Just purchased a 2016 Outback Ltd 3.6R...do you recommend synthetic oil after the second oil change?

Asked by Jan 14, 2016 at 06:18 PM about the 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

21 Answers


The third oil change should be no problem. New car, isn't the dealer doing the oil changes at first? What are they saying? I would go by the recommendation of what the dealer say.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Subaru recommends synthetic from the beginning. They also recommend the first oil change be at 3,000 miles.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

The car has synthetic oil in it from the factory and they do not recommend break-in oils. Read your owners manual!

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Why are you asking this question? It came delivered with synthetic oil and its required per the owners manual.


Hang on! It's a fair question, given increased oil consumption with skinny (0w20) synths. After break-in (if there is any) I'd go to 5w30 winter and 10w40 summer. But that's my old cherished habit learned from seeing very high synth consumption rates on older motors too.


I am not sure that using 10w-40 in the summer is a good idea at all. Clearances are very tight and you may create problems using heavier oil. A big part of the oil consumption issue is the low tension oil rings that Subaru uses. The 0w-20 oil is too but if your car does not use oil then changing to heavier oil might be a bad idea.


I agree with F.o.R. that is a new engine, no need for a heaver oil. Use what the manufacture suggest.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

FoR, Nah. 10w flows quite easily, especially in the summer. I use it down to 10F, and 20w/50 above 50F if necessary for bleeders. This 5w and especially 0w IMHO should only be used below 0F!


Do you use 10W-40 in new cars Guru? My dealer says there have been issues with using heavier oil and idling problems in cold weather which tells me there is a lot of friction going on - if so, not good at all.


I've not been servicing newer than '13 yet, so I don't know if there are friction-related issues with the 2015+ new 2.5i. Can't imagine a 10w would have a problem once warmed up, either. Let me know what you find out....

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

You know, before I'd start telling people to follow non standard procedures, I would remind you that your car is a 2016 and still under warranty. Not following the manufacturers instructions is the quickest way to void your warranty. I would advise you NOT to do that.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

Totally agree with Mark 1952...


The 3.6R engine is designed to use CONVENTIONAL oil but synthetic can be used after the 3rd oil change. Also contrary to what is posted above the 3.6 engines comes with conventional oil inside it from the factory, not synthetic. Not sure where some of you are getting your information from. I work for Subaru USA.

13 out of 13 people think this is helpful.

YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. Synthetic oil is Recommended, but, not required on the 3.6 R. And, there's been some confusion about the oil requirements per this website below. Then again, there's far more 2.5 engines out there than 3.6. http://www.cars101.com/subaru/maintenance2.html

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Mark. Like you, Spitz is a compiler of information, not an automotive engineer nor mechanic. Simply put, synth is recommended for very high heat environments, like turbos. But horizontally-opposed motors like Subies SIT in their lubricants, so very low viscosity oils that are specced for fast cold-start slash-up AND (hoped by the manufacturers) that last +0.1mpg to tick up a digit are NOT necessary, and in some cases inadvisable if consumption becomes an issue. Thus peccing 0w20 synth has proved to be unnecessary, and perhaps a significant mistake on Subie's part. I ONLY use higher viscosity dino or synth lubes, and in summer prefer 15w50 synth, using 5w30 dino in winter on dry motors, or 10w30-40 on older wet ones. Old motors continue to only tolerate good old 20w50 in summer if consumption is an issue. Just go back to 5-10w for winter. These modus operandi WORK, regardless of all this confusing verbiage.


Ernie, this is WHY there are different opinions this subject, BUT, look, Billy, above, says he WORKS for Subaru. I know you probably are an excellent mechanic. I'm thinking, who knows more about these cars, you or Subaru? You can make your own decisions, but, I'm sticking with the manufacturers recommendations and using the oil spec in my owners manual. I don't see any reason to deviate from this. My car calls for 5-30 and don't want to change to the extremely thick 15-50 in the summer. And, it gets pretty hot in Southern California this time of year. Typically, it's between 90 and 105 or so, but mostly in the 90s. See this thread and discussion about oil and high temperature. http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/138-gen-5-2015- present/261730-summer-engine-oil-temperature-oil-question.html


Oh, it does cool off at night in LA, unlike lots of parts in the South or New England area or Michigan. Frequently cools off to 65 every evening, so we often see temperature swings of 40 degrees, which is also why I'm sticking with the 5-30. Plus, when we take our car to the mountains, it can get below 50 even in the summer.


Mark, you have little technical understanding re why manufacturers spec lubricant viscosities, but in addition to trying to get away with the skinniest viscosity in order to fractionally raise fuel efficiency measurements to take advantage of whole number rounding, another is to save themselves from the idiots who race cold motors to "warm them up". Additionally, there's nothing "extremely thick" about 15w40...it's been the most-preferred in the EU racing world for decades. Casting no personal aspersions, I've known lots of guys who've "worked" for a dealership or corporate auto manufacturer who are really quite skilled at cleaning cars or answering phone calls. I'd hardly call them pro lubrication engineers, eh?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Using heavier oil will reduce mileage and HP. I have seen the results of heavier oil on small block Chevy dyno runs. The main issue with new Subaru oil consumption is the low tension piston rings which don't seal. If Subaru went back to standard piston rings we would not be having this discussion.


They also spec 0w for fear that timing chain cold start rattle will annoy customers in the North. So far no problem with 5w40 either wrt consumption nor noises. I'll be listening more carefully if we get temps down below 10F this winter. For dyno-oil spec motors I'm sticking with 10w for all temps, as stated earlier.... I'll be driving across Indiana in a couple of hours. Wonder if I can visit Lafayette and see a mountain of porous-ringed short blocks?!


FYI, maybe you have already seen it , but, here it is for your info, http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/518/motor-oils

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