How to Deal with Subaru’s Oil Consumption Issue: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Car Running Smoothly

If you own a Subaru or are considering purchasing one, you may have heard about the motor oil consumption issue that has plagued some of the company’s models. This issue has caused concern for many Subaru owners and has generated a lot of discussion among car enthusiasts. In this article, we will dive into the history of the problem, the extent of the issue, its causes, and how to deal with it.

The History of the Oil Consumption Issue in Subaru Cars

Issues with Subaru’s oil consumption first surfaced in the early 2010s when some car owners noticed that their engines were burning a lot more oil than usual. This issue affected some models of the brand’s popular Forester, Outback, Impreza, Crosstrek, and Legacy cars, all fitted with the 2.0 and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines. Early indications suggested that the problem was a result of weak piston rings on some models.

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Subaru acknowledged the issue and issued a warranty extension for affected vehicles. However, as the number of affected cars continued to grow, along with growing pressure from regulators, Subaru eventually agreed to a settlement of a class-action lawsuit in 2019. Under the agreement, Subaru agreed to compensate vehicle owners for repair costs, provide an extended warranty, and reimburse customers for rental cars during repairs.

The Extent of the Issue and its Causes

The oil consumption issue is not unique to Subaru and affects many other carmakers. However, the extent of the problem in Subaru’s cars is significant. According to studies, the oil consumption problem affects up to 20% of all Subaru vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2015.

There is no single cause of the issue. Some car enthusiasts believe that it is caused by a design or manufacturing flaw in Subaru’s boxer engine, which is unique to the Japanese automaker. Others blame the problem on engine architecture, the piston ring design, or the materials used in the vehicle’s construction. Regardless of the cause, the problem can result in the engine running roughly or misfiring.

The Impact of the Issue on the Car’s Performance and Reliability

The oil consumption issue can have significant impacts on the operation and reliability of Subaru vehicles. Excessive oil consumption can result in blue smoke coming out of the tailpipe, which is not only a nuisance but also an environmental pollutant. When the engine runs dry of oil, it can cause severe damage, including engine seizure and possibly, requiring an expensive engine replacement.

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What Subaru has Done to Address the Issue and what the Current Status is

Subaru has taken steps to address the oil consumption issue and has so far settled the class-action lawsuit mentioned earlier. However, the company has been reluctant to issue a recall on the affected models, claiming that they have not yet established a safety risk. Although Subaru has identified the problem and provided warranties and settlements, some customers are still dissatisfied with the Japanese carmaker’s response.

Potential Solutions

If you are a current Subaru owner experiencing the oil consumption issue or are considering purchasing a used Subaru, several solutions are available. First, ensure that you have regular servicing and oil changes to keep the engine running smoothly. Some Subaru owners have reported that switching to a higher-grade, synthetic oil can help reduce oil consumption. Additionally, Subaru owners that have experienced this issue can visit the automaker’s service center to receive repairs covered under warranty.

The Potential Cost for Repairs and How to Prevent the Issue from Happening

The cost of repairs for the oil consumption issue can vary depending on the extent of the damage to the engine. Replacing the entire engine can cost thousands of dollars. However, Subaru owners that are experiencing the oil consumption issue should take their vehicles to a Subaru service center and consider the available settlement options.

To prevent the issue from happening, it is essential to follow Subaru’s recommended maintenance schedule and have all oil changes and services performed on time. Regularly checking the oil level and topping up as necessary is another important routine for Subaru owners.

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Which Subaru models are affected by the oil consumption issue?

The issue primarily affects Subaru Forester, Outback, Impreza, Crosstrek, and Legacy models that feature the 2.0 and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines in model years in 2011-2015.

What causes the oil consumption issue in Subaru cars?

The oil consumption issue is caused by various factors. These may include design flaws or errors during manufacturing and assembly, resulting in engine operation issues and oil leakage.

Can I prevent the oil consumption issue from happening to my Subaru?

Yes, regular maintenance and the use of synthetic oil have proven to reduce the chances of experiencing the oil consumption issue.

What should I do if I notice my Subaru is burning through oil quickly?

If you experience excessive oil consumption, take your vehicle to a Subaru service center immediately. Your vehicle may be eligible for repairs covered under the limited warranty extension.


In conclusion, the oil consumption issue has been a significant problem for Subaru and its customers. Ensuring that your Subaru is well maintained, having oil changes on time, and using high-quality oil are key actions you can take to prevent the issue. Subaru’s response to the issue has been mixed, and while the automaker has taken measures to address the problem, some customers remain unsatisfied.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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