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Interesting info on synthetic oil recommendation

bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
edited August 17 in Subaru
From Joe Spitz at cars101:

"Synthetic oil - Subaru is now recommending using Subaru Synthetic 5W-30 oil for 2010 and prior turbo engines, and requiring it for all 2011 turbo engines. The oil change interval does not appear to have changed. This oil is also recommended for all non-turbo vehicles, except the new 2011 Forester 2.5L (non turbo) due later this year which will use a 0W-20 Subaru synthetic oil."
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Comments

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,524
    Haha; but of course! They have to jump on the synthetic ship or else they will lose all those profits! ;)
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    This is a recommendation to use synthetic oil, not a requirement to use Subaru's synthetic oil.
    It is not readily available, requiring an oil change at a dealer. And it's likely to be more expensive than Mobil 1 or Pennzoil Platinum, so not many people will want to use it. But the recommendation to use synthetic is significant.
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    Allan, yeah, I thought I was a significant step for them. I remember back in the early 2000s when synthetic questions were asked on this forum and the answer from Subaru was that it was "OK", as long as it was done early in the vehicle's life, the change frequency was still adhered to, and of course that the oil met the specs.

    As little as a few months ago my brother was told by the dealership that he couldn't use synthetic because it wasn't approved by Subaru. I pointed out to him that my manual for my 10 Forester said it was "OK".

    I have always used Mobil 1 in all my Soobs. I thought that the recommendation for 0W-20 in the new non-turbos was also significant. Maybe that is how they get the extra 1 MPG and not the engine redesign.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    I am concerned that the change 0W-20 is driven by the extra 1 MPG rather than engine longevity. For my 2008, I will stay with 5W-30 until 50K miles when I will go to 10W-30 for the summer half of the year.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,524
    edited August 2010
    I caught that, Allan. There are a significant number of owners out there who take their vehicles back to the dealership for all service, etc., using "genuine Subaru" supplies. There is definitely a market for the Subaru-badged synthetic. ;)
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited August 2010
    I am not sure what I was "caught" at.
    A significant number of owners will have their car serviced at the dealer at least through the warranty period.
    But many people who change their own oil will buy various brands of synthetic oil from an auto store rather than Subaru oil from the dealer, as it is more convenient and cheaper.
    And other people who don't have their oil changed at the dealer, will have it done by the quick change shops using whatever synthetic oil they sell.
    I think the purpose of Subaru recommending synthetic oil was not to make a profit from selling Subaru oil, but to protect the engines better with any synthetic oil.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,524
    I am not sure what I was "caught" at.

    Hahaha, no, I caught this original point that you clarified in a previous post:

    This is a recommendation to use synthetic oil, not a requirement to use Subaru's synthetic oil.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • In 2006 I cross-shopped Subaru Outback with VW Jetta TDI, really liked the Subaru, but the deal killer was 3,750 mile oil change intervals. As a 30,000 mile annual driver, that would have been far too frequent, the TDI uses a specialized synthetic but has 10,000 mile intervals. Time out of service is important to me.

    In the real world, do you Subaru owners adhere to 3,750 miles, or stretch it out to something a bit less 1960's? Do synthetic oil users have a recommended real world interval?

    Thanks for any useful comments.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,524
    I have a 2010 Forester with about 16,000 miles now. I am running mine on about an extended schedule, backed with used oil analysis to verify the integrity of the oil. I changed the initial oil at 2,500 miles after arriving home from the dealership (yeah, I purchased it a long way from home!), pulled a sample at 10,000 miles (about six months after the first oil change), then changed it at 14,000 miles (and had it analyzed again). Aside from a couple of high elemental counts due to break-in wear, the oil showed as very healthy (TBN = 3.2) when I changed it. The change in elemental counts between the first and second samples was almost none, which leads me to believe that the initial break-in wear should be over and I will likely see very low counts on my next sample.

    I will pull another sample at about six months (probably 6-7 thousand miles) to see how it is doing. In general, I plan to do annual oil changes, which will be about 15,000 miles. I use Amsoil Signature Series 0w-30.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    edited August 2010
    My wife and I have had 7 new Foresters including the 2 10s we now have. I used to drive the miles you do but don't even come close anymore.

