What happens when technology answers a question nobody asked? Sometimes billions are made. Other times, needless technical complexity makes for a more complex experience. Such is the case one Car and Driver reader made in the mag's July '07 issue. In a letter to C&D, he directs our attention to the BMW 328i, whose oil dipstick has been replaced with a sensor and on-screen alert icon. But according to the writer, the system has resulted in owners overfilling their crankcases. And according to two dealerships, the only way to check the oil accurately is thus:
I was told the proper way to check the oil is to return the car to your BMW dealership and it will put the vehicle on a rack, drain the oil, measure it, and then reinstall the oil in the car.
It's not a new problem, and BMW isn't the only one; Porsche uses a similar system, which includes an oil-level readout on the dash. Still, if car companies want to be software developers, maybe they should start offering pre-production cars to Beta testers.
Let's Interface: Mini to Get BMW's iDrive [internal]