Today: will oil-level gauges become a standard feature?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray:



I know you don't like old Beetles, but I own one, and I love it! I work for a federal agency where everyone drives brown and gray vehicles. When I come out to the parking lot, I smile at my little yellow flower amid all the potatoes out there, and greet her: Buttercup! Where was I? Oh yes. My question is: Why the heck don't carmakers offer an oil gauge that works like a gas gauge, and tells you what your oil level is? Would that be a handy thing to have? Thanks! -- Vickie

RAY: It would be a handy thing to have, Vickie. Some cars, in fact, do have it.

TOM: ALL modern cars warn you when your oil PRESSURE is dangerously low. But not all of them tell you when your oil LEVEL is getting low.

RAY: We do know of a number of cars that alert the driver when the engine's oil level is low. We've seen it on a lot of GM products over the years, and on a handful of Fords, as far back as the late '80s. All Volkswagens now have it, as do BMW and Mercedes vehicles. In fact, Mercedes has gone so far as to eliminate the dipstick!

TOM: I think they figure that if you own a Mercedes, it would be unseemly to have you standing out on your frozen driveway in the morning, in your pajama bottoms, pawing around for a greasy dipstick.

RAY: It's not a terribly difficult thing to do, technically. And this type of device almost certainly has saved some engines. So I suspect -- and hope -- that it will become a standard feature.

TOM: Yeah. As soon as they all can overcome the vehement opposition of the World Association of Dipstick Manufacturers.

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