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Sympathy for Blown Engine in Forester

Okay, its a relationship issue about a car. Late model Subaru Foresters (among others of that ilk) have excessive oil consumption, even at low mileage. Expensive synthetic motor oil required. Frequent oil changes are recommended.

My problem is that my Girl Friend has blown her Forester’s engine at 36K miles. Car was low on oil. 7000 miles since the last oil change. “No warning light” !?

We have here, of course, another Lah Dee Dah female driver. And endearing trait. But I digress. More hospitably, there is the potential here for enforcing the Subaru Powertrain Warranty, in which case gf may become happier. Not necessarily happier with me. Just happier. A worthy goal.

The question is, what do I say, if anything, that does not make me just another patronizing, controlling, distrusting chauvinist jerk? O could ignore the entire question of how a low-mileage engine gets blown, But that does seem a bit obtuse and uncaring Maybe this is just an opportunity for her to appreciate car reality through the experience of grief. I will observe from a distance.


As one who changes oil at 5000 miles, not much to say. My wife of 40 years though wanted to know why she couldn’t drive my car. I just told her it wasn’t under warranty anymore.

Good luck, but how does one determine that it was low on oil after being blown. I just checked it when I got gas yesterday and it was fine. 7000 miles is excessive to me but I’ll bet the oil life monitor never said it was time to change oil yet.

The automatic “out” on any warranty claim is Owner Negligence, and since the Owner’s Manual mentions that the oil level should be checked at every gas fill-up, an engine that has been run dry of oil was, by definition…neglected…unless there is evidence of a massive oil leak.

She may want to give it a try, but I doubt if she will be successful in getting a free replacement engine. The best thing that she can do is to learn from the experience so that she does not neglect her next car(s).



Is the best approach to solve this to be publicly slamming your girlfriend for something she either does not know or does not come natural to her?

There are millions, male and female, like her.
She made a simple mistake that she probably feels bad about.
My vote would be to support her as much as you can.

Well you need to do a little research to see if it had a low oil light, and did it go on or not, then what did the oil life monitor say, and what were the circumstanes when it blew and what was the actual damage.

Edited to remain humorless.

“Wll like you need to do a little research to see if it had a low oil light, and like did it go on or not, then like what did the oil life monitor say, and like what were the circumstanes when it blew and like what was the actual damage. Interesting that you an tell the age of a responder by the use of “like”. In one conversation I counted a friend of my son’s use it 15 times.”

While many younger folks are guilty of peppering their speech and their writing with the insertion of many ridiculous and unnecessary additions of “like”, I don’t see this in the OP’s writing. As a result I am having a hard time making sense of your response, Bing.


"what do I say, if anything, that does not make me just another patronizing, controlling, distrusting chauvinist jerk? "

It’s too late. You’ve already “outed” yourself. If you want to not sound like what you describe, you need to not BE what you describe. You cannot fake this.

Relax VDC, it was in a response not the OP and you’re too late, its been edited.

There’s a very good chance she doesn’t want to hear what the real cause of the blown engine actually is. That would be her; not the car.

Warranty can be legitimately denied if records cannot be produced showing regular oil changes. It can also be denied due to customer negligence which in this case is not checking the oil level on a regular basis.

She can hope for a modicum of mercy from Subaru if she is granted a Good Will warranty. However, there is no obligation for Subaru to do this and she should consider this manna from heaven if they do grant it.

Also, running an engine out of oil or abusing a car in any one of a countless number of ways is not proprietary to the female sex. Many men are guilty of the same practices.

While I agree with the lack of care, the car only had 36K on it so I can’t believe that at 7000 miles it would have been beyond or much over what would have been recommended as an oil change frequency. Secondly, it would be highly unusual for a new car to use that much oil between changes. Something definately was not right for it to either burn or leak the oil out. So the arguement would be that the lack of oil was from a defect and the cause, not the failure to check it. Then I’m not sure why she would ever admit to not checking the oil so the burden would be on them. The only new car we ever had that burned oil was a Volarie and that engine had to be totally torn down and overhauled anyway. I think the boyfriend should not so easily admit abuse.

Just to sum, the manufacturers are telling us you can go 7, 8, 10,000 miles between changes and they want to call that abuse now? And a new car losing that much oil indicates a problem out of the normal expectations of a new car.

Realistically, who cares if the red oil pressure symbol came on? It doesn’t matter anymore.

The facts are simple . . .

The engine blew 7000 miles after an oil change

The engine was admittedly low on oil

Perhaps the best approach is to say you feel bad about the situation she’s in

Do not lecture her about checking the oil level, at least not just yet. It serves no immediate purpose. This is perhaps something you can do further down the road, when the dust has settled. She probably/hopefully feels that she is at least partially to blame

yeah, if they are gonna make the cars hard to service by the buyer, and claim these intervals, which I think are about right actually, then they should expect these problems.

she still needs to check her oil tho…

There is NOTHING you can say that will make things better, and there is an endless list of things you can say that will cause her to be very, very unhappy with you. Being right is absolutely no substitute for the benefits of an intimate friend or spouse. My advice, after 40 plus years of marriage, is “SHUT UP”.

Given the low maintenance expectations that they are trying to sell, what does it take to simply add an oil level monitor? All it takes is a sensor, programming and some wiring. Even my 89 Riviera had an oil level light. It went off at precisely one quart down. Normally it didn’t use any oil but when I developed a pan gasket leak, and used a quart a week, I was happy to have the sensor. Plus it had a low oil pressure shut off. Seems like for $20 they can add these features to protect the masses and themselves.

The problem with an oil level monitor at least with cars such as newer BMW’s is that the manufacturer takes away the dipstick, so you do have to rely on the monitor. I do agree that many drivers don’t expect to have to do much of anything to maintain their cars. A friend of mine failed to check the oil level on her Mazda6 and got the thrill of shopping for a new engine.

And Subaru has now adjusted the oil change frequency for the 2015 models. Every 6,000 miles instead of 7,500 that was recommended for previous years.

Like I said, I had a dipstick in my Riviera and an oil level monitor, and a low oil pressure shut off switch. I really can’t say what my cars have now since they never get a quart low, but just seems like a very low cost/high return thing to do to prevent surprise catastrophic failures.

The manufacturer recommendations are controlled by the marketing department. Here’s a cut and paste about Subaru oil changes…

Severe driving is
Repeated short trips, stop-and-go, extensive idling (basically any urban driving)
Rough, muddy, dusty, wet, humid, cold, mountainous, salty conditions (basically any country or winter driving)
Towing a trailer.

#1: under Severe driving replace ever 3,750 miles. Turbos must have the synthetic oil service done at least every 3,750 miles or 3 3/4 months

More than a few engines develop oil consumption issues at an early age due to not adhering to the above and quite a few of those engines had an early death due to oil sludging, oil coking, or running the engine too low or out of engine oil.

She made a simple mistake that she probably feels bad about.

Um, no, according to the (admittedly secondhand) OP account, she had the opportunity to take ownership, and instead chose to lay blame on a “vast male chauvinist conspiracy” for making vehicles that require a modicum of maintenance.

So, zero sympathy here. OP should allow her to experience the full consequences of her behavior, in the hopes that a sufficiently harsh consequence might precipitate behavior modification.

The OP says the girlfriend is unhappy with the inference she’s not happy with the BF either.
There’s also the comment about “enforcing the Subaru Powertrain warranty” all of which leads me to believe there may be some venom involved and I wonder if there has already been a denial of any warranty coverage.

And the severe driving oil change recommendation is @ 3,000 miles for the 2015 model year