DIY Guide: How to Change the Oil in Your 2003 Subaru Outback and Save Money!

As a Subaru Outback owner, you understand the importance of regular maintenance to keep your car running smoothly. Changing your oil is one of the most important things you can do to keep your engine in good condition. Plus, performing this routine maintenance task yourself can save you a lot of money over time. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of changing your oil in a 2003 Subaru Outback.

Tools and Equipment Required

Before you start, gather the following tools and equipment:

  • 6-quart drain pan
  • Safety glasses/goggles
  • Gloves
  • Floor jack and jack stands
  • 17mm socket wrench
  • Oil filter wrench
  • New oil filter
  • Funnel
  • 5 quarts of oil
  • Shop towel or rag

Type of Oil to Use

When choosing the type of oil to use, it’s important to refer to your owner’s manual. Typically, 2003 Subaru Outbacks use 5W-30 synthetic oil. However, if you live in an area with extreme temperatures or drive in demanding conditions, you may need a different type of oil. Always consult your owner’s manual or a trusted mechanic for advice.

Steps to Change Your Oil

  1. Warm up your engine by driving your car around for 5-10 minutes. This will heat up the oil and make it easier to drain.
  2. Put on safety glasses and gloves.
  3. Use your floor jack and jack stands to lift the front of your vehicle. Make sure it’s on level ground and supported securely.
  4. Locate the oil pan and drain plug under the engine.
  5. Place your drip pan under the oil pan and use a 17mm socket wrench to loosen and remove the oil plug. Allow the oil to drain completely.
  6. While the oil is draining, locate the oil filter. It should be under the engine, near the oil pan. Use an oil filter wrench to remove the old oil filter.
  7. Before installing the new oil filter, lubricate the gasket with a small amount of oil.
  8. Install the new oil filter by turning it clockwise until it’s snug.
  9. Once the oil has finished draining, replace the oil plug and tighten it using the 17mm socket wrench.
  10. Using a funnel, add 5 quarts of oil to the engine. Check your dipstick to make sure the oil level is between the minimum and maximum marks.
  11. Start your engine and let it run for a few minutes. Check the area around the oil filter and oil plug for leaks.
  12. Turn off your engine and check the oil level with your dipstick, adding more oil if necessary.
  13. Lower your car from your jack stands and dispose of your used oil properly. You can bring it to a local auto parts store or recycling center.
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Inspecting Your Oil and Oil Filter

While you’re changing your oil, it’s important to inspect your oil and oil filter for any signs of wear or damage. Look for metal shavings or unusual debris in the oil, as this can indicate engine problems. Additionally, check the oil filter for any metal or debris as well.

If you do notice any issues, consult a trusted mechanic for further inspection and repair.

Other Basic Maintenance Tips

Changing your oil is an essential part of basic maintenance, but there are other things you can do to keep your Subaru Outback running smoothly. Here are a few tips:

  • Check your tire pressure regularly and make sure they’re properly inflated.
  • Inspect your brakes on a regular basis and replace brake pads as needed.
  • Replace your air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.
  • Check your transmission fluid and engine coolant levels periodically.
  • Stay on top of your regular maintenance schedule and make sure you’re getting your car serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.


Q: Can I reuse my old oil filter?

A: We don’t recommend reusing old oil filters. Over time, the filter can become clogged with debris and can cause oil flow issues. Always use a new oil filter for each oil change.

Q: Can I use conventional oil instead of synthetic oil?

A: We recommend using synthetic oil for your 2003 Subaru Outback. However, if you have questions or concerns about which type of oil to use, consult your owner’s manual or a trusted mechanic.

Q: How often should I change my oil?

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A: It’s generally recommended to change your oil every 5,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. However, refer to your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your vehicle.


Changing the oil in your 2003 Subaru Outback is an essential part of basic maintenance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can save money and keep your engine running smoothly. Always take the time to inspect your oil and oil filter for any signs of wear or damage, and follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle.

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Peter Banks

With years of experience as a professional mechanic and Subaru specialist, Peter is one of the most respected members of our team. He's written several articles on Subaru maintenance and repair, and his advice and tips are always practical and helpful. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes.

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