The whole idea behind buying a new car to replace your oil-burning beater is to drive something that requires less oil to keep it running. At least, in theory. But, as it turns out – while new cars shouldn’t require oil to be added between oil changes – some newer engines do.
According to Consumer Reports, if you’re the owner of an Audi, BMW, or Subaru, you may have to pour a quart of oil in as frequently as every 600 miles. What’s up with that? Your old beater needed oil every 500 miles and now you’re back to checking the dipstick every couple of weeks. And, it’s a well-known fact that cars that burn oil early on will inevitably consume even more as they age.
A small consolation is that you’re not alone. But, lugging a couple of quarts of oil in your trunk and always wondering if it’s time to add it before your engine burns up, isn’t what new car ownership is supposed to be all about. Or, is it?
Apparently, the trend is more common than you might expect. Consumer Reports found that out when they gathered survey data from 498,000 owners of 2010 to 2014 models. Mark Rechtin, the magazine’s cars content team leader, said a significant number of those owners, approximately 1.5 vehicles, reported statistics that CR deemed to be “excessive oil consumption”.
The magazine points the finger at several engines from the three manufacturers as the culprits of excessive oil consumption, with the biggest offenders being:
• Audi’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine
• Audi’s 3.0-liter V6 engine
• BMW’s 4.8-liter V8 engine
• BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine
• Subaru’s 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine
• Subaru’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
• Subaru’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
Although the Subarus made the list, they burned less oil than the other makes.
The models most affected by oil-burning include:
• Audi’s A3, A4, A5, A6 and Q5
• BMW’s 5, 6, and 7 Series and X5
• Subaru’s Outback, Legacy, Forester and Impreza
While the standards for specific models of Audi and BMW claim that burning a quart of oil every 600 to 700 miles is reasonable, according to Consumer Reports, some car owners may beg to differ. Subaru does considerably better at one quart for every 1,000 to 1,200 miles, but that’s still unacceptable for those who purchased these cars expecting worry-free driving.
As for the automakers themselves, all three had a variation of the same response – oil consumption is normal and, whether it’s a quart every 600 miles or every 1,200, “this falls within the car’s technical specifications.”
Without admitting liability or any wrongdoing, Audi spokesman Bradley Stertz did volunteer that a class action lawsuit over oil consumption by the 2.0-Liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines, affecting 2009 A4, 2010 A4 and A5, and 2011 A4, A5 and Q5 models, was on the verge of settlement.
Meanwhile, BMW says a service campaign aimed at checking and possibly replacing certain parts in its 4.4 liter V8 engines to alleviate the oil consumption problem is under way. And, Subaru claims the company’s vehicles have steadily improved from when the survey was taken in 2010 to its newest models.
Of course, whether the oil burning issue will have truly been addressed by automakers and rectified in the 2016 models will depend on Consumer Reports’ next study. Until then, you may want to carry a couple of extra quarts of oil with you and check the dipstick every other fill up.
Are you the owner of one of these vehicles? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.