Why Subaru’s excessive oil consumption issue in Forester could spoil their party
Denis Flierl's picture

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?

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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.
I too have a 2014 Subaru Outback which is consuming way too much oil. My Subaru dealer in Morristown, NJ is refusing to give any satisfaction on the issue. They did an oil consumption test and said everything is "fine." But about every 1200 miles the oil light comes on--and it needs oil. They also told me last year when this problem started that there were "Only a few" others with this problem-meanwhile there is a class action suit on it. The dealer keeps saying I have to take my complaints to the national Subaru office--I bought this car and 2 others at this dealership. The Subaru corporation should be ashamed. They need to either do a major fix on ALL these cars or we all should stop buying Subarus. This will be my last -and I've owned them for 15 years-if not fixed. Do car corporations never learn? That stonewalling is not going to work. My husband and I asked the dealer for some oil quarts so we could put the oil in ourselves in the future. They so far have said no. We asked to have the manager call us and it's 5 hours later today-no call yet. So what am I supposed to do? I'll go there and get oil put in--again. Clearly these cars are lemons. Again, Shame on Subaru. Stop all the family/enviro friendly ads--they mean nothing now.
I have owned a 2014 Forester since August 2013 and have had to add oil between oil changes...at least two quarts each time. First time I was told by the dealer that "synthetic oil burns faster." another time I was told it was my "personal driving habits." Another time they said they didnt know but it is not a problem, and they could top it off for me. but I'd already paid for and added the oil. By the way, the spec'd oil is difficult to find when you are on the road. It is not a very available weight. Bad business practice. Mistakes happen, but a business needs to take care of it...not lie to customers. I will never buy a Suburu again.
I was in the market for a Forester as it is one of the few manual transmission-equipped SUVs left with good outward visibility and classic SUV styling. Unfortunately, everywhere I research, I keep running into previously long-term Subaru advocates who are at wit's-end dealing with this issue, especially Subaru trying to brush it aside as normal. My 200,000-mile Ford burns zero oil between 7000 mile changes. So much for the "Eco-friendly" company.
I bought a 2012 Impreza brand new and at about 10,000 miles the oil light kept coming on. This seemed to always occur when I was on a trip in unfamiliar territory and had to locate a dealer. My local dealer told me it is normal to consume 1 quart of oil every 1,200 miles. They gave me a quart of oil to keep in the car. The oil light kept coming on about every 2,500-3,000 miles. In July of 2014 I got rid of the car. I did not feel safe driving a car at any distance with this issue and then, having to try to fill up the oil when it was dark. My dealer did nothing to address my concerns and even the US CEO of Subaru did not respond to my letter on the issue but an underling wrote me and said "they are sad that I no longer own a Subaru". After 3 Subaru's, I will never own one again.
I agree. I have owned 5 Subaru's form 1981 to 1988, great cars. Bought a 2002 Impreza and it required intake gaskets,timing belt,head gaskets,and had the worst piston slap known to mankind. It rusted around the windshield and the rear wheel openings. I still have a 1993 Saturn SL-2 which has required none of the listed items needed by the 2002 Subaru and still does not need oil added between changes.My 2009 Ford Focus has needed nothing other then oil changes. No more Subaru's for me.If you now own a Subaru try a Ford next time. It's like the older Subaru's, great car.
Well my 2014 Forester has had this issue for the last 11 months, I have had four oil consumption test, first one when I only had 900 miles on the SUV, and now that car is in the shop getting a new engine block and cyclinders. I only have 6800 miles on it. If I had known about this problem I would not have purchased this POS.
Yep - same thing with our 2011 Forrester. Did the consumption test at the dealer and came in just below the "normal" threshold so nobody will do anything to fix. Good article and positions the issue well vs Subaru's marketing campaign. I'd rather have our car fixed than receive free fluff magazines with pictures of dogs and mountain bikes.
