How often to change oil & what is severe maintenance

subaru
outback

#1

Recently purchased an '08 Outback, 4 cyl./auto, with 10,000 miles on it. Standard driving is mostly highway commute in MI. Thought an oil change is needed every 7,500 miles, but local mechanic says should do it every 3,500 miles. Manual says 7,500 miles unless it’s severe driving – seems a little disingenuous to say oil changes every 7,500 when just about any kind of driving classifies as “severe”. Want to use synthetic oil. Can I change the oil every 7,500 or should it be 3,500? My previous car was serviced religiously every 3,000 miles, but I was hoping that the added expense of synthetic oil would be offset by having it serviced every 7,500 miles. Thanks in advance for the advice.


#2

Follow what the manual says. You can go 7,500 miles with synthetic. Heck, you can go 7,500 miles with regular oil. There is a description of “severe” in the maintenance schedule. I doubt you qualify.

Mechanics have a financial incentive to push more frequent oil changes. If the Subaru engineers say 7,500 miles is OK, who are we to argue with them?

I’m sure the manual says “7,500 miles OR XX months, whichever comes first.” Don’t forget that part.


#3

JT, First, Severe Maintenance Is Done Using A Rock And A Screw Driver.

Severe operation of the vehicle is another story. Since you operate this vehicle almost daily, I’d go 5,000 miles on that synthetic. I use Mobil-1 and change oil and filter every 5,000 miles.

Severe operation should be outlined in your Owner’s Manual, but usually involves very frequent starts and stops, pulling trailers, driving mostly on dirt roads, etcetera.

People who drive very infrequently should follow a severe operation schedule, too and also change the oil 2 or 3 times per year, regardless of miles driven.

I think 3,500 miles for average “normal” driving is a waste of oil and money (unless you make a living doing it) and 7,500 is a bit too long.

5,000 miles.

CSA


#4

I agree with Mcparadise, but I want to add that–because your car is under warranty–you MUST conform with the maintenance requirements listed in the Maintenance and Warranty booklet in your glove compartment.

Your oil change schedule sounds okay, in view of your “mostly highway” driving, but don’t forget about things like transmission fluid changes, coolant changes, brake fluid changes, differential oil changes, etc. Most of these items are needed every 30 months or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first.


#5

“Severe Maintenance Is Done Using A Rock And A Screw Driver”

And, I think that a few people have complained about that type of maintenance in this forum!

;-))


#6

Update: talked to another local mechanic and he echoed what CSA said, except that shop uses a synthetic oil called Total (apparently it’s a European, super-duper rated oil or something). I’ll go with this mechanic and will get the oil changed at 5,000 mile intervals, barring any unusual driving conditions, etc. Thanks to all for your sound advice & happy driving! I sure hope the Subaru treats me as well and as economically as my old 1999 Saturn SW2 that I sold at 180,000+ miles when it was still running strong!


#7

As long as you maintain it properly, it should prove to be more reliable than the Saturn.
The maintenance costs will be higher, owing to the extra costs associated with AWD maintenance, but if you are as happy with your '08 Outback as I am with my '02 Outback, you will be a very satisfied customer.

Just be sure to read the Owner’s Manual and the Maintenance Schedule, so that you are familiar with things like the vehicle’s controls, tire changing and rotation information (very important with an AWD vehicle), and other maintenance information.


#8

I Think This Is The Web Site. I’ve Not Heard Of Total Synthetic.
I Guess (I Know) I Need To Get Out More.

Click link:
http://www.totalmotoroils.com/lub/lubusa.nsf/VS_OPM/32F37197ECA1C1A1C125732F006D7198?OpenDocument

CSA


#9

CSA Since you operate this vehicle almost daily, I’d go 5,000 miles on that synthetic.

If anything I would suggest that driving it every day would be a good thing. Cars like to be driving not parked.

I understand that both of us really have to work with opinions on how long synthetic oils may properly protect an engine, I tend to go along with the manufacturers and I go with most manufacturer’s recommendations and 10,000 for most modern cars with synthetic oils.

Frankly there are very few oil related failures today, once you get rid of those caused by too little or too much oil.


#10

Use a 5k interval with conventional and be done. It is cheaper for three conventional oil changes vs two synthetic typically over a 15,000 period. Also all oil gets contaminated and synthetic and conventional don’t really hold up better than the other.

MI winter startup is severe.


#11

Joseph, I Was Not Implying That Driving Daily Was Not A Good Thing, At All.

I was suggesting that this fact helps qualify the vehicle operation as “normal”. I know cars like being driven. Frequent short hops or infrequent driving is in the “severe” category.

