Asked by May 26, 2015 at 10:07 PM about the 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

There's been numerous articles written on the myth of changing your oil at 3,000 miles.
The owner's manual  says change your oil at 7,500 miles or 7.5 months?
What if you don't put that many miles on your car?  With synthetic oil,   articles abound
about changing it at least once per year.   Would you do this?

38 Answers


yes you can change it and the most important thing is just for YOU to be checking your oil always

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Yes, I heard that Subaru boxer engines have been known to use more oil than other engines, but, I have not experienced that with my 2010 Outback. Guess I'm lucky, I've seen many posts on this forum from people with the newer FB series engine from 2013 who have complained about higher than normal oil consumption. My engine is the old EJ25 series, phase 2. I'm using synthetic 5-30 oil as stated in the owner's manual and check it pretty regularly.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Someone told me that every 5,000 miles is a great idea or at least once per year for synthetic, which doesn't break down as easily as conventional oil.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

If you like my response please hit my helpful link! Do you live in a humid environment seasonal monsoon rains? Change often 5k miles or every year! Why oil (dino) is hydroscopic which means it absorbs water! Breakdown is acclerated and attacks metal by not protecting it when car has not been run in several days! Do you live or drive in a dusty environment or drive dirt roads then change dino every 3k miles or 6 months! Time is as evil as miles because the engine is not air tight and contaminants will get into the oil !! How do you drive? Hard-fast? Short trips under 30 miles? Change more frequently! A good rule of thumb - check with clean paper towel every 500-1000 miles is it clear then OK ! Starting to turn black ( Diesels excluded) when the oil turns black time to change on a gas engine!! Sludge is your enemy! Black plus maximum miles OR TIME change it! Urban driving can go up to a year TIME Synthetic can go double HOWEVER YOU MUST WATCH IT ! If your serious about oil you can also send a sample out and labs can do an analysis to tell you exactly what is going on! If this is useful please click my link

25 out of 25 people think this is helpful.

BTW CONSUMER REPORTS OIL CHECK ON TAXIS IN NEW YORK city (urban driving) went 7500 miles between changes in stop go traffic and had minimal wear on the engine at 100k ! Hard driving clean environment ( realtively speaking) so yes you can go further! Put the best oil you can afford and watch the oil. Remember oil does expire over TIME, Good luck PAPA

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.

Well, I had my oil changed today; its been about 7 1/2 months, but only 2,000 miles. I use synthetic 5-30 oil and our car is mostly used on longer trips with some occasional city trips of varying length. I can see how using your car as a taxi above could add a lot of stress to the engine similarly to stop and go traffic commuting to work. Yes, synthetic is worth the extra money in the long run and you can and should switch anytime. It's an old myth that you cannot start synthetic oil unless you started from day one, that's bunk! If you have a Subaru, it's a always desirable to check your oil every fill up. Seems like a lot of people who own WRX STI cars love to rev their engines and race their cars. They're fast, that's why they purchased those cars. Just remember to check your oil. Those of us with a little gray hair, driving more sedate Outbacks and other sedans with automatic transmission are less likely to have this problem, but, its always wise to pay to this.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

So true you can switch between dino and syntheti at any time! That is what sythetic or multi blend is! A combination of the two oils!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

NO, they're not the same and please don't cause confusion. If you look up the definition of "dino oils ", you'll find many posts by mechanics, with plenty of stories saying that using this oil will mean that you're more likely to need an engine over haul in 3 to 5 years. So, my advice is stay away from "dino oil ". When you change over from conventional to synthetic oil like Mobil One for example, they're may be a small residual amount of conventional oil in the systems, but, as you change again and keep using the synthetic oil, the old conventional oil will dissipate. And, in case you are wondering, if you're in a pinch and need to mix an occasional quart especially if you are on the road, no problem, go ahead and do it. For a complete definition of "Dino Oils ", see this link below.


Mark, you're completely off base here! Subarus non-turbos MUCH prefer dino oil, and are sensitive to bleeding out and consumming thinner lubricants...especially synths. Subie joined the crowd suggesting 5w20 many tears ago to try to squeeze a round-up of EPA fuel eco specs to +1 mpg. Same with the current 0w20 bullshit. Dealerships are filled with "new" Subies showing up for first oil changes at 7.5k with DRY engines! It's a horror show. I strongly suggest use of 10w40 dino year round for cold or temperate climates, or even 20w50 for summer time with older motors that might be bleeding or suffering high consumption. We Subie mechanics have been hearing stories for MANY years about problems consequent the use of synths. Thus Subarus are much more sensitive to sufficient viscosity than to high temp coking (except "blown" motors). Old Mobil1 or Castrol GTX 15w50 is certainly okay, but not those super-skinny 0-5w ones...ESPECIALLY synths! Remember that clean oild get beat up by contaminants as a function of cold starts...NOT isothermal constant running. So I've made it a habit for years to suggest that clinets put oil changes on a calendar, changing it every 3 months...or 100 cold starts...and of course to check level weekly or monthly, as consumption warrants. Same with coolant level checks on older Subies.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

