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2020 Outback
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56 Posts
I used to sell Amzoil, but found that any synthetic oils are good enough.
The only reason to avoid using a synthetic oil in an older engine is because it might clean some crud that formed in an old seal. But if the oil was changed regularly in that engine, there should be crud in the seals. Subaru now specifies 0W-20 synthetic oil in all Subaru engines, and never discouraged use of synthetic oils. I have exclusively used synthetic oil in all my vehicles (new and older) for 35 years and never experienced leaks or oil burning. These days, the price of synthetic oil has dropped ( you can buy the Kirkland (Warren) brand at Costco for $25 for 10 quarts).
I am told the blue Subaru filters are manufactured by Fram. I read one man's report that he disassembled several brand filters, and found WIX was one of the best constructed. The NAPA brand filters are made by WIX.
 

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2014 Forester CVT
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5 Posts
I agree with the overall theme of most of the posts. Just about any oil from a reputable brand is fine unless you are running some crazy engine pushing the limits or engineering. The one thing I will say is if you ha e been running conventional for 100k+ Stick with conventional or a synthetic blend. Switching a motor that has been running conventional it’s whole life to synthetic can sometimes cause leaks to spring up both internally (burning oil) and externally. For a daily driver, pick an oil brand that you like (for whatever reason) and just make sure to do regular oil changes.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i CVT
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73 Posts
I use Royal Purple for oil and Filter. If you buy in the large 5 gallon jugs you get a great price. You can also look out for sales on Royal Purple Direct and get a fantastic price.

The reason a lot of people say don't switch an old engine to synthetic is they start leaking oil. This is true and false. Synthetics do a better job of cleaning out old deposits. This can cause seals to leak as some deposits plug holes in seals. What it will do is help clean things that may have accumulated into the oil filter and out of your engine.

I have switched my old truck to Royal Purple and haven't had one extra oil leak. I already had one and it hasn't gotten worse.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Premium 6-speed manual
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175 Posts
Ah, the dreaded "Motor Oil" conundrum.

Well, I am a long time VW /Audi guy, both personally and, in the past, professionally. For my VWs or Audi I have long switched to using Genuine VW /Audi filters. If not, the default choice is Mann, whose parent family owned company, Mann + Hummel, now owns the US Brands WIX and Purolator.

I use only Castrol oil in my cars and use the Castrol type that meets my car's needs as stated in the Owners Manual or in the case of VW/Audi meets the specified VW Oil Quality Standard noted in the owner's manual and /or the engine compartment.

In the case of my daughter's current 2015 Forester, the Castrol brand of fully synthetic oil used meets and complies with Subaru's requirements, as follows: SAE 0W-20, API: SM / SN / SN+/ SP (Energy Conserving /Resource Conserving), ILSAC: GF-6.

As for oil filters, I use Genuine Subaru US oil filters, but will switch to Purolator Boss oil filters after watching a Oil Filter review by "Mr. Subaru", from two years ago, recently.


Pick the fully synthetic oil brand you like that meets the standards listed in your owners manual in terms of viscosity and the latest API and ILSAC standards. For oil filters, Genuine Subaru is the basic standard I would chose when selecting what filter to use. For me, personally, Genuine Subaru oil filters are a back up choice, and the only alternative choice now, to Purolator's top of the line Boss filter.
 

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2018 Forester Touring CVT
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85 Posts
Mobil1 and Subaru Japan made OEM Black filter. # 15208AA160
OCI @ 3k miles.
Filter @ 5k mi. View attachment 550571 View attachment 550572
I finially found a place that consistently offers the 15208AA160 black filter - PartSouq in Dubai. $6.86 + international freight brings it to about $10 each when ordering a box of 10. The also passed the Not Counterfeit test - (1)Printed label, not a sticker (2)Box glued with dots of glue, not strips (3)Cellophane sealing the opening of the filter.
 

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K&N filters are good. They also make a billet filter that is washable and reusable for the lifetime of the vehicle. They also make reusable engine and cabin air filters.
K&N Billet Oil Filter
 

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2004 Subaru Forester XT
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9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #29 ·
K&N filters are good.
That billet filter is pretty cool but also pretty expensive. Makes since for a fairly newer car but it would have to last over 100k miles for it to start paying for itself.

I do have a Cobb air intake with a washable air filter.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
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@NewEngland;
That’s a long way to go for the black filters!
I purchased a lifetime supply from a good vendor on EBay. USA seller. Came out to less than $8 Each shipped free.

Not sure if they still have any but they are all legit. Printed box and all. Recommended by Mr Subaru1387 from YT.
 

