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Frequency of Oil Changes

I am leasing a 2010 Subaru Outback. I am only driving about 150 miles a month. My driving consists of mostly short trips in the city and short infrequent freeway trips. After one year I have 2100 miles on the odometer. The Dealer insists that I change the oil at least every 6 months. Their reasoning is that moisture can build up in the oil. I believe that I can wait until I have driven at least 3000 miles. I have checked the oil regularly and it still appears to be clean. Who is correct?

6 month oil changes isn’t going to kill you…You’re wasting a lot of money just leasing a vehicle when you use it so infrequently…why stop now.

[i] My driving consists of mostly short trips[/i]   [i] The Dealer insists that I change the oil at least every 6 months.[/i]  

 In this case the dealer is right.  Those short trips puts you in the severe service category and you need to change the oil (be it conventional or synthetic) more often than standard.  

 You can't judge the condition of the oil by looking at it.  You could have it tested, but those test would likely cost you more than the oil changes.

 You likely are paying more to have your oil changed by the dealer than by a good local independent mechanic, but in this case, I think I would recommend sticking with the dealer.  They deserve some respect for standing up and telling you you need more oil changes than regular.

The dealer is.

Short trips is the worst way to treat an engine. As the dealer pointed out, excess moisture can accumulate in the crankcase resulting in engine damage. So either change the oil more often, or take the vehicle on the freeway once a week for a twenty minute cruise to drive the moisture out of the crankcase.


I have one low mileage truck and I change its oil once a year. However, I am not leasing and accept full responsibility for anything that might happen as s result of my choice.

Since you are leasing, I would read the lease agreement carefully and see what it says about keeping up required maintenance.

Our 03 Subaru maintenance schedule called for oil changes at the 3 month, 7.5 month, 15, 22.5 month interval if you do not meet the mileage accumulation first. See what your maintenance schedule says and plan on complying. Your dealer may be correct.

Thanks for responding. The reason I am driving so infrequently is that I injured my back AFTER I leased the vehicle. I realize I am wasting a lot of money with the car just sitting in the driveway. I have spoken to the dealer about getting out of the lease and at this point it is going to cost me even more money. Depending on what happens in the future I plan on purchasing the vehicle at the end of the lease.

If you drove the car infrequently, but on longer trips when you did drive - ie 30 miles or so; then I’d say a 12 month oil change is OK.

In your case when you do drive, it for short trips that really don’t warm up the car. That can lead to more moisture contamination of the oil; therefore every 6 months regardless of whether you get to 3000 miles or not is appropriate.

The dealer is correct.

The dealer is probably correct, and may be telling you exactly what is in your owner’s manual. Pull out the manual and see what it says about the change interval. It is likely that Subaru quotes both a mileage maximum and a maximum time if the mileage limit is not exceeded. If you have an oil lifetime monitor (aka oil change monitor), then go by the monitor.

Thanks for responding. Your message reminds me that I had an oil change monitor on my Honda Civic. I loved it and wish Subaru had one. The general consensus seems to be to change the oil every 6 months.

What does your owner’s manual say for it’s severe maintenance schedule? You need to follow that.
Without maintenance records, the rental…er lease company might penalize you for not taking care of it’s car properly when you go to return it to them.

Actually, you are better off without an OLM. Those things create a lot of problems as a number of people are finding out.

But does Subaru agree with most of the posters (not the dealer)?

I looked it up on line. Subaru recommends changing the oil every 7500 miles or 7.5 months for cars without turbochargers. Cars with turbos should have the oil changed every 3750 miles or four months.

An OLM would let OP off the hook, since he adheres to the light even if this may not be good for the car. Many people leasing cars do the absolute minimum maintenance and let the next owner/driver pick up the pieces.

I would still change oil twice a year and spend a measly $45 extra, since I can’t abuse a car whether I own it or not. Having driven company cars for 12 years, I had everytihing done by the book and when the time came to sell the cars to the employees, mine was an easy sell.

You may be right.

HOWEVER if you are under warranty, do what Subaru recommends. In that case every 7.5 months you are required to change your engine oil irregardless of mileage.

If you have an oil related failure(there a few posts on this board from yearly changes) Subaru will deny your claim.