Here’s what I said 2 paragraphs later, “People who drive very infrequently should follow a severe operation schedule, too and also change the oil 2 or 3 times per year, regardless of miles driven.

I’m afraid you are going to have trouble finding a lot of support for your 10,000 mile change interval, from people who take good care of their cars, even if it’s fine.

And one more thing. I don’t consider running one’s car out of oil or over-filling one’s car with oil, being an “oil related failure” problem any more than running out of gas or spilling it all over the ground to be a “fuel related failure” problem. These are human error “maintenance failures”!

Bearing and cylinder wall damage in an engine that is properly driven and maintained could be an “oil related failure”.

CSA


#12

If this Total oil is European, you better make sure it meets the API and the SAE standards for motor oil. If it doesn’t, that will null and void the vehicle warranty.

Tester


#13

Andrew, Times Are Changing!

I use synthetic because the manufacturer (GM) recommends it for my car for my climate (superior cold start protection).

I believe that at the rate things are going, synthetic will be less expensive than dinosaur oil, in the not too distant future. The cost of synthetic keeps going down and the dino, up. The demand for synthetic is on the rise and more manufacturers are specifying it.

CSA

P.S Car manufacturers called for adding alcohol to the water in the cooling systems of cars, at one time, for winter freeze protection and until fairly recently, some cars had leather parts in the engine compartment.


#14

Oil change requirements are influenced by a lot of things, including the environment. Cooler damp weather, dust conditions, high humidity, and type of driving all plays a part.

Personally, I’m not keen on 7500 mile oil changes even with highway driving involved. My feeling is that it should be changed around the 5k miles mark.
A lot of short hop, stop and go driving means it should be changed about every 3-3500 miles and in some of the “extra severe” cases such as one of my sisters-in-law, it should be changed every couple of months. In her case the vehicle hardly ever runs long enough to fully warm the engine and open the thermostat.

Just my opinion anyway.


#15

I’m afraid you are going to have trouble finding a lot of support for your 10,000 mile change interval, from people who take good care of their cars, even if it’s fine.

I agree that there will be little support because people have been conditioned to believe the established schedule. And why wouldn’t they? Fear of a loss. I, and most of my friends, can easily extract and rebuild a motor so a failure is more of an inconvenience than a catastrophic financial hit. And I also know from my own experience what is a reasonable change interval for my particular situation.

Therefore, consider that “good care” is highly subjective. It’s like George Carlin’s line- A maniac is anyone going faster than you and anyone going slower is a moron. :smiley:

If I wash my car every week and you do it once a month, I might consider you a poor maintainer of your car. The guy who never washes his car is going to think we’re both nuts. Same with oil changes, with one exception- changing too often only results in a waste of time, money and valuable resources. Too few and you might have a large repair bill on your hands.

But what is too few really? It’s highly dependant on so many factors. And everyone has a different threshold for risk. Therefore, it’s always a risky proposition to categorize people based on one’s own logic in a particular situation.

I run a lot of highway miles in my vehicles, always have. I have often even exceeded Joseph’s schedule for oil changes. I have never experienced an oil related failure in an engine and many have gone hundreds of thousands of troublefree miles. I believe mileage and time based change intervals are far too subjective to be applied so religiously across the board. But you’ll never see me criticize someone for changing their oil every 3000 miles because of the above reasoning. To each his own. And I have no vested interest either way :wink:


#16

My average commute is 30 miles one way (60 miles per day, minimum @ 4-5 days per week) throw in some additional short, weekend trips and I always end hitting the oil change mileage before the 3 month interval. The mechanic said the Total synthetic oil exceeds American standards – I even noted that I wanted to ensure that the warranty is not voided. . . On another note, do you think that at 14,500 miles (current mileage), it would be worth it to have him add Z-Max? That wouldn’t void the warranty would it? Thanks.


#17

[i] Joseph, I Was Not Implying That Driving Daily Was Not A Good Thing, At All.

I was suggesting that this fact helps qualify the vehicle operation as “normal”. I know cars like being driven. Frequent short hops or infrequent driving is in the “severe” category. [/i]

Sorry I misunderstood.


#18

I Agree With You.

I was only stating that support for long intervals would not be plentiful.

Did you ever read the Consumer Reports study they did involving oil change intervals and taxi cabs (with engine tear-downs), several years ago? It was interesting, although most of those cars seldom have cold starts.

CSA


#19

I’ve Got To Go. I Think I Left Some Water Running Or Something.

CSA


#20

Looks like Total meets API Classification requirements on all but two of their oils. Total Quartz 9000 synthetic meets SM/SL API requirement.