2012 Impreza

I have a 2012 Subaru Impreza 5spd, I bought it new about a year ago and every ± 2000 miles my low oil light comes on. The Subaru dealer is telling me this is normal. After happening 5 times in the past year I am getting fed up and believe there is something wrong with the engine. I Know many people with newer Subarus and none of them are having this issue with the oil light. When the light comes on and I check the oil I see that I am a full quart low, the dipstick comes out dry. The dealer has been insisting that this is consumption is normal. I finally called corporate last week and when they returned me call they told me that after contacting the dealer there was no evidence of low oil levels. I attribute this to the fact that the dealer told me to top the oil off before driving, so of course the oil levels will appear fine when I bring the car in the next day. Regardless the woman from subaru corporate told me that consumption of a quart within 1200 miles is abnormal, however, she never said that it was normal for consumption rates of a quart per 2000 miles. So is this rate of consumption normal, and should I be concerned? There is no leaking oil that I can see, also where does the oil go in a closed system? I don’t smell burning oil or see any smoke in the exhaust. I have begun carrying oil with me due to the frequency of this and am scared to drive it when the light comes on because I feel it will damage the engine.

I’ve read here many times that most manufacturers will call consumption of one quart per 1,000 miles normal. I wouldn’t be thrilled to own such a car, but there’s probably nothing that you can do about it that’s not at your expense.

You should be scared to drive it when the light comes on. That’s the point. You’re supposed to check your oil often enough to prevent this, certainly more often than once every 2,000 miles.

You say the dipstick comes out ‘dry’. How much oil do you have to put in to get it to the full mark?

All companies claim that oil use less than about 1 quart per 1,000-1,200 miles is ‘normal’, so you may not get much sympathy from Subaru.

But you MUST now check your oil every other fillup or so, you don’t ever want the stick to come out ‘dry’.

First, you should not be relying on the light to tell you when you need to add oil. You should be routinely checking the dipstick.

Second, a quart every 1,000 miles is normal and acceptable. However, you don’t currently know how much you’re actually using because you’re not checking the dipstick.

Start checking the stick regularly and let us know how much poiol you’re actually using.

First, you should not be relying on the light to tell you when you need to add oil. You should be routinely checking the dipstick.

I’ll second that.

With no leaks, the only place the oil can be going is past the piston rings. You are not seeing smoke because the catalytic converter is catching most of it.

If by low oil light you mean the red oil pressure light and the dipstick is dry, then your engine is damaged goods.
You bought the car new. Does new mean as in 4 or 5 miles on it or was it a dealer demo model with a 100 or so miles on it?
Regarding the latter, the point I’m making there is that the person (or persons) driving that demo could care less about a break-in period and may have whaled on it from the start.

The 2012+ Impreza has two oil lights: one is an oil level light, and the other is an oil pressure light. As you would expect, the oil level light will light well before the oil pressure light. So Josh’s engine isn’t damaged goods, as long as he adds oil before the oil pressure light turns on.

As stated above, no damage is being done to your engine. Its a good thing you have that light or by now, you would have destroyed it.

This baffles me:
When the light comes on and I check the oil I see that I am a full quart low, the dipstick comes out dry
I think if the stick is dry then more then a quart is missing.
But again I do not know about Subarus, I know that this is true for other makes and models…

The OP needs to clarify a few things before any claim of all is well. A dry dipstick is more than a quart down and an engine does not have to be run clean out of oil to become damaged goods.

Is It Just Me ?
Although A Manufacturer Could Say That Using A Quart Of Oil Every 2,000 Miles Is Normal, I Don’t Agree.

It Could Be Normal For A Car With 150,000 Miles On It, But This Car Is A Little Over A Year Old And Probably Has Considerably Fewer Miles.

How many people would buy a certain new car if they were told, up front, to expect to add oil every 2,000 miles ?

Also, what does that do to the resale value of these cars. If I were looking a buying this car, used, and the owner informed me about the oil consumption, I’d pass. I wouldn’t buy a 5 year old car with 100,000 miles on it that I knew burned that much oil.

What does the future hold for this “normal” car ? Choose one.
A - It will use a quart of oil every 2,000 miles, forever ?
B - Oil Consumption will progressively get better until it uses hardly any oil ?
C - As the car’s engine naturally wears, oil consumption will increase.

I’d press the manufacturer for some help.


CSA’s comments are dead on.

Speaking of clean air, how does millions of cars running around chewing up oil at a allegedly normal rate like that help anything…

The lady the OP spoke with at SOA knows nothing and is just repeating a corporate script that she’s probably been through a dozen times that day already…

Once These Cars Go Out Of All Warranty Coverage People Start Asking Questions About P0420/P0430 And Whether Or Not The Mechanic’s Estimate Is Reasonable For Replacing Catalytic Converters And Oxygen Sensors.


