Subaru engine rod

subaru
engines

#1

Help I need advice. I have a 2012 Subaru Forester (not turbo). It has less than 30k miles. It uses full synthetic oil. I missed one oil change (scheduled every 7500 miles) meaning it went 16k without one. (too long to explain but I am using really good with maintenance) The rod (threw or blew - not sure correct term). First, the dealer said it was covered under warranty - but now not since I missed one oil change. I have known people who have older cars and don’t change there oil “regularly.” No low oil light ever came on in my car. Should or could this really happen from not changing the oil for one scheduled time? Is it really because the synthetic oil was not changed on a car that has less than 30K?

Thanks for any insight.


#2

Do you know what the oil level was in the motor at the time? It could have been low, even though the light did not come on.


#3

I think they got you on a technicality here. I agree with the manufacturer because 16K without an oil change is just inviting trouble…even with synthetic oil. You are on the hook for the damage because it’s your responsibility to have the oil changed. The Forester couldn’t do it itself. Did you ever check the oil level?


#4

As others have said, we’d like to know if the oil was at the right level the entire time.

Regardless, I’m afraid that I don’t think you have much of a case here. I’ll point out that you actually missed two oil changes, in fact.


#5

My first thought was “how often do you check the oil”? That is another way of wondering what the oil level was before the problem, but points more to a possible cause (low oil level) and recognizes that if you’re not checking your oil you’ll not know its level.

If you’re not monitoring your oil level, you may in fact have allowed the level to drop to a point where the lubrication to the rod bearing suddenly disappeared, causing the bearing to bind (seize) and the rod to break. That IMHO would likely be the real cause of the failure. It would also be a very painful lesson to monitor your oil level.

I’m not a fan of dealerships, but if my suspicion is correct than IMHO they’re morally right to deny warranty, because the failure was caused by neglect.

Please post back. I’m not trying to be judgmental here, only use the situation as a teaching opportunity so it doesn’t happen to you again. I do care. Besides, if I’m wrong I’d like to know that too.


#6

Agree with others, unfortunately. Throwing a rod at 30k is extremely rare and most likely the result of lack of sufficient oil.


#7

An old story retold; I rebuilt a 302 Ford engine for a never before seen lady who paid the bill and was not heard from for more than a year. One day the lady calls and is irate that the engine was leaking oil. To refresh my memory I found my copy of the invoice and found it dated more than a year earlier. She dropped the car off and was quite hostile. The engine showed no signs of leaking and the dipstick indicated the engine was full and the oil was quite clear. I phoned the owner and asked where she had seen the oil leaking out and although she had never seen a leak the fact that the oil light came in while she was driving and the quick change shop she drove to told her there was “no oil” in the engine, therefore she was certain that it had leaked out. The car had been driven more than 14,000 miles without the hood being opened and when pushed the engine had the tell-tale “rod knock.”

What oil company had the commercial with a mechanic holding a dirty engine part and saying “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later?”


#8

Fram oil filters.

Tester


#9

Once again, I am going against the grain here. This is theoretical though and without seeing the actual damage, I could be wrong.

IF an inspection of the rod bearing of the broken rod does not show any evidence of oil starvation or damage due to badly contaminated oil, then the broken rod could have been due to a casting defect. It happens, very rare but it does happen.

But, you did fail to maintain the vehicle properly so you are fighting an uphill battle. You have to make a choice here, will it be cheaper to pay for a new engine or hire a lawyer. Lawyers don’t come cheap so even if you win, it still might cost you more in the long run.

To win, you would have to get the broken rod and crankshaft, have it examined by an independent third party expert that determines that the bearing did not seize. I forget the name of the law that covers auto warrantees, but it requires that to decline warrantee coverage, the manufacturer must prove that whatever they are claiming voids the warrantee is the direct cause of the failure.

If all the ducks don’t fall perfectly in line, you will lose your case.


#10

I would also know how often the OP checked his oil, and also how much time elapsed during those 16k miles.

In any event, the OP should think of this in legal terms–as the car manufacturer does.
The warranty is essentially a contract, and if you uphold your part of the contract by performing maintenance at least as often as the maintenance schedule specifies, the mfr will uphold their part of the contract by performing free repairs during the period of the warranty.

