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2012 Subaru Impreza Oil Usage - Is it a generic design flaw

edited August 2012 in Repair and Maintenance
I have 6 month old 2012 Impreza - bought it new. It uses about a quart of oil (0-20W) every 2000 miles. The dealer says the warranty will address repairs only if its less than every 1200 miles and that oil usage is not unexpected for such a lightweight oil. I think this is hogwash. Subaru specified this oil to improve mileage so that its fleet can meet federal gas mileage guidelines. It sounds like it is unable to properly seal such a low viscosity liquid. I have seen several posts about the existance of this problem
Comments welcome on both the issue and recommended course of action.
Thanks so much


  • Consuming a quart of oil every 2000 miles is 100% normal..There is no design flaw and no problem..Some cars manage to burn less than that. That does not mean there is something wrong with your car...

    A small amount of oil MUST escape the oil rings otherwise the compression rings would get no lubrication..If your owners manual allows the use of 10-30 grade oil in the summer months, you could switch to that, but if 0-20 is the only grade recommended then stick with it to protect your warranty..
  • edited August 2012

    When a new car consumes a qt of oil in 2k miles, it would naturally concern most owners, but the reality is that every car maker with which I am familiar claims that this is a normal rate of consumption. That is undoubtedly the stated policy in order to avoid many warranty claims.

    In fact, when new Audi owners complain about even higher oil consumption rates (1 qt every 600 miles in many cases), they are told that this rate of consumption falls within Audi's acceptable rate of oil consumption. Bottom line=no warranty assistance from Audi.

    All of that being said, the way that an engine is "broken-in" has a lot to do with how much oil it will consume during its service life. All too many people "baby" the engine too much during its first few weeks or months, and being too gentle with the accelerator can actually make it impossible for the oil control rings to seat properly.

    The way that I have broken-in my engines for the last 40+ years is as follows:
    After the first week or so, I make sure that I do at least one "brisk" acceleration run each day--after the engine is fully warmed-up.

    No--you shouldn't floor the accelerator at traffic lights. Instead, when you are already rolling along at 30-40 mph, push the accelerator forcefully, so that you can rapidly accelerate to 50 mph or more. A good place to do this is on highway entrance ramps.

    When you do this, you force the piston's oil control rings outward, thus making full contact with the cylinder walls. Doing brisk acceleration runs 10-20 times over a period of a few days is usually all that is needed to properly seat the oil control rings.

    So--if you have driven the car very gently, I urge you to try what I described above. By doing this with all of my new cars, I have been able to drive them for well over 100k miles with a rate of oil consumption of no more than 1 qt every 4k miles. (Actually, there was one exception, but luckily for you, you don't own a Volvo.)

    Also, while it is unlikely that the PCV valve is defective, it would be worthwhile to check it, as a jammed PCV valve will cause increased oil consumption.

  • a qt every 2k is very good for todays cars
  • edited August 2012
    @Big Marc ; agree that such oil consumption with 20 weight oil is entirely normal. If you drive 16,000 miles a year you would have to add 8 quarts of oil, instead of the expected 4 quarts with older engines and heavier oil. That's a whole 4 quarts at $3 a quart for good oil. So $12 per year is not worth fussing about.

    When the warranty expires, you can go to 0W30 full synthetic, which is a very good choice for US driving.This oil will lower your consumption during highway driving.
  • edited August 2012
    I will add my vote for it being normal. Some engines will use more some less.

    Don't worry, Be happy! You have a very nice car. Enjoy it.
  • Exactly how hard do you drive the car?
    And how many miles are actually on the car currently?
    Has it had its first oil change as of yet?

    Some cars burn oil for various reasons.
    New cars that do not have rotary engines in them, honestly, shouldn't be consuming oil at the rate you are saying yours is, unless you drive it really hard.

    One thing to remember is that when oil gets really hot, it can turn into an oil mist, and get consumed by the PCV system by being burned in the engine. The cheaper the quality of oil, the more likely this is going to happen.

    Unfortunately, we can't see your car, and run tests on it ourselves, so we can't tell you where your oil is going.

    I know if it was my engine, I would pull the spark plugs to see if one of them had excessive deposits on it, and if one did, I would bring that up to my dealer's service manager. Could be a leaking valve seal, or bad oil control rings around that piston.

    At the very least, change the oil to the best full synthetic 0W-20 you can buy, and see how that affects the oil burn rate. Also, if you do a lot of full throttle, and high speed driving, back off the accelerator, and see if that reduces it for 1k miles.

  • Totally agree with VDCdriver, but I would add that for the brisk acceleration, you need to be going just fast enough to be in high gear and push the pedal down moderately fast but not fast enough or far enough to cause it to downshift. If it downshifts, it defeats the purpose of loading up the rings.

    It works so much better with a manual transmission. Ten of these done right should seat the rings.
  • Unless your car isn't running correctly, or you see oil dripping on the ground where you park, I'd say this useage rate is within the range of normal for using that light-weight of oil. I expect the usage might be more in summer b/c of the warmer temperatures. Esp b/c the summer has been pretty hot in many areas. In the winter you might find you get more miles per quart.

    I had a VW Rabbit back in the early 80's that used a quart in 500-1000 miles, and that was considered "almost" normal, and it was 10-40W oil. For another reference, my early 90's Toyota Corolla uses about a quart in 7500 miles, 10-30W oil.

    Suggest to monitor your oil level, and when it is a half-quart low top it off, unless it is time for an oil change anyways. Not satisfied? You could experiment with a heavier weight oil and see how it affects the usage and mpg provided that is acceptable to what the owners manual says.You might also Google "Subaru Imprenza oil usage" and see if you find anything interesting. There may be other forum discussion on this topic.
  • Thanks for the comments especially about rapid acceleration. I just tried it - hopefully it will help. I am using Subaru 0-20 synthetic oil. My fear is that if its using oil now, the situation will only deteriorate with time - Subarus are notorious for head gasket issues. I hope its the valve seating and will resolve or at least maintain oil usage at current levels
  • "I hope its the valve seating"

    Do you mean piston ring seating?
    Yes, if your method of breaking-in the engine is/was to "baby" it too much, a few strong acceleration runs could resolve the issue.
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