Automakers Don't Care Anymore If You Know Anything About Your Car

A lot of car buyers, especially the folks that lease luxury cars, don’t have a clue about some basic aspects of their vehicle. This ad from BMW is just one illustration of a much larger issue—the #brands don’t want you to be involved anymore.

In a recent TV spot for the all new 3 Series, a couple is driving along and the car alerts them that the rear tire has lost some pressure. The driver “fixes it” by rubbing his hands in the dirt.


The message from the ad is this: “Don’t worry you have a BMW with run-flat tires.”

That’s not how this works, BMW! That’s not how any of this works!

Here is the problem. If you look closely at the computer screen that gives the warning it says the passenger side rear is at 17 PSI. Most tires have an ideal inflation of around 32 PSI. So that tire is low... like real low. By going behind the car and “getting dirty,” Mr. Handyman hasn’t fixed anything.

The tire is still under-inflated, and at that pressure probably not terribly safe to drive. The warning indicator will remain on as they are driving. Hopefully, they are aware that you cannot just drive indefinitely on an under-inflated, run-flat tire.

Not too long ago BMW included a tool kit in its cars with the assumption that owners would, at some point, have to change a tire or do some type of basic repair themselves. Today, BMW would much rather you call the free roadside assistance or take it to the local dealership so they can charge you an arm and a leg for a quick fix.


Now this is a chicken and egg issue. Have the automakers attempted to disconnect owners from their cars because the majority owners are no longer competent to do some basic maintenance? Or are owners clueless because it is no longer a priority to educate buyers how their cars work at a base level rather than focusing on the infotainment features? Probably a little bit of both.

One aspect of Tesla ownership that is appealing to some folks is the fact that you never have to pop the hood. If there is a problem, a software update is just a click away, and that might solve it. For others, the future of not being able to wrench on your own ride is a scary proposition.


Even if owners don’t know what kind of engine they have or even which wheels drive their cars, they should at least have an understanding bout safely inflated tires. Unless hover cars come sooner than we expect, we are going to continue to depend on those four rings of rubber that touch the ground, whether it be an EV, an autonomous vehicle, or a BMW.


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Tom McParland

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (