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The Subaru Engines, Models And Years That Burn Oil - Is The Problem Fixed?

In some Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek models, Subaru Boxer engines have been singled out for having excessive oil consumption issues. See which years and engines are the problems and if the issue is fixed.

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If you've owned an older Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, or Impreza, you know some models burn oil between changes. Some owners report they check the vehicle's dipstick and add a quart of oil every 1000-2000 miles. While it's not normal, some older Subaru engines have had excessive oil consumption issues.

Consumer Reports has identified which automakers, engines, and model years that owners report adding at least a quart of oil between oil changes. Subaru's 2.0-liter engine in the Crosstrek and Impreza, the 2.5-liter engine in the Forester, and the 3.6-liter engine in the Outback are on the list.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

Which Subaru models and years burn the most oil?

Owners report the 2013-2014 Subaru Forester model years have oil consumption issues. Some 2012-2013 Subaru Crosstrek and Impreza owners say its engine burns oil between changes.

The 2010-2012 Subaru Outback 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine is also listed as an engine that burns excessive oil. Subaru discontinued the 3.6R model in the Outback and Legacy for the 2020 model year and introduced the all-new 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine. There have been no problems with the new engine.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

Do some Subaru vehicles have an oil consumption problem?

Torque News has documented Subaru's oil consumption problem in certain engines. The vehicles affected most seem to be 2011-2014 Forester (2.5-liter engine), 2013 Legacy (2.5-liter engine) 2013 Outback (2.5-liter engine) 2012-2013 Impreza (2.0-liter engine) and 2013 XV Crosstrek (2.0-liter engine).

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

Why do some older Subaru models burn oil?

The CR report says oil consumption issues surfaced after federal fuel-economy standards became more demanding. The mandates forced automakers to make trade-offs in engine design that would increase fuel efficiency but, in some cases, had an adverse effect on durability.

Using transmissions that keep the engine in the optimal higher RPM range is also a contributing factor. Subaru uses a Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission (CVT) that steps up engine RPMs and helps maximize fuel efficiency.

In the wake of an oil consumption class-action lawsuit, documented by Torque News, Subaru extended the factory warranty on some models (previously five years or 60,000 miles) to eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Read the full class-action lawsuit report here.

Has Subaru corrected the oil consumption issue?

According to Consumer Reports, there were significant improvements in the three Subaru engines listed above after the 2014 model year. Owners reported they were not adding oil between regular service appointments in 2015 and newer models.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

Reports say the Japanese automaker redesigned the 2.5-liter engine in the Forester and Outback in 2012 and has fixed the problem. Some 2012 Subaru Forester models could still have the older engine design before the automaker changed over to the next-generation 2.5-liter Boxer engine.

In Consumer Reports annual surveys, owners now report zero problems in 2019 and newer Subaru models. New car shoppers will find the 2021 Subaru Forester and Outback 2.5-liter engine and Crosstrek and Impreza 2.0-liter engines are fuel-efficient and reliable.

You Might Also Like: The Newly-Refreshed 2022 Subaru Forester Update - 5 New Details Revealed Before The U.S. Debut

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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Comments

Gary Willis (not verified)    July 22, 2021 - 3:28PM

I have a 2015 Forester 2.5i that often needs one extra quart when the warning light comes on between oil changes.

ANDRE DE GRAAF (not verified)    July 22, 2021 - 8:24PM

Pretty much all Subaru engines leak oil as well as probably burn It. Would have to disagree with the comment about it CVT stepping up the revs. Pretty much the opposite. The revs are maintained at around 2000 unless accelerating hard or climbing a steep grade or probably towing.

Jim (not verified)    July 24, 2021 - 9:55AM

In reply to by ANDRE DE GRAAF (not verified)

Our 2010 Outback with the 2.5i engine with 160k miles has never leaked or burned oil. My buddies 2020 Outback with 2.5i burns around 0.75 quarts per 5k miles.

Martin Troeger (not verified)    May 26, 2022 - 7:41PM

In reply to by Jim (not verified)

Seems my experience mirrors your comment. I had a 2010 2.5 Outback which never burned any oil. Unfortunately, it was totaled in 2919. I then purchased a 2919 2.5 Outback which started burning oil at 53,000 miles. Competition Suburu performed an oil consumption test which showed that 9.8 ounces were being consumed after 1200 miles which in in excess of one and one half quarts during the recommended period for oil changes. They simply stated in the test result that this was within the normal range for my car. Not a happy camper!

