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I can COMPLETELY understand an auto manufacturer's desire to make cars "friendlier", "idiot proof", no messing up your hands required. For example, in the 2002 C230K, to check your oil you simply push a few keys on the steering wheel and get an oil reading (well, sort of).

However, this convenience is not a full blown end user replacement for the oil dipstick.

I'm so angry.

About two months ago the oil fault was tripped. All at once, it would trip two or three times a day. Suspecting that my oil level was low, I performed an oil reading (yes, I made sure that the car was level and the oil had sufficient time to settle). It said the level was OK and take it in for normal servicing.

Odd, why would the sensor keep getting tripped? Another week of this and I checked again, and again it said the oil level was fine. Getting worried I popped the hood and searched for the dipstick. I couldn't find it so I called up a service center and explained the situation. They said several things:
1. There shouldn't be oil level problems if I had brought the car in for regular servicing (which I had in August).
2. There is no dipstick.
3. No need to bring it in for servicing.

I called a few days later and got ahold of a technician who said that the C230's sensors were a bit overactive, and this was nothing to worry about.

I called back two weeks later to schedule an unrelated warranty repair (the heat shield had come loose, probably thanks to Manhattan roads) and I told the service advisor my story to date, and I said that I was going to just write the problem off and add some oil. He told me NOT to do that because it could just be a sensor problem and really I should leave it up to them to check everything out when I bring it in.

I bring the car in, they fix the heat shield, and then call me over like they were about to talk to me like I was a little boy. Did I know that my OIL WAS LOW? "It just barely touched the dipstick!"

I explained all of the advice I had been given to date and expressed general disgust with the design of a car that doing manual oil checks is a convenience that they reserve only for themselves with a modular dipstick (which I didn't even know was possible until now).

Ugh.

I almost ended up with thousands of dollars in engine damage with absolutely no recourse, all because I let service advisors dismiss my
concerns.

Is my oil sensor damaged? Was I not getting accurate readings because I could be misunderstanding the directions? Beats me. What I do know is that a dipstick, when it fails, fails in predictable ways.

Something that I can't say about sensors and software.

I love my C230, but if this is an indicator of where the industry is headed I fear I'm going to be stuck in the 90s.
 

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The 2002 C230k does have a dip stick. It is near the front of the engine on the driver's side. Check the oil with the engine warm and five minutes after it is shut off. This is true with both the dipstick and the electronic sensors.

The V6 and the M271 engines do not have dipsticks.
 
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