Do Subarus Have an Oil Consumption Problem?

When people get married, they generally agree to love each other forever, despite any quirky behaviors, bad habits, or flaws. Subaru loyalists likely feel the same way about their favorite models. Despite the buzz about problems with excessive oil consumption and even recalls, Subaru fans aren’t deterred. However, for anyone who may be newer to Subaru ownership or interested in a Subaru while car shopping, oil consumption problems might sway the purchasing decision. So, do Subarus really have a problem burning oil, and what do you need to know before buying?

What Subaru says about it

A closeup shot of the Subaru brand logo at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show
The Subaru brand logo | Uli Deck/picture alliance via Getty Images

Considering the potential causes of increased oil consumption, as an automaker, there are only a few factors for which Subaru can really claim responsibility. However, the automaker is standing firm on its claim that excessive oil burning in its cars directly reflects owner use and a normal side effect of vehicle ownership. Cash Cars Buyer shared Subaru’s statement that burning one quart of oil for every 1,000 to 1,200 miles is perfectly acceptable.

Are Subaru models oil guzzlers?

Mechanics Direct recognizes a few reasons a car might consume more oil than normal. There can be a problem with gaskets and seals that lead to leaks or worn piston rings that allow excess oil to seep into the chamber. High oil pressure is another factor, flooding the engine with oil and resulting in more consumption than usual. Poor oil quality and synthetic oil can also trigger excessive fuel consumption.

Subaru models do tend to have issues with guzzling oil. According to U.S. News, the NHTSA hears “dozens of complaints” regarding the engine of the Subaru Forester burning too much oil. It’s the 2014 model year that seems to be the worst offender, yet the Forester isn’t the only model where drivers are lodging complaints.

Mechanics Direct says the fourth-generation Subaru Forester (2014-2018) is the most problematic for oil consumption. However, the 2010-2014 Subaru Legacy, the 2013-2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek, and the 2003-2008 Subaru Forester also present oil burning problems. There are further complaints regarding the Subaru Outback, too.

Should you look past oil consumption problems anyway?

Subaru is known for building long-lasting, ultra-reliable vehicles. With Subaru model inclusions in various high-mileage clubs, brand loyalists continue to look past the occasional oil consumption problem. So should you consider a Subaru Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek if there is a chance you’ll have a piston, gasket, or seal problem?

Of course, the ultimate decision to buy a Subaru or not is yours to make. However, weighing the value of a handsomely equipped vehicle, with AWD, great ground clearance, and incredible safety ratings, against potentially burning too much oil, it’s probably still a good buy. Furthermore, piston rings can be replaced by Subaru on qualifying models, according to Mechanics Direct.

There are other steps to reduce the risk of overconsuming oil, too. Quality engine oil is a great first step since the better formulas tend to last longer than economy blends. Your engine will thank you for the cleaner burning varieties, as well. If you spot any signs of an oil leak, make sure you handle it quickly and schedule an appointment with a mechanic or dealership. Catching leaks early and fixing them will ensure you avoid major oil drainage complications. Additionally, always remember to maintain regularly scheduled maintenance, especially with manufacturer recalls that notify you of needed replacements.

So, the short answer is yes. Subaru models, especially the older models, have documented reports of excessive oil consumption. However, if you stay on top of your Subaru’s maintenance, you can effectively look past the bad habit and still appreciate everything these vehicles have to offer.

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