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Old 02-15-2013, 12:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 2010 Outback oil control valves

Hi There,
I have 57,000 miles on my 2010 Outback 4 cylinder. I was just making plans for the 60k service when the Check Engine light came on. The Cruise Control light, the Brake light and I guess the Stabilization light also came on. I took the car down to my dealer immediately. The check engine diagnostics showed that I had two clogged oil control valves.

I have been changing the oil and filter (Mobil 1, 5-30) at about 5k mile intervals since the car was new. I admit the last change was at about 7k miles.

The dealer told me I was not changing the oil frequently enough. I should be changing at about 3.5k even if I am using synthetics.

I checked with a second dealer and he told me the same thing, except that if I was using synthetic oil I could make the oil change interval 5k miles.

Really???? I have 2 german cars with oil change intervals at 15k (synthetic). Most of what I have read over the last few years says that you're wasting oil if you change at less than 5k miles.

I know Subaru's have a great reputation for reliability, but I'm a little disappointed to learn that I really have to stay on the oil changes or risk a catastrophic engine failure due to clogged oil control valves, which by the way are $400 to replace.

Any thoughts on this subject would be really appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by bigview View Post
Hi There,
I have 57,000 miles on my 2010 Outback 4 cylinder. I was just making plans for the 60k service when the Check Engine light came on. The Cruise Control light, the Brake light and I guess the Stabilization light also came on. I took the car down to my dealer immediately. The check engine diagnostics showed that I had two clogged oil control valves.

I have been changing the oil and filter (Mobil 1, 5-30) at about 5k mile intervals since the car was new. I admit the last change was at about 7k miles.

The dealer told me I was not changing the oil frequently enough. I should be changing at about 3.5k even if I am using synthetics.

I checked with a second dealer and he told me the same thing, except that if I was using synthetic oil I could make the oil change interval 5k miles.

Really???? I have 2 german cars with oil change intervals at 15k (synthetic). Most of what I have read over the last few years says that you're wasting oil if you change at less than 5k miles.

I know Subaru's have a great reputation for reliability, but I'm a little disappointed to learn that I really have to stay on the oil changes or risk a catastrophic engine failure due to clogged oil control valves, which by the way are $400 to replace.

Any thoughts on this subject would be really appreciated. Thanks.
Your driving conditions determine when the oil needs to be changed. I've never seen this issue have just shy of 50K and run 10-30 mobile or Cheveron pending which has the best deal going at the time. Zero issues but my driving conditions are pretty mild California semi rural type driving. I generally change the oil between 5000 -7000 miles depending on the vehicle use during that period- hauling the trailer or road trips I generally shoot for the 5000 mile range. Clogged oil systems would suggest either different oil is needed or changing the oil sooner.

Where exactly are you driving the car and what type of use?
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If you are changing every 5,000 miles with synthetic I don't see how that isn't frequent enough. Isn't that the frequency identified in the car's manual for more severe driving conditions?
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for your reply! N. California, semi rural same as you. I'm not pulling a trailer and I'm using tier 1 gas, if that matters. I changed the oil 3.5k miles ago. If I was careless and under filled with fresh oil, it would cause the oil pressure to be low and that would cause the oil control valves not to work and trigger the error codes. Dealer said the valves were clogged so I don't think low oil pressure was the problem. I always use Mobil 1 and I change oil and filter at the same time mostly at about 5k. Still a mystery to me what is going on. Thanks again.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you are changing every 5,000 miles with synthetic I don't see how that isn't frequent enough. Isn't that the frequency identified in the car's manual for more severe driving conditions?
Could be something up with the oil. I would try a different brand see how that goes.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've had two dealers, San Jose, CA and Santa Cruz, CA, tell me that 5k intervals is the maximum to avoid this problem.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for your reply! N. California, semi rural same as you. I'm not pulling a trailer and I'm using tier 1 gas, if that matters. I changed the oil 3.5k miles ago. If I was careless and under filled with fresh oil, it would cause the oil pressure to be low and that would cause the oil control valves not to work and trigger the error codes. Dealer said the valves were clogged so I don't think low oil pressure was the problem. I always use Mobil 1 and I change oil and filter at the same time mostly at about 5k. Still a mystery to me what is going on. Thanks again.
Yes you need to be pretty cautious on the refill- I generally let the car sit a little while after putting 4quarts in. Then find that a little bit of a top off is needed when I check again.

For the older 2.5 which is in the cars up through 2012 I'm a little gun shy of running the 5W oils given my prior 2.5 from the same design ran 180K hard abused miles with zero issues running 10-30 mainly Mobil 1 but I wasn't religiously attached to that brand. I also like the Cheveron oils.

I run the cheap off brand little gas station gas - never had any fuel related issues.
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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What the hey is an oil-control valve?
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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What the hey is an oil-control valve?
It provides oil to the part that adjusts cam shaft phase. I believe the pressure it provides, as determined by the ECM, adjusts the cam shaft because these are variable cam engines. I'm not 100% up on how this system works in detail but that's the short of it.
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Ah, similar to something that gave my friend some grief on his high-mileage vtech engine.

Computer said the vtech system was not engaging (based on the oil pressure switch not responding), engine would not rev up.

The shop couldn't figure out if the system really wasn't working, if the passages were choked, the pressure switch was bad, the solenoid was malfunctioning, etc.

He always used synthetic so I figured no passages were gunked up.

I said it was a high mileage engine, probably oil pressure is low, try 10-40.
Worked like a charm.
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