By failing to uphold his part of the contract (maintenance), the OP has voided the contract (warranty), and the mfr has every legal right to refuse to cover the repairs.

Yes, the mfr could choose to cover those repairs but…why should they?


#11

"Once again, I am going against the grain here. This is theoretical though and without seeing the actual damage, I could be wrong."

Well…in theory you might be right but in practice I think you’re wrong here. A rod with a manufacturing defect would not go 30K trouble free miles in my opinion. If it did…it would have to be a very tiny defect.


#12

A rod with a defect could go 30k miles, even longer before failure.


#13

Missing one oil change is not a minor event when the drain interval is 7500 miles…I would say 7500 miles is the absolute upper safe mileage limit for your car…So…By 16,000 miles, what oil remained in the engine was unable to properly lubricate the engine…If they bother to tear down the engine, I expect the damage will be extensive. Not repairable. You are looking at a new, factory, “short-block”…But wait, overhead cams…Make that a new factory LONG block, the complete engine…

As others have voiced concern over, how often do you CHECK the oil and did you add any during this 16,000 mile period? Very few car engines can go 16,000 miles without needing a quart or two of oil. Especially Subaru engines…


#14
I missed one oil change (scheduled every 7500 miles) meaning it went 16k without one.

So really you missed 2 oil changes, sorry but I have to agree with the others that Subaru has every right to deny any warranty claims.


#15

Just to be clear here, I agree that due to the extended oil change interval, this engine was doomed to a much shorter service life. I don’t think the lack of oil is what caused a rod to break. Rods are pretty robust and are usually the last thing to break, not the first.

Because of the poor maintenance, I don’t really think the OP deserves a new engine for free, but unless Subaru can prove that the broken rod was oil related, they should at least do the absolute minimum to get the engine running again. Then, in another 10k or so, when the engine starts smoking like an old coal fired powerplant, he can buy a new engine for it, and maybe take better care of it in the future.


#16

This is slightly off topic, but here’s an example of a longer recommended oil change interval (7500) indirectly contributing to a major engine problem. If the recommended interval had been shorter (say 3000-5000 miles), missing one or two oil changes might not have resulted in a ruined engine.


#17

@keith “Because of the poor maintenance, I don’t really think the OP deserves a new engine for free, but unless Subaru can prove that the broken rod was oil related, they should at least do the absolute minimum to get the engine running again.”

That’d be nice of Subaru, but once the OP did what he did, all bets are off. We’ve heard nothing about oil level, which is key here. It’s the OP’s obligation to prove it was not caused by the failed maintenance. Subaru doesn’t have prove a thing.

And they’re not about to do the ‘bare minimum’, once they touch the engine they’ve opened themselves up for a world of problems.


#18

@jesmed–I don’t think that it is off-topic at all!

And, like Caddyman, I would consider 7,500 miles to be the absolute upper limit for oil changes.
Personally, I change my oil in my Subaru every 4,000 miles (and I only need to add 1/2 qt during that interval), which usually takes me ~4 months.

My suspicions–which I doubt will be either confirmed or denied by the OP–are as follows:

The dipstick was rarely checked during the…maybe 1 year period…that it took to accumulate 16k miles
In addition to the oil being “stressed” from that many miles, it was very low at the time that it threw that rod.

While it is a very expensive lesson for him, I think that the OP should take this incident as a learning experience that will–hopefully–improve both his sense of personal responsibility and his attitude toward car maintenance.


#19

“I don’t think the lack of oil is what caused a rod to break. Rods are pretty robust and are usually the last thing to break, not the first.”

???

Rods are usually the first thing to break when an engine is run out of oil. Either it locks up or breaks a rod. Seems to me a more correct statement would be “Rods are pretty robust and usually don’t break unless the engine is run out of oil.”


#20

I agree with jesmed.
And when you think about the stresses that rods are subjected to, especially if the rod bearing seizes, it should be no wonder. The crankshaft then tries to force it sideways while the piston tries to force it down from the top. Or, alternately, the crankshaft tries to force it sideways while the rod is trying to reverse the direction of a flying piston.