    I am conservative in my approach and recognize I am a bit fanatical about many things, but I do the first oil change at something less than 1000 miles to get out the initial shavings, core sand, etc. After about another 2.5K miles I change over to Mobil1 5WX30 and do oil changes about every 5K to 6K miles, but have gone as long as 7K.

    As a retired engineer and also a former mechanic I believe that today's oil, both conventional and synthetic, have come a long way and are good for many more miles than what the factories recommend. I see 2 problems though. The first is the small filters which I believe are "done" way before the oil is. If they start to bypass because of filter loading then you are not filtering the oil, and don't know it. The second problem is that while the oil itself is still good at extended miles the additive package wears out.

    All the additives are important but zinc helps protect against wear. Years ago oil had a lot of zinc but current formulations start out with much less, so as it gets depleted you don't have the best protection. So while I have considered doing 10K to 12K oil changes with the Mobil1 and just do a filter change at 5K or 6K, I generally don't roll the dice with things so I resort to my conservative self and just do the schedule I mentioned earlier.

    I believe that Subaru still "allows" 7.5K oil changes under non-extreme use, even with conventional oil, and I would have to think that if you do 30K a year it has to be mostly highway and under ideal conditions. If so, I certainly wouldn't be doing 1/2 the "allowed", even being conservative and fanatical.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was also going to mention the 7500 interval under Schedule B, I think they call it, i.e. light duty or highway miles.

    If it's a big concern, you're likely to be putting on highway miles, too, so you're exactly the type of person who would qualify.
  • medic481medic481 Posts: 32
    Hi there- Your post tells me that you may know about this- I read in a recent Popular Mechanics an article that talked about new engine break in periods and maintenance. The author of the article stated that the oil should be changed after the first 100 miles, then at 1000, then per the recommended schedule. What do you think? I posted this on another thread and everyone thought this was crazy. I just bought a '10 Forester ( my first Subaru experience ), and I thought there might be some merit to the idea, so I changed the oil at 200 miles (already racked up that many before I saw the article). I used regular oil for this change, and will replace it with Mobil 1 at 1000 and thereafter at about 5000. I'm a city dweller, and don't plan to do any severe driving other than road trips here in Southern CA.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The oil filter should catch whatever impurities are in the oil for the first 1000, so that seems like a bit overkill. Can't hurt, though. Subaru does not use any special break-in oils, so you're probably draining a mostly clean oil pan.
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    edited August 2010
    Hi. Don't worry about being called crazy, it happens to me all the time. :)

    The regime you mention is almost exactly what I used to do, except switching to synthetic at 1000 miles. I still used conventional oil at the 1000 mile change. You only get one shot at breaking an engine in so I want to wait until at least 2K to 3K to give the rings a fair shot at the friction they need before I go to a more slippery synthetic. I know that many manufacturers use synthetic from the get-go but I am still a bit old-school on this. I used to wait until at least 5K miles but now pay homage to the better manufacturing techniques, materials, and tolerances. My schedule used to be 150 miles, 1000 miles, 3000 miles, then the synthetic at 5K or 6k. Now I typically do 500 miles, then 2500 miles with synthetic, as long as there has been no noticeable oil consumption which is a key indicator for rings being seated, otherwise I will go another 3K with conventional.

    Even with all the manufacturing positives now there is still a lot of junk generated during break-in, as well as still some crap left over from the manufacturing process. It is inevitable that filings and such be generated from the friction, and yes, they get caught in the filter... hopefully.

    It stands to reason that most of that junk will be generated early on, where the most friction is, as well as the stuff that is "shipped" with the engine. I always want to get that stuff out early. I used to race muscle cars and built a lot of engines. Back in the day when engines had predominately iron components, I cut an oil filter apart after 150 miles on a brand new factory engine. It was loaded with crap. I ran a bar magnet through it and the magnet came out looking like a chia pet with lots of "hair". If it had that much stuff at 150 miles imagine what it would have looked like at 3K. As I said in my earlier post, if the filter gets clogged it will bypass and you won't know it, so you end up circulating oil with a bunch of undesirable debris in it... not good for the bearings and other parts.

