2011 Subaru Forester 2.5L NA oil consumption

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by rdp6, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. rdp6

    rdp6 Senior member

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    So, I am borrowing a Subaru from a dealership while my car is being repaired and noted that the dipstick was dry. Bone dry. At a bit less than 16K on the odometer. No warning lights are illuminated on the dashboard; there is no obvious sign of a deficit of oil. If anything the car has a noticeable whirring noise at 65+ mph; maybe that is related to AWD transmission. Definitely not the same or similar to turbo noise which I am quite familiar. I am an AWD noob, though.

    Owner's manual says to use 0W-20 synthetic at oil change intervals, but topping off with 5W-20 or 5W-30 conventional is fine. So, this evening I topped off the oil with conventional 5W-30 that would otherwise go in the retired S-10; it took 3.25 quarts to reach the full mark. IMO this is more than topping off, as it is about 60% of the crankcase capacity.

    Fuel economy has been about 25 mpg over the 290 miles that I have driven it (all highway, all 87 octane, northern Ohio winter gas formula from BP), which is about 2 less than the government rating.

    Oil on the dipstick as I checked progress of the top-off appears very dark. I would assume that normal maintenance has been performed up to this point, and that all driving prior to mine has been as a rental car in the city.

    I will probably perform an oil change this weekend; the question is, do I tell the dealership any of this? They have given me the loaner on an indefinite / unlimited mileage basis while parts are on order and repairs are being done on my car. I am grateful to the dealership for extending this courtesy.

    I wonder if this is normal for Subaru engines. I have had thoughts of buying a Subie in the last year or so. Would anyone care to comment? Is 0W-20 synthetic oil commonly available at Autozone or Advance? Does Subaru have required or preferred specifications for oil, e.g. VAG 502.00?
     
  2. MotF Bane

    MotF Bane No Lifer

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    Talk to the dealership before the oil change. I would think that's still their business to maintain the car, especially if it is doing something unusual.
     
  3. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    I would have gone to the dealer before topping it off, or possibly called them when I discovered nothing on the dipstick and asked what they wanted me to do.

    I would want it documented that they gave it to me that way.
     
  4. Ferzerp

    Ferzerp Diamond Member

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    Fill it, yes... But the dealer needs to do any maintenance. You don't do maintenance on rentals as well, do you?
     
  5. rdp6

    rdp6 Senior member

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    It is probably more convenient for me to change oil & filter myself than go to the dealership approx 45 miles distant from home, and 50 miles distant from work, which is also 46 miles from home. I would in some odd way enjoy working on a new-to-me car for something so simple. I would much prefer it to making arrangements to spend 2 extra hours driving plus waiting for maintenance at a busy dealership.

    I will call the dealership tomorrow to ask how to proceed.

    As it is, I do need to use it to drive, so adding oil is the right thing to do, and I do think that a proper change must be done ASAP as I drive at least 92 miles daily.
     
  6. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    Is it more convenient to get blamed for any engine damage from driving with so little oil? :D

    Sure, it's probably fine, but why risk it? I suspect that the oil was getting hotter than normal with so much less volume.

    They could claim that you underfilled it yourself.

    Or even say you added crappy oil to it.

    Definitely call before you do anything else to it.
     
  7. rdp6

    rdp6 Senior member

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    I think this horse has left the barn. They gave me a working vehicle and a generous agreement and I intend to return it in good condition. There was no discussion of service history or near-term service events. I did make it clear and register the service manager's understanding of my unusual driving requirements: he even struck out the text related to mileage restrictions on the contract*.

    Does anyone who rents a car strictly observe service intervals, i.e. swap for another ride at scheduled oil change mileage?

    When I call I expect they will want to have it in immediately to check for oil leakage.

    *Maybe I should take a look at the contract for guidance.
     
  8. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    That would be quite a leak, imo.

    I suspect it was either underfilled last change, or it's never been changed and the oil has burned off, or a combination.

    It could be a leak, but I would think that would be obvious to have lost 3 quarts since the last change.
     
  9. rdp6

    rdp6 Senior member

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    No obvious signs of leakage, e.g. puddle under the engine bay. No smell of burning oil. Almost certainly a matter of consumption and poor attention to oil. Remember this vehicle is a loaner, driven by those who take their cars to a dealership for service, including oil changes.

    My particular circumstance is the well documented VAG BPY 2.0T cam follower failure. Dealer is replacing cam follower, HPFP, and intake camshaft, as well as changing oil courtesy of VWOA. At least one of the parts is apparently on backorder. I am thrilled that they gave me an AWD ride as winter is finally making it to Akron.
     
  10. Bignate603

    Bignate603 Lifer

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    Don't do maintenance on their car. Especially don't do it yourself. If anything goes wrong they can say that you screwed up the car and are liable for the damages. You won't have a single shred of evidence to prove otherwise.

    Service intervals don't have to be done right on the dot, even an oil change can be done +/- 1000 miles in most cases with no real harm done. They just wait until the car comes back to the lot and then do it.

    However, the problem you're describing is NOT anything to do with normal maintenance, 3 quarts of oil is a massive amount to be missing. There's a few things that could be going on:
    1. Somebody didn't put in enough oil when they changed it last.
    2. There is a problem with the engine and it is leaking or consuming oil at a rate much higher than a healthy engine should.
    3. It's been a VERY long time since they last changed the oil and it's been slowly consuming oil for that full time. Even then though it should take a huge amount of time on a newer healthy car to eat more than 3 quarts of oil.

