Egghead Racer Reader
March 23, 2016 6:43 a.m.

I now, sadly, have enough data to have an idea of the oil consumption in the motor of my recent budget 2010 Outback purchase. Wow, what a well abused motor! About 1 qt every ~500 miles, or a week and a half in commute days. That's not fun.

I need to check the rear two spark plugs for fouling, though the front two looked fine. Not sure if this is a valve seal deal or, more likely, a ring issue.

I'm pretty new to Subaru's in general, though I know my way around a tool box pretty well. Wanted to ping you all and see what my options were, or your opinions on options, from experience.

I could do a few things, as I see it:

1) just live with it, and a case of oil in the trunk storage

2) try some of those oil additive products that might help, like mmo, restore, etc. if I have a stuck ring. Seems like a cheap option to try with little hope of success.

3) replace the short block, ~$1800 plus time.

4) rebuild the engine, been a long time since I've done a motor build, though. Like 10 years. Cost ?????

5) have the motor rebuilt, cost on the order of $3000-$4000 sound about right?

6) have a slightly higher performance engine built, cost $3000-$4000.

Has anyone dealt with this issue? Anyone tried anything in option 2 that worked at all? If I end up tearing the engine down, what's the level of complexity (assuming I can build a Chevy V8 from a pile of parts and have it run first time?) am I looking at, and what special tools will I need?

I had planned on engine upgrades in the future, so I may go ahead with that now, but if I can limp through a couple years and sort out some other things I'd be just as happy.

Sonic SuperDork
March 23, 2016 6:47 a.m.

How about sell it along and get something else? Seems like a serious issue for a fairly new car that isn't unique or hard to find.

Egghead Racer Reader
March 23, 2016 6:51 a.m.

In reply to Sonic:

Ok, that's option 7... But I happen to love my Outback...

gearheadmb HalfDork
March 23, 2016 7:11 a.m.

True story, a guy travelling from several states away stops in our shop with a Subaru outback and says "I need help I'm losing oil fast" I ask if he knows what's leaking. "I don't know, something in the back" ...

??????

So I put it on the hoist and by golly he's right, oil is dripping right out of the spare tire well. I opened up the back and he had a selection of fluids that would make the flaps jealous. One of his quarts of fluid got busted somehow and dumped out back there. He was pretty embarrassed. I had a good laugh and sent him down the road.

The moral of the story; Subarus even leak the backup oil for the regular leak.

Egghead Racer Reader
March 23, 2016 7:29 a.m.

In reply to gearheadmb:

HAHA!!!

44Dwarf UltraDork
March 23, 2016 8:15 a.m.

High oil consumption in subs seems to be hit or miss out of the 4 I've had two used oil like mad bad enough I would use the cheapest crap oil possible the others barley used any between changes. I did recently see something about a admittance by Subaru that some subs have a problem with using oil but can't find the story now.

Streetwiseguy PowerDork
March 23, 2016 8:30 a.m.

Isn't there a class action oil consumption deal going down there? Poor Subaru...finally figure out head gaskets and forget how to make piston rings.

Egghead Racer Reader
March 23, 2016 8:31 a.m.

There is. I think I'm well outside the window of being covered, though. I guess I could call my local dealership.

rslifkin Reader
March 23, 2016 8:42 a.m.

It seems like the soccer mom Subarus are worse about the oil burning, as most of them were never run hard during break-in. So if the rings are E36 M3ty and they're given no help seating early on due to babying the throttle, then boom, it burns oil.

Egghead Racer Reader
March 23, 2016 9:14 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin:

You're not wrong there. I think the engine is just going to get a full rebuild. I can do the work, just need to get the kit. Then a proper break in shall occur!

Fupdiggity New Reader
March 23, 2016 9:59 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin:

I assume the engines in mere pedestrian cars don't get any break-in dyno time before being sent to the assembly line? If the break in period is that critical to an engine's performance & propensity to burn oil it seems like the OEM would want to control the first hours of an engine's life. I'm guessing the cost/benefit analysis didn't pay out in that scenario.

It has always been a source of curiosity to me (not that I've ever bought a brand new car) but I hear a different story from everyone I know that has. Some hear keep it under 55, some hear to vary the speeds, some don't get told anything.

The most consistent internet answer I get is vary the speeds, don't be afraid to drive it a bit hard, but don't be overly abusive. On the other hand, I hear about turbo cars that are driven too hard during break in (Evo's in particular, no surprise there) that have oil consumption issues as a result.

Wasn't it the newer BMW turbo M cars that had oil consumption issues as a result from not being driven hard enough?

rslifkin Reader
March 23, 2016 10:04 a.m.

I'm not sure what they might do for break-in prior to the car being delivered. It would probably be pretty expensive for them to dyno each engine though.

My rule of thumb is generally work it a bit to get the cylinder pressures up and seat the rings, but don't run it all the way up through the revs for the first bit (moderate to heavy load at moderate revs) and vary the revs (ideally no steady highway cruising or long idling early on).

