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I have a 2011 Outback, 3.6R, 6 cylinder. Oil light came on when the car was almost new. Had it flatbedded to the dealer (not driven) and they changed the Oil Pressure switch (I believe) as per a bulletin. The oil level light would often come on as the car approached mileage for an oil change (which I had done regularly with low mileage between oil changes). Of late the oil light seems to be coming on 1000 miles after an oil change. Dealer is struggling to determine the problem. They are replacing other oil switches of some kind tomorrow, but seems stab in the dark. They could find no leaks. The car has 130k on it. Expected not to have this kind of problem so early in the cars life. I've driven my other cars (Toyotas and Volvos) well beyond 200k without this kind of issue ever. I keep copious records, btw.

I've read about rings being toast. Could a car as late as 2011 really be having problems like this, especially when so scrupulously maintained? Seems crazy, makes me want never to buy a Subaru again.

What do I do?
 

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I remember a small number of 3.6s having some type of Subaru bulletin regarding oil use around 2011. I can’t remember the cause but it I remember it was some goofy part problem and Subaru had a fix for it. Have you contacted Subaru directly? Often times dealers who are 3rd party companies don’t contact Subaru when they should. I would go to subaru.com the contact us email. Tell them you have had odd oil issues with your car since you bought it new tell them the vin and dealer so they can look into it. Be nice about it, assume they have never heard from your dealer and that it’s fixable and just some type of flawed part or technician skills problem. I bought another Subaru because unlike nearly all other brands I have seen Subaru help fix odd ball issues when dealers drop the ball. Subaru is well known to help customers when strange issues happen due to a flawed part or even say lacking technician skill can’t get the issue sorted out.
 

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Friend of mine had a Tribeca w/120k which consumed oil at a rate of about 1 QT / 1000 miles by his measurements. Subaru did the oil consumption test and claimed 1 QT / 2000 miles, but they had to do it three times because they kept finding that they had overfilled the oil at the start of the test (how's that for confidence in Subaru tech's at that dealership?).

He started to get misfires, and after spending > $1500 on diagnostics they found a cracked head. He gave the dealer his Tribeca and bought a Pilot.
 

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^^ I concur - open a case with Subaru of America. You may indeed receive some "goodwill" attention based upon your particular vehicle's history.

These 3.6R / 5EAT powertrains are typically quite bulletproof. While I would expect no oil consumption at 30,000 miles or 60,000 miles, 130,000 miles is a different story. At that mileage there may be enough engine wear-and-tear for slight oil consumption to be a somewhat common issue.

My 2013 3.6R is now pushing 41,000 miles. We have owned it since 25,500 miles and I have never had to top it up between oil changes. I service our vehicles myself, and I run Castrol GTX 5W30 conventional oil in it. Since I sold my 2005 Jaguar S-Type sedan just over a month ago, it has become my daily driver rather than just our dog-and-people hauler and snow vehicle. I am interested to see if its now-daily use will eventually result in any oil consumption. I believe that for most vehicles, daily use is preferable to limited use because it keeps the fluids circulating and the battery fully charged. Time will tell.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
There was a bulletin just after I got the vehicle for the Oil Pressure Switch, I believe. The oil light came on when the car was almost new, and the switch was replaced. The car was not driven with the light on at the time (it was towed on a flat bed to the dealer). The light did tend to come on (oil a quart low) near when due for an oil change from time to time since then (and I didn't drive it in that condition, but added oil), then had the oil changed. I use synthetic in the grade spec'ed for this car. This new problem is scaring me (oil light coming on only 1k after an oil change). I am worried about worn or messed up piston rings, or something really serious like that, in what I consider a relatively "young" car. It feels like the dealer is a bit shooting in the dark... we'll see. They do want to monitor the issue (I pick up the car today with new "switches" of some kind, on the heads?... not sure... that they hope will solve the problem). My car is older than the recall and class action suit about oil consumption that hit so many other Subaru's.

