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

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…

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

@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.

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.

My 2012 Impreza sport ltd. is my 7th Subaru. I’ve never had to add oil to any of them. this guy sucks down the oil like a drunken sailor. I’m using Quaker State 0 20 wt. It was fine until after the first oil change. I broke her in pretty aggressively so I think it is just as the previous posts said. It is what it is.
I commute 32k miles a year and that’s a chunk of change for adding oil to a brand new car.
I may try the Subaru oil next oil change to see if things improve.

I think 1qt/2000mi is a little high, but not unacceptable. You should probably wait a bit–the consumption might drop once the engine wears a bit. Also, try a different brand of oil. I’ve observed over the years that different brands seem to agree better with different makes. For instance, my newer vehicle uses about a quart between oil changes with Mobil-1, but using Valvoline synthetic it uses no oil. Mobil-1 is excellent oil, so I have no idea why it would use oil, but it’s been my results.

There are a lot of drivers out there who think their cars don’t use oil. They are usually the ones who check the oil before the car reaches operating temperature where the unburned fuel and moisture my still be left in the crank case. Using a little oil is like having cracks in a foundation…it’s normal.

As far as break in is concerned, a car will use more oil if it is driven harder and driven often at higher rpms. Maybe it’s more your driving style then the car and it’s telling you something. Subarus may respond to higher rpms by burning a little more oil then others. Do a test…try driving a little more moderately between the next two oil changes.

After 25 yrs and 410000 mi on my 88 GL I decided it was time for a new replacement. Just brought home a 2013 Impreza yesterday. Today I start it up and see the low oil light on after 117 mi. Just pinged the salesman that either they did not fill up the oil after he said they did, OR this car used 1 qt in 117 miles. I’m requesting that I return this to them. Sorry to see so many issues about this problem with Subarus, they USED to be such a good car.

As everyone has already stated, 1 qt every 2,000 miles is perfectly within the normal acceptable limits and usage. I congratulate you for monitoring this. If everyone did, there’d be a lot fewer dead engines out there.

@Franko999 - was it just down 1 quart, or more? If 1 quart then no damage has been done and the level probably wasn’t checked before they gave it to you, nothing to do with the car. If much more than one quart, either way I want to swap for a different one to make sure nothing happened to the engine.

“My fear is that if its using oil now, the situation will only deteriorate with time”.
@Gary105–In my experience, this isn’t the case. My brother bought a 1977 Cadillac with 52,000 miles. It used a quart of oil every 900 miles. At 200,000 miles, it was still using a quart of oil every 900 miles.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Consumer Reports would report the miles per quart on the cars it tested. As I remember, the 1960 Valiant got about 450 miles per quart of oil in the test. The Chrysler product had the famous slant 6 engine known for durability. I was delighted when new valve stem seals raised the miles per quart on my 1971 Maverick from a quart of oil every 300 miles to a quart of oil every 1250 miles.

@Triedaq @Gary105 hasn’t posted since August. I don’t think we’ll hear from him again.

@Franko999 why did you restart this old thread?
It seems to me it should be pretty easy to start your own thread.