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Why Subaru’s excessive oil consumption issue could spoil their party

The Subaru brand and new 2015 Forester SUV is flying high with record sales. Will the Subaru Oil Consumption Lawsuit end the party?

The Subaru brand and their Forester SUV has been partying for almost 3 years now and has seen 34 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. The growth has been driven by giving consumers the products they want and because Subaru also has a great marketing approach. But Subaru is having an oil consumption problem with the Forester. Subaru just received a global award for its ‘Innovation in Sales and Marketing’ by IAIR, the International Alternative Investment Review. Subaru received this award in Milan Italy this week.

This comes at a time when the brand is being sued for excessive oil consumption in Forester and many of their multi-use vehicles. The newly-designed 2014 Subaru Forester is one of the vehicles named in a recent lawsuit. The new-generation Subaru Forester is leading the brand in sales here in the U.S., but many owners are experiencing this excessive oil consumption issue now in the small AWD SUV. What is Subaru doing about it?

What vehicles are 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."

What can you do if you own one of these vehicles?

Subaru dealers are telling owners that the oil consumption issue is “normal” and that normal usage is 1 quart every 1200 miles. But with a new vehicle, this kind of oil consumption is definitely not normal. Owners who are experiencing excessive oil usage can take their Forester, Outback, Legacy, XV Crosstrek and Impreza models in and ask their Subaru dealer for a "consumption test". They will then change the oil free of cost, and ask you to come back in 1200 miles. If the oil usage is over their acceptable specifications, they could replace the piston rings.

Until now, Subaru has been seen as a brand that cares

At the global awards evening in Milan Italy, President of IAIR Guido Giommi said; “Subaru of America has proved with record sales in the last six years that it has found a strong formula of sales and marketing innovation. The Subaru brand has developed a unique position in the U.S. and is clearly defined as an authentic, reliable and trustworthy brand that cares about the things its owners care about, such as animals and the outdoors. Its innovative sales and marketing has proven a great success.”

If Subaru wants to keep the party going, they need to address this oil consumption issue with their loyal customers. Does Subaru care about their customer’s cars as much as they do about their animals and the environment like their ads say? If they do, they will make it right and step up and correct the problem. Subaru of America could be seeing the end of their successful run of record sales if they don’t fix this issue with the 2011-2014 Subaru Forester and other multi-use vehicles. Will Subaru do the right thing? Tell us what your dealer is doing if you are having this oil consumption issue.

Other 2014 Subaru Forester oil consumption stories of interest.
Subaru sued over excessive oil consumption: Is your car on the list?


Jim (not verified)    October 17, 2014 - 12:19PM

My 2014 Forrester uses about 100 ml of oil every 1,500 miles. I keep quart of oil in my car and when the low oil light turns on add the 100 ml (1 quart is 946 ml, so it's 1/10 of a quart but the lines work out nicely in metric).

Russ Barling (not verified)    March 19, 2015 - 11:21AM

In reply to by Jim (not verified)

My Subaru Forester 2014 was bought in Canada, and suddenly began consuming a litre (quart) of oil every 2,000 kms; the local dealership claims one every 5,000kms is normal. I took it in for a 'compression test' and the problem has abated. I'd love to know what the did. Because my mechanic would not touch the car with it burning so much oil, and he hesitant to return to it.

AmyB (not verified)    October 26, 2016 - 4:22PM

In reply to by Michael Olson (not verified)

Our 2010 Forester's engine did the same thing. We had about 118,000 miles on it and added oil the month before. We had no engine light or oil light until the engine blew going up a hill.

Ryan Mattison (not verified)    February 2, 2017 - 4:42PM

In reply to by Michael Copen (not verified)

Did you ever receive compensation? My 2009 Legacy GT with 105,000 miles on it, with good maintenance historically documented just blew up.
They said it was the oil ring around the filter that was leaking. Does this make sense? I never saw a light or anything. I started my car to warm up and then I came back outside and it was making a clunky noise.

Subaru is claiming that I ignored the oil light and engine lights.

Eric (not verified)    June 12, 2015 - 9:11AM

In reply to by Jim (not verified)

If it consumes only 100ml per 1500miles and the light comes on then I have a question.

When do you perofrm your regular oil changes ? With that king of consumption, you do not need to add oil between oil changes. If you do them on a regular basis the light will never go on.

