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Hello there. A couple of months ago I purchased an 07 Legacy Wagon with about 74000 miles on it to replace my currently grounded 01 outback vdc. Over the past month and a half or so, since the one oil change I've done on it, I've noticed that the engine oil level steadily decreases (I check it almost every day before leaving for or from work unless I've been forced to park on a hill because I'm paranoid ;D). I was hoping that it was just my imagination and that the level only appeared different because of slightly different grades where I was parking, but when I checked before leaving work about a week and a half ago it had gone from halfway up the scale to ¼ on the stick. So I added three cups and brought it right to full. Now, 12 days and 500 miles give or take later it's down to 1/3. The frustrating thing is that I can't find any evidence of leaking. There's no dampness around any of the seams or on the undercover (I even scrubbed 12 years of greasy gunk off it to aid in spotting). Not to mention that when I first noticed the level going down I added a uv dye to the oil. Haven't found anything flourescing other than the salt deposits on the block. I even took off the left side timing cover and got in there with a mirror to check the cam seals but nothing glowed in there either. As far as I know the only other way for oil to go elsewhere is if I'm burning it, but I haven't seen evidence of that either. I'm planning on biting the bullet and taking it to a well-reviewed mechanic near me in a couple of weeks because I'm stumped, but if y'all have any thoughts...

Some other info: I've replaced the oil drain plug with a fumoto valve. Last I checked it was dry. I've already done the valve covers and spark plug tube seals because I found oil in the tubes when I went to replace the plugs. I also replaced the pcv valve. I'm not sure if it's related but my oil never seems to get up to temp. After an hour commute to work at 70mph it might get up to 163F on a warm day. Although I do get a strange reading where for a tick every now and again it'll read something like 266 before jumping back to whatever it was before. Finally, on a cold start the engine rattles for a minute before settling down, unless I tap the gas. I'm told that this is normal though because of drainback or whatever. Never had that with the h6 though. Oh, and the engine is an ej253. Thanks!


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Check the headgaskets - that year commonly leaks oil.

If there are no leaks then the oil control rings are in poor condition due to poor oil change history.

Rering it during a headgasket job or keep checking it and changing it regularly.

The one good news is that this is no indication of future break down and it shouldn't get considerably worse if you keep it topped off and change the oil regularly.

The burning oil could potentially degrade the catalytic converter, I don't think 1 quart per 1,000 is excessive enough to consistently and quickly damage them though. And if you don't live in an emissions testing area it doesn't matter anyway, the check engine light comes on, but the car at least runs fine.
 

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Check/replace your PCV.
 

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What weight of oil are you using (10W40 etc), the EJ25 motors had a heavier weight oil specified than the current engines.

Depending on where you live you may be able to using a heavier weight oil than you are currently using which would help to minimise oil usage.

Seagrass
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Last I checked I didn't see any seepage from the headgaskets. I also did a compression test while I was changing the spark plugs and everything was within spec. I was planning on doing a leakdown soon just to get a deeper look because on a vacuum test I did just after bringing the car home I got this weird reading where the needle was vibrating steadily a little higher than spec. No jumping or swinging but also not just standing still. The closest thing I saw was "defective ignition system". Of course that was before I changed the plugs and the plugs I removed were g-powers, not the fsm recommended laser platinums, though I'm not sure how much that'd affect anything.
I did think it might be the rings since I didn't see any of the other signs of hg failure. I guess I'll get a better idea of that when I do the leakdown test. Unfortunately if it is the rings I'm not in a position to do anything about it right now (other than keep adding oil) as I just spent a bunch on a defective jdm engine for the other car plus other replacement tidbits not to mention buying THIS car.
I was reading about alleviating oil consumption by moving up to a higher viscosity on another thread. But then people started bringing up the thicker-than-spec oil's ability to properly flow through bearings and thus keep the engine lubed and cool and I decided against it. The viscosity recommended in my fsm and owner's manual is 5w30, not 10w40. On the other hand do you think moving to a 0w30 would alleviate the initial clatter I get on a cold start? I suppose I could also try a different oil manufacturer.


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If you want to know if the PCV valve is working, pull the hose from the valve cover to the air box on the throttle and see if it's really wet with oil. Recheck it and make sure the valve operates and that the vacuum hose is not cracked. If the valve lacks vacuum, it won't open.

