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Don’t Take Consumer Reports’ Advice For Your Subaru’s Oil

What is the best oil for your newer Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, or other model? Don't take Consumer Reports' advice if you want your engine to last the longest.

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Consumer Reports released its "How to Get More From Your Car's Oil" report. If you follow their advice, you will get less, not more, from your Subaru engine's life. Read this if you want to extend the life of your Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, or other model's Boxer engine. 

For most auto advice, I think Consumer Reports is a good source. But this latest report on oil is wrong. 

CR's "experts" explain what the right oil to choose for your new car is. They give good advice, like checking your engine oil monthly and adding oil if needed. They also say to change it at the correct intervals.

2024 Subaru Outback with customer on the beach

photo credit: Michael’s Subaru

CR says to use the type of oil the car manufacturer recommends. 

What oil does Subaru recommend for the newer Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, or other model? 

For newer Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and other new Subaru models, Subaru says, "Synthetic oil, specifically 0W-20, is highly recommended for optimal engine performance and protection."

John Ibbotson, the chief mechanic at Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, says, "Normally, you should use the oil your owner's manual recommends. "There's no need to upgrade to synthetic unless your car falls under the 'severe usage' category."

2024 Subaru Crosstrek on the trail

What is "severe usage?"

Severe usage includes taking short car trips that don't allow the engine to warm up thoroughly (typically drives that last less than 15 minutes), not putting many miles on your car annually, using your vehicle for towing, or living in a place with extreme temperatures. In these cases, Ibbotson thinks synthetic oil is better and can even help prevent premature engine wear. "It holds up better in extreme heat and cold."

In my experience of working with every car manufacturer and different types of oil testing, I found that 90 percent of drivers are operating their vehicles under severe usage. Very few people drive under ideal conditions all the time. 

If you want your Subaru vehicle to last the longest, you should use 0W-20 Synthetic oil. 

How often should you change your oil?

Subaru says, "Synthetic engine oil should be changed every 6,000 miles when you drive your Subaru frequently since the oil eventually wears and becomes less effective due to heat and friction caused during engine operation."

Change your oil more often with severe use.

For severe use, you should change your oil more often than the 6,000 miles recommended by Subaru. I suggest 4,000-5,000 miles with Synthetic engine oil. This will keep your Subaru running at peak efficiency and prolong the life of your Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, or other model's Boxer engine. 

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this Subaru engine oil story. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.

For additional articles related to the 2024 Subaru Forester, here are a few of my top stories you may enjoy. 

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I am Denis Flierl, a 12-year Torque News senior writer with 20+ years of Subaru and automotive journalism experience. I enjoy bringing you, the Subaru fans and customers, the most up-to-date Subaru news, reviews, and new model information. You'll find the latest Subaru stories on the Subaru page. Follow me on my The Dirty Subaru website, Dirty Subaru blog, SubaruReport, All Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierl, Facebook, and Instagram.

I’ve got you covered! - I cover all Subaru all the time - It’s called the “Subaru Report.” Check back daily for my expert Subaru analysis!

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photo credit: Michael’s Subaru

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Mike May (not verified)    December 11, 2023 - 12:17PM

I have been an automotive technician for nearly 40 years .
It has been my experience that the manufactures specifications should always be adhered to . In my opinion the the interval ( ie ) millage is too long . In some cases in 5 years the engine is shot and starting to burn oil ! With my personal vehicle's I have always changed the engine oil at approximately 5 to 6 k . Which means at 150,000 + km’s I have had no issue with oil consumption . Manufactures want to sell new vehicles !

Al Bumen (not verified)    December 11, 2023 - 2:23PM

Baloney eggspurt recommendations. Return to Uranus with your oil no-knowledge.

Jason (not verified)    December 11, 2023 - 6:34PM

Well, the conventional/synthetic debate is a moot point for modern Subarus, since all 0W oils are synthetic...

Marshall Weingarden (not verified)    December 11, 2023 - 6:39PM

What do you do when one or more scraper rings seizes and raw oil comes out your tailpipe? (2009 Subaru Outback)

Fig Newton (not verified)    December 18, 2023 - 10:28AM

In reply to by Marshall Weingarden (not verified)

If you're serious, contact Subaru. If you can prove you followed Subaru's recommended maintenance intervals since the vehicle was new (if bought used, better have those records, too) you might get some assistance. I doubt it, though since the vehicle is 14 years didn't mention how many miles are on it.

Kurt Kaufman (not verified)    December 11, 2023 - 7:50PM

I have a 2020 Forester, and I find it easiest to change oil every 5,000 miles (for some reason I tend to notice when the odometer spins to a number ending in 000). I put enough miles on the car so that it's never more than a few months between oil changes.

Bryan (not verified)    December 11, 2023 - 10:26PM

There is no such thing as conventional 0W-20 oil. To make 0W-20 you have to use a majority synthetic oils as the base. So, if you are using 0W-20 is is either mostly synthetic or fully.

Ask any oil manufacturer.

Joshua (not verified)    December 12, 2023 - 1:37AM

Ok I'm a little confused reading this article. You start out by saying:
○Don't take consumer reports advice changing my subarus oil.
Then you say: CR says to use the oil the car manufacturer says to use which is:
○synthetic oil,specifically 0W-20
And then your suggestion is:
○use synthetic 0W-20 oil

So I'm really confused because you're saying exactly what subaru and consumer reports says to do, right after saying don't take consumer reports advice.....
I'm not sure the point of the article since you said to do the exact same thing as Consumer reports said to do, but in the beginning you said dont listen to consumer reports.
Unless I am missing something (and I very well could be) this is kind of blowing my mind that this article was even published. And honesty it's kind of pissing me off too because it seems these days....well I'm not even going to go into that one lol. Just please let me know if I am missing something and have this all totally wrong and please explain what I have wrong because I obviously am not getting it. Or let me know if I have it right, and if I have it right please let me know what the point of the article was and why it was published the way it was.
Thanks and have a great day! :)

Anthony B. (not verified)    December 12, 2023 - 9:36AM

0w-20...0w-30..0w-40...class 4 syn only on every vehicle I work on..Change it every 6,000 mi. Best deals at Walmart..Super Tech Oil Filters are made by Champion Laboratories....

Emmanuel (not verified)    December 12, 2023 - 10:52AM

So, they say to use what the manufacturer recommends... And you are saying that's wrong? So what SHOULD Subaru owners put in their car? You haven't explained why their recommendation is wrong.

Keene S Ferrer (not verified)    December 12, 2023 - 6:54PM

What did you just say that the Subaru owners manual didn't? Reading your articles like talking to a box of hammers.

John (not verified)    December 13, 2023 - 6:29AM

Not understanding what consumer reports got wrong? Are you saying you should not follow the manufacturers suggestion for oil?

Aaron Roberson (not verified)    December 15, 2023 - 6:00PM

My wrx has a battery problem since new. If the car sits for 3/4 days, the battery will go dead. The dealer just gives me a new battery. Subaru just lost a class action law suit with this issue. How do i get the right people to help me with this?
Aaron Roberson
[email protected]
Ph: 857.425:9091

Dave (not verified)    December 18, 2023 - 9:40AM

You're better off not buying a Subaru. Their engines leak like a sieve. This has been a long running problem with that poorly designed horizontal "Boxer" engine.