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Subaru sued over excessive oil consumption: Is your car on the list?

The 2014 Subaru Forester, 2013 Outback, 2013 Legacy, 2013 XV Crosstrek and 2013 Impreza all have potential oil consumption issues. Now there's a Subaru Oil Consumption Lawsuit pending.

The two top selling Subaru models, the 2014 Subaru Forester and 2013 Outback both have potential oil consumption issues and Subaru of America is being sued over it. There is a law suit filed against the Japanese automaker that contends Subaru failed to let consumers know about a potentially dangerous excessive oil consumption issue in many of its popular models.

Subaru vehicles named in the lawsuit

In an article in the New Jersey Law Journal, the lawsuit claims the 2011-14 Forester, 2013 Legacy and 2013 Outback, with 2.5-liter engines, and 2012-13 Impreza and 2013 Crosstrek, with 2-liter engines are the culprits. The suit claims the vehicles "prematurely burn off and/or consume abnormal and excessive amounts of engine oil."

The article says that Subaru has failed to let consumers know of the oil consumption problem and it has cost some buyers thousands of dollars to repair. The lawsuit also contends that owners of these vehicles have to "constantly replenish engine oil at an unreasonably rapid pace." It says that this issue creates a safety hazard for owners because these engines potentially could fail "at any time and under any driving condition or speed." But the lawsuit doesn’t cite any specific instances of accidents or injury due to the oil issue.

Subaru aware of the problem

Michael McHale, Director of Corporate Communications for Subaru of America said, "While we believe the oil consumption of our vehicles to be within acceptable levels, we continually work to reduce the amount of consumable goods, such as oil, that our vehicles require to operate." He went on to say, "We have also worked with customers on this issue.”

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The New Jersey Law Journal article said the suit was filed on behalf of Keith Yaeger, who owns a 2014 Forester, and Michael Schuler, who says he traded in his 2013 Outback “at a loss” due to the excessive oil consumption problem. The lawsuit also says four "technical service bulletins" were issued to Subaru dealers in September and December 2013 alerting them to complaints from consumers, and that revised versions of those bulletins were reissued in May of this year.

Oil control piston rings is the root cause

The excessive oil consumption problem appears to be with "unanticipated wear of the oil control piston rings as the root cause of the oil consumption defect." Subaru is aware of the problem and says all of these affected models should still be covered under Subaru's powertrain warranty. If you own a 2011-2014 Forester, 2013 Legacy and 2013 Outback, with a 2.5-liter engine, and 2012-13 Impreza and 2013 Crosstrek, with a 2-liter engine and are experiencing these oil consumption issues, you can contact your nearest Subaru dealer for more information.

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Phillip (not verified)    July 19, 2014 - 5:01PM

I have a 2.5 L 2013 Legacy. I have to add a half of quart of oil every 1000 miles. I put high mileage on it. It is an inconvenience to constantly check it.

upside (not verified)    October 10, 2016 - 7:35PM

In reply to by Phillip (not verified)

you should check all fluids and lights and tyres of a vehicle before every journey, so checking them once a day aint a inconvenience, a inconvenience is when you cant be arsed to spend 2 mins a week to check your vehicle then its off the road for 2 weeks being rebuilt

liz white (not verified)    November 10, 2016 - 4:51PM

In reply to by upside (not verified)

I have my oil changed before every trip. 3 times now, 8 hrs into the trip, my oil light has come on and I am empty on oil. so ... checking oil regularly does not solve the problem. it suddenly just disappears. very dangerous!!!!

Aleksandra Wartak (not verified)    July 19, 2014 - 10:10PM

I have experienced same problem with my Subaru 2013 Impreza Sport 2.0L. I have to change oil every 3K miles, and the low oil warning light comes up at 2000 ml and have to add oil. The oil is below the low level at 2200 ml.

lindsey (not verified)    July 20, 2014 - 7:42AM

I have had this problem since my first service at 3500 miles. My radio has never worked and now my "air conditioner" makes a loud squealing noise at the first start of the day, which is supposedly "normal", according to the dealership. I am very upset with my first purchase of a 2012 impreza..

Joseph Ronald Caunin (not verified)    May 29, 2015 - 3:21PM

In reply to by lindsey (not verified)

Hi, i have same problem in my 2012 XV "ac noise and un even flow of air, result? inside temp is hot, there us a cold air but nit enough to make the car cold" , subaru change the fan motor three times now i have the same problem again, the temp here in UAE is high summer is up to 50degC. is your subaru ac problem fixed? If yest how did they fixed it? Can you please advise so i can talk to the Subaru workshop, i dont trust them anymore as they keep on changing fan motor but they are not finding the root cause.


Robert knowles (not verified)    July 20, 2014 - 5:47PM

My 2011 forester is using 1.5 liters of oil between services (12,000) kms as per Subaru specs. I asked my dealer what is the problem and was told it is normal for that much oil use. What can I do. My warranty runs out next January and I want the problem fixed by then but I'm hitting a brick wall. Help please

Erin McCormack (not verified)    September 22, 2014 - 9:23AM

In reply to by Robert knowles (not verified)

First print the article and bring it with you when you got to the dealership, second when you go tell him or her that they need to do a oil consumption test. which means they will make sure you have Subaru certified oil and filter and come back after you drive 1200 miles and they will check how much oil you have burned through. if you have burned through any they will send a report to corporate and you should be eligible for a fixed engine. I am going through this process on my leased 2011 Forester as we speak.

Janice Elie (not verified)    September 24, 2014 - 6:45PM

In reply to by Erin McCormack (not verified)

I've already been through this process with my 2014 Forester. The dealer finally replaced the rings after an entire year of issues. It didn't take long once the repairs were done for the same issue to start again. I was told I needed to start the oil consumption process again & "we'll go from there". Subaru now says its "normal" to have to add a quart of oil every 2 - 3 thousand miles. This gets quite expensive especially since the synthetic oil changes are more costly. If this was normal, every vehicle that uses synthetic oil would have the same problem. That doesn't seem to be the case. I never would have purchased this vehicle if I had known about the oil consumption issue.

jose cortes (not verified)    September 24, 2014 - 9:08PM

In reply to by Janice Elie (not verified)

Hi Janice., why with such a new car and a full one year of problems going back and forth to the dealer, you didn't apply for lemon law. There is no way to justify that 1 qt. in 2k miles is normal.


AB (not verified)    November 6, 2014 - 9:24PM

In reply to by Janice Elie (not verified)

They should of done a complete replace of the short block. Ask them for the record of this as they might of done zero to get reimbursed from Subaru and that means they are crooks supreme. If this is the case any decent lawyer will get you a new car from them plus damages.

Wade (not verified)    March 10, 2015 - 11:13AM

In reply to by Erin McCormack (not verified)

I in the waiting room right now, waiting for the dealer to change my oil and begin the oil consumption check. I'll bet the service writer isn't my biggest fan, as I gave him some grief for telling me that "3/4 qt. over 4,000 is 'normal.'" Because no--it isn't. And, my owner's manual states that I can drive 7,500 between oil changes.
Does Subaru really want a bunch of 5 year old cars blowing blue smoke and ruining their brand?

Craig (not verified)    August 11, 2015 - 1:47PM

In reply to by Wade (not verified)

Subaru's standard is less than 1/3 of a quart in 1,200 miles or 1 quart in 3,600 miles. I have a copy of Subaru's oil consumption test form and it clearly states that you are to get repairs (a new short block) if the oil consumption is 1/3 of a quart or more in 1,200 miles.

Ray Franke (not verified)    September 13, 2015 - 10:06AM

In reply to by Craig (not verified)

I am having the same issues. I ran my car 3600 miles and now the oil doesn't even register on the dip stick. Where can I find a copy of Subaru's oil consumption test form?
The service manager told me that the manufacture of the piston rings manufactured the piston rings under size and doesn't meet Subaru's specifications.

Craig (not verified)    September 13, 2015 - 9:41PM

In reply to by Ray Franke (not verified)

I could not find a copy online but your dealer will have the form. It clearly states that the standard is 1/3 of a quart in 1,200 miles and that anything over that is not acceptable and will require repairs.

Brenda Cook (not verified)    April 8, 2015 - 11:18PM

In reply to by Erin McCormack (not verified)

I have a 2014 OUTBACK that is using oil. I change it every 5000 miles. Had to add a quart before first oil change. Added a quart about 3 wks ago. Had it changed last week and my mechanic checked it before he changed it. It was down a quart. I have an appt Monday at Subaru and they are going to change it and then have me come back. I know they are going to try to stick this on me. I don't see anything here about 2014 Outbacks.

Janine (not verified)    May 9, 2015 - 9:29AM

In reply to by Brenda Cook (not verified)

I have a 2014 Outback. I thought the initial oil burning was due to the car being new. After the first oil change I needed to add a quart after 3000 miles. I thought maybe the dealer hadn't filled oil. This last oil change I checked the oil when I left the dealer and it was full. Its been 2000 miles since my last oil change and the oil is low again. So, apparently 2014 Outbacks are affected also. How did it go with the dealer?

Jennifer Sauer (not verified)    July 20, 2014 - 7:36PM

I have a Subaru Legacy and have never had this problem. I drive 160 miles a day on average and get my oil changed every 7000 to 7500 miles.

Crevdog (not verified)    September 18, 2014 - 4:07PM

In reply to by Jennifer Sauer (not verified)

My dad has a 2013 legacy.. It's got 9000 km on it and the oil consumption has been an issue since day 1.. First complaint the dealership changed the PCV valve.. 2nd time they couldn't find the issue.. Now I find out about a class action lawsuit.. What a POS!!!

Ben Stacey (not verified)    July 21, 2014 - 9:39AM

My girlfriend bought a 2012 Subaru forester 2.5l engine and experiencing excessive oil usage aswell. I haven't measured it exactly however it almost ran out of oil on the way back from our interstate trip only after 4,000kms following a service. I've spoken to our Subaru service centre several times and they claim this is normal for it to use oil in the first 20,000kms. It's now done 27,000kms and still using oil. Does anyone know how else to approach this with Subaru or should I just consider it 'normal' to be topping up our new car with oil during road trips and In between services. Are Subaru fixing it under this power train warranty? We really don't want to be left with a unreliable car.

Sam (not verified)    July 21, 2014 - 11:33AM

Early Saturns had exactly the same problem. You would have to add a quart or two between oil changes. It was the piston rings not sealing as well as they should. Saturn also tried to characterize the issue as "normal" since the required remediation (replace the piston rings) is expensive.

Teon (not verified)    July 21, 2014 - 12:51PM

We have a 2012 Subaru Forester and it's been EATING oil since new. Dealer won't do squat because they said 1,200 per 1 quart of oil loss is normal. It's sad we have to carry a 5 quart gallon of oil in the back at all times. Looking elsewhere for the next car.

Phillip (not verified)    July 21, 2014 - 1:39PM

In reply to by Teon (not verified)

1,200 per 1 quart of oil loss is normal- It says this in the owner's book. This is very very frustrating. I never had the dealer do the oil consumption test because my oil loss was a half of quart per 1000 miles. It would have been a waste of my time. I am very pleased with the car except with this oil issue. I have mine down to a science where I top it with a half quart every 1000 miles. Frustrating for a brand new car to have this issue. I originally used Mobil 1 Ow20 synthetic. I switched to Valvoline Ow20 synthetic. To me, Valvoline decreased consumption a little. I got this idea from a message board pertaining to the consumption issue.

jose cortes (not verified)    September 24, 2014 - 9:30PM

In reply to by Phillip (not verified)

Hi Philip., the manual doesn't say that 1qt. in 1.2k miles is normal, it says "if the oil consumption rate seems abnormally high after the break in period, for example more that 1 quart per 1200 miles" it doesn't means that 1qt. in 2k miles should be normal. Even more in the oil consumption test it indicates "If there is oil consumption of 1/3 of qt. (10.7oz in 1200 miles) or more observed and calculated as part of this test, proceed with the repairs listed in the applicable bulletin"
I don't know if the famous bulletin exist, but definitely 1qt. in 2k miles for me is not normal.

Dana (not verified)    September 7, 2014 - 3:25PM

In reply to by Teon (not verified)

So right Teon. We carry a 5 quart container of oil in our 2013 impreza. Will not be buying another Subaru, will not recommend to anyone. Looking to trade it in at a loss for a Honda. Never had trouble out of my Hondas or Toyotas.

brennan (not verified)    July 23, 2014 - 6:55PM

Ask your dealership for a "consumption test". They will change the oil free of cost, and ask you to come back in 1200 miles. If the oil is over their acceptable spec, they could issue a new small block. At least that's what they are doing for my 2011 forester. Also, look into better business bureau and applicable lemon laws.