    None of these things are your responsibility, it is the dealer's car and something they did before they gave it to you caused the problem. It's their responsibility to fix it, not yours. Additionally, if there is something wrong with the car that's bad enough that it's eating >3 quarts between oil changes they need to know ASAP so they can figure out what's going on. They'll want to know if something is up so they can fix it and hopefully avoid a much more costly repair.
     
  11. Capt Caveman

    Capt Caveman Lifer

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    Why in hell would you change the oil on a loaner after you've just put in 3.25 quarts of oil? You should have contacted them immediately after discovering the issue.
     
  12. Doppel

    Doppel Lifer

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    What a second, you are going to do an OIL CHANGE on a loaner car, is this the twilight zone? You did 500X more than most people would or should by even putting oil in the thing. It would never occur to me to check oil on a loaner car as it's 100% their problem/fault/responsibility if while I'm driving it the engine seizes because nobody at the dealership ever cared enough to check the dipstick. If I was borrowing it for many weeks this may be different.

    Let them change the oil. Let them know the oil was low when you return it and they will deal with it...

    DO NOT look at the contract, you are under no responsibility to change the oil on this thing at all or do any other maintenance, period.
     
  13. Bignate603

    Bignate603 Lifer

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    Not only that, by opening up the hood and doing stuff you're opening yourself up to liability. Don't do it. Inform the dealership and ask if you should return the car.
     
  14. mvbighead

    mvbighead Diamond Member

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    Definitely of the opinion that doing any maintenance to that car is simply asking for trouble. Granted, I suppose if you were borrowing it for an extended period, checking the oil isn't a bad thing. And perhaps adding oil from the low point to full isn't going too far either, as that is better than having too little oil. But an oil change is their job.
     
  15. rdp6

    rdp6 Senior member

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    Called the dealership and spoke with my service advisor; he appreciated my adding oil and surmised the car is simply very overdue for service.

    I didn't offer to perform a full oil change as I was told my car would likely be ready on Friday.

    As for those suggesting I do nothing at all about the low oil level: I am having some difficulty seeing your position as clearly correct.

    Having no idea how much oil is in the car while driving a long commute in freezing temperatures sounds like preparing for a long walk or wait for assistance; both are more inconvenient than a few dollars worth of oil.

    Those clamoring about liability: topping off the oil and conducting period oil changes yields conditions less likely to result in damage rather than more. Changing oil and oil filter isn't in any way a complicated task and I am certain the risk of screwing that up is nearly zero.

    Someone said "DO NOT look at the contract"; what kind of sage advice is this?!? I, too, wonder if this is the Twilight Zone!

    Finally, I saw there is a oil temperature light on the dash as the car starts up and shows all the indicators. No problems before or after top-off, and none expected.
     
  16. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    It's probably sludged up a bit now.
     
  17. rdp6

    rdp6 Senior member

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    Sorry, this is poorly expressed. I meant to state that there exists an oil temperature warning lamp, but it has yet to be illuminated.

    I am keeping revs low and the weather is very favorable for heat rejection.

    It may be a bit sludged for using more viscous oil, but the dealership has been appraised of the situation and should perform an oil change at their earliest convenience.

    Which contributes more to sludging:
    1. 15910 miles on original factory oil (with approx 3 quarts of consumption over this period and no top-off), or
    2. an additional ~270 miles with a full crankcase of 40/60 mixture of original, fouled 0W-20 synthetic oil from (1) and new 5W-30 Castrol dino-oil?

    As an aside I am a bit surprised that no one has offered their experience with Subaru boxer engines and oil consumption (or lack thereof).
     
  18. Bignate603

    Bignate603 Lifer

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    I agree it's not likely you'd screw anything up. The problem is that you'd have no way of proving that you didn't screw anything up. If you changed the oil and the car broke down right after the dealer could claim that you did something incorrect and you'd have no way of proving that it was not your fault. Doing service on it makes it very hard to prove what was their fault and what was your fault, no matter what the real cause was.

    They didn't want you to go look at the contract because it was a waste of time and it was nuts that you thought you had any responsibility to maintain a loaner car. It's a loaner, you drive it and put gas in it. Everything else is the dealer's responsibility.
     
  19. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    I meant from driving around with very little oil in it, not from whatever you added.

    That small amount of oil would get hotter than normal, and it would be unable to carry contaminants away to the filter properly, so it would be very dirty, compared to driving with a full crankcase.

    So it would be a bit of a vicious cycle, and it would continue to get worse.
     
  20. rdp6

    rdp6 Senior member

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    I returned the Forester and stated my concerns about its condition. The service manager checked the service record and stated that it had never been serviced.

    So, I had minor snow on one occasion during nearly a month of having an AWD loaner with newish tires, and now with my FWD car back it's dumping snow and the roads are slippery.
     
  21. 5150MyU

    5150MyU Senior member

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    You should publish the V.I.N so that anyone that googles it will know that it went 15k without an oil change.:)
     
  22. mvbighead

    mvbighead Diamond Member

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    Yeah, that'd make me a little leery of that place. I could understand a 1000 or 2000 miles over, but 15000 miles? If you're a car place, you'd think you'd check any vehicle you use as a loaner. Even just check the dipstick... It's not like changing oil is something that is bizarre.
     
  23. SpatiallyAware

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    Heh, this car will end up at auction and sold through some dealer as a "1 owner elderly owned car" to a total sucker.
     
  24. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

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    #24 LTC8K6, Jan 20, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  25. exar333

    exar333 Diamond Member

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    haha! Love this dig...