So my understanding of the engine according to the owners manual is that there are x amount of quarts circulating throughout the engine but the reservoir holds 1 quart and this is the level that the dipstick reads. The light comes on when the reservoir is almost completely empty. A quart of oil is required to get a “full” reading on the dipstick. My question is is this level of oil consumption normal? I previously had a 95 corolla with over 100,000 miles and never had an issue with oil consumption.

There’s not a separate reservoir. All the oil is in a common tank, the crankcase. If adding one quart brings it back to the full mark then you’ve not damaged the engine. You need to document the oil consumption (date and miles) and get this to the dealer so it will be entered into the Subaru records.

A quart per 2000 is higher than I’d like but not enough to meet company standards. Track it so you can make a claim if it increases.

You need to clarify the oil light situation. If you’re referrring to a red light then this means zero or near zero oil pressure and trouble is brewing.

A quart to bring it up to FULL is surviveable although the preference would be that an engine never be allowed to go a quart down. In your original post you stated the stick was dry, which could mean a couple of quarts or more down.

As stated, some car makers consider this kind of oil consumption normal but to me it denotes a problem with the suspect being an oil control ring, or plural of that. This could possibly be tied in with an improper break-in and that’s why I asked about whether the car was purchased new or whether it was a dealer demonstrator.

The car manufacturers have a vested financial interest in stating oil useage like this is normal. Each car off of the assembly line is budgeted with a certain amount for warranty repairs. One engine replacement or repair will do serious damage to the company bottom line.

The thought of owning a new car that required me to carry around extra oil would cause me some serious disillusionment.

I agree. I have never had an oil burner that didn’t start out that way. Oil consumption after break in gets worse and not better. If you are down up to half a quart when a 5 k oil change is due, that 's acceptable as ALL my cars have been in recent memory. I did have two Subarus years ago so it is tough to generalize. But, they did use oil at a greater rate then my other cars. Still, with my 3 k oil changes back then, It was acceptably down a little less then a quart between changes till i sold the last at 133 k miles.

The exception being that high speed driving where both a little more consumption and the burn off of moisture could indicate higher oil use.
Do you drive at 75 to 80 mph plus daily in your driving…lif you do, maybe 2 k ain’t that bad.
What do your driving habits look like over the course of an average week ?
Plus…a discussion of why “flat” engines may burn a little more oil to begin with.

CSA, I agree that it isn’t normal, “normal” being understood as within, say, 2 sigma of the mean, however it is considered acceptable. Would I feel comfortable with that in a new car? Absolutely not. But I guess I’d have to learn to accept it or trade the car in.

However, based on the OP’s posts, he really has no idea how much he’s using.

Josh, the dipstick is telling you how high the oil level is, in other words you are measuring the top of the oil level. The oil is drawn up into the engine by the oil pump through a device called an oil pickup tube. This is like a straw that goes to the bottom of the oil pan.

It’s like drinking a soda through a straw. You draw the soda up through the straw and the level of the soda in the glass drops. As long as there is a little soda in the glass, you get soda when you suck on the straw. As soon as the soda level drops below the bottom of the straw, you start sucking air.

Because the oil is sloshing around in the pan when you are driving, there needs to be at least 1 quart of oil in the pan or the pick up tube starts drawing air. Your oil level light should warn you when the amount of oil in the pan is less than 3 quarts.

As long as it is only the oil level light that is coming on, your engine is not being damaged, but if your oil pressure light comes on, that means the pick up tube is sucking air and your engine is being damaged.

It is possible that part of the problem may be how you drove it right after you bought it, or if it was driven from another dealership to your dealer from several hundred miles away. Sustained speed driving of a new engine is one of the worse things you can do. The rings fail to seat and a little oil consumption is the result. For this, I would dog the engine a few times to try to get the rings to seat.

Dog the engine by accelerating as hard as possible in high gear without the transmission downshifting. Do not break the law, its the acceleration, not the speed you want. This is easy with a manual transmission, just put it into high gear at around 30 mph and then floor it to 50. Back off and repeat about 10 times. With an automatic, it is much harder to find the point on the throttle that will give the most acceleration with out downshifting. You may have to start at 35 or 40 instead of 30 and go to 60-65.

I have owned 3 Subaru’s – 1997 legacy, 2000 limited edition, and currentlY a 2009 Impreza. One car had 175,000, another 240,000 and our present Impreza 58,000. None of our vehicles ever lost a quart of oil between oil changes ranging between 3000 and 5000 miles. If I was told that I would be using a quart of oil every 1000 or 2000 miles I would return the car or never have bought it. We also have a Ford Focus that will use a quart between 3000 and 4000 miles. It has 70,000 miles and runs like a clock, much like our Impreza. —Again—a new car using the great lubricants now being used, should never use a quart every 2000 miles. Their is something wrong and should be looked into.