No dipstick? - Page 4 - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #46 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 09:46 AM
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You are putting a whole lot of faith in things which are manmade, thus susceptible to failure. It is a given.

Plus, the electronic dipstick system has to cost more than a straight metal stick with a couple of markings on it. Car manufacturers worry about costs of even very small changes, so I've read. I remember reading about Ford having to make a change in the Mustang firewall sheet metal years ago (unwanted vibration or something like that), and being upset that the fix cost $.50 per car.



1989 Milano, Shankle Sport
1991 164S, stock
1994 164LS (~Q)
1972 Morgan 27

previously owned since 1964:

62 Morris MiniMinor 850, 67 Austin 1275 Cooper S (Downton 3/4 race), 64 Giulia Sprint GT (1st red one made), 72 Fiat 128 Sedan, 75 Alfetta Sedan, 78 Alfetta Sedan, 78 GTV, 81 GTV6, 86 GTV6
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post #47 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 03:49 PM
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I think the engine ECU might be a tad more expensive and complex than the electronic dipstick. Heck probably the intermittent wipers are.

I suspect the trend to these devices as opposed to owner removable metal dipsticks has something to do with the planned federal regulation about maintenance free engines. Plus, no dipstick means one less potential airleak.

The trend is also to from the top oil and filter changes which work well with no dipstick tube.

1991 Alfa Romeo 164L 5 spd
White on grey leather 230K km, owned from new
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post #48 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by GV27 View Post
Sure, until you're stuck in the middle of nowhere with a properly-oiled engine and a faulty sensor. That sounds like an awesomely good time and not frustrating at all.

Yeah, definitely worse than a sodding tire pressure sensor that is wrong. At least a piece of tape or a picture on the dash fixes that!

I love the electronic doodads on my 69 GTV!

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post #49 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 06:37 AM
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The problem with TPMS is caused by the regulatory implementation not any inherent problem with the capability of the system.

The higher specification valve stem transmitter system is the one prone to false fault warning light triggers. It's also the one that could have been implemented without the need for any warning light. Like the electronic dipstick the primary reason for these TPMS was consumer driven. The implementation was dumbed down accordingly.

It starts with the development of run flat tires, arguably a solution looking for a problem given the exceptional reliability of modern tires. Federal authorities were concerned about the very advantage delivered by runflats, ie that the driver could continue without being aware that the runflat tire was in fact flat. Ironic really. Therefore cars equipped with runflats as delivered from the factory had to display a fault light if a tire lost air pressure even though it remained safe to drive on.

After the Firestone scandal these systems were made mandatory for all passenger vehicles. But not up here in Canada.

The most sophisticated type generates an actual temperature and pressure signal fed to a TPMS ECU which converts those two bits of information into a warning signal when the algorithm produces a number more than 20% lower than a reference value programmed into the system. That is already dangerously deflated but using a safer smaller number leads to almost continuous fault display. As implemented as a safety system on regular non run flat tires TPMS is actually dangerous for this reason.

Now these same valve stem sensor transmitters are extremely accurate and reliable. On racing cars they deliver real time actual tire pressure and temperature values, and can be retransmitted to the pits or indeed to a very remote factory along with all the other telemetry modern automotive technology permits.

Some makers have utilized this high performance capability to actually display tire pressures to the driver. Porsche was probably the first to do so. But, like the analog dipstick (that's the metal stick in the tube) the driver needs to understand what the system is telling him or her. That's the weak link. As you drive the actual tire pressure increases, by quite a lot. If you use a TPMS that displays actual pressure you need to know what the correct range is as your tires heat up.

In Canada I suspect we do not require TPMS because severe climate conditions would mean the TPMS fault would be on and off apparently randomly to an unsophisticated driver. Actual tire pressure varies by about 5 psi for every 1 C (2F) change in the ambient air temperature but also by the same proportion as the internal temperature of the tire heats up. In my city winter temperatures can vary from as much as minus 30C to plus 20C in a single day. TPMS is pretty much useless in such conditions. So we aren't required to have it.

These electronic systems are robustly reliable. But users stil need to know what they are being told. Oil level sensors could display actual oil level rather than just "OK" or "add" but they aren't used in that way. Oil level in the sump varies a lot with a variety of factors which is the main reason so much extra oil is in there to begin with. The average car engine needs about a litre (or quart if you prefer) of oil to run safely. The rest is there as a heat sink (an oil cooler would be more efficient) and a reserve to cover the oil pickup under all likely conditions (a dry sump system is preferred).

It's nice to have displays for information like engine oil pressure, oil temperature (still the most useful warning gauge), coolant temperature, tire pressure, engine rpm, vehicle speed (the least useful dashboard instrument for driving is a speedometer which is why racing cars don't have one) and so on. But it takes a knowledgable driver to utilize this information properly. So modern cars have dropped most of this capability to inform the driver. Driving is continuously being dumbed down, ironically for safety. The objective of regulators is to fully automate driving.....

1991 Alfa Romeo 164L 5 spd
White on grey leather 230K km, owned from new

Last edited by Michael Smith; 06-15-2019 at 06:42 AM.
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