Is is time for car manufacturer's self-protection?

With all the vehicle damage that is related to owner’s negligence to check basic fluids like oil, transmission & coolant levels I’m surprised that car manufacturers don’t have their engineers build into the engine computer that it won’t start if these catastrophic-causing fluids are not correct when the engine start is attempted. Especially during the warranty period when it would be cost-effective for them to do so. Many of today’s naive generation of car owners consider it be just another personal device (electronics is all they see from the dash viewpoint) and forget about the mechanical of things, fully trusting the electronics to take care of things, despite what the owner’s manual says, which is often unread anyway. Many owners don’t even know how to raise the hood or how to check the fluids.

What would be wrong in a car refusing to start if the essential things were checked and found to below safety limits?

And even after the warranty mileage/period was over the computer would continue to do this, but could be overridden if the owner wanted to, and the computer could record the date and mileage the override was selected. An owner wanting to take responsibility after the warranty period could be his/her choice.

Is it time for car manufacturer’s self-protection?

…forget about the mechanical side of things

(dang them grammar errors!)

It sounds like a good idea to have engine start blocks built into the engine management system; but, then, what if one of these safety systems malfunctioned? There would be even more stalled vehicles with more “mechanics” not having a clue on what to do.
Some cars have the fuel pump 12 volt power controlled by the oil pressure switch. If the engine oil pressure drops below a safe level, the fuel pump will be stopped, and the engine will stop. Guess how many starters and batteries have been changed by “mechanics” trying to get the engine started again; and all the while the cause was loss of oil pressure.

Please, I have all the protection I can stand. Let the Darwin Awards resume.

Yes, but car companies settling lawsuits are a cost added to doing business and you & everyone else buyinga car end up paying. Same as shoplifting and people driving without insurance.

Under what circumstances does a car company have to pay off in a law suit related to maintenance neglect?

you think every car damaged due to owner neglect is caught? there’s fudging going on all the time, sometimes with a friendly mechanic’s help.

It’s -10 and I’m out in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday night and the computer correctly or incorrectly thinks I’m down a quart and won’t start? No thanks. Ruin an engine or two and you’ll soon learn to check fluids.

Our son drove a small bus for a summer day care operation. He had to check all the exterior lights to be certain that the lights functioned, check all fluids under the hood including the transmission fluid EVERY DAY before starting out. His employer wanted to minimize the chances of a breakdown with children on the bus. If he could do this every day, it seems to me that at least a weekly check by an automobile driver isn’t out of line.

I’m not disagreeing with the personal responsibility aspect of vehicle ownership. People that neglect their vehicle have no one to blame but themselves. My question was meant to be from the car companies viewpoint - why wouldn’t they want to limit the damage that can be done? It’s been that way for years on expensive machinery, and now that cars are more costly & more electronically enhanced it seems like something they’d want to do. But I know the audience here is mainly repair people, so they don’t want another complication or part that can go bad. We accept the rev limiters as doing an important function, right? Not allowing your car to start when there was little oil or coolant seems reasonable to me, since you aren’t going to get very far in that condition anyway. Might as well protect the car from further damage.

I saw a movie last night (called The Insider) it was about a scientist that worked for the tobacco companies (one in paticular). Well this guy "blew the whistle on “Big Tobacco” but he was under a agreement that he could not tell what he new the big boys knew about the dangers of tobacco. It turned out that if he got on the stand and lied about tobacco (said it was safe) he would not be in trouble, but if he told the truth he would be in breech of contract, big trouble.

I apply this thought to the manufactures equipping vehicles with devices that either warn about problems or inhibit vehicle operation. If the vehicle is equipped with a warning system and it fails (the warning system) big trouble, but if the vehicle is not equipped with such a system from the beginning, well then there is no warning system to fail. Really odd logic.

“Many of today’s naive generation of car owners consider it be just another personal device (electronics is all they see from the dash viewpoint) and forget about the mechanical of things, fully trusting the electronics to take care of things, despite what the owner’s manual says, which is often unread anyway.”

I don’t think anyone is more less naive than in the past. I just think that in the past, cars spent more times in the shop in general, so people talked to mechanics on a fairly regular basis. When the mechanic was working on the carb, he’d recommend other services, so they tended to get done. Back when every gas station was full service, fluids were inspected and top offed at every fill up. Cars used to also be oil burners in general, so people knew the drill regarding topping it off.

Nowadays, cars a lot more reliable and don’t routinely wind up in the shop like in the old days. They also tend to not leak or burn oil, so there’s a certain level of complacency. With the proliferation of quick lube places, I think a lot of cars are never seen by an actual mechanic, so real preventive maintenance is never done. They get oil changes more frequently than needed and unneeded and potentially damaging flushes but that’s it, as well as various snake oil treatments. There’s a certain misconception that actual mechanics work at places like Jiffy Lube. That’s why we see so many horror stories about engines ruined by broken timing belts; JL isn’t going to recommend service that they can’t perform.

And the car manufactuer is mot allowed to look at the car? I bet. Was it copnveniently crushed befoer they could get to it?

Dealers usually handle the warranty claims and if they accept that the situation is a valid warranty claim then the manufacturer will too. Use your imagination.

I don’t even want computers or check engine lights on my vehicles. I’ll pay a little more for gas just so my engine will start the first time…everytime.

Low oil level shutoffs are already used on stationary engines that run unattended pumping water or generating electricity.

I would rather see a low oil level warning light than a shutoff that might prevent you from starting the car when you are parked in the middle of a railroad crossing.

Exactly. I think the Chevys and others that route the fuel pump electrical feed through the oil pressure switch are the exceptions to the rule.

It is never in the car manufacturer’s best interest to do this. For one thing, if a car dies from oil starvation because the owner didn’t check the oil, it isn’t usually covered under warranty. For another thing, a dead car leads to another car sold. Even if the negligent owner buys a different brand, this helps industry-wide demand.

This would make cars more expensive for everyone, and many of us (especially in this audience), don’t want to pay extra for features we don’t need and don’t want.

Those cars had carburetors. The fuel pump would run as long as the key was turned to start, or if there was enough oil pressure. So, even with no oil pressure, you could start them and drive a few yards before the carburetor ran out of gas.
This was not an engine protection measure. It was a government mandated safety feature. All cars have to stop the fuel pump if the engine is not running. With mechanical fuel pumps, this was easy since they couldn’t pump without the motion of the engine anyway. When electric fuel pumps where first used, the simplest way to know if the engine was running, was to see if it had oil pressure of not. Now, with computerized engines, the engine computer knows if the crankshaft is turning or not, so they don’t have to guess by using the oil pressure switch.

I think sensors are nice with strong warnings. For example you could not ignore the low oil pressure light in my 88 VW Jetta GLI, it had a horrible buzzer that went off too.

However it will add cost and complexity to a vehicle, cut car makers profit, increase price of vehicle slightly. All that for something that is just for maybe less than 3% of vehicles on the road.

Not worth it in the grand scheme of things.