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My boyfriend abus...erm, drives an '02 OBW (2.5L). His theory on idle time before driving is much different than mine. He feels that waiting about 30 seconds after startup on a 0°F day is just fine. I prefer to at least let the car warm up for a few minutes to get oil flow to all parts of the engine. The car has had a knocking sound when cold since he bought it in '03, which I've heard on a lot of Subarus. His dealership has been putting Dino oil in the car. I believe the car has around 15k miles on it by now. (Hard to tell because the instrument cluster was replaced, and apparently the Subaru can't have the new odometer programmed for real mileage.)

I told him that I'm going to start chagning the oil myself with 0w synthetic if he can't take a little extra time when it's cold. (I don't think he understands that driving aggressively when that cold could cause oil pressure problems.)

So this is my question: Should I learn how to change the oil on a Subaru and start putting in 0w synthetic for him in the winter, or just leave it with dealer-added 5w Dino oil? (He does plug the car in, but not consistently.)

Thanks in advance...
 

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the answer is yes.

yes, you shd give it synth in ultracold temps; this is one of the areas where synth >>>>>REALLY<<<< excels compared to mineral based oil, as it doesn't thicken up at cold temps and thus flows well during the critical 30 sec or so after startup where most of yr engine wear occurs. synth both clings to engine parts better and since it's less thickened due to cold, thinner oil also gets through oil passages faster. case closed, no Qs asked, no downside except cost.

yes, learn to change yr oil, it's easy as long as you have good drain pan (drop the $15-20 if necessary) and you were the one who installed the last oil filter. yes, get some Reflectix insulation (bubble wrap between 2 layers of mylar, 2 or 4' wide, makes great insulated ground cloth for car work) and some nitrile gloves.

yes, it's really OK to drive car after just 30 sec-1 min warmup even in really cold weather if you're using synth. fine with any oil, other than in AK in Jan. some parts of car (trans and diff fluids, for example) don't begin to warm up til you start moving. after that critical 30 sec or so, by which time you will have oil pressure to all parts of engine, it does no harm to drive it, gently at first. oil pressure is actually way high during this period but if you keep revs under 25-2700 or so til it shows warm on gauge (oil still won't be fully warm for another 5-10 min or so), you aren't harming anything. driving aggressively on cold vehicle, synth or no, is bad idea, and driving agressively on cold mineral (actually giant ferns...) oil is really bad idea.

and tell the lazy so and so he owes you big for extending life of his engine...
 

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Yes, I agree with all that CPT says. In Alaska 0W-30 synthetic would be perfect especially in an Outback, I recommend Mobil 1 myself ;)
 

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cptoversteer: Thanks for your input. I'll do my research on what to do with the Subaru to change the oil. My PT Cruiser is a snap to do, and was the first car I even attempted to change oil on. I think the main difference on the Subaru is that there's some kind of protective plate under the engine bay, but like I said, I haven't done it.

At least one other thing will come of changing it myself: We'll figure out if the dealership really is sloppy at oil changes, causing the burning smells, or if the car just legitimately has that aroma once in a while. (Which has stopped in the last month or two...finally.) Subarus have a smell all their own. My best friend and I referred to her '90 Legacy as morning waffles. ;)

If there's a negligible price difference between 0w and 5w jugs at Wal*Mart, I'll just feed it 0w all year.
 

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The oil smell should not have been from a routine oil change unless the oil was spilled putting it into the engine. The oil filter points right at you when you're under the car and is hardly over any exhaust. Must have been an operator error in the oil smell....unless the dreaded crank seals are going... Brian
 
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