Subaru Oil Change Schedule: Dealer vs. Subaru

I do 3500 miles/oil change, per dealer suggestion for Subaru Outback/2011. Received Subaru magazine which has page saying 7500 miles/change. Last time in dealer said “Well, high altitude (we’re at 5300 feet) so we suggest 3500/change.” Then as I walked away “Well if at 7500 miles, keep your receipts then your warranty remains in force.”

Dealer just getting my $$ and 3500 is necessary, or 7500 is OK?


I split the difference and use 5000 which I find very reasonable. I then have no worry about being caught going on a trip the makes it inconvenient as the manufacture says 7500 is ok. IMHO, unless you used car according to the severe condition use, 3500 miles is a donation to the college fund of the dealer’s kids… Just remember that too, oil change intervals are not time clocks with a self destruction button if you are occasionally a little over.

Almost every car on the planet meets the definition of severe service schedule so there’s no reason to think your car would be an exception. This means more frequent oil changes; especially on turbocharged models.

If you do a net search about engine oil sludge you should be aware that particular problem is caused by oil changes not being performed often enough based on the type of useage and so on that the car sees.

The cut and paste below is from Subaru themselves…

The frequency of scheduled inspection and maintenance services as set forth below is minimal. However, it may be necessary that they be performed more frequently depending on road conditions, weather, atmospheric conditions, vehicle usage and individual driving habits.

OK4450 is right that there are conditions where it may not be suitable to follow Subaru’s 7500 change interval. To make matters worse, some engines have been prone to sludging.

But as oils and engines have gotten better over the years, more and more engines are able to adequately follow the car manufacturers recommendations.

Your dealer’s 3500 mile oil change is just their way of getting more of your money.

I go 5,000.

Me too. I’ve used 5K oil & filter change intervals on all my vehicles for the last 20 years and have had NO oil-related engine problems.

With 7500 intervals, you may experience some sludge problems develop over time. Why risk it? Oil changes don’t cost that much. I do mine myself. The oil and filter, what, they cost about $12 total per change. And to have one done professionally isn’t much more. I saw a coupon for an oil change for $22.50 the other day. 5000 mile intervals is what I use for my Corolla and haven’t had an oil related problem in 200K miles.

I would also recommend a 5K oil change interval. You may get by with a 7.5K interval but then again you may not. Why take the chance with an engine sludge problem?

As was aluded to already, a 7,500 mile interval may be fine–under certain driving conditions.
However, the “severe service” conditions that are listed in your maintenance booklet apply to more vehicles than they don’t apply to.

If you did only highway driving, with no trailer towing, you could well get away with a 7,500 mile interval. However, if you do short-trip local driving, and/or ever drive in dusty conditions, and/or do a lot of idling, and/or drive in extreme temperatures, an interval of 5k is more realistic and far safer for your engine.

One thing to bear in mind is that your Powertain Warranty requires that the tires be rotated at least every 7,500k miles in order to prevent damage to the AWD mechanism. If you go with a 5k oil change interval, then you will need to have the tires rotated at every oil change.

On my Subaru, I rotate my tires every 7,500 miles, and I split the difference with my oil changes. Sometimes I change the oil every 3,750 miles, and sometimes I do one at the 4k interval, followed by a 3.5k interval.

Twice or thrice a year is good enough. But if you’re really good, you may do, twice the twice by quarters or seasons.

IMO the reason the dealer wants you to do more changes is to get you to do the regular scheduled maintenance and to prevent you from going to an independent mechanic shop.

We bought a lifetime oil & tire package for our 08 Prius; Oil changes at 3000 and lifetime tire rotations and tires. It took 3 years for the dealer to modify contract to 5000miles (manual says 7000) and 1 tire change. They still do the rotations and car washes with wax at the changes. At 3000, the oil still had some transparency. Dealer also provides customer dropoff (wife’s gym) and pickup.

Keeps wifey happy. Wife happy, I’m happy.

Lots of short trips? 3500
Almost all highway? 7500
A mix of the two? 5000