Please help...No oil/blown motor; rebuilt or repair?


Asked by Jan 30, 2016 at 07:21 PM about the 2012 Subaru Outback

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Hi- I have an outback that had a oil plug improperly installed; the engine
was driven (unknowingly without oil for a few miles) until the oil light came
on. Within a minute the car stopped running and all the lights had come on.  
There was smoke coming out from under the hood, and the car had to be
towed. The mechanic said the 1st cam had locked because it ran out of oil
first, but that all that needed replaced was that and the cylinder head. I'm
concerned about damage from the engine running so hot and wondering if
it needs a rebuilt motor. Any advice?

16 Answers


I would just replace the engine, the only to tell for sure how much damage was done it to totally tear it down and if it is too far gone then you have wasted time and money as it will have to be put back together for a core charge on the replacement engine. And don't short cut it, have the radiator rodded out or even replaced and do all of the hoses, belts, etc.

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When an engine runs out of oil it is all or nothing. Either a TOTAL rebuild or scrap it. Since your car is fairly new you probably can find a low mile used engine for it but it is probably worth buying a complete crate engine. NOTE - Subaru does not sell crate motors, they sell a short block and all the components to finish it out but not a complete engine for some strange reason.

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I cannot vouch for these guys but you might want to check them out ---


Ok; there's a bit more information that I probably need to reveal. The dealership I took it to for service were the ones who flubbed up the oil plug. They originally said they were putting a rebuilt Subaru motor in the vehicle with an additional 36,000 mile warranty. When we went to pick up the car, the man said that they didn't replace the motor after all; just the parts mentioned in my first post. He claims the mechanic said those were the only damaged parts. This was also the first time that he had ever mentioned they weren't doing a re-manufactured engine. Now I am very concerned that they screwed us over- the car is still under warranty, but I think this has compromised it. What do you think? Thank you for your answers that I already have.


This is sticky indeed. You mentioned "running so hot", but that you only rode it "a few miles". So without seeing it I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand if it's running fine now (and doesn't consume nor leak oil in the moderate term), then maybe accepting the repair WITH A VERY LONG EXTENDED SUBIE WARRANTY IN WRITING is not unreasonable...and maybe you're only recourse. OTOH if indeed overheated from oil starvation usually the block is ruined, and an entire motor is needed. You didn't mention mileage (I only ask wrt Subie's 5yr/60k factory warranty, to see if adding 36k is prudent and/or sufficient. It'd be nice to get an additional full 60k...or to a total of 100k if under 60k now...but you may have to play poker with SOA at 1-800-Subaru3. Good luck. Ern

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A few miles was about 15 miles. Then the oil light came on, and before we could find a place to pull over (on an icy back country road) all the lights came on and the car had died. This car only had 35,000 miles on it. He is saying the originally warranty covers it still. I feel we were hosed and that we brought in a good car, and now have a less than good car due to their negligence. I had already contacted Subaru corporate and all they told me was that they had no control over what their dealerships do to make things right. Wow- awesome customer service, eh? No offense SubaruGuruBoston....I know there are some good Subaru guys are out.


out there (what it's supposed to say).


None taken, SH. We indies have been pulling our collected white hair (what's left) out arguing with SOA for decades. However, I DO agree that the individual Subaru Dealer should step to the plate and offer you an extended warranty that they purchase and give to you gratis. That should only cost them about $500 and get you to 100k. That would seem fair. I'd even get a lawyer to write the letter for $75 to nudge 'em along....

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What dealer was this? That sounds like the dealer that TOTALED the new engine in my new Subaru.


If Corporate Subaru told you that they have no control over dealership work then they are LYING. A Subaru dealer ruined my new engine (scored cylinders, oil pump, bearings etc, etc. ) and I got an actual new engine out of the deal as well as compensation over the HELL this dealer put me through. I also got a 100,000 mile extended warranty but I did have to play hard ball with the corporate guys.

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That's exactly the problem: each "warranty" request ends up being a "goodwill" poker game based upon too many silly factors, among which how "juicy" one was with overpriced routine service at that dealership. Nothing new, and a sorry state of affairs.


I did not make head way until I got the senior rep for the west coast on my case. The peons are not authorized to do anything other than arrange loaner cars and to write sympathetic but non-committal emails.

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What finally resolved the problem was me finding a competent service manager at another dealership who took the time to listen to me. He was able to pin point the problem over the phone so I contacted Subaru Corporate to authorize a loaner car and diagnosis of my problem at this dealer. Once they had the car, they tore the engine down and confirmed all the problems that I had described which forced Corporate to pay for a new engine. If I did not have a practiced ear which could hear all the sh*t going on inside of my engine, it would have thrown a rod somewhere down the road due to the extensive scoring of the rod bearings and wrist pins.


Oh my gosh, Regrets- you have been through the wringer!!! It is a dealer in southern Idaho. I thought corporate was full of it, too. I have appointments to speak with a couple of lawyers today about what the courses are that I can take. I'm so fed up that I doubt I'll buy another Subaru, even though they are awesome cars. This whole thing has just left a terrible taste in my mouth.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Fortunetly I did not have to go the lawyer route but I did have to make threats to do so. If you can lay out the case clearly enough to Subaru you may get the new engine you deserve. Most likely it will take an expert witness to examine your engine for damage. Maybe Corporate can authorize a full diagnosis at another dealer. If you take it back to the dealer that damaged your engine, they will cover up problems like my old dealer was doing.


I just blew my WRX three days ago and I'm not sure if you are still fighting this but Subaru is replacing my motor with a brand new one (because it is under warranty still) I hope that you have everything resolved if not I would take it to a lawyer honestly they can help get your motor replaced for a new one and at no cost to you.

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