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?

Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.

Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.


Our first 'Subaru', a 2005 Impreza, was badged as a Saab 92x. We still have that car with over 250,000 miles and it doesn't burn oil between changes. Our 2012 Imprezza is a piece of crap, add 1 qt.oil every 1500-2000 miles. Gainesville, FL dealer says everything is nornal. It is our last Subaru!
Having owned 3 Subarus - 04 outback, and 09 Forrester with no problems I traded the 09 for an '11 Forrester which immediately had oil consumption issues. Dealer gave same BS line that it's normal. But, 3 pts in 3000 miles is NOT normal in any car. Took it to another dealer recently and they did consumption test and not only did it fail, the top of the dipstick broke off when it was being checked. They said that was also a faulty design. They're replacing the engine but with what? Has the design been fixed or am I just going to start over with the same issues? Just found out about the lawsuit today and will look into that immediately.
You'll be getting a new short block, which *should* resolve the issue with no out of pocket expense. If you incur any expenses, join the class action suit. Some FB20 and FB25 engines had issues of being bored incorrectly, allowing oil to reach combustion chambers. The new short block will help, but some owners reported that they still burned some oil, which is normal in combustion engines. Subaru's acceptable burn rate is less than 1 qt. per 1200 miles (per owners manual). My old EJ25 burned about a qt every 3500 miles in cold conditions (Eugene, OR)
Sorry to say, but my 2013 Legacy failed the oil consumption test miserably. I only drive it 3,000 miles before i needed 2-1/2 qt of oil. The short block was replaced under the recall when the car had 32,000 miles on it. I've driven 5,000 miles since the replacement and its already burned 1-1/2 qt of oil. I owned a 2009 Legacy, never had any issues. I'm frustrated for trusting the 2013 would be another great car....how wrong I was...
My 2012 Outback with the H-6 engine has used 1/2 quart every 3000 miles since new. The first time the low oil light came on I was shocked because I had not owned a car that actually burned oil except for the well used junkers I would buy to act as the second car to my family. I have switched brands to try and make it go away. Synthetic burns a bit faster than dinosaur oil, and 10W40 burns slower than the 5W30. I am thinking of trying synthetic diesel oil because it contains zinc, which is I understand is good for maintaining high compression. I really love the car and its utilitarian comfort, however I won't buy another one until this problem is fixed. There is no reason for a 2000+ car to burn oil, but on the flip side it is really capable and comfortable and has never needed a repair with 63000 miles on it.
Bought a 2007 forester special edition new, love everything about this car except the repair incidence. I'm in western Canada and the one cold winter weather we had , we also had a fire inside the dash. The fan heater connector melted and shorted out. was a long way from a sube dealer so had it fixed locally. 5 months later the same problem sube said it must have been the local guy. now 2014 and 177,000 Km put $5000.00 into the car in one year. head gasket, clutch, front brakes, and left cv axle. I can see the clutch and brakes as normal wear and tear, but head gasket and cv joint seem design flaws. Anyway was looking to buy a 2015 forester as we love it, but all your oil stories are just increasing my anxiety about parts integrity. we probably will not buy it but go to a different brand.
2012 Forester--Oil consumption issue. How frustrating to have the run around at the dealership. I was told I should get out and check the dip stick EVERY time I gas it up. That is just crazy. Subaru is in denial or just plain doesn't care. I wouldn't recommend a Subaru to a living soul unless they want to own up to the problem and make things right.
2012 Forester--Oil consumption issue. How frustrating to have the run around at the dealership. I was told I should get out and check the dip stick EVERY time I gas it up. That is just crazy. Subaru is in denial or just plain doesn't care. I wouldn't recommend a Subaru to a living soul unless they want to own up to the problem and make things right.
Purchased a 2013 Outback with 100 miles on it in March of 2013. I have consistently had to add a quart of oil every 1500-2000 miles from the very start. they insist this is normal! I have had every scheduled service performed on time. This last time it was 2000 miles before the oil light came on, but that's because they over-filled it when they performed the oil consumption test and "flashed" the memory last visit to the dealer. I am disgusted with Subaru. The dealer is in cahoots with Subaru, they have performed 2 oil consumption tests 1200 miles apart and they say there is no oil loss, yet the light comes on consistently at 1500 miles and is almost a quart low each time. This has gone on for two years and they insist nothing is unusual about this. I was going to give this car to my son when he turns 16, but no way will I do that as he will have to be too vigilant about making sure the oil is topped off. I traded my 2009 Forester for this car and now I wished I never would have. This is my fourth Subaru and I never had problems before now. I am getting ready to trade this in, but I have serious concerns about trade in value because of these issues. There is a class action lawsuit being brought against Subaru over this issue. If you Google that you will find the link to a law office where you can leave your information to be added to the suit.
This is just terrible. I'm getting my short block replaced this week but everyone tells me it does nothing to fix the problem. But I have no choice because the trade in value is NOTHING like it should have been. The other dealers are getting way too many Subarus. I'm pretty made because we are stuck and it's not as if its a 100 dollar item. We cannot be added to the class action suit because it's already been filed but when they win (and they will because Honda set a precedence for the exact same problem they had in 2009 and have fixed it. Why Subie can't fix it over the corse of 5 years and 4 models is beyond me) we will be reimbursed for oil. BIG DEAL I want a car I could rely on. And BTW check your coolant. My friend, a mechanic, lost his mind when I told him it was low and Subaru topped it off (after 2 years and 32k miles). The manual says to check it every fuel stop. To me this is ridiculous and unacceptable. And they do not want you to use any other coolant but their specially made coolant. So in my trunk is oil AND coolant. As of right now I can't even open my oil cap it seems to be stuck. It was stuck last month and it took a man and all his strength and weight to open it. Also once we go for consumption tests the VIN is hit and we lose right there in resale value. Anyway that attorney in the article will help you if you call. They've been guiding me and they're on the money about everything from overfilling to bullying tactics. All I want is my downpayment back so I could move away from this mess and get a new car. If anyone of you is interested in contacting me I'll be glad to write a letter on our behalf to Subaru of America. Also in my research I found almost ever car manual I searched for online IN FULL except... drumroll please... Subaru. How is the consumer to know all this is in the specs if we only get the manual AFTER we plop down 25k or more on the car??? I'd like to get them on false advertising that's how mad I am over this. I've never sued anyone in my life but if this problem persists I will sue them until the cows come home.
Subaru coolant is somewhat special, because it contains a uk made product called 'Radweld', basically it is a 'stop leak' product tested by Subaru, so they mix it with green coolant and sell it under Subaru name. It is something you could buy separately at the parts desk for about $6 if you don't use oem coolant, however for the warranty purposes only stick with oem because they will use every measure to look for reason not to pay for warranty repairs. If you coolant leaks and car still has warranty they will fix it if you have records. There is a number of reasons why coolant could leak from subbie (corrosion on battery terminals, bad motor ground, etc. it is too much to discuss here but more info is available on forums. Basically using oem coolant SOA hopes cars will make it until warranty expires after that you are on your own. Once a few months ago at dealership parts desk I asked a parts clerk how are the new cars doing with leaks, he told me his neighbor has a 2011 outback and it leaks oil on the driveway...i found this to be a strange incident when parts guy is laughing out, ask the parts cleck at the desk when there is no one around, chances are the answer will be totally different than from sales or mngmt people. Who will admit buying a new car can be a gamble with subaru these days.
I also own a 2011 Outback 2.5 that started leaking oil at 70k miles. Seems to be at the rear of the engine.
We had a 2011 Legacy, liked it very much. Never any trouble of any kind. Our one and only complaint was that the car was too low to the ground, and was easy to drag or "bottom out". For this reason, we traded to a 2014 Outback. Problem solved........ But now I'm faced with the issue of oil consumption. It uses nearly 2 quarts during the suggested 7500 mile intervals, and the stuff costs 10 bucks a quart. I also know that the problem is likely to get worse as the vehicle gets older, a problem I'm sure they're not concerned with since the warranty will be expired by that time. Like many others here, I'm being told that this is normal, which is absolutely OBSURD. It's NOT NORMAL, and THEY KNOW It's not normal. Next week I will be starting my oil consumption test, so we will see what comes of that. I live 2 hours from the nearest dealer, and I'm a little steamed about the fact that they won't take my word for it. Now I have to spend all day going all the way to the dealer to do this nonsense. Customer service has promised to reimburse me the cost, but I'd say I will have to pay for it myself and then they will send me a check in about a month, if I'm lucky. I have done all the changes myself, and have kept detailed records. I know EXACTLY how much it has used, and EXACTLY when it did so. I have been a very well satisfied Subaru customer until now, and I feel like they are trying to sweep the problem under the rug.
Well... As much as we like Subaru, we still have our OIL GUZZLING 2011 FORESTER. Saturday, we bought a new Nissan Frontier pickup truck (the most basic model, 2.5l engine, similar to a Subaru in HP and also a 5speed manual... like our Forster). My wife -LOVES- it! Now I get stuck with the HIGH MAINTENANCE 2011 FORESTER.... alas....! Oh, it was under $20k, 2wd. We didn't trade in the FORESTER - 'cause it isn't worth much! Word gets around about Subaru and oil consumption problems that go on and on and on... year after year with no resolution in site.
Geez, I need to go buy a lottery ticket. I've got a 99 forester and a 14 forester and neither use oil. I'm sorry for everyone that's having trouble, but not all Subarus use oil. I have two friends, one with a 14 outback, the other with a 15 outback and neither of their's use any. While I know that many Subarus do use an excessive amount of oil, Subaru has made and continues to make good cars.