I have seen the oil loss problem. I have seen the dealer shuffle. If anyone would like to share their experience send me your story... [email protected]
My Subaru Forrester 2013 is consuming oil at a rate of about a half a quart every 1200 miles for the first 30,000 miles after 30,000 miles it's now a quart at around every 1300 miles as well as coolant that needs to be topped off. Subaru thinks this is acceptable and puts it in the manual however the consumer does not receive the manual until after they buy the car. I would have never purchased a Subaru had I known that I had to constantly monitor my oil and top it off at 1200 miles and check my coolant as it states in the manual every time I get gas. I am not happy with Subaru.I'm in contact with the attorney who filed the class action suit. we won't be added to the suit because it has a ready been filed but you can contact the attorney who is handling It to open your own case because now that we have gon through consumption tests our VINs have been hit and we will not get book value when we see them or trade them in. Everything that you guys have mentioned in the prior posts I have Heard from my techs too and it is absolutely unacceptable! The even try to tell me that the oil was so thin that it evaporates! If Subaru should recall attic knowledge this problem it would put them out of business so instead they adjust the manuals to allow this problem to continue and simply call it correct and acceptable usage or consumption under the specs. Further they need a disclaimer to their wonderful commercials about sharing the love and Subaru being a great car they need to say check your oil every 1200 miles and check your coolant every time you get gas! no one would ever buy a Subaru! Deceptive advertising at its very best! Tweet me your Subaru problems @gungirlnyc and let's get this ball rolling!
I have a 2013 Crosstrek and it needs oil very 2500 to 3000 miles. The weird thing is at 1200 miles oil levels are fine. The dealer will not accept my readings or measurements. I am having another 1200 mile consumption test completed. I carry a quart of oil in the car at all times because the oil light can come on at any time. All my driving is highway and I have 43,000 miles on the car. this is my 7th Subaru and I am getting nowhere with Subaru. So disappointed with Subaru because I have been so loyal. Time to get rid of the car but I am still paying off my loan. I feel I am stuck with a problem car and Subaru and he dealership just doesn't care. loyalty means nothing.
they put 1 extra quart in so when you go for the 1200 ml check the oil is at a normal level. Drive another 1500ml and the engine light will go on again….scammers
I caught them doing the exact thing with mine.
Call Alex Simovsky- he will take care of you if you have the proper paperwork!
This is still happening with our 2014 Impreza. We failed the oil consumption test and our dealer said that the piston ring replacement isn't being used any more. We actually got a new short block (essentially a new engine!).
Did the short block replacement fix it?
Did the short block fix it? I am having the same issue with my 2014 Impreza. Oil light comes on after 2,200-3,200 miles of driving, pending on how much highway I do.
My first guess would be yes, its fixed, but I still want to see more miles before I unequivocally say it. We have only driven 2000 miles since the new short block was installed. Our first engine was low on oil after only 1400 miles so the new block is definitely better.
I spoke too soon. :-( Just this weekend, the low oil light came on. The dipstick showed the oil level in the middle of the two lines and I added 1/2qt oil. We have driven 2300 miles since the short block was replaced. Too much oil consumption for me.
I'm sorry to hear that Chris. This problem is a real shame. This is the first car I've owned where I've had to add oil between changes. To be honest though, the safety, AWD, and other features of my 14' Impreza (to me personally) outweigh having to add some oil here and there, as annoying as it is. This is my first Subaru and other than this issue I love it. I spoke to a family friend who owns a local used dealership, and he said that he doesn't feel any part replacement will fix the oil consumption issue whether it be piston rings or an entire short block. OW-20 is just so thin that it burns up and gets into any nook or cranny it can. This is also why Subaru switched to it, though it ended up back firing on them. They wanted to extend the amount of time between oil changes (the marked 7,500 miles) by switching to that oil. I believe the only way to FIX the problem is to change oils entirely and make any necessary adjustments to the car's engine so it can safely use it. If you search NASIOC there are threads where people have reported switching to a slightly different oil and there being no negative effects on the car. Maybe that in combination with your new short block will be enough. Just keep in mind that would void the warranty. Just some ideas.
2012 Subaru Forrester, oil consumption is very high. called the dealer we bought this car from and they said that it may be the PCV valve. (under $100.00 installed.) Said they will do a oil consumption test. Wish someone had called me from Subaru as now we are just under 100,000 kms and it sounds like they may not warranty. Will go in and see how they treat us. We have been doing the regular oil changes at a Mr Lub due to there is no subaru dealer close by. I do not have a good feeling about this while talking to the subaru service person. They said it would be Subaru canadas fault nothing to do with them on oil consumption. Sorry I bought a Subaru now.
Well I went in for the oil consumption test, cost me an oil change and felt like I was a criminal. They mentioned that if there was any carbon on the PVC valve that they will not warranty anything and that my extended warranty was only used if I asked them to do the work and it was a cost to me not them. They wrote on the work order that my car was ¾ litre of oil over but never showed me this while the oil was in it. The PVC ended up being fine according to the mechanic but they never mentioned this on the work order after all the talk other than charging me for a new one. I am on this oil consumption test which I signed but I do not have any hope now after dealing with these guys. We now have this car up for sale and I will never deal with Subaru again. I did go in with the right attitude and maintained it but after seeing the way they treat people and heard some of the conversations they had about customers I feel Subaru is a bad choice. I feel this company is misleading customers about mileage and oil change costs never mind that there may be an issue with head gasket leaks.
I purchased a 2013 Outback that was a loaner car from the dealer with 6,800 miles on it. Every 2,500 the warning light comes on and oil must be added. I have to carry a quart with me as 0 W 20 is hard to find & I travel often. This is my first car in 30 years to use oil. First Subaru said the consumption was "normal" because the fuel standards require such thin oil, but after learning of the class action I requested the consumption test so after the dealer oil change and 30,000 service I checked oil the next morning, and you guessed it, it was over filled. After calling to complain the service manager showed up at my house with an evacuation device to remove the excess oil and he threw his tech under the bus blaming the overfill on the tech. With an accurate fill I proceeded to run 1,200 miles and it consumed 17.3 ounces of oil. This was yesterday, this morning he said I am approved for a new "short block" and this would indeed take care of the problem. I sure hope so, but have this bad feeling this will cost all of us money in resale value... If you have the test done, MAKE SURE TO DOUBLE CHECK THEIR FILL!
Bought a 2014 forester thinking we would have it for years and enjoy it like our previous 01' forester. It burns oil at about a 1500 mile per quart rate. The dealer has overfilled the reservoir every time they changed the oil. I even have it documented on their sales receipts, idiots!! I will never by a subaru again!!! Right now I am trying to trade it in for a honda crv (a well made SUV) before this news really gets out and our foresters are worth nothing. Subaru really screwed up and now I will tell anyone I have a conversation with about cars how bad subaru products are. Thanks subaru for screwing your customers over..
We lose our down payments doing that! However I'm trading mine in to right after they rebuild my engine. I've got it all documented too. I've even read the CRV manual and no where does it say to add oil ever other fuel stop and check coolant every fuel stop. It's crazy. This car had made me lose a lot of money. NEVER WILL I EVER CONSIDER THEM AGAIN. and I bought it with the idea that I'll have it for ten years! What a waste.
We had a 2010 Forester XT, 2.5L manual. It threw oil at highway speeds - 65+ MPH. Dealer said there was nothing wrong with it... a quart of Mobil-1 oil every 600-800 miles, but only if we were driving over 65mph. We traded it for a 2011 Forester, because the burning oil smell was nauseating (at stop signs or when parked). And we've had the SAME PROBLEM AGAIN! The dealer(s) have noted the high oil consumption, which puddles on top of the engine, near the filter area, but no solution. The last guy said, "Oh, that's just blow-by... pretty much normal..." Our solution is to carry a GALLON OF OIL behind the seat, and we just keep topping it off every other tank of gas. We love everything about the car, except this oil problem. HWY speeds = HIGH OIL CONSUMPTION. Driving under 60mph, and no oil consumption...?! I thought this might be a manual transmission problem, low/high revs or something goofy - sounds like it's universally an engine problem. One other nicety - we were told in no uncertain terms, "If you don't bring your car to the dealer, your warranty is essentially VOID". Since then, every mailing we get from that dealer goes to the circular file. Since we're shopping for another new car.... and really like Foresters... maybe it's time for us to consider another company.
I just called 3 Honda dealers and spoke to their service guys without saying I was a Subie owner. When I described the problem all three told me to bring it in immeduately that something wasn't right and could lead to bigger head gasket problems. I told them I had a Subie and they were shocked. I told each that our manuals state to check oil at every other fuel stop and coolant every stop. Every mechanic thought that was nuts. Honda oil every 3500 miles and coolant every FIVE YEARS. I'm trading it in for a CRV before these cars are worth nothing. Such a shame because I do love my Forester.
By the way do not use Mobil 1. My techs tell me for some reason Subie's do not like oil. Only use Subaru oil and filters.