    I have softened as I have gotten older, but only a little. I now change out the first filter at about 500 to 600 miles, and might as well do the oil too even though it is still fine. Nowadays I try to be conservative but not as fanatical, but you certainly are doing no harm by changing at 100 to 200 miles. Your engine will never hate you for doing this, but not doing it can be deadly especially as it's life goes on. I never keep cars "forever" but treat them as if I were.

    Manufacturers would never recommend or require such conservative treatment because they don't want to be perceived as selling something with a high cost of ownership, but if you talked to any engine guy he would applaud your approach. Manufacturer requirements are MINIMUM requirements, not best. Seeing is believing and my experience with the magnet taught me all I needed to know, and you will find that those who think you are nuts are really justifying how they do things and general things they read. I also never buy used cars. :)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,524
    you certainly are doing no harm by changing at 100 to 200 miles. Your engine will never hate you for doing this

    Nicely said!
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • "... I used to race muscle cars and built a lot of engines. Back in the day when engines had predominately iron components, I cut an oil filter apart after 150 miles on a brand new factory engine. It was loaded with crap. I ran a bar magnet through it and the magnet came out looking like a chia pet with lots of "hair". If it had that much stuff at 150 miles imagine what it would have looked like at 3K...."

    The engines of today are manufactured to clean standards. This Scion dealership had a lady bring her car in for the first oil change at 6,500 miles. The mechanic cut open the filter and posted the results:
    http://scionlife.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23558

    I have a Scion with the same engine, and a Forester. I trust the Forester's engine is at least as cleanly made as the Scion's.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    I have a Scion with the same engine, and a Forester. I trust the Forester's engine is at least as cleanly made as the Scion's.

    If one uses a sand casting (XT?) and the other does not I would not presume the same lack of manufacturing residue.
  • Explain that further.
  • Alan, I guess I trust less that you do. I have used ultrasonic cleaners and had things totally disappear. I have also had acetone totally dissolve some materials. I also cannot believe that a new engine has no debris at all after 6K miles. Metal against metal has to create filings, even if very small, so where did they go? Even if the engine started out clean there would have to be something in the filter and/or oil after 6K of breaking in. Maybe that filter was stuck on bypass and it caught nothing, but the oil should have had something in it. By the way, my experience with Toyota filters is that they are very good, I also have a Tundra, so that report is very puzzling.

    I typically run my fingers along the bottom of my oil drain pan, after the oil cools. I have found the oil to be much grittier at the first oil change than later on in life, and that includes all my Foresters. I am not talking about big chunks of anything, just some fine grit.

    Besides, for about $20 I personally would not take the chance, and it makes me feel better based on my experiences.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    Subaru currently has two different blocks for four cylinder engines:
    1) the normally aspirated engine has an open deck design that is cast in a process that does not require sand to be shaken out of the completed casting.

    2) The XT/WRX/STI have a semiclosed deck design that requires cleaning of the mold remnants.

    I wonder which deck design is used in the new 2011 Forester?
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited September 2010
    Yes, the DOHC turbo and diesel engines have semi-closed cylinder decks, which must be sand cast.

    They cannot be die cast, like the open deck decks of the SOHC NA engines, because the cast webs holding the cylinder tops prevent withdrawal of a die.

    The sand-cast semi-closed decks do not place stress on the head gaskets, which is why this design is being used for the new NA engines.

    You and the OP perhaps think that some sand remains in the sand-cast engines. And the OP may believe that all engines make metal shavings as they break in. These would be misconceptions.

    All engines are thoroughly cleaned of casting and machining contaminants before assembly. And break-in only produces microscopically fine particles polished off the rings and cylinder walls, too small to be captured by filters. This material is captured and bonded to the detergent additives in the oil. And there is very little of it.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    The sand-cast semi-closed decks do not place stress on the head gaskets, which is why this design is being used for the new NA engines.

    But where has Subaru revealed "semi-closed deck" for the 2011 NA Forester engine? We all would be pleased with that design and it was one of several reasons I bought a 2010 XT for my mainly slow city driving...as well as the better match of lower speed engine torque to the 4-speed auto trans.

    Will the potential increase in manufacturing cost necessarily raise prices of all 4 cylinder models? If warranty costs have been high enough with the die cast blocks, an increase may not be necessary to maintain profit margins.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited September 2010
    "... where has Subaru revealed "semi-closed deck" for the 2011 NA Forester engine?"