William K, I love my 2011 Forester, and when I had my 2010 Forester I loved it.... mostly. It's the OIL BURNING that just couldn't be missed. With the 2010, every stop light, (after the car was well warmed up), you'd smell it burning. It's get so bad on trips, we'd need to roll down the windows when we started moving again. Waiting in line while going through a Drive-Thru was a nauseating experience, windows up or down, motor running or not - we traded the 2010 in for a 2011, assuming we "had a lemon". We wouldn't have bought a 2011 if we didn't love the car. To discovering a similar oil leak problem on a different model year, and reading of these other good folks with oil consumption problems, is disheartening. In my case, either car throws or burns oil at +65mph - at a rate near 1qt per 500mi. City driving, the car behaved itself. Driving from Raleigh, out Hwy 64 to OBX and back, typically took it from "full" to the "add" mark on the dipstick. about 300mi. Opening the hood, and on either car, oil was all over the driver's side of the engine. Yes, the dealer already knows, both cars were under warrenty at the time we took them in. Yup - I still like the Forester, still have the 2011, it's comfortable for me, even at 6'3", it gets fine gas mileage - we just keep adding oil, and adding oil, and adding oil - and the dealer keeps telling us they don't know where or why it leaks oil. If we could find a 2011~2013 Manual Trans., Forster that didn't burn/leak oil - I'd buy/trade for it. But, that's as unlikely as you winning the lottery.
That is great for you William, but to say Subaru continues to make good cars to ignoring the others on here who are suffering this problem. It is absolutely unacceptable to use 1 to 2 quarts per change interval in any car, much less from the company that purports that they are the greenest and saving the planet! It amazes me how folks drink the Cool-Aid and ignore the facts.
I didnt read all posts but I am sorry to all folks this problem is discussed extensively on Subaru forums, and seems to affect newer cars that use 0w20 light weight oil. My '03 outback never used any oil, not until head gasket started to leak externally which is a chronic problem with 2nd generation ej25 engine. Oil consumption test will prove that piston rings are not sealing the combustion area from oil entering and burning. Dealer will give you runaround overfill the level during oil change as much as 1qt, so the light wont come on until 6k km oil change is due, will say it is normal come back in 1500km. This is a major blow to the brand and lots of used cars on the lot are trade ins with such problem I am sure. Was going to pull the trigger on new Forester XT or another Outback but I am not taking $35k gamble Driving 2015 car around with bottle of oil in the trunk? This is not normal folks, especially for new '14-'15 models. My other car '13 journey has 80k and I change oil every 13k km oil level stays the same every time. Been swapping fleet cars every 2 years or so until about 120-130k no oil burning on any car. Oil suppose to stay in the crankcase to lube engine not leak thru the piston rings and burn thru clog the catalytic converter and O2 sensors. If new car burns oil engine wont make it to 50-60k km without either CEL or catalytic converter replacement. I own my outback for 12 years and know outbacks weak spots, older engines used 5w30 oil didnt have consumption problems, they have leaky head gaskets. This at least can be fixed for around 2k, but how you are going to repair an engine that burns oil, swap engine block, pistons? thats expensive, and good luck SOA admitting and paying for it under warranty unless you hire a lawyer.Good Luck.
I would never recommend a Subaru to anyone. Most of the cars with this problem are blowing head gaskets right out of warranty after being told oil consumption is normal and have short blocks rebuilt. . I am really upset with SUBIE and the dealers who are lying right to my face. The whole corporation gets my vote of no confidence.
We just took our 2012 Forester in for the short block replacement. I am seriously suspicious about the effectiveness of this. Subaru is losing out by not being proactive in this situation. They should own up to the problem and remedy it without hassles. I am never going to buy another Subaru. This is a major problem that Subaru is neglecting. How can they expect people to accept this and remain loyal to the brand. The long term effects will trickle down.
After my first post regarding the engine change after the dealer confirmed excess oil consumption (reason given was piston/ring tolerance was incorrect in original 2.5 ltr engines for 2011-14) the dealer did the short block change. After approx. 450 miles the new block was 1/3 qt low when they checked it last week. They said to drive it to the prescribed 1200 or so miles and bring it in again. They don't know why this one is using oil but at least are attentive to the issue and want to assess again when it's at the oil consumption test limit. Not sure what the resolution will be this time. Stay tuned. I'm at about 675 now. Also of interest.... when I checked the oil at 450 miles, the reading I got was 2/3 qt low when cold. They told me that it's supposed to be checked warm and that's why they only saw 1/3 qt low. When I was taught mechanics back in the 60s, I was taught to check oil cold and transmission warm. Anyone (other than Subaru mechanics) hear of that?
