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The Best Oil For Your New Subaru Engine And How To Get The Longest Life

What is the best oil for your new Subaru and how often should you change it? Here are tips to get the longest life from your engine.

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The most critical part of ensuring your new Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, Ascent, Impreza, Legacy, WRX /STI or BRZ engine will be reliable for years to come is to remain vigilant on the oil changes. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine and the least expensive maintenance you can do to keep your Subaru running well. The three Cs and main functions of your engine’s oil are to Cushion (lubricates), Clean (removes contaminants), and to keep your Subaru Boxer engine Cool.

How often should I change my engine oil?

Subaru recommends getting your first oil change at 6 months and not more than 6,000 miles. However, it’s a good idea 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 during this time.

Subaru oil change schedule and how often you should change itRegular maintenance is the key

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. Driving habits and conditions will affect how often you should change your oil.

What are the extreme driving conditions?

Driving patterns such as frequent engine braking (downshifting the transmission in order 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), and idling for extended periods of time (frequent and sustained remote engine-start operation).

change your oil more often in extreme conditionsExtreme conditions require more frequent oil changes

If your vehicle has any of these extreme driving conditions you will need to change your oil more frequently. We would recommend changing it every 4,000-5,000 especially if you have more than one of the extremes above.

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, it is required to use synthetic oil. Subaru recommends using Genuine Subaru oil and 0W-20 viscosity in all of these engines, designed for improved fuel economy and increased 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 breakdown, and superior lubrication for optimal fuel economy.

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 an average of 12,000 miles year.

Check your oil once a month or every 1000 milesCheck the oil level often

If your driving patterns involve any extreme conditions, you will likely experience some oil consumption and 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 new Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, Ascent, Impreza, WRX /STI or BRZ engine will be reliable for years to come is to remain vigilant on the oil changes.

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Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on FacebookTwitterInstagramSubaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates!

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Glassedeyeglasses (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 7:02PM

What is the original oil used by subaru in Japan? When I got my forester, it was green.
Then I got my 1st oil change and it changed to brown.

ForesterXTinNC (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 10:15PM

In reply to by Glassedeyeglasses (not verified)

Subaru oil is rebranded Idemitsu oil. Not the best, not the worst, just adequate. It should be amber when new, and turn black in a few miles, as will all oil. If it was green, my bet would be assembly lube washing off the internals.

Peter Siperki (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 8:03PM

I use 5w 40 full synthic with my 2008 forester xt ej255 engine and never let oil get more than 5000km / 3000miles old.

ForesterXTinNC (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 10:06PM

What is this crap, there is no recommendation, no real insight, just Subaru advertising.

"The Best Oil For Your New Subaru Engine And How To Get The Longest Life... "

What is the recommendation? Use Subaru branded oil, which is just relabeled Idemitsu oil, with a price markup. I find it funny that most stealerships don't even use it, opting for Castrol Edge in many cases.

Also, Subaru replaced many 2014-2015 FA20DIT WRX and Forester XT blocks because of excessive oil consumption. Excessive was listed as over 1 quart in an oil change internal. The difference between the high mark and low mark on the dipstick is 1.1 quarts, or over Subaru's excessive mark, so if you're having to "top off" between oil changes, you have a problem and needed to have it addressed.

I also find it funny that both my 2015 Forester XT 2.0DIT and 1999 Forester NA 2.5 use more oil than my 1964 Chevy C10 with it's 454 (7.4L) drag engine, and use nearly as much gasoline.

Rudy Hiebert (not verified)    December 31, 2019 - 11:39AM

Re: "Full synthetic ..." When this is on the label it sounds like this would be the best engine lube money can buy. Not all synthetics are the same. When a dealer's service department threatens to void warranty if you don't use their oil remind the guy on the other side of the counter that is required to provide it at no charge. Another thing, Magnassun-Moss Act is on your side if voiding your warranty becomes an issue.

