (my daughter’s '05 Mustang for one), fuel filters being located inside the fuel tank, etc.

For folks who don’t want to get out of the car and raise the hood to check the oil, I wouild think that manufacturers could have a long dipstick and tube that would go through the firewall and the oil could be checked in the passenger compartment. One could wipe the dipstick off on one’s sock. I would prefer this to not having a dipstick but just a gauge.

I’ve never found it all that much trouble to raise the hood and pull out a dipstick. If there is going to be a gauge in the car to monitor the oil level, I would like for a dipstick to be included as well. When I check the oil under the hood, I do a quick once-over of the coolant reservoir, the windshield washer reservoir and for anything that seems out of place.

I saved this up until it appeared this post had run its course. BMW is having issues with the sensor that determines how much oil is in the engine (it simply gets stuck). This is a “cascade” type of failure as the problem is almost always seen on vehicles that try and stick to the 15K oik change intervals. Channge you oil more frequently and your sensor does not get stuck.

BMW every so often pulls a "bad one’. Since they went to an included in purchase price of the car maintence program (way back in like 2000 or so) they have had this 15k interval. Now I can only say it is coincidence that they went to an extended interval when they started paying for the oil changes but that is the time line. It is odd that even though long interval problems were known about (the first problem I remember is the filter elements would turn to mush in their canister) that they would take away the dipstick (evem though consumption issues were not present but sticking up the sensor was known about).

I saw a great (if the word “great” can even be used here) story about cascading events last night with the NOVA analysis of the Air France flight 447 crash. There is a new search going on now for the “boxes” but a real plausible theory about what happened has been presented. These avaition people simply will not tolerate an unknown like this existing in their industry, automotive unknows are not so pressing.

My owner’s manual says nothing about start up, but it does recommend letting the engine idle for 30 seconds or more if one has been driving “hard”. This is what I usually do when I go anywhere, even in town. I figure that a minute of my time each way will cost a lot less compared to a $4000 turbo replacement or $7000 engine replacement.
I do what I did when I had a normal engine, drive fairly gently until I see that my temp gauge has gone up before I do too much spirited driving.

Multiply 40 cents by however many vehicles they make a year and see how much they’re saving, atleast when it comes to that part of the car.

Where did you learn about this issue on BMW? Does Mercedes have this problem?

I have a friend who is a current BMW Master Tech and every once in a while he passes some stuff on. I left BMW in 2002 so I saw alot myself but the cars still had dipsticks then. it is true that there are major direct injection fuel pump problems. the “mushy” filters happened as far back as 1999 or so.

I stayed as far from mercedes as possible

So, you would recommend the 3-series as Consumer Reports endorses only this model?

I have not driven the current 3 series but if they are at least as good as they have been for the last 25 years, c’mon we are talking about BMW, what’s not to like? My opinion on CR is that they are in bed with the BBB.

Maybe the only people BMW wants under the hood is their own people at their shops charging $100/hr. And after all how much of the motoring public actually checks anything under their hood anymore,. While waiting in line at the gas station I saw exactly no one even pop the hood on their car.

A nicely equipped 3-series is around $50K and $54 for a diesel. Which way do you go? 3-series or 5-series?