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New car burning oil

Just bought a 2011 Subaru Outback, drove it 1500 miles and had to add one quart of oil! I do have an appointment with the dealer to check it, but has anyone else had this experience with a new car?

Not unusual.  First a new car may use more oil until things get settled.  Second, what most of us grew up thinking was a problem due to oil usage, is considered normal by today's manufacturers.  Cars and oils are different.  

You are doing the right thing as it is a new car and you have a concern.  Be sure to get some sort of documentation indicating you pointed out the issue and that the dealer either will attempt some sort of repair or that the dealer is saying it is normal.   

In the long run I doubt if it will be a problem.  

Good Luck

I’ve heard here frequently that manufacturers generally consider up to one quart per thousand miles to be normal use.

To the good advice posted so far, I want to add another bit of commentary for you.
The amount of oil that your engine will consume over its life will be determined to a significant extent by how you drive the car during its first few thousand miles.

While modern engines do not require the same extended break-in period of the cars of yesteryear, it is still important to do the following during the first thousand miles or so:

Do not drive at the same speed for more than a few minutes. You need to allow the engine to operate at different RPMs every few minutes in order to “wear-in” the cylinder bores properly. For this reason, you should avoid use of the Cruise Control feature for the first 1k miles.

Don’t rev the engine to more than 4k RPMs during the first 1k miles.

However, don’t “baby” the engine either! In order to seat the piston rings properly, you need to do a few “brisk” acceleration runs on a periodic basis. Keep an eye on the tachometer while doing this, and do a few acceleration runs that take the engine up to ~3,500 PRMs. Don’t floor the accelerator, but try to accelerate briskly at the same time.

I have seen cases of cars that burned more oil throughout their entire lives than they should have, and in almost every case, these engines were never revved high enough to seat the piston rings properly. So, in other words, if your break-in method has been to drive like a little old lady, you have actually not done the engine any favors.

All of this being said, the consumption of 1 qt in 1,500 miles on a new engine is certainly not unusual. Just continue to monitor the situation closely and remember to add oil as soon as the dipstick shows that 1/2 qt has been consumed. Don’t wait until it is actually down by a full qt. And, do a few brisk acceleration runs for good measure!

Are you sure the crankcase was full when you bought it?

Was that first 1,500 miles all highway driving?

Look at the bright side! Now you know you are getting adequate upper-cylinder lubrication!

While it may be claimed to be normal (and even after any alleged future checkout) it seems excessive to me.
My 200-300k miles car don’t even consume that much.

You state this car was new. Does this mean 4 or 5 miles on it new or 50, 100, or more?
If the latter this means you bought a demonstrator and it’s a toss-up as to how those first critical 20 miles were put on it.

If you get the car back with the proclamation that “everything is fine, yada, yada, yada”, then you should ask the service writer or manager to provide you the stats on the leakdown test. If they cannot provide this info then you’re being yanked.
You should also receive a copy of the repair order with your complaint on it and what was done to, if anything, to diagnose or repair the complaint and this includes the results of a leakdown test.
No paperwork = more potential BS.

I would also agree with mcparadise about the possibility anyway of the crankcase not being full. That would be highly unusual but it could happen. If it happens again then there’s a problem.

That’s nothing.
My brand new 2011 Mazda RX-8 went through a quart of oil after 947 miles.

The main thing to do is keep an eye on it for the first 5k miles, and get an idea for its consumption due to your driving style. It will calm down, just don’t let it run low.


Those rotary engines are known to use oil, regardless. I believe a little bit is sprayed into the engine as part of the combustion process

Congratulations, Bladecutter, on your purchase of a new RX-8. I’m jealous.

I hope you have as much fun with your car as I had with the RX-7 I used to own. That Mazda rotary engine is a wonderful thing. People who’ve never driven one of these cars don’t get it.

You can’t, however, compare a rotary engine to a piston engine for oil consumption. The Mazda rotary is a know oil burner. It’s part of the design, and has been all along. Nothing to worry about.

A brand new Subaru, on the other hand, should not be consuming this much oil.

I still want to know how quickly the OP put 1,500 miles on his new car.

It’s good to get things checked just to be sure but oil consumption at that rate is acceptable. As was stated, after the kinks get worked out it will likely burn less. And, FWIW, I serviced several fleets of vehicles and those that used 1-2 quarts between changes seemed to always have the longest life. Hopefully that 999 doesn’t indicate that you drive like Barney Oldfield.

Thanks everyone for the great comments. I did know about varying the speed, but didn’t know about the accel runs (and yes, the car was babied somewhat), so I did do some of those. But the main thing is that I did bring it back to the dealer. As expected, there was “no problem found”, but at least it is documented as I keep track for the next few thousand miles. I like the possiblity that it just wasn’t topped off properly in the first place. Keeping my fingers crossed.
I did come across quite a few articles about new engines using rather than consuming oil, so it just may not be that unusual, but that may take some getting used to. I’m one of the few people who still change my oil myself every 5,000 miles, so I know that on my previous cars, they’ve never been down even half a quart until after the 100,000-150,000 range.

Last week I read in the new York times that they are recalling some 2010 and 2011 models for burning oil. It said they need to replace the cylinder head. Call your dealer.