37,000 miles on a 14 outback and we have been confused. This last comment by a mechanic is right on. we had the low oil light come on after 14500 and the oil,0/20 syn,was very dirty. Lately we are doing 5000 on synthetic. I would like to go with 10/40 dino but what about warranty , bought it new.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Don't worry. I'd switch to 10w40 dino anytime, hanging it 4x/yr or every 5k, checking level monthly. NO ONE will know whether you've used synth or not, so your warranty cannot possibly be affected. What's critically important in Subie's all aluminum motors is to keep them adequately lubed to not OVERHEAT. In a warmer climate they'll even prefer 20w50, although I tend to reserve that old summer spec for bleeders in old age.In short, synth will do NOTHING for you except be consumed more rapidly. The problems re contamination have to do with venting, condensation, and filtration, for which stock base is immaterial. You'll be ok.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

And yes, blends ARE blends. There's no magic here....


No comment, read this link below, use this at your peril. change-keene-nh.htm


Subaru of America specifies synthetic oil in all of their cars from 2011 forward. If you think you know more than the manufacturer of the product, go for it. Don't come back later and say you've blown up your car because you couldn't follow directions. Here's the wikipedia page on synthetic oil. And synthetic oil is better . Sorry.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

The owner of Subaru of Keene (and other dealerships in his TVK group) is a friend of mine, from whom I've often bought fresh trades. He'll get a chuckle out of your diatribe.... We ALL know that Subie prescribed 0-20W synth just to print extended change intervals AND to try to squeeze that rounding-up of EPA fuel eco. It's simply blown up in their face.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Subaru of Keene says to use synthentic oil.


A Subaru franchised dealer repeats what the parent company states. How novel....


WOW Ernie, you really are amazing....I've talked to my own personal mechanic and Subaru of America..... they are all in agreement except YOU that synthetic oil is the way to go on these's written in the owners manual, etc... Hmm,. you have given good advice on the forum and I'd like to think you're right on some of these things, but, no not in this case,. I'm going to have to go with the company advice on this one... Yeah, go ahead and use any oil viscosity or additives you like.... I'm sticking with the owners manual advice... next you'll be advocating STP (LOL).

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Ernie, see this you tube video, again, I always recommend following the manufacturers recommendations, and change your oil at time and or mileage intervals whichever comes first... Once every 6 months or mileage..... See this

ok have a 2014 outback and the recommended 0-20 synth recommended is mobile 1 at the Spokane dealership they changed my oil to real oil. I got slightly lower fuel mileage and it looked dirty fast. so I have changed it out myself and used the 0-20 syn recommended and 2 to 4 miles per gallon better. and it stays clean up to 7k [often change sooner] this is a daily mountain/lake road driver and its better on synthetic - before I didnt believe this, but do know that synthetics better. *you are free to try what you like, but watch that oil level and keep it clean :D


The owner of Subaru of Keene is a friend of mine: Billy laughed when I related this story.


Les, there's no way a thinner engine lube can increase efficiency the 10% you claim. Skinnier (5w) oils became recommended tears ago to try to raise measured mpg 0.1 so that up-rounding might garner an extra mpg on the sticker. Synthetic oils can last "longer" ONLY if filtered properly, which is the limitation of the landscape. They only protect "better" at very high temperatures, so are recommended especially for turbos and superchargers. Perhaps the worst misnomer here is that oil "wears out" with mileage; nothing can be further from the truth: it's all about contamination and temperature extremes. Enough of this nonsense....

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

yup you dealer boy might laugh at my story. perhaps he is a good dealer and has a good service shop. However Subaru of Spokane did NOT service my car as it should have been and I also had to clean up their little oil spill and go wash my car again as they missed a few places. [oops] my old dealers service dept has changed hands since my first Subaru purchase and I miss their good and correct service. as for the mileage part of my post - that came as a surprise to me also. but it is accurate. Even though I too hold to and know that regular oil does not break down for over 40,000 miles, but it does get dirty. All lubes get dirty, that is why I change more often as the new standard Subaru filter setup/system is not [in my opinion] adequate. the current tiny filter being placed on top - at the highest point in the lubrication system in an upright position just will not catch and hold particulates as well as a better filter in the down position will catch and hold. but the new filter is up there easy to change. the other flaw in the new Subaru is they do NOT have an emergency brake. the outback has an electric [will fail] parking brake, but No true manual brake that can be used in an emergency.


Les, Yeah, they traded electrical modernization for old stretched-cable adjustments. I prefer the latter too. Interesting thoughts on filter placement; regardless of location affecting efficiency, cheap filter manufacturers won't use lots of fine filter media, as we're both aware. I've always liked larger filters, but that may be just placebo effect, as it's the media pore size and geometry that matter. I tiny filter can work great...but of course clog sooner than a larger clone. People ask me if it's important to change their oil filter each time they replace their oil. The best answer of course is that "it depends": if the replaced oil and filter aren't too dirty there's no harm; if the load is old mud then better to change the filter so as to not recontaminate fresh oil nor risk running a clogged in useless bypass. Using old oil color as a rough gauge is useful in a pinch. Are you aware of any filter manufacturer who uses finer filter media? And I don't mean the silliness inherent in pricier Frams that become arithmetically identical to their cheapies after the first few fluid passes....

