Oil level check in 21st Century

Sam and Leo brought up an interesting subject to me on Tech Guy 1684 6 April.

In February, my VW Tiguan came up with a message when ignition turned on that said “Oil Level Sensor Warning - Workshop”. Great, so I checked the oil immediately. No problem. I usually check it before longer trips as taught back in 60’s when I learned to drive. Actually, back then, the driveway attendant asked and lifted the hood and checked oil every time you filled up fuel.

After calling shop, and avoiding the argument I knew what was wrong, they would not schedule replacing the oil level sensor until they had car for full day to run diagnostics. $200.00. Then, they scheduled repair 2 weeks later. That only required morning in shop, and cost additional $850.00. Amazing plugging in a computer takes longer then working on the engine.

I figure they added all these sensors because most people just don’t want to think about car maintenance.

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Really can’t stand the lack of a dipstick on my car. The workshop guide says to trust the digital readout but still makes me nervous. All I can really do is make sure at least the same amount I took out goes back in.

However, this is also the first car I’ve owned that has an oil extraction flute, and the filter is accessible from the top of the motor. Don’t even need to jack the thing up! They couldn’t make it much easier.

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I maintain and repair our cars and purchased a semi-pro diagnostic scanner as it makes certain jobs much easier/possible. The prices have really become much more affordable. I purchased the Autel MD808 Pro for £350.00. It does most makes and models and reads/clears all modules and offers some diagnostic features too. Not promoting this scanner just the one a purchased. The iCarsoft scanners look interesting too.

Good workshop manuals can be purchased online too from ebay etc. If you are in the USA then alldata.com looks great. They also do a well priced DIY version too. alldatadiy.com Unfortunately they do not do the UK models I have, only the US variants with different engines.

Only of interest though is you want to do your own maintenance/repairs though.


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Yes I love this feature. No more putting the car on ramps and getting under the car and taking of engine covers etc. I just leave the cars on the ground and vacuum pump out the oil from the dipstick tube, so much more enjoyable :slight_smile:

One car has the electronic oil level but still has a dipstick. The other car just has the traditional dipstick. One thing I notice on USA Youtube videos is that many cars have transmission dipsticks. Not something I have come across in the UK.

My Renault back in the 90s had a digital dipstick. It was usually fairly accurate, I’d double check it once a month against the physical dipstick. But it used to complain if you parked on a steep incline - a situation you would never manually dip anyway!

The same for my 2012 Citroen C3, that was fairly reliable as well - and accurate, the BMW built motor drank oil at a high rate!


The main issue I have with the electronic dipstick is that you can not get a reading for 10-20mins approx if the engine has been run and I always forget not to start before checking. I prefer the dipstick.

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I’m going to be looking into one of those devices.

Interesting to me though, even if I had that, the shop would not accept my telling them the readout. $200/full day, or go to a non-Volkswagen shop.

I started doing my cars as the dealers were so useless and Audi was charging ~£100 per hour ($125USD). Final straw was wasting 2 hours of mine attaching a simple earth strap to the engine and then snapping it in the process so I had to return another day. They also said that my aircon display was faulty and a new unit was required at £1000.00 plus labour installing. I said no thank you as you could just see the display in the day. When I got home I took the aircon display/control modual out of the dash and took it apart and having identified the bulbs had blown… I then spent about £1 on bulbs and put it all back together working… so 1hr of my time plus £1. The savings I have made since then have been significant at least in my financial bubble.

This is why I have a good life balance as a doing a few hours on a car repair can save having to earn a weeks wages to pay the garage. I do the work and take the rest of the week off! (I wish heheheh)

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I’ve been lucky, well lucky with my bad luck.

I bought a Nissan Qashqai (2014 model in 2016, with 900km on the clock) and the heating didn’t work properly. The first summer, the AC only worked on the driver’s side. The dealer took it in and replaced the whole dashboard unit (the venting is moulded in), free of charge under the warranty. Then in the autumn, the heating didn’t work on the passenger side, they had forgotten to open a valve after fitting the new unit.

Then 2 years later, the AC stopped working. I took it back and they looked at it. The condenser unit at the front had been holed by a stone and the gas had leaked out the system. Replacement cost 1,200€ including labour. When I went to pick it back up, I was resigned to a big bill. To my surprise, they said they didn’t have an invoice ready; instead, they had contacted Nissan Germany to ask if the work could be covered by goodwill. Amazingly, Nissan Germany agreed to cover 2/3 of the cost of the replacement!

A while later, I misjudged a corner in the car wash and drove into a post, putting a big dent in the bumper of our Pulsar. I stopped at the dealer on the way back to get a quote for the repair. To my surprise, when they brought the car back out after inspection, the dent was gone! While they were generating the quote, they had somebody with the heater ease the dent out. There was still a nasty scuff in the paintwork, but the actual bodyline of the car looked completely normal.

On the other hand, I broke the drive shaft of my old Ford Mondeo in 2008. The dealer couldn’t identify which side had broken, so they replaced the wrong one first! They charged me for both sides, claiming that Ford wouldn’t let them book the unnecessary part back into stock, as it had been “used”!

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lol that is funny :laughing: Sounds like you have had a great service from some of the dealers though. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I never went back to the Ford dealer again, I quickly looked for another one.

On the other hand, the Nissan dealer’s service is always exemplary.

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My first car was made in the 1950s and had a float sensor in the sump, entirely analogue. If you held down a button on the dash, it showed the oil level on the fuel gauge.

Thanks to the enormous sump capacity, the difference between the high and low marks on the dipstick was 1 gallon, so I would thumb the button every time I got fuel. When it was down to the low mark I’d upend a gallon can on the oil filler and let it glug away while I filled up the fuel tank. That was quite frequent as the oil consumption was in the sub-100 miles per pint range (although it got a lot better after I replaced the valve stem oil seals).

Simpler (dirtier) times.