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2012 Subaru Legacy 3.6R - 1.3qt low oil - what should I have the dealer do?

I’ve posted about my new Legacy and Oil questions, and now this! On Friday my oil light came on, and I stopped and called the service center. I was told to check the oil level and come in on Monday. At the time I was on the phone, I didn’t have a rag to use to check the oil and was informed about a TSB on the oil light sensor. So I made an appointment to check that out. The light went out while I was on the phone (when I restarted the car it was off).

When I got home and checked the Oil, I found out it was on L on the dipstick. The manual said that would have the Oil level at 5.6qt and the F level would be 6.9qt. I added a quart of appropriate 5w30 oil and the dipstick showed it up near F.

Now, I haven’t done anything, nor noticed anything that would lead me to expect low Oil. This car is near brand new - it’s just coming up on it’s first Oil Change. Aside from complaining at the Dealer - is there any advice as to specifics I should demand? I certainly didn’t buy a new car to carry around a quart or two of oil to add when I’m driving around. I could have kept my old car (that hadn’t needed oil ever) or bought a cheap junker to do that!

It’s not unusual for a new engine to consume 1 quart of oil during the first one or two oil changes. Please tell us how many miles on the car now.

If you read the owner’s manual you will likely find a statement that says one quart of oil per ONE THOUSAND miles is not unusual.

Please get in the habit of checking your oil frequently; a kleenex will do just fine in wiping the dipstick!

How many miles on this car? I hope you going by miles not some light on the dash.
Some times a motor will use some oil during break in. But I would think its more rare with today motors.

Having a new car that burs a little oil is upsetting, but don’t expect to be able to do anything about it.
Read your owners manual and you will be shocked at what the manufacturer considers normal. My 2012 Camry’s manual says one quart per 500 miles is " normal ". Fortunatly my car doesn’t burn any/.

The first thing that you should do is to calm down.
Many engines will consume some oil during their “break-in” period.
Some engines will consume some oil all during their normal lifetime.

If you are approaching the time for the first oil change, then I assume that your odometer mileage is nearing 3,000, as that is the specified interval for the first oil change with this engine. While we don’t know precisely how much oil was consumed, from the figures that you gave us, it appears that a little more than 1 qt was consumed in ~3k miles. That is a totally normal rate of consumption at this point.

I can tell you from my own experience with this same engine that I also added about 1 qt of oil during the first 3k miles. The difference between you and me is that I checked my oil every few weeks, and as a result, I added ~1/2 qt after ~1k miles, and another 1/2 qt at around 2,700 miles. (Hint: Even on a new car, you should be checking the dipstick on a regular basis, rather than waiting for the low oil level light to come on. The object is to never let the oil level fall more than 1 qt below the full mark, and as you can see, I add 1/2 qt as soon as the dipstick shows this slight drop.)

In the next interval between oil changes (~4k miles), I only needed to add 1/2 qt of oil in total, and it has stayed at that level of consumption since then, with a current odometer reading just shy of 20k miles. So–in other words, the rate of oil consumption for your engine will most likely level out at ~1/2 qt per 4,000 miles, which is absolutely, totally normal.

Car manufacturers will frequently state that consuming as much as 1 qt of oil per 1,000 miles is “within the normal range” of consumption. No, that rate is not desirable, but it is also not unheard-of. Many owners of new-ish Audis report an oil consumption rate of 1 qt every 600 miles, and Audi claims that this rate is within normal limits for their engines. I have a close friend whose Toyota consistently uses about 1 1/2 qts between his 5k mile oil changes. If your engine, like mine, winds up consuming 1/2 qt in 4k miles, you should not be complaining about this rate of consumption.

So–do yourself a big favor, and get into the habit of lifting the hood every couple of weeks in order to check all of the fluid levels. Also, get into the habit of manually checking your tire pressure every few weeks. Yes, there is an electronic sensor to warn you of low tire pressure, just as there is a sensor to warn you of a low oil level, but it is better to correct tire pressure sooner, rather than later–just like it is better to add oil a little bit at a time as the level drops.

When this happened I was at 2,600 miles.

Sometimes a new engine will burn a little oil during the break in period.

Like the other posters indicated, oil consumption in the range of a quart every few thousand miles is normal and there is no need for concern and no remedy. You might ask the dealer to take a quick look to verify no oil leaks just to be sure, but in the long run check your oil level monthly or as frequently as outlined in the owner’s manual.

Also, read the owner’s manual or ask the dealer service manager if 5W20 is a recommended oil for your car/engine/location. Use of a 5W20 instead of 5W30 may lower oil consumption.

I looked into buying a 6 cylinder legacy a while back. I went on some subaru forums and found a lt of people that were complaining about this engine using a lot of oil. Some cars had to be repaired.

