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Car Doesn't Have Dipstick

Interesting article on trusting dipstick. Two months ago, I bought a 2011 CPO BMW 328i convertible with 16K miles. When I went to check the oil several days later, I was shocked to find there is no crankcase dipstick. BMW claims its computer sensors can check oil level at idle and even at highway speed. Scares me to death. How reliable (?) are these systems?

Why is it scary? How often do you check your oil at highway speeds?

They are very reliable and quite simple. No need to get out under the hood and get dirty checking the oil. Sit in your driveway or garage and the car tells you if and how low the oil is at the push of a button. Just follow the instructions for checking it in your owner’s manual and you’ll be fine.

Just as important as the oil level is the type of oil. Don’t just grab a quart of 10W30 from Walmart and throw it in. Your car has specific requirements for motor oil, stick with them.

are you referring to the driver?

Lots of BMW enthusiasts do not like the lack of dipstick. A few have had issues with the sensors. Considering the dipstick is essentially 100% foolproof if used correctly, I for one don’t see this as progress. IMHO.

I am 100% in agreement with Mustangman. This ain’t progress. I would be in favor of a system that senses oil level and provides a readout to the driver when it gets a quart low, as too many people neglect their oil, but NOT as a replacement for a dipstick, only as a supplement.

I was shocked to find that my new Toyota Avalon does not have a transmission dipstick.

I disagree with no tranny dipstick as well, but that seems to be the trend.

One more sensor to fail. I know this is to help owners, but what happens if it’s overfilled at Jiffy lube.

Um, you don’t take your BMW to Jiffy Lube. You don’t even let them look at it from afar. I’d suggest BMW oil for about the same price as other synthetic. They don’t seem to like the Mobil 1. Don’t know why but they provide the free servicing anyway.

‘’ No user servicable parts insede, please refer to authorized service personel ''
oh, wait, that on everything else I buy and need to fix like radios, cd players and printers.

…and now CARS ??

I know a 1995 Cavalier had a low oil level sensor; also, a 2004 Grand Prix has one (luckily for my daughter). Looks like the newer Impalas, Cobalts, and Cruizes don’t. Is GM worried about who pays for the engine if the sensor fails?

My 73 Vega had a Oil Sending unit that detected low oil pressure would shut the electric fuel pump.

I’m not to keen on a sensor replacing the dip-stick. There’s no tranny dip-stick for any of the vehicles we current own. But that’s not as worrisome since you really don’t use any fluid (at least you shouldn’t). Vehicles do burn off a little over time. And many manufacturers (including BMW) say 1 quart every 1k miles is acceptable. What are BMW owners suppose to do?? Change their oil every 1k miles so they know it has the proper amount. Not having an oil dip-stick would stop me from buying that vehicle.

On an '85 Merkur I had a dipstick with a wire attached to it and a sensor built in to measure the oil level. It only read the level at startup. The BMW does that and while running. If I parked it on a hill, the oil level light would come on until I cycled the ignition. It didn’t, however, tell me when the quickie-lube place over filled the crankcase.

We were looking at a new malibu last night, oil dipstick but no trans fluid dipstick. Disposable cars I suppose. The mechanic will check the fluid during service, really?

I put low oil level sensors in the same category as TPMS systems.
Automated oil level systems should not substitute for manual checking of a dipstick, and should be relied upon only for letting you know of catastrophic loss of oil–just as a TPMS should only be relied upon for letting you know if you have a sudden loss of tire pressure while driving.

Unfortunately, many (or perhaps, most) drivers will interpret the presence of these systems to mean “you never have to check your oil or your tire pressure again”.

When I bought my 2011 Outback, I found it interesting that Subaru had seen fit to include a low oil level warning light, in addition to the low oil pressure warning light. However, there is still–thank God–a dipstick that I can check every few weeks. If I ever see the low oil level warning light, I will take it seriously, but in view of my regular checking of the dipstick and the engine’s oil capacity of 7 qts, I don’t expect to see that warning light unless there is some sort of catastrophic problem.

@Barkydog‌, of course they’ll check your trans fluid. Never miss a chance to upsell a customer. In this case, it’s a good thing. And you can ask at the 30,000 mile service for a trans fluid check if it isn’t part of the standard service.

I was/am a little shaken to think the transmission on our cars have no dipstick, now the oil ? This is one “dipstick” who wishes there were one. As long as oil changes are owner serviceable, it would be nice. I do get it though. There are enough idiots out there who only respond to idiot lights. They can’t even check their tires let alone the motor oil. For years, we have had 4 stroke outboards and generators which will just shut down at low oil levels so electronic monitoring is not new and ‘twas’ only a matter of time before it entered the car world .

What’s next? No windshield because a little camera and display monitor is safe enough to drive with? I think not but a few years ago I would have told you that it would be ludicrous to remove the oil and transmission dipstick as standard equipment. I fear the future in some respects.

No dipstick? I guess it could work. But it would be like assuming all the photos and documents on your computer are safe by the logic ‘what’s the chance the computer will fail?’.

Me, I keep a paper copy of my important documents. Likewise, I only own cars possessing dipsticks.

Next thing you know they’ll have a thingy that tells you when to change your oil. They’ll probably call it something pretentious like an Oil Life Monitor.

Seriously, it isn’t what you know that bothers you, it is what you don’t know that bothers you. BMW recommends oil changes at 15,000 mile intervals, and most of us wince at the thought. I know that I do. But Bimmers have a huge oil capacity, they have a special oil filter, and they recommend their own brand of long life oil. A lot of things break on BMWs, but the engine isn’t one of them. a healthy dose of skepticism is OK. But the auto industry isn’t so mature that there isn’t anything new and useful going on.