Michael (not verified)    October 20, 2014 - 2:27PM

My 2013 Outback with the 2.5 just hit 30k miles this week. I have taken very good care of this care since day 1. I change my own oil so I check my dipstick between every 500 - 1000 miles. Mine burns around a half a quart of oil between 1000 - 1500 miles. This is completely unacceptable by todays standards. I will never own another Subaru and if they don't resolve my this issue for me, I'll go way out of my way to spears the negative word as I'm a marketing professional myself. And I do not subscribe to black hat marketing schemes!

Steve Taylor (not verified)    May 22, 2015 - 4:51PM

In reply to by Michael (not verified)

I recently purchased a 2013 Certified Used Subaru Outback that had only 22,000 miles on it. I was told to expect to do an oil change as infrequently as every 7500 miles but typically no sooner than 6,000 miles. Next thing I know, at less than 3,000 miles after I had purchased it a "low oil" indicator went on indicating that the vehicle was getting to the low range when I would have to add a quart of oil! I waited until it was a quart and added it. When I went in for an oil change before 6000 miles it was more than a quart low,meaning I had burned up more than two quarts of oil during the time I would need an oil change. My local dealership was different than the one from whom I had purchased the car, and they reassured me that the oil consumption test would begin immediately after the oil change. Inexplicably the first one said it had not lost any oil; however the next two were both down a half quart at around 1200 miles. Interestingly, the service attendant raised all kinds of red flags when she said it was "only 'point' five of a quart of oil" - as if it was just a "fraction" of a quart of oil - nothing to worry about!! I pointed out that for the 6000 mile oil change mark it would be down 2 and a half quarts of oil. She indicated that she would discuss the results with the service manager and get back to me early the next morning - asking how early I would be up so as not to wake me!! A week and a half later, after not being called, I called her. She apologized for possibly calling the wrong number but went on to say this was "normal oil consumption" for "that vehicle" and that, if I wanted, I could do the oil consumption test again in the future if I thought it was worse than that! She also said the oil should be changed every 3,000 miles - or that is what Subaru is recommending - for synthetic oil!! I was going to call the dealer from whom I bought it to see if this is the stance all of them are taking, but had a minute to google this and came to this site. This "certified used car" is clearly defective and it was sold to me most likely after having high oil consumption for the first 22,000 miles of it's ownership. This is sickening.

Carol (not verified)    January 22, 2016 - 7:58AM

In reply to by Michael (not verified)

I have owned 4 Subaru Outback and on my 5th 2015. This is the first car that I have had to add oil every 3,500 miles. Oil changes were to be at 7,000 miles, and I have never made it to 7,000 miles. I have the oil changed at 4,000 because oil light came on and have to add oil myself. It takes 0W-20 oil. The dealer has done an oil consumption test twice now. Always comes back and says it is normal to add oil anytime after 1,200 miles. This vehicle only has 31,000 miles. I asked if they are having problems with the 2016 outback, his reply was yes. I don't believe my next vehicle will be a Subaru unless this is fixed within the next year.

It will be very interesting when Subaru starts loosing core customers over to other brands.

Debra Sharkey (not verified)    July 3, 2016 - 7:24PM

In reply to by Carol (not verified)

Have a 2015 2.5L Premium Outback (my third Subaru) and I am having the exact same problems with only 22.9K miles. Taking it in for an oil consumption test in about a week and I've written to Subaru of America and also the law firm litigating the class action lawsuit for excessive oil consumption in slightly older models that was recently settled.

Lisa (not verified)    July 26, 2016 - 4:55PM

In reply to by Michael (not verified)

I too will never own another Subaru. I own a 2014 outback and suddenly at 60k miles it started burning a lot more oil. I am burning about a quart every 1200 miles, which Subaru states as NORMAL. I called Subaru today and was told there was nothing they could do. I explained that this car should easily run to 300K miles with NO oil consumption. However, the oil consumption is not the only issue with this car. The fact that the headlights burn out quickly and are virtually impossible to replace is a pain, the eyesight doesn't work in direct sun, therefore cruise control cannot be used AT ALL, and the CVT transmission is clunky. Needless to say, I am dumping this car as soon as I can and going back so Nissan. Good riddance subie.

g.myers (not verified)    October 30, 2014 - 12:11AM

I have a 2014 Outback with 6000 miles on it. I've already had to add 3 quarts of oil. The dealer gave me the same b.s. about this being normal. Wonder why 2014 outbacks aren't part of the suit?

Tim (not verified)    November 11, 2014 - 9:32AM

In reply to by g.myers (not verified)

Im going through the oil consumption test on my 2014 Outback. It uses 1 quart of oil every 6000 miles. I currently have 52,000 highway miles on the car. This is not acceptable. If Subaru does fix the car, Ill sell it as well as try to be added to the lawsuit.

Jim (not verified)    December 21, 2014 - 11:01PM

In reply to by Kevin V. (not verified)

Exactly! Anyone who says a < 100k mile car burning a quart or more of oil between changes is out of touch with reality. I have a 99 Camry V6 with 195k that still doesn't require even topping off.

And, even if Subaru owners are diligent about keeping their oil levels up, I fear the big bucks will come down the road in terms of emissions equipment, spark plugs, catalytic converters, etc. Good luck getting a high mileage one of them through emissions checks without any check engine lights on.

Brett (not verified)    December 27, 2014 - 8:13AM

In reply to by Jim (not verified)

I agree. My wife's Impreza uses a lot of oil between changes. She also has 2 friends, one with a 2005 Impreza and one with a 2010 Impreza and both had their engines seize because there was no oil in them. They replaced the engines and now keep closer track of their oil (I would have gotten rid of the car!). My last car was a 2006 Ford Fusion which I sold with 275,000 K on it - it never used a drop of oil in between changes. My new Ford Flex is the same way - does not use any oil.

jay Barkers (not verified)    April 30, 2015 - 8:32PM

In reply to by Brett (not verified)

Yes. I agree as well. I was told by my Subaru dealer that I had to check the air in my tires as well as the air pressure would decrease over time. When I quizzed them about it they said it was normal too. Also told me that worn out wiper blades after 5 years were normal. I have never heard such complete bunk! I never had this issue with my 79 Fiat.

John Moran (not verified)    February 12, 2015 - 2:39AM

In reply to by Jim (not verified)

I have had a1998 Camry V6 since new. It has done just over 361,000k and has never required topping up between 10,000k services. Currently looking at buying the current 2014 Subaru Forester but starting to have second thoughts because of these reports of excessive oil usage. From my experience with my 16 year Camry I would have thought modern car engines, regardless of make, would not require oil top up between recommended services

Dan Barker (not verified)    December 15, 2014 - 6:36PM

In reply to by Guido (not verified)

The 2012 Forrester uses a liter every 2000 kms or less, not 1 qt every 6000 miles as mentioned by Guido. It is expensive oil and using that much oil will consume up 3 liters before the recommended by Subaru oil change of 8-10 thousand kms. Just doesn't seem right and if there is a problem Subaru should address this and not pretend it will go away.

Kevin V. (not verified)    December 22, 2014 - 11:58AM

In reply to by Dan Barker (not verified)

They are addressing it, in a limited fashion. Check the NASIOC forums. People have had their piston rings replaced and even new short blocks installed. Some are reporting lesser consumption, but still consuming oil, even after the "fixes".

Glenn Finn (not verified)    March 18, 2015 - 1:35PM

In reply to by Dan Barker (not verified)

We own a 2012 subaru forester with 54000 miles on it. It uses half a quart every 1200 miles. I talked to two dealers here in Colorado and they say that is normal. I'm 65 years old and have owned a lot of different cars in my life time and never have ever heard such BS in my life. I will get rid of the Subaru as soon as possible.

George (not verified)    November 5, 2014 - 6:14AM

My 2014 Subaru Outback is having the same issue, my low oil level light came on in the first 5800 miles. The dealer topped it off and over filled it with an extra quart of oil. I asked why did they over fill my car and the dealer said this engine is known to consume a lot of oil and that 1 extra quart is no big deal. I requested they remove the over filed oil and fill it to factory specs which they did. Dealer gave me the same story about 1 quart of oil every 1200 miles is normal. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This is my second Subaru and will be my very last one unless Subaru addresses this issue.

Leonard Konwinski (not verified)    February 5, 2015 - 10:31AM

In reply to by George (not verified)

Our 2014 Outback is also having a serious oil consumption issue. Four quarts in 18,000 miles. I carry a spare quart of the recommended oil, because I will need it, and as another commenter noted, it is not widely available. Was not aware I have to monitor coolant levels, also. Wow, If we have known about this issue and Subaru's stonewalling we definitely would not have bought the Outback. I am starting the dialog with our dealer about getting a fix. Based on most of the other comments it appears this will be an uphill battle.