A HG can leak and it blows back while you're driving. Given you lose a lot of oil in short time you would see oil residue on the steering rack and the manifolds. Don't wash it for the next 1000 miles and check it again.

The other possibility of burning oil, well, you'd see a fuel trim reduction due to the higher HC content brought on by the oil. If you pull a plug or 2 you would be able to see if it's burning oil because the carbon would be on the tip or the tip would be a darker color from the burning oil.

Minute amounts of oil burning will not kill a cat. You'd have to be burning it enough that it smokes out the tailpipe and continue driving that way for some time to do major damage.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It's actually really frustrating because at one point I'll check and the dipstick will read just about full, but then another time it'll read low, but then yet another time after, without adding oil, it's full again. Like today. I checked before going to work: almost spot on. Just before leaving work (9 1/2 hours later) it read at the low mark. And it's not like I'm on radically different grades both locations are relatively flat. I guess I won't know for sure unless I do a change but I don't have time at the moment for the next couple of days. And if I add oil because it reads low but it is full then I'll over fill. But if it's actually low and is being lost then I might run dry and ****the engine.


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Discussion Starter #9
Oh yeah, the plugs. I should just check at least the ones that are right out there. I might have time for that today. Thanks. What sort of fuel trims would I be seeing? I haven't really kept track of those so I don't know what's normal unfortunately. Course if the car was doing that before I bought it I guess I wouldn't anyway.


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Are you pulling the dipstick and checking the level or are you pulling the dipstick, wiping it off, reinserting it and then checking the level?

It seems to matter, at least on my end. So much that I ignore whatever the dipstick says when I first pull it out and only pay attention to the second dip.

Pull, wipe, reinsert, check.

Also, don't forget that oil thermally expands. If it's 40° when you check it in the morning, and 90° later in the afternoon, don't expect the dipstick to read the same.

This is where the notch on your dipstick comes in--the one above the "full" mark. This is the max level, when hot. If the oil level is full when cold, it'll expand and reach the notch when at operating temperature. ~1/4".
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah, I wipe and dip a couple of times. Id be less concerned if it was reading above the full line - that's an easy fix. I just checked after parking in a wide, flat parking lot and sitting a few minutes with the engine off. It read below the full line, not between full and the notch so I guess I am running low. By how much though I'm not sure.


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Okay, so here's an idea for you so you can properly gauge usage.

Park the car on a level spot when you get home. Wait 5 minutes, pull the dipstick, wipe, reinsert, count to 5, pull and get a hot engine measure. Take note. Do this for the next 500 miles and see what happens.

You can also get a cold reading. If the car is parked level at night, first thing before starting the car, pull the stick and check it. You can wipe it or not, you'll most likely get the same reading.

The oil in the engine will drain down the longer it sits. A hot engine oil level check is best after a 5 minute sit time.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Alright, I'll give that a go tomorrow. My oil did appear full this morning after the car had been sitting for two days. After work though it appeared to be at the L mark. I figured 8 hours or so of sitting would count as a cold start.


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so I when I checked, cold, before starting the car, the oil looked full. I got to work, turned off the engine, waited five minutes, checked, the oil - hot mind you - was about half an inch above the low mark. so I guess I'll add some oil later -_-'


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so I when I checked, cold, before starting the car, the oil looked full. I got to work, turned off the engine, waited five minutes, checked, the oil - hot mind you - was about half an inch above the low mark. so I guess I'll add some oil later -_-'


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Not necessary. Wait it out. As long as it is above the low mark when hot it's good. What you have to understand is that when the oil circulates around the engine, after you shut it off it takes time to drain back. If you add oil now it will be overfilled. The full mark is cold. So continue to check it cold and monitor usage from that.
 

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You need to be checking your oil at the same location every time (if possible) as that is the only way you can know the vehicle is at the same angle etc.

As long as the oil level is between the full (or max) mark and the low mark everything is OK.

I suggest checking the oil level every time you fill up with fuel (at the same fuel station) is often enough to determine oil usage.

Seagrass
 

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Discussion Starter #17
at work I park in exactly the same place every day (give or take two inches). where I live it's not always possible since my driveway is on a fairly steep incline and street parking moves around a lot. also it was a little above the low mark while the oil was hot so...
granted, according to my scanner app the oil temp was only at 145 which is not operating temp which I'm also concerned about considering I live 45 minutes to an hour from here


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