XS650: Dipsticks   2 comments

Some modern Mercedes models don’t have dipsticks. If the oil level gets low, is the owner sent an email?

Call me old fashioned, but there’s something to be said for a good old dipstick. Once calibrated they stay that way.

Why is it that a simple task of checking oil levels… Trans & Engine, gets more complicated with passing time?

No Trans. dipstick for auto models and now none for the engine … “all you need to do is simply scroll through half a dozen menus sir”

Pretty soon they will remove the fuel gauge.  You’ll get ‘Tank is Low’  message on the dash. And a voice message…

“Please add 40 litres of 98 octane to the fuel tank filler tube which is located to the rear nearside of your car”.

I tend to believe the dipstick was removed to discourage owners from doing their own maintenance. To encourage more service business at MB dealers.

Not so far fetched. What about the Check Engine light. Today we have massively-small computing power. Look at all the apps. At what you can do through smartphones (transfer money, surf, video, music, bluetooth…). Check Engine codes could easily be displayed, with description, in instrument cluster lcd or ComNav displays.

Still need to know what the codes mean.

Open your bonnet. What do you see? A complex array of …well, of what? Every year it gets worse. No diagnostic programming at your fingertips? Know what the failure codes mean? As a mechanic do you learn to listen and fix or plug in and replace?

What about your iPhone? Requesting a complete diagnostic analysis. Posted directly to the forum of your choice. Emailed to your mechanic. Bluetoothed to your printer. Start the engine remotely? Set the air-con? Seat temp? Radio station. Electronically dip your oil. All while sitting on the shitter.

Are these the new ‘Idiot Lights’? Idiot systems? And this should be desireable?

Maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Think what else we can do with our spare time while not getting our hands dirty.

Still. I’m glad it wasn’t designed by Microsoft. You’d need to pay for annual upgrades just so gas could work in your motor.

Sort of what’s happening with ethanol fuels. Change your rubber components or sit. What investment does Bill Gates have in the transportation industry?

It does beg some questions about our relationship with technology. With the world around us. Do we just consume? Or interact? In/Inter or Dependent? At what levels? Who is your car communicating with? Some Indian call centre? As a product user just what do you mean to the marketer? Manufacturer? What kind of Stakeholder are you?

Reminds me of a story I once read about Shell Thuet. And XS oil.

…Shell and John formed Shell Racing Specialties and started to manufacture all the parts necessary for a complete racing motorcycle. The race equipment was sold to Yamaha in bulk to be packaged under their logo and distributed to their dealer network.

From early on, Shell would butt heads with the Japanese engineers. The newly designed Yamaha twins kept blowing oil out the breather. The specs called for 3000cc to be put in the crankcase. Shell told them right up front it was too much and they needed to put in 2500cc.The engineers would try all sorts of baffles and orifices intended to reduce the oil loss, but to no avail. Shell continued to put in his recommended amount until finally the factory engineers followed suit. You can look at the imprint on top of the cases and see the reduction in oil requirements over the years until it settles on the amount advised by Shell.


1.. 3000cc



2 .. 2500cc



3 .. periodically change 2000cc

periodically change 2000cc


4.. yamaha dipstick tech bulletin

yamaha dipstick tech bulletin




Posted January 26, 2011 by xscafe in Motor - Oil

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2 responses to “XS650: Dipsticks

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  1. Can’t help but think of how vital it must have once seemed once for Yamaha to engineer, manufacture and supply the ‘self cancelling turn signal unit’, ‘reserve lighting unit’, ‘light checker’ and ‘side stand interlock’. Now routinely viewed as both un-necessary impediments if not just as silly “bells & whistles”. Others will no doubt say that you and I deserve by both vintage and preference as “belonging to the dipstick generation”. Loved the history and narrative…..informative & memorable stories. Thanks…..Rex

  2. And the early models had the dipstick handle in cast aluminum – nifty to shine up but very heavy. The later models had the black plastic dipstick handle – much lighter but not as shiny of course.

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