2016 Subaru Outback - Oil consumption

My 2016 Subaru Outback used oil on a trip in Dec 2020. Had driven it pretty steady for about 1800 miles. Still under the required oil change status. At he end the oil light came on said to add oil right away. The oil didn’t hardly register on the stick. Added 1 quart and drove to Subaru dealer. Didn’t find anything significant (possibly a minor leak around a seal. Didn’t have the part, but said we should make it back with no problem. We did and took it to my personal dealer. Had them check it over and changed the oil again. Driven since Dec. about 9000 miles no issues until today. It is 1600 short of due for an oil change. Took it a mechanic and said he could so no issues and 1 quart had filled it. Was carrying the correct oil since the initial issue.

You checked oil before trip?
After 1800 mi oil light came on?
Added 1 qt. Did oil level show up on dipstick now?

You should be checking your oil on a regular basis, all cars use oil to one degree or another.

You should check the oil level at the very least every 2 weeks when home . On a trip check it every fuel stop.

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I’m not 10% clear on the timeline and number of miles but if your Outback used a quart in 1800 miles that’s nothing to worry about. Even if it used a quart in half that mileage, that isn’t a complete disaster as long as you check the oil regularly and top it off as required. However, the fact that you let it go until the oil level indicator was lit is a concern.


Dealer= why you here? Ahh, oil light. Hmm. Tell me more.

This is a known problem with Subaru engines. There was a class-action suit settlement, but your '16 is not included (yet). Keep your paperwork. No modern car should consume so much oil between oil changes that the warning light comes on and no oil is shown on the stick. That indicates a serious issue. Blog Post | Used Subarus– Buy This One, Not That One | Car Talk

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Are you telling us that it consumed 1 qt of oil in 9k miles?
If so, why would you be worried about that extremely insignificant rate of oil consumption?
If it consumed 1 qt in less than 9k miles, please clarify this for us with the correct number of miles.

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Oil Changes done religiously with no problems in between. Showed over 2 quarts low and it was still short of the 6000 oil change schedule in Dec., Oil level normal at the last 2 oil changes and in between checks. Yesterday 1600 miles short of the next oil change. Oil indicator came on. 1 quart low. It has 97,000+ miles. Going to check even more regular as no leakage found. Thanks

Just to be sure - this is the oil level light that’s coming on, right? Not the oil pressure light?

Get to where you know how many miles you go between needing to add a quart and tell us, that’ll help us a lot.

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When was the previous check before yesterday? What was the oil level at that check?

I am not sure, probably not since oil change. It had been normal each oil check since Dec., so I slacked off and shouldn’t have. I will check it at fill ups for sure now and keep a record. Has had more highway miles in the last month. Three for 400 mile trips in last 30 days plus the usual trips. I do drive a lot.

I don’t follow . How do you know the oil level was at the full mark when oil change was done . If you hade it done they would just drain the old oil and not check the level before the drain.

There are certain problems that cause oil loss more during highway driving than low-speed driving. I’m not an expert on that, but maybe others can chime in here.

Easy I check it before I go. But they usually confirm it for me that it was full or low. Long time customer and I have asked them too at times.

It all boils down to how many miles per quart.
That’s what we need to know to say something more meaningful.


Let’s say you went about 5000 miles and were 2 quarts low. That’s 2500 miles per quart, and is considered acceptable for many cars. Check the oil at least every other week to make sure you know when you are a quart low, then add one. Do as @GorehamJ advises and you will be ready for a notice from Subaru if it comes.

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If my math is right, that’s a quart in 4400 miles. That really isn’t a problem. Frankly, a quart in half that isn’t a real problem as long as you keep an eye on your oil level.

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I have a 2014 Legacy 2.5 with the CVT. It currently has about 120k. I change the oil every 7500 miles or so.

Typically for most of the year. all my driving is local, around 6-30 miles per trip. It will use about 1 quart between oil changes, generally I have to add at around 4500 miles.

When I take my annual road trip to the national parks, it uses about a quart every 1100 miles so I always have 2 spare quarts with me. Has done this since the beginning, hasn’t gotten worse with age/miles.

I think if your are doing this good or better, you don’t need to worry. Just keep checking the oil on a regular basis and you will be OK.