I have a 2014 Subaru Outback with 56,000 miles. It had an oil consumption problem so I went online and read all the information about the problem. With that said, I went ti the dealer, told them I knew about the lawsuit and requested an oil consumption test. I also contacted Subaru of America customer service about the problem. They were very nice and started a file on my car. When the dealer changed the oil and filter for the test, they over filled the oil by 1/2 quart. I found this out after my 2 1/2 hour drive home. I notified Subaru of America (SBA) and they said if I was concerned, contact the dealer. After discussing the options with the dealer I drained the extra 1/2 quart and drove the 1200 miles and returned to the dealer. The car consumed 1/2 quart of oil in 1200 miles. The criteria for short block replacement is 1/3 quart of oil consumed in 1200 miles. After reporting to SBA that the car failed, they replaced the short block. I've now put 3,000 miles on the car and the oil line on the dipstick has not moved. I am very satisfied! During the whole process, SBA was very nice and helpful. The dealer, I really had to watch. It appears over filling the oil is common practice. It's all done and I am again happy with my Subaru. One last thing, during the whole process I was very respectful and nice to all concerned, but I was well informed about the problem and the procedure for corrective action. Hope this is helpful.
Sounds like you did everything right Tim, hopefully the new shortblock is the end-all solution. Thanks for sharing!
Keep an eye on it. As mentioned a few weeks ago, I also had the short block swap on my '11 Forester and after driving roughly 450 miles I checked the oil and was 2/3 qt low! I took it back to the dealer and they checked it and said it was 1/3 qt low. I said well yeah I just drove it a half hr to get here so it's nice and hot now (we all know liquid expands when heated, right?) Get this, the service tech said, "you're supposed to check it when hot". BS. Oil check should be done cold or at least cool and auto trans when warmed up. Regardless, it's still using oil. I was told to keep driving until I get to that magic 1200 mile mark and bring it in again. They told me this is the first time that they've seen one of the new blocks do this. I'll be taking it in on Monday since I'm at check time now. I had a few long trips in the past two weeks and will be checking it myself this morning to see where it's at. Will post results and Subaru follow-up after the visit.
As mentioned, I was due to return the car for inspection last Monday. It was a little over 1,000 miles since the test on engine #2 and it failed, being a qt. low. They told me that this was the first time they've seen a new block fail and they were going to contact corporate to see how to handle that. BTW, someone on this forum recently suggested that perhaps aggressive driving may be a contributor. Rest assumed I don't drive that way. It's Forester not a WRX! Though if it was, yer darn right I'd drive it aggressively! (;>) It's now been 5 days since the dealer visit and I've not heard back yet. They did top off the lube (can't really call it oil since it's 100% synthetic) and I'll wait another week before checking back with them if I don't get a call in the meantime. I also saw a few posts here regarding overfilling and though they've not done that with mine, sadly not all dealers are the same.
I failed they consumption test today with using 1/2 qt in 1180 miles... it's a 14 outback with 15k on it... manual trans. I too found that during the first consumption test was over filled, but I let it ride and then the suspicion came when they said I was "only .4 ounces low"....how exactly did they measure down to tenths of ounces.... so I called SOA and complained. They told me to go back to the dealer, and not to leave until the tech, service manager, and myself were satisfied with the level...which we were, and now yep...it failed. I'm pissed. I hope the block replacement fixes it. This is my 3rd and last Subaru....
i was thinking of buying a 2015 xv crosstrek when i stumbled on to this site..are all engines burning oil in this manner ? or is it only certain engines.. i read so many reviews on the 2015 xv crosstrek from customers ..90% positive... not 1 mention of this problem.with some customers with 20000 miles on their vehicle. one of the reviews mentioned they spoke to a few honda dealers and honda said that wasn't normal.. well.. i presently own a 2008 honda accord v6.. there was a huge lawsuit regarding 2008-09-10 accords.with huge oil consumption issues . there were also other models included in the lawsuit.. so it's not all rosy at other manufacturers,, i'm wondering if they finally fixed the problem on the 2.0 engine in the 2015 xv crosstrek.. is it safe for me to buy it ??
At this time the problem majorily lies within the FB20 and FB25 motors for Imprezas/XVs in the 2012-2014 range. Can't say for certain if the 2015 has the same issue, but I have yet to hear a report. You might try searching the NASIOC threads.
Thanks for your thoughts. Currently Subaru are having a sale on 2014 model Foresters which I'm interesting in purchasing. Will request detail of engine model used and look at what their owners manual has to say regarding monitoring oil and coolant usage. As mentioned earlier my 1998 V6 Camey which has done 361000k requires no addition oil or water between 10000 services. I would expect the same from any modern car.
Unless that 2014 is a great deal, I would pass personally. They are also affected by the oil consumption issue. I just don't have any faith in these FB20/FB25 motors or their longevity. But hey! Your mileage may vary! The issue certainly doesn't pertain to all of them.