2009 Subaru Outback - Engine oil

My son adopted my 2009 subaru outback and recently blew the engine. He swears the oil light never came on, he passed his inspection with emissions a few months before. I had to scrap the car. Recently I hear that this model had issues with oil consumption and engines. There was about 120k miles at the time of death. He was definitely late with an oil change but seriously, there wasn’t a drop of oil in the car at the time the engine blew without warning.

He lied. He also never checked the oil level, ever. My nephew did the same thing many years ago to a Ford Crown Victoria.


It’s a Subaru thing. My Legacy GT’s engine went with zero warning. At 11 Kmiles. Eleven.

The more important question is how long before the blown engine he actually checked the oil. Does he check it regularly?

We know the probable answer to that question, but… Will the OP’s son admit that he was not in the habit of checking the oil?


Question here. Was there truly not a drop of oil in the engine or was there just not a drop of oil on the dipstick. There is a big difference here. To tell if there wasn’t a drop of oil in the engine, the oil pan drain bolt would have to be removed to see if oil drained out.

If you only checked the dipstick, you son may be entirely innocent. These not only have a history of suddenly burning excessive oil, they also have a history of blown head gaskets right about the age and mileage of your engine. This is not worth scrapping the engine over.

A good Subaru dealer can replace the head gaskets and timing belt (if it is a timing belt and not a timing chain) for a very reasonable price. The replacement head gaskets last a lot longer because by then, the block and heads are seasoned and less likely to warp again. It could be good for another 200k

It’s too late, the car has been scrapped. In retrospect I wish I had towed it to a Subaru dealer

Yes, but it’s not too late to try to educate your son about the importance of frequently checking–and correcting–the level of his car’s motor oil. If you can somehow convince him to do this, it might be possible to avoid scrapping another vehicle… or two…

Oh he’s definitely learned a lesson here

In retrospect, why don’t you come here for advice before making a decision. BTW, if it was due to a blown head gasket, the oil would have poured out the head gasket and there is really nothing your son could have done about it. But everyone should check their oil frequently.

Most of those head gasket situations involve oil seeping into the coolant. But, even in the cases where there is external oil leakage, it amounts to seepage, rather than a case of oil “pouring out”. The real problem here is that the OP’s son didn’t check the oil–either regularly, or at all–and that can lead to engine destruction on any make.

I do agree that everyone should check their oil regularly, but now that the car has been junked, we have no way of knowing just how much oil was lost. If the engine never lost oil pressure because there was still some oil in the pan, then it is entirely possible that the OP’s son negligence did not cause the problem.

You are correct that the oil seeps out, but it doesn’t take very long for a couple of quarts of oil to seep out. It’s like a small leak in a tire, it takes a week or so to go flat so you could miss that if you checked the pressure monthly.

But had the OP’s son regularly checked the oil, then he would have covered his butt on this. Now he can’t prove it wasn’t his fault. But we really can’t say for sure that it was.

Of course there is also the question, did anyone ever teach him how to check the oil?

My father–despite being a very smart man–was essentially clueless about car maintenance. I taught him a few things on that topic, and I began checking our oil and other fluids when I was about 10 years old–shortly after we got our first car. My only “teachers” were the Popular Mechanics, Mechanics Illustrated, and Popular Science magazines that I read regularly as a kid.

Ideally, my father would have educated himself on this topic, but apparently after satisfying himself that I had properly educated myself about cars and their maintenance, he was only too happy to default this responsibility to me.

If somebody is going to operate a motor vehicle–which usually represents an investment of at least a few thousand dollars–I think that it behooves him/her to learn at least the basics of how to keep the thing from self-destructing. If they don’t want to educate themselves, then hopefully they have a family member or close friend who can do this for them.


Keith, I have to admit I blame myself as well. I wish I was more organized and knowledgeable to realize that neither one of my boys had been maintaining the old car properly. I have no excuse but I will say I’m a single mother, work full time, go to college part time and with 2 teenaged boys. One in college, the other in high school, also mom to 2 dogs, st times I’m scattered, this was one of them. If it’s the worse thing that happens I’m doing ok. We all learned an expensive lesson

I’m not trying to blame anyone, least of all you. Everyone was piling on your son and I just wanted to offer a little defense for him. I may blame the person who told you that the car was hopeless, he took advantage of you or at least his potential mistake cost you.

They say you learn from your mistakes, so by now I’m really smart and I’m get smarter every day :slight_smile:

But please, next time, give us a try first. We can’t see thru the internet but we can offer suggestions. One suggestion will always be to get a second opinion.

Some cars burn oil and Subes have a rep for burning oil . Should be checked every couple of weeks specially if it has 75000 plus miles .

As a retired educator, I can confirm that the most effective learning takes place after seeing your own mistakes.

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Shortly after I bought my 2011 Outback in October 2010, I bought two quarts of the correct-spec Valvoline motor oil, to keep on hand. It now has ~96k on the odometer, and just last month I finally used-up the second one of those two quarts.

After its last oil change, I realized that it had been under-filled by one quart, so I used my remaining container of Valvoline to fill the crankcase to capacity. So, with the exception of that last quart, it took me 9 years and 95k miles to use one quart of Valvoline.

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Re popular mechanic’s I rember year’s back year’s ago I read article about how to convert a pickup in ti a dump bed using power steering pump I have been looking for a fear’s different places & can’t find anything about it was wondering if you might remeber it’ & you are right it was a good learning tool.

It lives on as a new washing machine so what is to fret about? It would have died sooner or later anyway and it’s probably happier now being a Whirlpool instead of a Subie.