Bob SKINNER (not verified)    July 22, 2021 - 10:12PM

My 2015 Forester went through a quart of oil in 700 miles going through the west deserts of California, Nevada, Utah during the sever heat wave in June-July 2021. Has typically gone through a quarter every 3,600 miles. I have found keeping the RPMs down in 2-3K range helped.

Christine (not verified)    October 2, 2021 - 5:23AM

In reply to by Bob SKINNER (not verified)

Same with my 2015 Forester this summer- got an oil change prior to a trip thru the mountains of Tn. from Michigan and once home oil light came on. Now that I’m over 100k mikes this problem seems to be getting worse. Had an oil consumption test while still under warranty and car was deemed within “normal” range. Frustrated!!!

Jeffrey! (not verified)    August 18, 2022 - 7:59AM

In reply to by Christine (not verified)

Yep we went through this exact scenario with a brand new 2018 Subaru Forrester (2.5l). Took it to the east coast here in Canada and while touring the oil light came on. We added more oil before the ould change and finally went to dealer who told us bs about synthetic oil on higly efficient engines etc etc and that this was normal. I can also point out an 800 dollar exhaust piece with flex piping in it went after 2 years and the arms broke that whole the hatch open and the windshield cracked. We don't even go offroad. Subaru fixed the hatch and exhaust out of warranty which tells me they know they have issues with that generation vehicle. The windshield we replaced out of pocket because we didn't even think of the warranty. Anyway back to oil, we haven't had to add oil to cars in 30 years before this car. We won't buy another. Too bad though because I kinda like the AWD in the snow.

Billie (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 5:55AM

My 2013 Outback use to burn at least a quart of oil between most oil changes. Subaru replaced my engine at 100k miles under the class action suit. They claimed the excessive oil consumption was due to faulty o-rings which was allowing oil passed.

J Henderson (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 2:01PM

In reply to by Billie (not verified)

Interesting. Did you get an oil consumption test from Subaru? Was the excessive oil burn apparent after 1200 miles? Curious because my 2013 Legacy does even worse but Subarau says oil consumption tests show no problem.

Sharon Rice (not verified)    September 27, 2021 - 7:41PM

In reply to by J Henderson (not verified)

I bought a 2013 Impreza back in November of 2012. I had problems with oil almost from the get go. When I went to the Subaru dealers service, I was told, “that’s normal”. Years later, I heard about the class action suit. I was told to get an oil consumption test, and that it had to be at a Subura dealer. I had it done twice, and they said it passed. I said, that’s odd because I always have to put in a quart of oil at around 2000-3000 miles. I was told that it should go 5000 miles between oil changes using the synthetic oil. I even went directly to Subaru and never got any satisfaction OT compensation. Very disappointed in Subaru and their customer service.

Richard Melloh (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 9:14AM

My wife and I have daily driven a 2013 Crosstrek Limited since new. It currently sits in the driveway with a little more than 80k miles. It does not, nor has it ever used a drop of oil. I am about to perform the next oil and filter change, something I do myself every 7k miles. I guess we should feel a little lucky.

I also purchased a used 2005 LGT wagon six years ago, with 60k miles on the odometer. The seller was up front about the 2.5 liter, turbo engine using one quart of oil every 1000 miles since delivery as new in 2005. The dealer claimed this was normal. The seller was accurate on that oil consumption rate. I always kept an extra quart of oil in the rear side storage bin. Oil and filter changes were performed every 3k miles or less. The original owner claimed oil/filter changes were preformed every 2k miles. Over my six years of ownership, the LGT's oil consumption rate remained constant.

If one loves their Subaru, they surely would not wait for the low oil warning light to come on before adding oil. I cringe to think someone would do that. It's not a bad thing to be in tune with one's vehicle, checking oil regularly. It helps avoid other surprises like low washer fluid, low brake fluid, low power steering fluid, low coolant level. They are all right there for the checking.

