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Subaru 2001 Outback ran out of oil after 7600 miles?

Again, depending on the driving habits and environmental conditions changing the oil at 3k miles/3 months may be an absolute necessity.
The type of oil used does not matter because that has no influence on moisture absorbed into the crankcase.

A lot of stop and go driving, short hops, etc.,especially with humid and/or dusty conditions, and it’s quite possible for oil to sludge quickly. If one factors in a faulty PCV valve the situation can be made even worse.

In extreme examples such as my sister in law, her vehicle should be getting an oil change every 2k miles/2 months because the engine seldom ever runs long enough for the thermostat to even open. Of course, she doesn’t do this.


Some vehicles (BMW, Mercedes, some models of GM vehicles) do have a low oil level warning light. Most cars do not. However, once someone has an electronic marvel to perform tasks for them, this most likely strengthens the tendency to take a hands-off approach to things like manually checking the oil. Personally, I would not mind if my car had one of these specialized warning lights, but even if it did, I would still check the dipstick frequently. Over-reliance on electronic warning devices could be self-defeating in the long run, so there is nothing like the hands-on approach.

As to the info in your Owner’s Manual, you are reading something into it that is not there, but I will admit that it would be better if car manufacturs gave a technical explanation of exactly what the oil pressure warning light does and does not do. Let me take a whack at what I think Owner’s Manuals should say on the topic:

[i]If your Oil Pressure Warning Light comes on, immediately pull to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so, and shut off your engine. Check the oil level on your dipstick, and add oil, if necessary, in order to bring the oil level to the “full” mark on the dipstick. Be careful not to overfill the crankcase, as an oil level that is too high can be as damaging to an engine as an oil level that is too low.

Observe the engine and the ground underneath the engine for indications of an oil leak. If the oil level was low, after refilling to the full mark on the dipstick, restart the engine and see if the oil pressure warning light goes off. If it does go off, that is an indication that you had allowed your oil level to drop dangerously low–so low that the oil pump was not able to supply sufficient oil pressure to the extremely sensitive bearings and the cylinder walls in your engine.

The low oil pressure warning light will not come on until the oil level in the crankcase is severely depleted. The purpose of this light is to warn you of dangerously low oil pressure–not a low oil level–and should not be taken as a substitute for manually checking your oil dipstick very frequently. If the oil pressure warning light does not go off, that is an indication that your oil pump is still unable to supply sufficient pressure to the engine, and the engine should be immediately shut off. Have the car towed to the XXX dealership or a competent mechanic for diagnosis.

The oil pump may not be able to supply sufficient pressure for a multitude of reasons, including a build-up of sludge in your engine as a result of infrequent oil changes, or as a result of our defective design of the engine.[/i]

I am being somewhat facetious in the last sentence because no manufacturer is going to own up to defective design, but in reality, all too many car owners NEVER bother to read their Owner’s Manual, so no matter how detailed an explanation is provided, it may not do any good. However, something along the lines of what I wrote above would help to inform those who do bother to open their Owner’s Manual. Then, of course, there is the question of whether this little bit of extra information might be considered too technical by the “all I know is that I put gas in it and it runs” crowd.

In summary, I think that manufacturers could do a much better job of providing clear and complete information in their manuals, but the onus is still on car owners to actually read that information. Nothing in life is perfect, unfortunately.

“The maintenance procedures recommend checking oil at every fueling”


If the OP had done this, or even checked the oil at each 5th fueling, he wouldn’t have had this disaster.

All that stuff you wrote about improving the manual is irrelevant if the OP doesn’t open it.

“The oil indicator light never came on”

The oil level got very low.
Not low enough for the oil pump to start sucking air, which would make the oil light come on.
But that quart or two of oil left in the engine had to work very hard.
Too hard.
For the last couple thousand miles.

While this is not related to engine oil issues, the following story is a good example of owners manuals being ignored. And the attitude of some when even mentioning it.

About 2 years ago my wife and I went to spend a couple of days with my son and daughter in law up in CO.
The first night there we were going out to dinner in their '07 Dodge Caliber.
I’m sitting in the RF seat, the son backed out of the drive, and before we rolled 4 car lengths in the roadway I asked him to stop at the stop sign.
I jumped out (2 feet of snow and a balmy 19 degrees), ran my hands over the front tires in the dark, and told them they had some serious tire issues when I got back in. (This vehicle had 17k miles on it at the time)

So what happens? All 3 of them, wife included, got mad at me for:
“being negative”
“ruining an evening”
“picking a new car to death”
“what in the world are you talking about”
“can’t you stay positive about their car”

Sorry, the tires were howling even at slow speed and not one of the 3 were aware of this.
After a few minutes of cool down, they asked me what caused this to which I replied that you need to rotate the tires ever so often.
This was followed up with (drum roll) “well, how are we supposed to know when to rotate them”?
(Drum roll again). Being in the RF seat I opened the glove box and pointed out the little book in there that had obviously never been touched. Turned to the maintenance section where it stated to rotate tires ever 6k miles and of course this was breaking news to them.

The tires were beyond hope by then so on my recommendation they did rotate them the next week to try and even things out a bit but that was closing the barn door after the horses escaped.
They got about another 8k miles out of them before having to replace the tires.
The 18" option on an AWD vehicle too.)

This scenario is not that unusual. Not only do many flat refuse to even open that book they simply don’t want to even hear anything about maintenance.

ANY car brand has an engine that will consume all of its oil in a 5000-10000 mile span if the owner does not top it. Some engines will not consume all of it in that interval some all of it in 5000 miles, brand irrelavent. Oil consumption to a degree is normal in a car engine.

Unfortunately checking oil at a reasonable interval (I used 3-5 fuel fillups) is part of lower cost car ownership.