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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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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