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2020 Forester Touring
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2 Posts
With the age and mileage of your car, I'd probably lean toward a high-mileage formula, like Castrol or Valvoline MaxLife, so if your engine uses some oil, maybe transition toward the high-mileage oil even when you're adding a quart.
Jiffy Lube always wants to upgrade my '97 Honda CRV with 154k (I'm also a Subie owner) to high mileage oil. How is it better?
 

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2017 Foz 2.5i CVT
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Jiffy Lube always wants to upgrade my '97 Honda CRV with 154k (I'm also a Subie owner) to high mileage oil. How is it better?
It is designed for cars with higher mileage--slightly heavier viscosity (within the rated grade) and conditioners to soften rubber and other engine seals which can reduce leaking. Got Google?

That said, we have had Honda and Acura cars at 130-150k miles and if they don't consume oil, you don't really need the high mileage oil. I would be more likely to use it in Subarus that use a bit of oil, and I do put it in my '91 BMW 318is because it has a couple seeping engine seals.

High Mileage oil does not cost noticeably more than regular oil at auto parts stores but Jiffy Lube would be glad to charge you more, as well as selling you filters and stuff you don't need for highly inflated prices.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Premium 6-speed manual
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175 Posts
@karlaudi,

Great video. Next time I’ll try one of those Japan made filters.
I thought so too, obviously. I was impressed with his simple approach to the issue of oil filters and the fact that he did not try to play Mechanical Engineer or throw meaningless jargon at his viewers. It was simply he spent his own money on just about every oil filter sold at the local chain auto parts stores for Subarus, opened them all up and did a visual inspection on them all, and referenced them against US Market and JDM Subaru factory filters .
 

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2011 Forester 2.5X Automatic
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201 Posts
The most important thing about oil is using the correct viscosity. Cars made in the last 10 years or so typically run on 0W20. They do that for fuel mileage and because the oil flows quickly on cold starts to minimize engine wear. The engine oil system and engine are designed to run on this watery elixir.

Your car is a little older so it's "stock" oil requirement is probably 5w30 or 5w20. Read what it says in the owners manual for recommended viscosity choices if any. Use what it says. When selecting your oil brand of choice, just make sure it has the API "sunburst" on the label ...means the stuff meets all the criteria and ratings listed on the container. I don't think you can find any oil sold today that doesn't have the API label on it. I've used WalMart's SuperTech synthetic 5w30 in my '98 GMC pickup and will be switching to their newly added 0W20 for my Foz and Accord. I have been using Mobil1 0w20 simply because it was the only brand choice. Now, having said all this, there's nothing from stopping you from "experimenting". Try to keep the first number of multi-viscosity oils the same as the recommended oil; this is the cold start characteristic of the oil. If it's 5w or 0w then try to keep that; don't swap in a 10w or a 20w. So if you're using, say, a 0w20 you could try a 0w30 or 40.

If you really want to beat the minutiae-of-oil horse to death, go to "Bob is the Oil Guy dot com" and it'll make your head spin ...just before it hits the desk with boredom. People can get really absurdly passionate about motor oil. What's interesting on BITOG is the post-mortems done on oil filters; they are definitely not all created equal.

The OEM (blue can) oil filters for US model Subarus are made by FRAM. FRAM is probably the crappiest filter you can buy as far as how it's made (the internals you can't see). I use the Japanese market OEM Subaru filters (black can) for my '11 Foz. They are made in Japan. You can find them available from online dealers. Buy a case and you'll be set for awhile. Or, just go strictly aftermarket. Stay away from FRAM. Purolator, NAPA Gold and WIX are all good quality filters made here in the USA.

This isn't rocket science ...although if you visit BITOG you might think so.
 

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2004 Forester XT Auto
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313 Posts
The most important thing about viscosity is NOT following the cap designation, it's using the correct oil for application and conditions. Very often a manufacturer will spec one grade of oil for "normal" operation, but list a heavier grade for "severe" operation, generally meaning short drives, very cold or very hot temps, towing, extended high RPM operation, up or down mountains, lots of city driving...basically anything that isn't "driving in a straight line on the interstate". So be sure to read the owners manual and determine the correct oil grade.

Another interesting thing of note is that subaru specs different oil weights in the US vs other markets, with the US getting the lighter oils. Since USDM engines are not magically different, it seems this must be done for fuel economy reasons, trading protection for meeting regulations. Personally I refuse to use 0W-20 in anything, since it quickly shears down even thinner (!). Our FA24 gets 5W-30 (though I'm considering trying a 0W-30 next winter), and everything else gets Rotella T6 5W-40 (unless it's a lawn mower, then it gets whatever is cheapest).