About 2 weeks ago, I began "looking around online" for another Forester, a 2013, manual transmission. We want the higher towing / carrying capacity than the 2014+ models. If you didn't know, the newer cars have been derated by almost 1000lbs! Curious of how prices have changed, or not, I found a couple of 2013 cars that are selling for just under new car prices, and one with 33k on it that was selling for $1000 OVER what new car prices. That dealer has contacted me 4 times, trying to talk me into 'anything'. I blocked their number yesterday on my cell phone. The dealer that sold me our 2011 said we had to use Castrol GTX 0W-20 oil (a synthetic), and it throws it as fast as Mobil 1. Well, I have literally given up on this issue. We like the car, hate the oil throwing issue - and from here on, we'll just advertise to everyone that asks, "how do you like your Subaru?".... Plan on carrying a gallon of OIL with you EVERYWHERE, 'cause they leak & burn it like crazy! And, get use to checking it every fill up (and the people staring at you when you pull out your GALLON JUG of oil to refill your car at every gas station)..... While your at it, mention the dealership, and Subaru's, "blame the customer attitude - your warranty is void..." kind of response. We'll probably drive this car into the ground, which could come suddenly... on the highway with a seized engine, or in an ice storm when we're just trying to get home safely. I am afraid the new model changes brought with the 2014+... lighter, less towing capacity, less roominess, has turned me away from Subaru completely.
PRECEDENCE HAS BEEN SET! action lawsuit over claims that it manufactured 1,593,755 defective vehicles that excessively burn oil and require frequent spark plug replacements. The settlement concerns all U.S. purchasers and lessees of 2008-12 Accord, 2008-13 Odyssey, 2009-13 Pilot, 2010-11 Accord Crosstour and 2012 Crosstour vehicles equipped with six-cylinder engines that have variable cylinder management. Accord vehicles with four-cylinder engines are excluded from the settlement. The original suit -- filed in March 2012 by plaintiffs Alex Soto and Vince Eagen -- claimed the vehicles contained a "systematic design defect that enables oil to enter into the engine's combustion chamber." The alleged defect led to "premature spark plug degradation and engine malfunction," court documents said. The plaintiffs claimed Honda hid the problem from consumers. Honda denied the allegation, despite receiving hundreds of online complaints on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site, and about 130 on carcomplaints.com concerning the 2008 Accord alone. Honda later issued a technical service bulletin notifying its technicians to check for the defect. The automaker did not issue a recall because a safety issue was not discovered. The majority of complaints allege that Honda said it was normal for a powertrain to burn a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. The suit claimed Honda refused to cover warranties for the vehicles and, instead, instructed customers to check their oil every time they get gas. Eagan claims that he had to add a quart of oil to his vehicle each month and had to replace his "prematurely fouled" spark plugs twice within 55,000 miles as a result of oil burning in the cylinders. Soto said in court documents that he routinely noticed carbon buildup on his exhaust pipe -- a sign that oil, and not just gasoline, is burning in the powertrain. Honda assured Soto that this, too, was normal, court documents show. Dave Sullivan, an analyst at research firm AutoPacific, said that today's emission requirements do not permit engines to burn oil. "It's too dirty," Sullivan said. "We're seeing cars go 10,000 miles now between oil changes. If there was a quart for every thousand miles you would need 10 quarts, and most cars don't have that many quarts in them." Sullivan said when he changed the oil in his Mazda6 that he may have lost "a cup or two of oil between changes, but that was over 7,500 miles. I think that's a negligible amount. That being said, there's no excuse for a quart every thousand miles." Sullivan said the last major episode that involved people complaining about oil burn was with the Mazda RX-8. "Instead of waiting for people to complain, [Mazda] was more proactive and … said 'even if you don't have a problem, you're going to have one so let's just fix it now.'" Honda declined to comment until after the case is granted final approval. The settlement was reached after U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declined the defendant's motion to force arbitration on the case in Oct. 2012. The judge found that Honda was a third-party non-signatory to a contract and therefore may not compel arbitration under the terms of the contract. The preliminary settlement approval was given Oct. 9 by Illston in San Francisco. The final fairness hearing, which is the last step in a class action settlement, is set for March 21. Under the conditions of the settlement, Honda agreed to extend the powertrain limited warranty for up to eight years after the original sale or lease of the vehicle. Honda also agreed not to oppose the counsel attorney fees as long as they do not exceed more than $800,000. Eagen is also asking the court to approve an incentive award of no more than $1,000 to compensate him for his time and effort on behalf of the settlement class, according to a copy of the class notice.