You should check the engine oil level every one or 2 weeks until you are satisfied that it does not consume oil at the same rate. Then you could back off to once every 2 to 4 weeks. Tie your oil check to something else you do. Maybe something early Saturday if you don’t work that day. After a while, it will be a habit and you won’t need a reminder. Doing it in the evening after work is fin too, but give the sump some time for the oil to drain into it before you check it.

Keep tabs on this for a while and make sure that this low oil situation is not the result of an engine coming from the factory a bit low to begin with.
These cars should go through a PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) in which the car is gone over before being put up for sale with all fluids, tire pressure, chassis bolts, exhaust hangers, lighting and climate controls, etc, etc. with everything being inspected. At times this is not done by the dealers although they are paid by the car manufacturer to do those PDIs.

While working for VW we had a spell where all of the new VWs were coming in about 2/3 of a quart down. The opinion of us mechanics was that it was possibly deliberate. A million cars at 2/3 of a quart of oil each is a serious bit of spare change; as a plus to VW and as a minus to the dealer who was having to eat the cost of that 2/3 of a quart per car to top them off.

Many car makers claim that the use of a quart of oil per 1000 miles is normal but I’ve never subscribed to that theory. If an engine burns that much then it’s had an improper break-in, irregular oil change regimen, or in some rare case, an inherent engine assembly or design flaw.
None of my very high miles cars (talking 200-350k miles) ever burnt a quart per 1000. The absolute worst was my 420k miles Mercury that used a quart per 600 miles and most of that was due to a leak at the rear main seal.

A quart of oil every 2000 miles, whether brand new or broken in, is 100% normal and not a matter for concern…

I agree with all the above but would add the following. During the break in period, you should do a few hard accelerations to break in the rings. If you have a manual transmission, it is easy. Just upshift to the highest gear as fast as you can, then floor it up to about 60 mph. A couple of these should break in the rings quickly.

If you have an automatic, just accelerate normally until the transmission goes into high gear and the torque converter locks up. Then slow down a little, but not to the point that the torque converter unlocks. Then press down the accelerator just shy of transmission downshifting.

With the automatic, you need some practice tries to figure out where each of these points are so make sure you are on a road where it is safe to do this. It could take up to ten of these for an auto to seat the rings. You are not going for high RPMs, in fact the objective is to be just shy of lugging the engine.

@jp10558 - As to any problem with your oil being low: if it was at the L mark, then you checked it in time, that’s the point at which you’re supposed to add a quart, so nothing to worry about there. As others have said, check it periodically now to get a feel for how often you’ll need to add oil.

My question to you: you said “my oil light came on”. Please carefully read your owners manual and let us know if that is a “low engine oil level” kind of light (which just means check the oil and add a quart if it needs it), or if it’s the “low oil pressure” kind of light, which means GET OFF THE ROAD AND SHUT OFF THE ENGINE RIGHT NOW!!. As you can see, it’s very important to know which it is.

I stopped as soon as possible (about 500 ft) and shut the engine off. I did get out the manual, and it’s the oil level light (I actually wondered if it was a “change oil soon” light as it was orange rather than red, but no such luck).

The dealer checked it out yesterday, ordered a sensor for the light, said some of the engines are coming low on oil “off the truck” and said I did the right thing adding a qt. They did an oil change and said it should be fine, though I have to come back for the new sensor (and I expect a check of oil level).

To keith, I drove this car every which way from sunday during the break in except below 4000 rpm per the manual. Since then I’ve “enjoyed” the power occasionally, as well as played with the “manual mode” of the 5 speed automatic, specifically when going down hills. I’m not sure if I understand what to do in automatic mode, but if I put it in manual, put it in 5th (which it likes to be in all the time anyway) and floor it, it should be like the manual transmission?

One off topic but amazing point to me is that this car with the bigger engine and heavier car is getting the same mileage my 07 Impreza with a 2.5l 4 cylinder got… (If the MPG gauge is correct anyway - I should hook up my scanguage to be sure). I imagine it must be the additional gear in the transmission…

Subaru was getting hammered in the market because competitors had cars getting significantly better mpg. Not just in the US but worldwide mpg was a problem for Subaru as a brand up til and including the '11 models. All of the '12 Subaru’s have been tweaked, tuned, and improved with significantly improved mpg as a target goal. It has worked, you are testimony to that with you '12 doing better than your significantly smaller '07. Apparently this improvement is not at the expense of performance.

As per the oil, just monitor your oil level with a dipstick check every 3 to 4 weeks. I like oil level gauges and low oil level warning lights, but they aren’t perfect so a good ole fashioned check of the dipstick is still in my list of things for the owner to check periodically. I also recommend a dipstick check immediately after every oil change, and again 1 week after an oil change. This is to be sure the oil change job wasn’t botched and avoids running out of oil due to a loose oil plug, or a filter coming loose.

The problem I have with what the dealer told you about some of them coming in low on oil right off the truck is that the dealer is supposed to be doing a PDI check on every new car. This means checking the oil and topping it off as necessary.

I wonder what they would say if questioned whether or not your Subaru had even been given a PDI and if so, by whom?