J Henderson (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 9:27AM

I bought my 2013 Legacy 2.5i Certified PreOwned from a Subaru dealer, with 26K miles on it. From the start it burned a quart of oil as soon as every 1200 miles or at best every 2000 miles. The dealer never told me, even when I complained about it, that my car was covered by the court settlement facilitating a free oil consumption test, and a possible repair, Subaru says my car doesn't burn enough to make them liable for repairs (like replacing the short block, or maybe the piston rings) so Subaru of America and the dealer has done the absolute least that they have to. I've had total clunkers that don't burn oil like this.

Bob (not verified)    May 19, 2022 - 11:18PM

In reply to by J Henderson (not verified)

I bought a 2013 Outback 2.5 6MT new and around 98,000 miles I asked the dealer to fix my oil consumption problem under the class action settlement- which I was never notified of by Subaru. Dealer claimed I had a leak that needed to be fixed first. Total BS- I was losing a quart of oil every 300 miles or so, but never any evidence of leak under the car. Did not get fixed. At 118,000 miles, I am putting a quart in every 120 to 250 miles, depending on city or highway driving. Thinking about trading it for a CRV, RAV4 or CX-5. Screw Subaru!

Schamb (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 9:31AM

2015 Forester 2.5i w/manual trans. Has always burned 1 quart per 500 miles at highway speeds, though a bit less when driven around town. Always keep two quarts in the car so I have some to add when the low oil light comes on. Ridiculous! Never buying a Subaru again.

Fran Kammerer (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 10:04AM

My 2017 Forrester constantly needs extra oil between service intervals. I've taken it back to the dealership to no avail. It still needs an extra quart after about 3k miles

Mike Walkow (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 11:17AM

My 2000 outback sport's engine ran completely out of oil at about 260,000 miles. I was totally unaware that it was using oil. Got a newer motor put in with 60,000 miles . The car had about 350,000 miles on it when a deer collision totaled it and I only had liability insurance on it, so sold it for scrap. Lesson, always check your oil on a higher mileage car!

Oscar Will (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 11:56AM

My 2019 Forester uses NO oil between services...I have been watching closely. I’m retired with over 50 years in the automotive industry so you could say I did my homework before I bought the car as I knew of prior oil consumption issues in the older engines. It’s the best vehicle I’ve ever had.

Brandon (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 3:12PM

2013 Crosstrek 170000 miles. Adding a quart just under 2000 miles. If I forget to check the oil light will come on by 2000 miles.

Chris (not verified)    September 8, 2021 - 1:48AM

In reply to by Brandon (not verified)

my 2014 leaks or I think it does at least. as soon as I hit 100K i need to add at minimum a quart to reach 5k on the oil change. I am concerned about mixing oils as i need them periodically.

Lindsay W (not verified)    July 29, 2021 - 9:04AM

I have a 2013 crosstrek. My extended warranty to cover the oil consumption ran out 10/2020. I wasn’t driving my car much and didn’t realize the issue till this year. It has 90k miles in it. Since the warranty expired Subaru said they would still help, but I would be out of pocket for $1k. Is that worth it? Or should I just keep adding oil and forego the rebuild. It would be it would be a remanufactured shortblock, which they say is pretty much the same as a brand new engine. Just wondering if it makes sense to go that route and if other issues will present if I do or don’t replace the engine.

J Henderson (not verified)    July 30, 2021 - 8:44AM

That is close to my situation. I'm curious, how often do you need to add oil? A quart after 1200 miles? 1500? 2000? Mine varies over that range. Ill be curious to know what you decide to do. BTW my Subaru dealer never told me about the class action lawsuit that covered my car, when I complained about it, only an independent mechanic alerted me to it. Cheers

Robby (not verified)    August 2, 2021 - 10:30AM

My 2017 Forester needs usually 2 quarts between oil changes. This is just not acceptable. And I baby the car, fully synthetic oil, changed every 4K, high grade oil filter. No harsh climate and I live in flatland. My 2009 CRV with 305K on it burns and leaks zero oil. This issue was certainly NOT fixed as the article suggests.

Bob (not verified)    August 12, 2021 - 11:19AM

Our 2012 Forrester had its oil consumption recall work done a year ago and it has started burning oil again.