I have been debating on whether or not I wanted to post another article about oil use in a Subaru, but I feel it’s important for you to be informed about your Subaru and have a little ammunition when dealing with a Subaru dealer.
First of all unless a car uses more than what is considered normal by both industry standards and the car maker there is nothing wrong in the car makers view.
There are so many variables as to why an engine may use oil, all of these are actually clearly stated in Subaru’s TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) on page 2 in regards to oil consumption, and they mirror TSB’s that have been put out by other car companies at different times in history. Subaru TSB 02-143-13R
Here is what we can factually talk about, some Subaru Outback and Legacy models, according to the TSB, 2013 models only, may suffer from piston oil control rings that did not seal during the break in period, the fix is to install a new set of piston rings with an updated ring surface. The problem is that in order to install new rings the entire engine must come out and come apart to do that procedure. The updated piston rings started being used in production as of May 8th 2013, so if you have a newer than that production date and are suffering from high oil consumption this TSB as currently written does not apply to your Subaru, it’s that simple. If you own an affected vehicle that falls under this TSB you do have a little work cut out for you, as Subaru makes the Franchised Dealers jump through a few hoops before they authorize this large of a repair under warranty, some of this is also outlined in the TSB.
One very probable situation is the use of 0w20 synthetic oil from the onset goes against what most experienced engine builders suggest for break in oil. The reason car manufacturers have started using 0w20 is to help improve fuel economy. The thing to keep in mind is that the internal tolerances of the current FB engine is designed for use with 0w20 oil, switching to 5w30 may cause engine failure and you do so at your own risk.
While its true that this can happen to cars regardless of the transmission, I have written before that the CVT transmission is not conducive to proper break-in without forcing you to drive different than just put it in gear and go.
The Federal government didn’t instruct car companies to build cars that don’t use oil, they instead told them you must reach fuel economy standards of 36 by 2017 and 54.5 MPG by 2025. that’s the world we live in, we are here today talking about Subaru’s but don’t fool yourself into thinking Subaru is the only one taking lumps as there is a shift in how the car must function. Subaru makes a limited number of models, they simply do not have a Prius, Insight, Fit or Focus etc. that achieve high fuel economy to offset the models that get much worse fuel economy, as such Subaru is just abut the only manufacture that has to increase fuel economy across all models rather than introduce a low end car that achieves 50 mpg to off set the models using more fuel. The good news is that Subaru may very well become a market leader in fuel economy related technology as a result, or they may toss in the towel and make a 3 cylinder front wheel drive small car.
Buying a new car is not a guarantee that you will never have issues with it, instead it means that if there is an issue that is covered under warranty, it will be taken care of by the car maker. Subaru with this TSB is in fact acknowledging the issue and taking care of the cars with problems, once there is proof of such. Subaru is a good car maker that will take care of this issue, but most warranty repairs are a hassle and this is a big hassle.
Thanks for reading.
Your Independent Subaru Expert