All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Some Thoughts On Oil change Intervals And Your Subaru


We see all to often deal with the financial devastation incurred by a driver due  to an engine failure brought on by lack of oil changes and low oil levels. The average driver does not check their own oil anymore.

The  advice of manufactures to stretch out oil change intervals is dangerous when not adding to that statement that you must check your oil in between oil changes more frequently than not if you are going to have a go at 7k oil changes especially as the car ages.  If you are going to stretch out your oil changes please at least check your oil bi- weekly after 3,000 miles and add accordingly. Older models should have the oil level checked before the 3k mark and oil added as needed.

No one, and I mean no one is going to go to bat for you if your engine fails a as a result of lack of lubrication brought on by low oil levels.  Subaru will not honor a warranty if the engine  is found to be low on oil upon arrival, or if failure was determined to be brought on by lack of lubrication.

It has and always will be my suggestion to maintain your Subaru based on how you use it, in some cases that is every 3k, for some every 5k, for others every 7k for oil change intervals, but if you fall into the need to change every 3 or 4k and think 7k fits the bill you are gambling at best with the longevity of your engine.

The newer Subaru models have larger oil filters and require synthetic oil, in those cases 7k may be the right mileage.

Thanks for reading



11 Responses

  1. Hi Justin,

    Thanks for all the great advice. I love your honest and experienced based insights.

    I have a 2013 Subaru Impreza Base Hatchback, auto with a FB20 2.0L (non-turbo) engine with only 15,000 miles. I drive less than 6,000 miles a year. Is it ok to change the oil and filter just once a year or at the 6,000 mile mark? I would still check the oil level in between oil changes at the 3,000 mile mark and every month to ensure it doesn’t get low. With my annual mileage so low and use of synthetic oil, I’m thinking I’m wasting the oil and filter (and money) if I change it every 6 months at 3,000 miles.


    1. Hello Doug,

      That is always tough to accurately answer, if you live in a mild climate you will probably be okay, however if it gets really cold or really hot where you live I would bump it to starting the Summer and winter out with fresh oil.

      Hope that helps, sorry for the delay in responding, sometimes the comments end up in Spam


  2. Hi Justin,

    I just bought a new 2015 Outback, 3.6L engine. The manufacture date on it is 07/2014, and it had about 750 km (< 500 miles) in test drives on it when I bought it last week (12/2015). According to the dealership, the oil has not been changed on it yet. When I pointed out that it was far beyond the 6-month interval,they said that the new synthetic oils are good indefinitely (they don't break down due to seasonal temperature changes), and that oil change intervals are only based on distance logged now.

    Is this true for the newer synthetic oils or for newer engines? Should I change the oil anyway? I had already been planning on changing it every spring and fall, based on your articles about the head gaskets wearing out due to oil contamination.

    Any advice is appreciated, and thanks for this blog!

    1. Hello Kyra,

      Sorry for the Delay, this is a very busy time of yea for us.

      The 3.6l still uses 5w30, and not full synthetic. So I guess I am not sure where that info is coming from?

      Ill try to post the current oil info for the 2014-2015 models this week, if time allows.


  3. Justin,

    Could you give your thoughts/recommendations on synthetic oils? I have 1997 and 2005 Outbacks, a Ford, Saturn, and various small engines all over the place. My dream would be to find one type of year-round synthetic oil to use in all engines (excluding motorcycles). I do my own work and came across your site while looking for info on the head gasket updates for the ’97. I appreciate your comprehensive knowledge and would consider your opinion of great value.
    Thank you,
    Greg W.

    1. Hello Greg,

      I like Motul above anything else synthetic, its not as easy to obtain as the brands at the parts retailers, ill point out however.

      This is what we will run in the builds we do,as well as just standard oil changes for those that want the best protection, we have found it to really work well in the Subaru engines.

      Hope hat helps


  4. I have an 08 Forrester which is driven 5-6K miles annually. I mostly drive short distances (severe conditions) so I change my oil based on months (3.75) even though I may only have 1.5K on the odometer. I’m wondering about the other recommended maintenance schedules in the manual. Typically, I reach the time interval twice as fast as the distance interval. I have been using the distance intervals do date. Do you think this is a good stradegy? Thanks for your help! Great website, btw.


  5. You mentioned, newer models have larger oil filters. Could you specify which model on? I have a 2003 Subaru forester

  6. I have always used synthetic in my 2k9 Limited Outback since the first 300 mile change. I always have used either 5w-40 synthetic Pennzoil Platinum European or 5w-40 Rotella T6 synthetic. I drive over 100 miles a day and she still runs like a clock!! Synthetic in these small engines to me is essential! I also use synthetic media oil filters for better filtration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *