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The Best Oil For Your New Subaru And How To Improve Fuel Mileage

What is the best oil for your 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, or another new model, and how often should you change it? Here are tips to get the most extended life from your engine.

To ensure your 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, or another new model's engine will be reliable for years to come, remain vigilant on the oil changes. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine and the least expensive maintenance you can do to keep your all-wheel-drive vehicle running well. The three Cs and main functions of your engine's oil are to Cushion (lubricates), Clean (remove contaminants), and it keeps your Subaru Boxer engine Cool.

What oil should I use?

If your Subaru is a 2011 or newer Forester, a 2012 or newer Impreza, or a 2013 or newer Outback, Legacy, Crosstrek, Ascent, or BRZ, Subaru says to use synthetic oil. Subaru recommends using Genuine Subaru oil and 0W-20 viscosity in these engines. It's designed for improved fuel economy and increase power. 5W-30 is formulated for the turbocharged engine in the WRX and WRX STI, which runs at higher temperatures. It has increased protection against oil degradation and superior lubrication for optimal fuel economy.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

Will using synthetic oil increase fuel mileage?

Many oil manufacturers claim using synthetic oil will improve fuel mileage, but is it true? A recent study from Government Fleet says they saw no increase in fuel mileage using synthetic oil in its testing. 

Will using synthetic oil extend oil life?

The same study said switching from a mineral blend engine oil to a full synthetic can extend oil life, "a claim that independent scientists could confirm in lab tests." 

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

How often should I change my engine oil?

Subaru recommends getting your first oil change at six months and not more than 6,000 miles. However, it's good to change it at 3,000-4,000 miles since the engine will have just come through the initial break-in period (3,000 miles), especially since a new engine will experience slightly more wear.

Regular maintenance is the key

Driving habits and conditions will affect how often you should change your oil. After your first oil change, Subaru says you should change it every 6,000 miles using synthetic oil. But this is if you drive in "normal" conditions. Most engines operate in extreme conditions. 

What are the extreme driving conditions?

Extreme conditions include:
Frequent engine braking (downshifting the transmission to decelerate the vehicle).
Engine operation at sustained high rpm (sustained highway driving or driving in mountainous terrain).
Frequent acceleration and deceleration (stop-and-go freeway traffic).
Severe thermal conditions (extreme heat or cold).
Idling for extended periods (frequent and sustained remote engine-start operation).

Extreme conditions require more frequent oil changes

If you drive in extreme conditions, you will need to change your oil more frequently. We recommend changing it every 4,000-5,000 if you use synthetic oil, especially if you have more than one of the above extremes. 

Why does my Subaru engine use oil between changes?

Because many manufacturers are now using these "skinny" zero-weight synthetic oils to squeeze out tiny improvements in fuel economy, you may experience some oil consumption between oil changes. It's a good idea to check the oil level in your vehicle often, about once a month, if you drive 12,000 miles a year.

Check the oil level often

You could experience some oil consumption in more extreme conditions and may need to "top off" your oil between oil changes. Don't let your Subaru engine go below the bottom dot on your dipstick, or your engine can overheat, and you will experience premature engine wear or engine failure.

The best way to ensure your 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, or other model's engine will be reliable for years to come is to remain vigilant on the oil changes. It will also help you get the optimal fuel efficiency. 

You Might Also Like: 11 Easy Tips To Improve Your New Subaru Or Any Car’s Fuel Mileage

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: main image Cross Creek Subaru


jg (not verified)    April 18, 2022 - 1:47PM

In reply to by Dennis Thomas (not verified)

Don't discount others like Royal Purple, and if anything, you should invest a little more in your filter to keep the smallest particles possible from circulating in your oil and causing unnecessary wear. The best synthetic oil to use is the one that meets your price point so you feel like you get the most value for your money -- they are all very good oils. Naturally, larger companies focus more on production costs and make products that many will say are inferior to more expensive oils. I've used Amsoil since the 80's and have driven an old Jeep that threw a rod and emptied the oil pan 20+ miles from town. It got driven all the way home on the highway and side streets with no oil pressure and all while towing a fairly large boat. I even started it up the next day and drove it around a bit while parking the boat and the only thing wrong was that it had a "miss" on one cylinder and the oil light was on. That one event sold me on synthetic oil for life. Also, don't forget to change your differential oil (front and back). These break in just like the engines and you need to get all the metal dust out of them to maximize the life of the drive train (the magnetic plug is great, but it doesn't stop all the metal dust from circulating and I do all my new cars at 5,000 miles). I generally use Red Line for my differentials and Amsoil for my engines. After the first change at 1,000 miles on a new engine, I usually change my engine oil in the spring and fall just to flush the acids formed from the combustion process out of the crankcase, but in a car that was rarely driven I have also gone for 2 years without changing it with no ill effects.

Paul Rivers (not verified)    July 18, 2022 - 11:38AM

In reply to by Dennis Thomas (not verified)

Subaru dealer told me to absolutely not use Mobil 1 in my wife's 2017 non turbo Forester, It would lead to oil consumption , and to use any non high performance synthetic 0w-20. It must be and additive causing the issue. I contacted Mobil 1 and they said it's not there oil?

Don (not verified)    July 18, 2022 - 4:18PM

In reply to by Paul Rivers (not verified)

Your dealer is a buffoon. Manufacturers say what specification each oil (engine, gear, transmission) needs to conform to and the determination of whether an oil is "good" or not is how well it conforms to that specification. For quite a while GM had a deal with ExxonMobil and put Mobil 1 in Corvettes straight from the factory. They had no oil consumption issues. I have used synthetic oils (many brands, but not Mobil 1) since the 70's and never had any consumption issues.

ty (not verified)    April 10, 2023 - 8:47AM

In reply to by Paul Rivers (not verified)

Fact check- - - - Mobil 1--- true.
Fact check- - - - Subaru- also true.

Mobil 1 is an ok oil, Maybe not as good as really high enders like red line, but they are no inherent problems with it.

Subaru is doing a sleight of hand trick here. the hard truth is ANY oil in the 2010-2014 will have excessive oil consumption.
5th gen 2015/2020 remodel???
6th gen 2021-2023 ? ? ?
Explanation: In the pursuit of better mpg subaru 'loosened' the tolerances of their 2.5 engines.

____+about 2mpg/ at least at first, but then.......

____- increased oil consumption, increased engine wear,DECREASED reliability, DECREASED engine life, ending up with decreased mpg. In effect Subaru built in 80/100 thousand miles of wear into the new engines. ___bad idea___
The whole experiment has been a fail. Average real world mpg starting with 2014 4th gen outback: 24.3mpg tracked over 12,678,417 miles on 398 outbacks. To 2022 6th gen (most recently available data) 23.3mpg average over 2,323,552 miles on 226 outbacks
8 years 2 remodels and subaru LOST 1 mpg. Reverse "progress"?
I can only rationalize this behavior as -- 'pencil pushers taking design decisions away from engineers'-- nothing else makes sense. It didn't work yet Subaru learned........What? Apparently nothing.

I would like to ask Subaru. Was the experiment worth flushing your reputation?

Steven Z (not verified)    April 17, 2022 - 10:07AM

The change intervals you suggest we’re typical in days of old when the lubricants weren’t as sophisticated as they are today. I’ve been using Amsoil 100% synthetic lubricants for over 40 years. I can attest that I’ve seen a minimum of 10% increase in mpg and I change my oil every 12 months and filters every 6 mos; I average 15k miles/yr.

I once went 18 months in a Ford Explorer with approximately 150k miles without oil or filter changes. I taught auto mechanics and brought the vehicle to class where we tore down the engine. Besides draining less than 2 qts of oil, we found minimal wear and minimal buildup of varnish, etc. All original parts were serviceable.

Testing in fleet vehicles, including NYC taxis and long haul trucks, has shown synthetics can achieve a service life of over 100,000 miles and still provide adequate, if not superior, engine protection.

Martin Wilson (not verified)    November 14, 2023 - 12:22AM

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