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I'll still use 5w30 synth in all '12+ Imps, '10+ Legs and '13-14 OBs that I purchase and service for clients. I'm much too wary of thin 20w in the summer; and given the '13+ 2.5i possible consumption issues, I can't imagine flying with the increased risk of high consumption of the 0w20 skinny stuff. What a fiasco....


I disagree with the comment regarding changing your oil filter.....I think it SHOULD be changed every time.. Now much do you think you're saving here? Really??

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

That's "how much" are you saving????


Mork, how many times have YOU crawled under your car and unscrewed a very hot oil filter and tried to have hot oil dribble down your bare arm...or burn yourself on nearby exhaust pipes? Try it even once...then maybe you'll understand that it's not the filter's cost that often matters.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Ernie, I don't work on my cars, ever! I have all the work professionally done. While I don't spend money on unnecessary repairs, I get everything fixed on my cars as they age... And, when I determine its time to replace the car as was the case with my Honda Accord, I sell the vehicle in fine working order for top dollar. I had at least five people who wanted to purchase my 20 year old car, yes, it was in remarkable condition inside and out.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

The late-model Subaru manuals require 3,000 mile oil changes if you drive in wet or severe conditions...such as in the northeast. Failing to do so may void your warranty coverage if you have a problem. So will doing the work yourself. Or using oil other than what the dealer sells you. You can ignore what the manual requires...but you do so at your own peril if you have an oil-related problem, even if still under warranty. I beleive this is one reason why people are having second thoughts about buying Subarus...the warranty is so strict that it's easy for the company not to honor it. Good for them, not so good for owners.


Oil breaks down due to heat and/or contamination. Period. "Wet...conditions" don't affect a change cycle. Neither changing oil "yourself" nor using other than "what the dealer sells you" void the factory warranty. I've never heard of ANYONE bypassing Subies because of warranty strictness...until now. You may be conflating general recommendations and special oil consumption monitoring TSB procedures. The new ones want skinny synth, the old ones thicker dino. Again, wasting $$ on synth on older ones invites seepage and consumption; new ones run fine on 5w20-30 synth, and may reduce consumption compared to the OE rec 0w20. Don't get obsessive about this.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

It doesn't matter what you or I think is the right answer for maintenance, all that matters is what the owner's manual says, what the warranty allows and what the dealer thinks about it all. Colorful opinions don't change that fact and the interpretation of circumstances, damages incurred and a dealer assessment of the maintenance you've done is all that stands between you and a potentially huge repair bill. If you haven't yet read your maintenance specs and manual I highly recommend it. Or you can simply do as you please and cross your fingers, it's your choice. Are the maintenance restrictions fair? Do they always make sense? Not really. But it is what it is, and it's the reason why car manufacturers can refuse coverage if you don't comply. Go ahead and maintain the crap out of your vehicle the way you 'think' it should be done, there are no maintenance police. But understand that you do so at your own 'Sorry, but you voided your warranty by not following the guidelines and we don't cover that' risk.


You're being hyperbolic. As well, recently passed laws preclude warranty denial unless actual abuse or alteration of OE equipment occurs. Buying Mobil 1 at elevated prices from a dealer is indicative of unnecessary consumer paranoia. Subaru's a tight ass re goodwill offerings and dodging bullets, but not to the extent that you suggest re lubrication monitoring nor forced dealer services. Thoroughly illegal in Mass, for example.


To wit: Magnuson-Moss Act et al.

'Recently passed laws', you have no idea how easy it is to bypass, misinterpret or cast dispersion on most any legal citation. The manufacturers know exactly what they can get away with. Feel free to ignore what the fine print says, it's a free country. And best of luck in court.


Dishonest dealers can be bypassed too.

F-O-R, it's not that dealers are necessarily dishonest, at least not any more than any other average dealer is, lol. The point is, the maintenance language is written to give dealers a coverage 'out' if you don't abide by it. For example, if you live in NH (cold winters) and do 6,000 miles between oil changes you might be fine, or you might have an oil-related breakdown (run out of oil, head gasket problem, etc.) that requires expensive repairs. The manual says that winter driving qualifies as 'severe conditions', This triggers (again, per the manual) the need for 3,000 mile oil changes. So technically you are in violation of what the manual requires for your driving situation. How hard do you think it would be for Subaru to say you aren't covered under the warranty when it's manual language clearly says you didn't follow the necessary maintenance procedure? When it comes to warranty coverage it doesn't matter what you think is reasonable. It only matters what Subaru/the dealer thinks is reasonable. That's not much to hang your hat on. Unless of course you are good friends with the dealer manager, lol. Beware the fine print, and don't assume your covered just because you think you should be.


The Subaru dealer I had to deal with on my oil consumption issue was totally dishonest and incompetent too. I finally got a good engine by bypassing the local dealer and went to another one in another city. Unless you can point to an instance of SOA denying warranty coverage because someone went over 3.000 miles on an oil change in the winter you are blowing smoke.

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