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Subaru oil filters and coolant

I have a 2003 Subaru Outback with 97,000 miles and have always used a national chain for quick and cheap oil changes and radiator flush and refills with coolant. At my last trip to the dealer for a 90,000 mile service he tells me I must use Subaru oil filters and Subaru coolant in my radiator,as both are specially designed for the aluminum engine and aluminum core radiator in Subarus. Is he just touting for more service business now that car sales are down? Or is there somthing to his claims? Thanks.

You do NOT have to use Subaru filters or coolant. Subaru doesn’t make their own filter…It’s made for them by one of the major filter manufacturers (fram, purolator, Wixs, Denso). All dealers try to pull that crap. They try to scare you into buying ONLY their products.

Now as for using a national chain for oil changes…you’ll be far better off finding a good local mechanic for oil changes and coolant changes. I’ll bet there are close to 100 complaints in this forum about those places.

While the service advisor is not absolutely correct about the filters or the coolant, if he can get you to stop using Quick Lube places for service, he will be doing you a GIANT favor.

Quick Lube places are known mostly for major screw-ups that destroy engines, transmissions, brake hydraulic systems, power steering systems, and cooling systems, as well as not being reasonably-priced for their slip-shod work. Also, Quick Lube places use very cheaply-made oil filters, whereas the dealership will use the OEM filters which are of much higher quality. For that matter, you would also get good quality filters at virtually all independent mechanic’s shops.

Go to either the dealership or a well-reputed independent mechanic for maintenance, and try to wean yourself away from Quicky Lube before they make a major mistake at your expense.

read your owner’s manual on the coolant spec – ethylene glycol is what I read, which is nothing special and covers nearly every coolant on the market. Any quality oil filter works, and I have proven it (Fram, Wix, Purolator, and some “off brands”, to name a few. What I read was “highly recommended”, which falls in line with his and Subaru’s ability to stay within the law and legislation, as well as make a profit.

Next time, ask the dealer since he or Subaru “requires” Subaru oil filters, you are looking forward to a lifetime supply of them, free, per the Moss-Magnuson Act, and see his reaction.

Big difference between equivalent specs and an absolute requirement under this legislation.

On the quickie lube question, I have used several chains and Walmart. Quality of service varies according to store and dept manager, so you very much need to learn about their operations and see how the place works out. I restarted doing my own oil changes because the time it takes to leave the car to my trusted mechanic (nearly all day, even for oil changes) is unacceptable in my world. I have also found that the smaller quick lubes locally owned tend to be more detail oriented than others.

To be fair, we have also seen dealership oil changes turn south when the tech forgets to put in new oil.

The only requirement and I would head it is use Subaru Coolant Conditioner. It is inexpensive and in small amounts and can be added into your system after a coolant change of any brand that meets Subaru spec.

You do not have to use Subaru branded filters and coolant. When you have discussions with the dealer you’re usually conversing with a service writer or manager.
Very, very few of these people have much mechanical ability and there’s a distinct possibility that when one of them touts something like this they may genuinely believe the Subaru branded items are better. It’s not fraud but just ignorance of the subject.

Given the fact you’ve been using a quick lube facility I would state one thing about filters. Some facilities use what I call “white box” filters, which may or may not be in a white box. They may be in a yellow box or whatever but they’re noticeable because they may not have a brand name printed on the box. There may be an ID number to determine application, etc.

Shops receive flyers in the mail from importers who peddle some inferior Taiwanese, etc. products on the cheap by mail order and it’s likely that some of these filters are being purchased for as little as a buck. Increases the profit margin a bit.

In my opinion these filters are of very dubious quality and I would not use them on anything as I’ve seen several cases of an inferior element inside the filter starting to disentegrate. Odds are there won’t be a problem but why risk an engine to save a few bucks?
If the quick lube is using a branded filter (Purolator, etc.) then no problem.

You should stay away from cheap coolant that contains a lot of silicates or phosphate. You should use an OAT or HOAT coolant. This makes for interesting reading: