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'14 3.6R Outback
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2,348 Posts
Sorry to add in to this conversation at the end, but I had to offer some points to consider. I'm a fluid power specialist, so I know a thing or two about oil... ;)

The oil is used to
1. Lubricate
2. Cool
3. Provide reserve capacity
4. Displace air when allowed to settle sufficiently
5. Provide a method of transporting contaminants away
(plus a few others I won't bother with)
So many posts here have been accurate, but missing the big picture. A cooler is only necessary if the loads imposed are greater than the heat rejection capability of system (includes reservoir/oil pan, filter, engine itself, and so on). High loads require drastic measures. The automatic transmission & towing is evident of this.

The biggest point to make in this gentleman's unfortunate (or fortunate!) circumstance:
The oil pressure light did not come on. Had it come on, it means there was insufficient oil pressure after the pump to lubricate the bearings/ECT. With a loss of oil from the oil plug (the lowest point on the 'reservoir'), as long as the oil still could be picked up by the pump and not cavitate (lack of oil to the pump's inlet), the light would remain on and all 'should' be fine.

Of course one can never be certain in these circumstances, but I give great credit to the driver for having the right sense to pull over as quickly as he did and stop the engine. He saved the engine, and his car.

I think all cars should have low oil LEVEL sensors to give ample warning to let the driver pull over (but that's just me). To heck with the TPMS I say.
Nice post!

If you didn't know (I did not) both models have this feature, which I suspect (that means I'm guessing btw) was what the op saw on the dash.

Per my manual on 3-15:
& Engine low oil level
warning light
This light illuminates when the engine oil
level decreases to the lower limit. The
illuminating conditions and remaining oil
level are shown in the following items.
2.5 L models:
. when the ignition switch is in the “ON”
position but the engine is not running:
approximately 1.9 US qt (1.8 liters, 1.6
Imp qt)
. while the engine is running: approximately 3.2 US qt (3.0 liters, 2.6 Imp qt)
3.6 L models:
. when the ignition switch is in the “ON”
position but the engine is not running:
approximately 4.0 US qt (3.8 liters, 3.3
Imp qt)
. while the engine is running: approximately 5.6 US qt (5.3 liters, 4.7 Imp qt)
If the engine low oil level warning light
illuminates while driving, park the vehicle
at a safe and level location, and then
check the engine oil level. When the
engine oil level is not within the normal
range, refill with engine oil if necessary.
Refer to “Engine oil” F11-12.
If the warning light does not turn off after
refilling with engine oil or the warning light
illuminates even though the engine oil
level is within the normal range, have the
system checked by a SUBARU dealer.
NOTE
. The engine low oil level warning
light will not turn off immediately even
if you replace or add engine oil. It will
turn off only when the vehicle is idling
and the engine is warmed up completely.
. When the vehicle is considerably
inclined on an uphill or steep slope, the
warning light may illuminate temporarily due to the movement of engine oil
in the engine.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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5,965 Posts
I have to imagine that is what he saw, because why would low-oil-level (rapidly draining, so not an overheat condition) cause *any* other dash light to turn on?
 

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2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i LTD
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20 Posts
Yikes! I wish this was the only time I'd ever heard of something like this happening, but it's not.

Change the oil yourself and keep records of exactly when and what you used to do it.

If you have to satisfy some kind of dealership criteria for maintenance, keep a small spiral bound notebook in the car with an ink pen clipped to it. Every time you get gas, take 20 seconds to write down the date, the cost, the gallons, the mileage and the MPG. When you change your oil or fill up the windshield wiper reservoir, or do any other kind of maintenance (even washing!) write them down, too. If you ever have a maintenance problem, you tell the dealer (or anyone else):

"Well, here at 3,923 miles I filled up with Unleaded Premium at Jerry's Shell Station and at 3,945 miles I changed the oil. Here are the receipts."

Nobody will ever question you, and you will always make sure to put your own drain bolt back in.

I learned my lesson from the previous owner of one of my cars many years ago: a 1986 Audi 5000CS Turbo Quattro, which was the top of the line Audi when it was first sold. I went to pick the car up and he floored me with the detail.

He was a U.S. Air Force Captain and the man kept his flight logs even when he was flying on the ground. When I bought the car he said: "Here is everything I've ever done to it, including filling it with gas, and here are my receipts." He left absolutely no doubt in my mind that he had changed the oil, inflated the tires, put a new headlight bulb in, etc., etc. The cost of that was maybe $1.50 for a pen and pad, $0.10 for a folder, and perhaps an hour's worth of aggregate time over the 140,000 miles he owned the car. He could look back to the day he bought it and explain his thinking on the day he switched from one brand of gas to another.

Even if you have to buy a couple of filters in advance and buy some oil in advance, you can tell your dealer's parts department: "From now on, I do my own oil changes and I keep records of everything." Nobody should complain. It's a snap, and whoever you buy the oil from should take back your used oil. Even WalMart does.
 

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2013 Outback 2.5 Touring CVT
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24 Posts
I have to imagine that is what he saw, because why would low-oil-level (rapidly draining, so not an overheat condition) cause *any* other dash light to turn on?
Check engine light?

I had one come on my 2003 Outback, and that was the first time EVER I had seen it come on. I had Cruise on at the time, and was going down a hill (same hill I had taken many times before), and it never came on before.

When I slowed down (and out of cruise), the light went out abotu 10 sec later. When I got to where I was going, I did a cursory check and found nothing. When I checked the oil level ~ 1 hour later, it didn't read anything. I added ~1/2 Liter or more, and it JUST started to read on the dipstick. I have no proof that was the cause, but I consider it a contributing factor: low oil level.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited
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950 Posts
anyone think this could be a good way to prevent this whole issue?
Provided they close the valve completely. I even use a little hose clamp on mine to prevent accidental opening.
 

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2002 Outback Wagon 2.5L Auto Weather Package
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1,971 Posts
anyone think this could be a good way to prevent this whole issue?
My bets are you'd go nuts having to explain it to every grease monkey you ran into, especially at the quicky lube joints. That, or they'd just undo the whole thing and do the usual hamfisted gorilla crossthreaded reinstall, or not tighten it down... which would lead to the OP's issue all over again.

The real meaning of 'idiotproof' is that an idiot will come along and prove they can eff it all up despite your intelligent efforts.
 
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