1999 Subaru Forester L 2457 cc, burns oil, no leaks, oil pressure light comes on intermittently regardless of rpm. If oil slightly overfilled light goes out.

Asked by May 17, 2015 at 11:12 AM about the 1999 Subaru Forester L

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

The car has had a lot of work done on it, valves, timing belt, new suspension, new fuel
lines rustproofing and undercoating. 2457 cc engine, 220,000 miles, and it drives

The only problems are burning oil (not leakage) and the oil pressure light comes on
frequently and inexplicably.

The oil pressure light comes on when dipstick shows full. No oil leaks, minimal burning
oil smell, slight blue haze in exhaust when going up hill, but uses about 1 qt of
Valvoline 5w 30 per 1000 miles. If overfilled by about 1/2 quart the light goes out.
Since the valves have been done, I suspect rings. I have read about some additives to
help free and seal them, does anyone have any ideas here?

When starting the oil light takes 20-30 seconds to come on (ignoring initial self test).
When oil is checked about 1 minute after shutting off warm engine it shows level below
minimum although the oil was initially slightly over filled,it takes 5-10 minutes for most
of the oil to drain down to crankcase. This seems excessive. Is it possible that oil
lines are partially blocked restraining drain back?

PCV is very old, but rattles freely. I have ordered a replacement.

Going to try High Milage oil to try and minimize oil burning and in hopes that the extra
additives may clean engine and allow oil to return to the crankcase faster.
Unfortunately, the cleaning action takes time to see if it is working (1 or 2 oil change

Do you have any other ideas, they will be sincerely appreciated, this is a great car,
well worth saving?

8 Answers


OK, when was the last time you had this major work? Valves, timing belt, etc? And, have you ever had transmission work, is this a manual transmission? The car is 16 years old. Do you really want to "save" it? If so, you may have to put a lot more money into this car?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer

I've done the calculations and am interested enough to take the next steps. In answer to your questions, the work was done recently. The car has a smooth functioning auto trans.


Wow, I'm impressed that you're on the original automatic transmission, great! I have more confidence in Subaru's automatic than their manual transmissions. OK, even if you had to rebuild the engine completely, it would still be less expensive than buying a new car. The most expensive thing is acquiring a car and paying it off, many times with interest. Once that's done, the average cost for maintenance on actual repairs is no more than $1,000 per year. Compare that with car payments which usually run $400 per month for five years. That's almost $5,000 per year, every year for five years. It's almost always less expensive to keep and maintain your older car. At some point though you'll want newer safety features and better fuel economy. That's something you can't fix. In the meantime, your car should serve you well. I imagine that you are a proud owner and a member of the Subaru high mileage club. Good luck.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Thank you Mark, Your calculation is very similar to my own. I believe that depending upon the cost of replacement, as long as the average monthly cost of repairs (not tires, oil changes tune ups etc) is under about $200/ month, the car is still a good investment. You are right, there are some "nice to have", and possibly "need to have" features that are simply not available. In my case, a second cup holder tops the list, but seriously, all in all, I think it is both a financially and ecologically sound trade off.


This is one of those things where you might want to ask on NASIOC or SF.org and ask for expert advice. You might have an oil pump issue, clogged passages or something else. You may also want to look on youtube for failing oil subaru forester or similar to find the guy in.. canada? that has researched the spun bearing issues from oil restriction, etc. He also shows where to listen for the noises of this problem before it goes kaboom. I also don't know what mark? mentioned and why his comments are gone/hidden to me but that's interesting. You can also try seafoam in your oil, maybe you have junk in your oil rings and that is where you are losing the oil. The seafoam is amazing. Initial runs with it need to be quick interval changes.. say so many minutes running or so many miles. But you can also leave it in as long as you'd like but the first few times I would change it soon after to get rid of all that junk. jm2c and I wish you well. keep us posted.


I'm suspecting a clogged oil passage.


Rumble, are you having issues with your car?


Replace the oil pressure sender and see what happens.

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