Jesse (not verified)    January 1, 2020 - 9:24AM

The best oil?......this story takes me back decades ago when everybody had their favorite oil, as well as oils they would never use. We are going forward to the past with this oil debate and I love it! Rudy H is spot on with his M-M Act quote. Can't be compelled to use a specific oil brand. Use the proper oil weight recommended. Just look at new car service departments. They use factory or a name brand oil. And as pointed out, factory is just rebranded name brand oil. I have an '09 Toyota Corolla with almost 186,000. I use Mobil 1 synthetic 0w-20 and a Toyota oil filter. I change the oil by 5,000 miles since that is the factory recommended oil change interval. The engine uses about a pint of oil between changes.....the same as when new. So if your engine uses oil, don't immediately blame the oil. Mobil 1 has taken really good care of my engine. When I change my oil, looking into the filler hole in the valve cover, I can see a bit of the valve train. It looks as clean as it did when new. Absolutely amazing. Oil has come a long way over the decades.

Jack (not verified)    January 11, 2020 - 6:08AM

In my opinion the design of horizontally opposed engines will always see increasing oli consumption over a vertical engine. As well...investigate 100% synthetic my opinion (as opposed to genuine or even 'empirical' research) it isn't as adequate as mineral oil.

Matt (not verified)    September 7, 2021 - 3:12PM

In reply to by Jack (not verified)

Technically speaking, only inline-engines can be purely vertical. But I agree- flat or opposed motors tend to be more prone to seepage when not in use than a V. I’ve always liked the older GM 60-degree V6, especially the last domestic pushrod (2004 3.4) for this very reason. But it’s 2021. We’re never getting the good old days back, so now I’d rather have a Tesla. Until then, I’m just happy my wife’s 2019 Legacy has full coverage. Her 2011 Buick LaCrosse CXL AWD was the worst car I’ve ever had. Had to replace engine, transfer case, and rear drive shaft. So happy to trade it for a CPO.Subaru. RIP GM

RAD57 (not verified)    March 3, 2020 - 10:49AM

My 2010 Subaru Outback always received Mobil 1 Extended 5W-30 and Mobil-1 filter and it only consumes about a pint every 7500 mile oil/filter change. It now has 218,000 miles and going strong.

shawn (not verified)    September 4, 2020 - 8:23AM

In reply to by RAD57 (not verified)

I have a 2011 legacy 3.6r with 105k miles. I have used mobil 1(just the regular stuff), castrol gtx synthetic and penzoil platinum all 5w30 and it consumed oil only .5qt per oil change on the mobile one. The others it has not consumed anything. I just bought a 2017 outback 2.5i in december that uses 0w20 and i have not seen it consume oil yet. I put the same 0w20 penzoil platinum in it so we will see. I also change the oil every 4k miles. 6k is too long for the small subaru filters. Plus i use purulator filters anyways. They are top tier and the same price as oem.

Daniel Bittinat (not verified)    September 22, 2020 - 12:04PM

I change every 5-8k miles depending on the composition of my driving (city driving hard would be 5k, highway mostly would be 8k) and use just any API certified 0W-20 and a Fram TG filter. I think the frequency of the change is more important than the specific brand of oil and filter (within reason).

Rudy Hiebert (not verified)    September 22, 2020 - 2:38PM

In reply to by Daniel Bittinat (not verified)

Daniel: Re - "I think the frequency of the change is more important than the specific brand of oil and filter (within reason)." From my perspective it sounds like you have your maintenance well in hand. However on the other hand, frequency of the oil change interval is only second to the characteristics of the lubricants and oil analysis of the used oil. In my case the AMSOIL I use has shown a result that replacing it was not needed.

Jack (not verified)    September 22, 2020 - 7:58PM

Oil claims can reach 'near hysteria'..

You mean "oils AIN'T oils Sol??

Remember or become aware that we are just advertisers' products being machinated. It's not new....fifty eight years ago the advertising agency handling new washing liquid products told me why women (unconsciously) preferred creamy white liquid which came out in spurts as they squeezed the bottle. These places are not innocent scientists interested in our welfare, but in getting inside our heads. There are ups and downs with oils and all are expected to meet minimum standards. Any 'bonus' to that requires scientific proof to be 'real'.

Fundamentally ...synthetic oil was developed by IG Farben, part of a massive group of companies which included Standard Oil .IG Farbem invented mustard gas used in WW1 and Zyklon 'B' used alleged to have been used against their religious people in WW11. Obviously a market grew up around the product. It is more molecularly 'even' than mineral oil and can contain chemicals claimed to improve engine life. It is pretty consistent over engine temperature and an easier start in truly cold weather than the thickening mineral oil when vehicles are stationary in low ambient temperatures.

Synthetic oil maintains 'thin-ness' and is more a 'leaker' than mineral oil. Like washing one's hands thoroughly, distancing and turning off the TV when Trump starts talking, these cues are meant to maintain health. Oil (and filter) changes at say 10,000 kms is pretty normal for synthetics/ The less pure mineral oil may be changed at say 8000 kMs however both could run 20,000 if clean and motor not flogged. The abused or 'well used' Subaru will be running 'stressed' and maybe collecting more metal in the sump filter and elsewhere that one driven with the typical 'legal' speed changes.

I thought I was pretty ok with oils and changes and so forth but the mechanic replacing my Pajero engine is using 'run in oil where long ago we used to simply use a thinner oil and to run the engine on water only as cooling for 1000kms...why?...some coolant products interact with the head gaskets.

I sometimes yearn for my fast old 1938 Buick 8 ! and my well worked 46 model....simplicity and reliability and longevity...none of this humbug of modern stuff...however it is what it is.

For my SAAB 2.3 Carlsson I use semi synthetic and having read the dissertations and comments here I'll look more closely into oils for my wrx...which is still interstate after getting rid of those ghastly chinese coil-overs so commonly used.

Every higher performance car I have owned has been bilstein/bilstein-eibach'd and suspension tuned by the best there is in Australia however I will not change the engine settings.

In this case I decided to experiment, fitting 'bugeye' STI suspension and strut brace (lovely pink bits which the japanese changed owing to 'gender inference' ) so I can later assess it against Bilsteins. For me, a believer these days in keeping cars 'factory' for longevity safety and resale value I don't think what I have done is heresy or hypocrisy. Voila. .

Robert Sevigny (not verified)    December 13, 2023 - 12:31PM

In reply to by Jack (not verified)

I have a 2017 outback. Every time I go to the dealer to have an oil change and check up they overfill my oil dipstick. If I could send you a picture you can see that they always overfill it for some reason about a half an inch above the full line, I don't understand why they do that

Mark Bourree (not verified)    April 8, 2021 - 12:06AM

I have spent 30 years running a fleet of Diesel engineTractor Trailers in Cold Weather, along with a handful of pickup trucks with gas engines. We oil sampled our engines with a lab every 20,000kms, and determined that if you use a high quality synthetic oil (Amsoil) with a high qualtiy filtration system (spinners on the diesels), along with quality oil filters, and high quality oil filters on the gas engines, we got millions of kms from these engines, and changed the oil when the Lab told us to - the synthetic oil, when kept clean, ran for 80,000 to 120,000 kms between oil changes - we had 1 Mack engine run 400,000 kms with no oil change, just filters and lab analysis every 20,000km - and the oil was still in good order at 400,000 km, we changed it just on principle. Cleaning the 100% Synthetic Oil was the best investment we made, high grade filters and Spinners saved us many many $$'s over the life time of these vehicles.

Gary Gantz (not verified)    July 25, 2021 - 2:06PM

I have a 1996 Chevy P/U that I bought new. It now has 143,000 miles. I put Amsoil 0W-30 and an Amsoil filter in it at 1000 miles. I change the oil and filter at once a year or 25,000 mile. I've done this for 25 years. The oil has never gone below the full mark on the dipstick for those 25 years. I also have a Toyota Avalon that I bought new in 2007. It now has 195,000 miles. Did the same thing with it. Has never used any oil.

Jr (not verified)    October 9, 2021 - 2:38PM

How convenient, your bullshit is. Subarus have an oil consumption problem they don't want the public to know about. Hence check your oil often. You have to use 5 30 oil to slow the problem, I drive 200 miles and I'm low, only 74 k on this over priced piece of jap junk

Vincent (not verified)    January 6, 2022 - 9:58AM

Please kindly advise. I use a 2014 Subaru Outback with Mobil 1 full synthetic 5W 30 engine oil. Is it okay for the engine?

DB Roth (not verified)    December 12, 2023 - 8:00PM

I was hoping for comments about the Outback 3.6R. Subaru has always specified regular oil for our 2017 OB 6 cyl but no one could explain, other than cost, the downside of using synthetic. I asked the service reps, techs, everyone just shrugged. The 3.6 takes 6 qts too. Thoughts? I decide to always use synthetic but it’s not what Subaru recommends.