I lease a 2012 Outback. I took it on a road trip and ran it 5000 miles without changing the oil. On the last day of the trip I checked the oil in the morning and it was at the full mark. By dinner time after driving all day the check engine light came on, the traction control light came on, and the brake light and cruise indicator started blinking. We checked the oil and found it was very low. We topped off the oil but the lights didn’t go off. We drove another 400 miles to get home with the check engine light on and the brake light flashing.
I took it to a shop the next day so they could check the lights and do an oil change. As they were dropping me off at work the lights went off and haven’t come back on since (2 weeks later). The car has 15,000 miles in it now and has been running fine eve since.
Should I tell the dealer this whole story if I ask them to check out the lights?
Should I be concerned about how it burned so much oil that day? If so, should I tell the dealer how long it had been since my last oil change?
The mechanic I saw said the dealer would probably challenge warranty coverage if i need it int the future if they found out.
Please help me with how honest I should be!!
If you’re an honorable person you will tell them the entire story and if there’s a denial of warranty there’s no one to blame but yourself. Running an engine low on oil can create problems and engine damage to some extent is certainly possible.
People lie to dealers all of the time about circumstances behind car problems. The question is whether or not you want to be one of that number.
On the last day of the trip I checked the oil in the morning and it was at the full mark.
By dinner time after driving all day the check engine light came on, the traction control light came on,
and the brake light and cruise indicator started blinking. We checked the oil and found it was
very low. We topped off the oil but the lights didn’t go off.
Something else occurred. If you drove 5000 miles without it using any oil and then a single days worth of driving caused the level to drop, it doesn’t seem like normal oil usage.
How much oil did you need to add to bring it up to the full mark?
Whatever happened to the other lights that came on?
I’d tell them. You did nothing wrong based on you story.
5K isn’t bad between oil changes. Sounds like you are in the habit of checking your oil periodically, so I don’t think this is your fault. Something happened for that oil to drop that suddenly.
Complete diagnosis requires the complete story.
Can’t tell you how many times my techs have lamented “oh, NOW they tell me …”
Sounds like the OP told the mechanic about the low oil just not the dealer and the mechanic said not to say anything. We don’t know how low the oil was-if it was just a quart, big deal. 5000 between changes should not be a problem but we don’t know how long it had been between changes. It really sounds to me like there was an electronic glitch with the ABS or something which turned the CE light on and the brake light. Probably has nothing to do with the oil at all and they need to check for codes in the computer. I don’t know about Subaru but they know exactly when I change oil in the Pontiac and the air pressure, miles driven, and so on and they probably listen to me talking to myself too.
If you’re an honorable person you will tell them the entire story and if there’s a denial of warranty there’s no one to blame but yourself.
Usually I agree with you, but not this time. The oil was checked that morning. It’s not reasonable to expect it to be checked again that same day when presumably only a few hundred miles had passed.
A number of unknowns makes the situation suspect. The car is stated to have gone 5k miles on the trip on that oil but what has not been stated is how many miles the oil had on it before the trip and how many times the oil has actually been changed.
At some point, aged high miles oil can create problems very quickly.
The OP states they checked the oil twice on the last day of the trip and the first check it was fine.
This brings up the questions of was the oil ever checked at all at any other time before and during the trip and if not, was the oil level properly checked, and why the sudden interest in the oil level after that much time and so many miles.
The CEL and brake lights may be a separate issue but no info is provided about codes and so on.
From a dealer standpoint (and they see this quite often) if they are presented a car with engine problems caused by insufficient oil or lack of oil changes it will be looked at as a customer inflicted problem.
Believe me, people have cars towed in all of the time with little or no oil, rods sticking through the block, etc, and will swear the oil was full. In some cases the blown engine will be full of fresh oil and have a new filter…
To the OP, I believe the computer stores the fact that those warning lights came on. So if the dealer hooks up to the on board computer, he’ll know.
If there’s a legitimate reason for loss of oil due to something like an engine seal suddenly leaking or an oil pressure sending unit giving up then warranty should cover it.
If any leaks are caused by a problem with an oil change performed by anyone other than a Subaru dealer (say before the trip) then warranty could justifiably be denied.
Another sticky point on this is that apparently an independent shop of some sort was inserted into the process by their performing an oil change.
This leads into the question of why go to the independent instead of the dealer who leased the car…
It is not permitted to deny warranty coverage because the owner went to an independent dealer or used aftermarket parts . . . provided they have receipts
I fully agree that denial of warranty coverage is not legal because someone went to an independent shop or used aftermarket parts.
It is perfectly legal to deny coverage for a problem caused by an independent shop or aftermarket parts though.
Check the owner’s manual regarding oil change frequency; you might be ok and can talk to the dealer about the oil and you can be commended for checking the oil. 5k miles is what many do now and two of our cars with oil minders will easily exceed 5k miles. If there is a possibility that the dealer will find fault with you for a late oil change, then tell him nothing. The dealer will most likely not tell the next owner of the car of your experience so you should not be obligated to tell the dealer what you know. Eventually someone might find stored trouble codes even with the CEL off but just play dumb. It’s what car selling people do to customers and they deserve it in return.
Don’t be concerned with running on low oil for a short time. An engine can survive for some time with only two or three quarts (no dipstick reading) but not for a complete oil change cycle as the full detergent load is not there. I have seen it happen twice.
Don’t be concerned with running on low oil for a short time. An engine can survive for some
time with only two or three quarts (no dipstick reading) but not for a complete oil change
cycle as the full detergent load is not there.
Agreed. I’ve seen many engines live many miles after the above happened.
To take this even further, as long as the oil pump intake never sucks in air, you’ll be fine. Operating this way for long periods of time however, does tax the small amount of oil in the sump. It will be difficult for anyone to define “short” vs “long” periods of time for a case like this.
A lot of story is missing here and keep in mind that the oil level was described not just as low, but “very” low. Running an engine very low on oil can cook the oil and become the cause of coked piston rings.
The OP did not state how much oil was needed to fill it up.
Whether or not the oil pressure lamp was also lit up along with the other lamps.
Whether there were any leaks or not and if so, where. (The oil change shop should have noted it if there was.)
The OP also states that the car has been running fine ever since. Nothing has been said about oil consumption over the remaining 400 miles of the trip and the ensuing couple of weeks.
Thanks everyone for the comments. The oil was about 1/8" below the full line at the start of the day. The second time I checked the oil 8 hours and 550 miles later there was still oil on the dip stick, about 1/4" below the Low line. We put 2 qts in when we saw it. It was a total of 5000 miles between oil changes, the last 2000 of that was the trip.
It sounds like the lights were not related to the oil. In the three weeks since I changed the oil (at an independent shop because the dealer isn’t close) it hasn’t lost any oil.
Do the masses say “fluke” or “problem” to get checked out?
Were you doing some “spirited” driving?
I don’t think you have an oil problem. The space between the upper and lower notches is one quart. A quarter inch below the lower mark was not another quart so I don’t think you were down two quarts and likely over-filled it by a quart. Also I just got back from a 2000 mile jaunt and have 5000 on the oil change. I checked it a few times and the level would vary by a quarter quart or so just depending on the slope of the surface you were on. So one quart in 5000 miles is not a problem.
The electrical I think is a separate issue of possibly a ground or computer issue but nothing you can do about it until it happens some more if it ever does. If its noted as an issue by the dealer, it should be covered even if it goes beyond the warranty period and surfaces in the future. Odd things happen sometimes.
Thanks again. We were doing lots of mountain driving, but not what I would call “spirited”
I think I got the answers I was looking for. Thanks everyone for the input!