    They have not. You must infer it. This says the turbo and the diesel use the DOHC semi-closed deck which saves the head gaskets:

    "The BOXER DIESEL adopts a semi-closed cylinder block deck to improve the rigidity around the head gaskets, following the precedent of the semi-closed type used in the Subaru EJ20 turbocharged gasoline engine."
    http://www.boxerdiesel.com/engineering/en/03.html

    Then these say the 2011 NA engine is also DOHC:

    "... for the 2011 Forester... Also of note is the switch from SOHC to DOHC..."
    http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2010/07/2011-subaru-forester-gets-new-base-en- - - gine-improved-fuel-economy.html

    "... for 2011, the Subaru Forester gets a new volume engine... double overhead cams (vs. a single cam previously)..."
    http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2010/07/2011-subaru-forester-gets-new-base-en- - - gine-improved-fuel-economy.html

    You have to assume that Subaru, in making the DOHC engine standard across the line, will use the same semi-closed deck for all of them. In a month, you can go see the new engine on the dealer lots.

    The new engine has two significant improvements:
    1. For all models, replaces the breakable timing belt that had to be changed every 100K, with a permanent timing chain.
    2. For the NA models, it replaces the open deck SOHC engine with the semi-closed deck DOHC engine that has unlimited head gasket life.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    You have to assume that Subaru, in making the DOHC engine standard across the line, will use the same semi-closed deck for all of them

    You are using THE instead of A DOHC engine. I believe the XT engine was described as unchanged for 2011.

    I hope you are correct that the semi-closed deck block is used in the NA engine.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited September 2010
    I meant that Subaru is using the same block design for all the engines -- the turbo,the diesel and now the naturally aspirated. For the turbo and diesel, this would not be a change. Only for the NA. Or, are you saying the DOHC turbo engine will stay with the belt drive while the DOHC NA engine gets the chain drive?

    On the decks, I suppose you could read the sources posted and come to the opposite conclusion - that for 2011 Subaru has designed a new open deck block for the DOHC motor, for use in the NA models only. In spite of what they said that they know about the effect of open decks on head gaskets.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    Or, are you saying the DOHC turbo engine will stay with the belt drive while the DOHC NA engine gets the chain drive

    That is the implication of the "unchanged" description. It would also mean no recertification cost for the XT right now, possibly a consideration. It also suggests to me that a next iteration of the XT engine might have the turbo below like the diesel. The mention of 2.0 liter to 2.5 liter displacements may also be a clue. I wonder what output a 2 liter turbo GASOLINE version of the diesel would have. I presume it would be tuned more for economy than the Japanese market turbos.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited September 2010
    ...that is the implication of the "unchanged" description. It would also mean no recertification cost for the XT..."

    Some things are unchanged.

    For the turbo, the engine has no changes requiring recertification. A change from belt to chain drive would not require recertification.

    For the NA, the 2.5L has no changes to displacement or power.
    But the NA does get DOHC and chain drive, for which it is called a new engine.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    For the NA, the 2.5L has no changes to displacement or power

    Not what I read:
    1) more displacement
    2) max torque at lower rpm
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited September 2010
    "For the NA, the 2.5L has no changes to displacement or power.
    But the NA does get DOHC and chain drive, for which it is called a new engine."


    "... Not what I read:
    1) more displacement
    2) max torque at lower rpm"


    We are both reading the same article that says:
    "... slightly larger displacement (2,498cc vs. 2,457cc)... horsepower remains at 170... Torque edges up from 170 at 4,400 rpm to 174 at 4,100 rpm..."
    http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/2010/07/2011-subaru-forester-gets-a-new- -base-engine.html

    But I did not consider that increases of 41 cc and 4 ft-lbs were significant enough to mention as design changes that would call it a new engine.

    The NA engine is called new not because of those insignificant changes in displacement and torque, but because of the DOHC heads and the chain-driven cams.
  • "... In a month, you can go see the new engine on the dealer lots."
    And here's a photo now;
    http://response.jp/imgs/zoom/249397.jpg
    Less expensive industry standard plastic intake runners. One serpentine belt for all the pumps and accessories. Cam chains buried deep in front cover. Cam ends with their hydraulic and electronic controls protruding out the front.
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