So I will follow the advice here, and open a case with Subaru after I get the car back and know exactly what parts were replaced. This car has needed some other strange parts replaced that I've never experienced before... but maybe this is just the nature of complicated cars these days. This is the first car where I actually had to replace the drive shaft.. at about 100k miles. I do live on a rough dirt road, but I am a careful and cautious driver. Of course, we do have mud season in Vermont, and it is hard on cars.

Thanks for all the advice.
 

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^^ I concur - open a case with Subaru of America. You may indeed receive some "goodwill" attention based upon your particular vehicle's history.
I disagree. The car is 2 years/70k miles beyond the power train warranty. Hardly early in it's life as the OP suggests.

Add oil as needed and keep driving it or go get a new car.
 

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I have a 2011 Outback, 3.6R, 6 cylinder. Oil light came on when the car was almost new. Had it flatbedded to the dealer (not driven) and they changed the Oil Pressure switch (I believe) as per a bulletin. The oil level light would often come on as the car approached mileage for an oil change (which I had done regularly with low mileage between oil changes). Of late the oil light seems to be coming on 1000 miles after an oil change. Dealer is struggling to determine the problem. They are replacing other oil switches of some kind tomorrow, but seems stab in the dark. They could find no leaks. The car has 130k on it. Expected not to have this kind of problem so early in the cars life. I've driven my other cars (Toyotas and Volvos) well beyond 200k without this kind of issue ever. I keep copious records, btw.

I've read about rings being toast. Could a car as late as 2011 really be having problems like this, especially when so scrupulously maintained? Seems crazy, makes me want never to buy a Subaru again.

What do I do?
Is the car using oil. Do you have to add oil as per the dipstick. From what has been said above they are changing out pressure and level switches. If the car is using oil why the switches??

Also the 3.6R is very very sensitive to being level when checking oil levels.

Are you checking oil levels? Waiting for the low oil light to come on does not make sense.
 

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Don’t confuse the 2013-15 2.5 oi issues with the 3.6 I didn’t when I mentioned that there was a oil loss issue with a small number of 3.6’s around 2011.

Even at 130,000 you should not have excessive oil use. 280,000 yes its a possibility but not at 130,000.

You have a clear service history showing something was off since new. Get Subaru on it.
 

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Stop using the synthetic oil also. My 2005 Toyota will burn through 3 quarts of synthetic in 5000 miles. I put boring standard oil in it and it’s perfectly fine no usage.

The 3.6 was pre synthetic days anyway it doesn’t require it.
 

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2011 Outback 3.6R Limited, Red
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My 2011 3.6 burns about a quart of oil in 4500 miles. I just check the oil and top it off around 3000 miles and call it good. 80k miles currently, been doing it since I got it at 32k miles summer of 2013.
 

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KathyC.

My 2011 Outback 3.6 had the same problem. Bought it when it was 3 yrs. old and had 50,000 miles on it.
Had no problems at first, but after several months the oil light started coming on. Luckily, I had purchased an extended warranty because Subaru put my car through the "oil consumption test" over and over again.
Because I had the warranty, the local dealership gave me a loaner car which I drove for almost 9 months! My family started telling me that I should forget about my Outback...that Subaru was just going to let me keep the loaner Crosstrek and call it a day. LOL

There was never any indication of oil leaking, such as oil on the driveway. It turned out that the synthetic oil was so fine that it was escaping through the seals somehow.
The dealership tried to get Subaru to replace my engine, but they were never able to get Subaru to go that far. Subaru really put my dealership through the paces with all of the tests they required.
I eventually got my Outback back. The mechanic had basically rebuilt the engine and after that I have had no more trouble with oil burning.

My advice is to ask the dealership to put your Outback through the oil consumption test until they can figure out how the oil is escaping. Subaru knows that loss of oil was a problem with some of the 2011 Outbacks....there is a protocol that the dealerships have to follow if you present them with with this problem. My local dealership has been successful in having Subaru replace the engines on some of the Outbacks they have tested.
 
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