Also seeing lots of fram comments...to those making the comments, are you indicating that ALL fram filters are worthless, or just the cheapest, lowest end models?
 

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2003 Forester
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108 Posts
That longer video linked is the one I was thinking of. It even has the Mazda filter in there. FWIW I've gotten them for ~$5 from Mazda but they had to order them as they aren't a popular application.

The most important thing about viscosity is NOT following the cap designation, it's using the correct oil for application and conditions. Very often a manufacturer will spec one grade of oil for "normal" operation, but list a heavier grade for "severe" operation, generally meaning short drives, very cold or very hot temps, towing, extended high RPM operation, up or down mountains, lots of city driving...basically anything that isn't "driving in a straight line on the interstate". So be sure to read the owners manual and determine the correct oil grade.

Another interesting thing of note is that subaru specs different oil weights in the US vs other markets, with the US getting the lighter oils. Since USDM engines are not magically different, it seems this must be done for fuel economy reasons, trading protection for meeting regulations. Personally I refuse to use 0W-20 in anything, since it quickly shears down even thinner (!). Our FA24 gets 5W-30 (though I'm considering trying a 0W-30 next winter), and everything else gets Rotella T6 5W-40 (unless it's a lawn mower, then it gets whatever is cheapest).

Also seeing lots of fram comments...to those making the comments, are you indicating that ALL fram filters are worthless, or just the cheapest, lowest end models?

THISSSSS! Much of US oil spec is driven by the increasingly strict CAFE standards trying to eek out every MPG across a manufacturers entire lineup. From Subaru's FSM:

550974


Oil weight isn't a one weight fits all engines type of thing it's all dependent on the application. Run a little more boost? You've changed parameters and the factory oil spec is now out the window. In a turbo car with a journal bearing turbo I'd never run below 40 weight or non synthetic. Additional load on the thrust bearing and rod bearings with the increased BMEP at higher boost levels. Synthetic also resists coking so much better and flows better as a similar weight as conventional in cold.

When I think of Fram filters I only think of the lowest end orange ones. The cardboard endcaps are enough for me to pass with all the other options out there. To have to step up to Frams top level to get a decent filter when there are so many equal options for less money I'm all set.
 

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2011 Subaru Forester
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For all the Fram haters out there, could someone point out a single issue experienced by someone using the blue OE oil filter manufactured in the USA to Subarus exacting standards? Why is it that there is all this trust for Subaru engineering and OE parts, and yet somehow when it comes to the Blue oil filter the company lost its way and is selling a substandard part to clients...
 

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2017 Foz 2.5i CVT
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In the 1970's, Fram was without doubt the best oil filter per Consumer Reports tests, and I used them on all my cars. Fram also supported auto racing and I liked that. I'm not sure if it was with the Honeywell purchase, but the cardboard end-cap construction with uneven pleats, smaller filtering area, and poor gluing took Fram's quality into the basement compared with other brands. The fact that Fram charges huge price premiums for 10 cent improvements in materials and construction is part of what bothers me. How much does a silicone ADB valve cost compared to nitrile? How much does a good bypass valve cost compared to the cheap Fram stuff? If cardboard end caps are so good, why does Fram use metal on its high end filters? (And I could argue that stiff cardboard/fiber end caps are better than metal because glue will stick to them better.)

That said, Honda has used Frams as OEM filters for years and I ran an Acura TL and my wife ran her '07 Civic up to 135k and 150k miles respectively using the dealer for oil changes and using the blue Fram filters. Neither car ever used measurable oil between changes.

For my '09 Foz, I bought a case of Tokyo Roki filters when they were being discontinued, but that engine still had HG leaks and developed sticking rings under my extended warranty, at which point it became clear that my nit-picking oil filters and oil brands had been fairly worthless. After it was fixed, it just got the dealer's oil and filters, and our '17 has gotten the dealer changes for its life so far (33k miles).

If you want to live the oil/filter "lifestyle" and spend your days on Bob is the Oil Guy forums, go for it. It will likely make little or no difference in the lifespan of your engine compared to doing changes at decent intervals using the factory recommended oil weight and OEM oil filters. Better you should worry about the foods you eat and your exercise routine.

I spent many years on a Ford Truck forum, and one expediter had multiple Ford 4.6 and 5.4 V8 engines in cargo vans at 1.2-1.3 MILLION miles with no oil-related issues. His drivers took the vans in for oil changes every 10 or 20k miles, basically whenever they remembered, and used a local shop that used no-name oil and filters.
 
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