I've seen some constant speed generators that call for a 10 hour break in at no less than 1/2 load, so there must be some merit to getting the cylinder pressures up for ring seating.

BrokenYugo UltimaDork
March 23, 2016 11:07 a.m.

PCV system OK? This is burning, not leaking, right? If so, dump the cheapest 15w40 on the shelf in it and beat on it a little more often, you might get lucky. Stuck/poorly seated rings can sometimes fix themselves if you work them harder.

rslifkin Reader
March 23, 2016 11:15 a.m.
BrokenYugo wrote: PCV system OK? This is burning, not leaking, right? If so, dump the cheapest 15w40 on the shelf in it and beat on it a little more often, you might get lucky. Stuck/poorly seated rings can sometimes fix themselves if you work them harder.

Agreed. That's worth a shot. And add in plenty of high rpm engine braking too, that's good for getting the rings moving.

March 23, 2016 11:17 a.m.

Re: Break in. I knew a guy who built general aviation aircraft engines. For break-in, he would pile weight in the plane up to the gross limit, then take off and do a series of touch-and-gos. For the initial drive with auto engines, I put the tools in the trunk, grab a couple of friends /bystanders, and drive the car uphill at 3/4s throttle and back down again over and over. If I can, I put the first 150 miles on the motor.

chiodos Dork
March 23, 2016 11:18 a.m.

Broken yugo beat me to it kinda, was going to ask what weight oil you run. My significant others 08 honda burns oil, not as bad as yours but she found out the hard way enough to flicker the light before the oil change light comes up. We found honda built the motor originally for 5w30 but to meet new epa mpg mandates changed to 0w20 and it loves burning the thin stuff, burns much less now it runs 5w30 but still have to keep an eye on it. Bump it up to 10w30 if its specd for 0w20 or something light or as yugo said 15w40 delo 400 which is probably whats going in the honda next. Damn new fangled cars and E36 M3 manufacturing.

lrrs Reader
March 23, 2016 11:19 a.m.

MMO for 500 to 1000 miles to free stuff up (follow instructions for ratio), then oil change with restore. Less than 20 bucks to loose if it doesn't make things better. Won't fix it all but if you get to 1 quart per 1000 miles it will be worth it.

Huckleberry MegaDork
March 23, 2016 11:19 a.m.

$2750 gets you a used, low miles engine (9000mi) doing a nationwide search on car-part.com.

A full re-man is 3450.00.

1988RedT2 PowerDork
March 23, 2016 11:21 a.m.

Subaru. Cough, cough! Subaru.

rslifkin Reader
March 23, 2016 11:22 a.m.
lrrs wrote: MMO for 500 to 1000 miles to free stuff up (follow instructions for ratio), then oil change with restore. Less than 20 bucks to loose if it doesn't make things better. Won't fix it all but if you get to 1 quart per 1000 miles it will be worth it.

MMO won't hurt, but I'd skip the restore unless nothing else shows any signs of helping. That stuff may help, but if something else could have sorted it out, then you've put it all on borrowed time for no reason.

The_Jed PowerDork
March 23, 2016 11:27 a.m.

Holy crap! The beat to E36 M3 EJ18 in my Impreza leaked that much and I had a Thunderbird that leaked/burned that much but those were both old, high-mile beaters. I'd be more than a bit pissed if I had a somewhat new to me '10 of any make that used oil like that!

It seems like Subaru just can't get the 2.5 quite right. I'd try the MMO thing and if that doesn't work throw some Lucas in there and see if you can trade it in on an Outback with an EZ30.

ultraclyde UberDork
March 23, 2016 12:17 p.m.

One quart a week is within spec according to the manufacturer, right?

Egghead Racer Reader
March 23, 2016 12:21 p.m.

I blame the previous owners more than I blame Subaru on this one. The biggest issue is I am dead set on the manual trans, and the 3.6R doesn't have that option.

I'll try the MMO here today, since I'm a quart low already, see if we can free up some stuff.

I run the 5W30 they recommend, but I can try a 10W30 next change, see if that helps. I think it burned some oil, and th ePO largely ignored the problem a bit too much.

Egghead Racer Reader
March 23, 2016 12:23 p.m.
BrokenYugo wrote: PCV system OK? This is burning, not leaking, right? If so, dump the cheapest 15w40 on the shelf in it and beat on it a little more often, you might get lucky. Stuck/poorly seated rings can sometimes fix themselves if you work them harder.

I have not noticed any leaks, drips, or pools under the car. I will be climbing under it to see if anything is coated later today. Not sure if I should hope for that, or not... I'm so conflicted!

I'll grab a new PCV on the way home, they aren't expensive and should be worth doing anyway.

sachilles UltraDork
March 23, 2016 12:25 p.m.

Have you examined the head gasket area's on the underside of the motor. also look on the front for the cam seals. While they certainly can burn oil, I'm betting you have a contributing leak. If you are burning that much oil, downstream will be issues. Any check engine light?

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