My af­ter 7 years, a lit­tle oil loss is not a big deal

The Maui News - - Auto -

I have a 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i with 171,000 miles. It’s been burn­ing a quart of oil ev­ery 1,500 to 2,500 miles. This doesn’t seem right, and I know Subarus have is­sues with oil burn­ing.

What can I do to fix or im­prove this? Or is it time to trade it in for an­other ve­hi­cle? —Kirby

What do you think the doc­tor says when a 95-year-old guy comes in and com­plains, “I have to get up at least once a month dur­ing the night to pee.”

He prob­a­bly thinks: “Once a month?? You’re a med­i­cal mir­a­cle, Shel­don!”

That’s my re­ac­tion to your oil burn­ing, Kirby. For a car with 171,000 miles on it, this is not a ter­ri­bly se­ri­ous prob­lem. My late brother wouldn’t make an of­fer on a car un­less it burned at least a quart of oil ev­ery 300 miles.

First of all, burn­ing a quart ev­ery 1,500 to 2,500 miles is not much at all. If you were burn­ing a quart ev­ery 500 miles or less, I’d tell you to start sav­ing for a down pay­ment on your next car. But a quart ev­ery 1,500 to 2,500 miles is al­most in­signif­i­cant on a car of this age.

What you should do is check for leaks. Don’t as­sume you’re burn­ing the oil. Some leaks can be easy to find and cheap to fix.

For in­stance, maybe your oil pres­sure switch is leak­ing. You can fix that for $50. Or maybe your valve cover gas­kets are leak­ing. We see that fre­quently on Subarus. And if that’s where you’re los­ing your oil — or some of your oil — you can fix that for a cou­ple of hun­dred bucks or less.

Then maybe you’ll be los­ing a quart ev­ery 3,000 miles, or ev­ery 5,000 miles.

Some leaks won’t be worth fix­ing, like if you’re leak­ing oil from the head gas­kets. But if you have any ob­vi­ous leaks, I’d fix those.

And then I’d buy a case of oil the next time it’s on sale, and just keep an eye on the dip­stick. At your cur­rent rate of oil loss, a case of oil ought to get you to about 200,000 miles. That’s pretty much how long Subaru en­gines, on av­er­age, last.

We know some go longer. But how­ever many more miles you get from here on out, Kirby, rest as­sured you’ve got­ten your money out of the car.

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Got a ques­tion about cars? Visit the Car Talk web­site at www.cartalk.com.

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