Engine Oil Consumption Problems

From all the responses I have received about consumers complaining about their new Subaru’s consuming too much oil I thought that I would take a moment respond. Yes Subaru currently has an oil consumption issue with some of their vehicles and I am sure that Subaru will correct the problem eventually. I think that  the issue may be so broadly spread that they simply are unable to fix all the cars quickly as every

Subaru in for service

Subaru in for service

one would like. Honda has a similar issue with some of their vehicles,but only with engines that have higher mileage. What’s happening with Honda is the piston rings are sticking in the ring lands due to carbon build up. With the affected vehicles Honda is replacing the Pistons and rings with improved Pistons &  rings.

Let’s for a moment set aside the issue of these oil thirsty vehicles. Let’s just assume that’s there is no oil consumption problem here.I want share my thoughts on a few things that you should be aware of. First off I think that a 7500 mile oil and filter change interval is a bit too long. Yes you can do this with synthetic oil but many people do not realize that and oil filter will stop doing its job around five thousand miles. It can be even less mileage than that with a lower quality oil filter.  Many manufacturers suggest replacing the oil filter at around 5 thousand miles and top off the oil as needed. Okay who’s going to do that? Combine this with a dirty air filter and you can assure that your engine will experience a shorter life. Let’s assume that you are changing your oil every 7500 miles. Who is checking your cars air filter, you? Who is checking the other vital fluids in your car or suspension components during these long service intervals?

When someone asks me how they should service their vehicle I suggest that they maintain their car under “severe” conditions. With most vehicles this is spelled out for you in your owners manual or a separate service maintenance booklet. There is no doubt that the cars of today are engineered much better and we are told that maintenance requirements are less and less. I worked as an automotive technician in a dealership atmosphere for 20 years and I have personally witnessed the tug of war between the sales and service departments. Truth is many people base their decision to purchase a vehicle on “cost of ownership.” Lowest cost of ownership wins the sale! The lowest cost of ownership is based on servicing your vehicle under “normal” conditions. If you live in the northeast or any other part of the country or world for that matter that extremes in temperature it’s not considered normal conditions. The other determining factor is you and the way you drive and maintain your vehicle. To follow are what are considered severe conditions.

  • Three or more cold starts per day
  • Frequently drive on trips 10 miles or less.
  • Periodically get stuck in stop and go traffic or primarily drive in the city.
  • Drive in dusty conditions or is your vehicle ever subjected to temperatures above 90 degrees or below zero.
  • Drive with heavy loads.
  • Drive in the mountains.
  • Jack rabbit acceleration and rapid stopping.

So the moral to this story is , service your vehicle based on the way you drive. Not based on how the manufacture thinks you should drive. Take care of your car and it will continue take where you need to be.


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