Unveiling the Mystery: Why Do Subaru Engines Burn Oil?

Are you a proud owner of a Subaru car? Or are you planning to purchase one? If so, you might be wondering why Subaru engines tend to burn oil. In this article, we will delve into this issue and provide you with all the necessary details.

Why Do Subaru Engines Burn Oil?

Subaru engines are known for their reliability and durability. However, one common issue that has plagued many Subaru owners is the burning of engine oil. This issue is not unique to Subaru engines, as many other car engines burn oil too. However, the frequency of oil burning in Subaru engines is something that has been a concern for many owners.

The primary reason why Subaru engines tend to burn oil is due to their horizontally opposed design. Unlike other engines that are designed with a vertical configuration, Subaru engines use a flat engine configuration. This type of engine design can cause the engine oil to seep through the piston rings and into the combustion chamber, resulting in the burning of oil.

The Impact of Burning Oil on Engine Performance

Burning oil can have a negative impact on the overall performance of your Subaru engine. When the engine burns oil, it creates a thick black smoke that comes out of the exhaust, which can be detrimental to the environment. Burning oil can also cause damage to the engine’s spark plugs, oxygen sensors, and catalytic converter. This can result in decreased fuel efficiency and increased emissions.

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Moreover, if you neglect to check and refill your engine oil regularly, your engine may run out of oil, which can lead to serious engine damage.

Preventing or Minimizing Oil Burning

To prevent or minimize oil burning in your Subaru engine, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, you need to check your engine oil level regularly and top up when necessary. Secondly, use high-quality engine oil that is recommended by the manufacturer. Also, consider using oil additives that can reduce oil consumption.

Lastly, ensure that your engine is well-maintained by following the recommended maintenance schedule provided in the owner’s manual. Regular engine maintenance not only helps to prevent oil burning but also extends the life of your engine.

Frequency of Oil Burning in Subaru Engines

The frequency of oil burning in Subaru engines varies depending on the model and year of the car. Older Subaru models tend to burn oil more frequently than newer ones. However, oil burning can still occur in newer models too.

A study conducted by Consumer Reports found that about 1 in 5 Subaru owners reported excessive oil consumption in their vehicles. The issue is more prevalent in the 2011-2014 model years of the Forester, Outback, and Legacy models.

The Cost of Repairing an Engine that Burns Oil

Repairing an engine that burns oil can be expensive. The total cost depends on the severity of the issue and the extent of the damage. If the engine is still salvageable, you may have to replace the piston rings and valve seals, which can cost up to $2,500 or more. However, in extreme cases, you may have to replace the entire engine, which can cost up to $6,000 or more.

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Q: Can I still drive my Subaru if the engine is burning oil?

A: While it is possible to drive your Subaru if the engine is burning oil, it is not recommended. Burning oil can cause serious engine damage if left unaddressed.

Q: How often should I check my engine oil level in my Subaru?

A: It is recommended to check your engine oil level at least once a month. However, you should check it more frequently if you drive your car frequently or notice any oil leakage.


Subaru engines burning oil can be a frustrating and costly issue for many owners. While the horizontally opposed engine configuration of Subaru engines makes them more prone to oil burning, there are steps you can take to minimize or prevent it. Regular engine maintenance and using high-quality engine oil are crucial in keeping your engine running smoothly. By following the recommendations of this article, you can ensure that your Subaru engine remains in top condition for years to come.

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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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