2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged Alaska Road Trip: Electronic Oil Meters are Dumb
September 24, 2012
I like the idea of electronic oil monitors. I like that they can warn you if things are going poorly on the fly. I like that they offer the convenience of checking your oil without getting dirty. I like that it should, ideally, make monitoring your oil level easier and thus help more people to do it more frequently.
With a normal dipstick it takes all of, including washing your hands after, 60 seconds to check your oil. It's ideal to let the engine cool for a bit first, but if you're on a massive road trip you can sort of fudge this and check it hot. It'll read a little high. That's okay. You can even, :::gasp::: check it on a non-level surface. It won't be exact, but you'll get a reading.
The Jag doesn't give you a reading in any of these circumstances. You have to park it on a level surface and wait. For 20+ minutes. Until that time, you get a warning that says ";Not Available See Handbook."; Waiting 20 minutes does not play into the way I do road trips so instead of checking the oil at service stations, I was checking it 10-20 minutes after I checked into the hotel at night. This is far, far more annoying than simply washing my hands.
The second strike against these things is the accuracy. Thanks to an early oil change, we went on this road trip with relatively fresh (@1,000 mile) oil. On Day 1, the electronic thingamabob said we were A-OK on that front and we started off. Day 3, the oil read good, too. Same for day 5.
On day 7 we were, all of a sudden, 2 quarts down. 2 quarts!! This wouldn't have happened with a dipstick.
As you can imagine, the Yukon Territory doesn't see many Jags and the woman running the local/only store was as surprised as I was. ";That pretty new car's burning oil? What a shame. Take a bumper sticker."; The sticker says, ";I drove the Alaska highways BOTH WAYS, Damnit!";
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com