“Love. It’s what makes a Subaru.”
Subaru’s latest marketing campaign is remarkably simple yet embodies the essence of the brand in a simple statement. You’ll be hard-pressed to find Subaru owners who don’t have a list of great things to mention about their car. One of the items that’s usually at the top of that list is how durable the engine is. This is party due to Subaru’s unique “boxer” engines that are aligned horizontally instead of vertically, resulting in less wear and tear on the engine.
Even the best engine is no good without proper oil though! In today’s article, we’re going to give you a full breakdown of our top picks for Subaru motor oil brands. We’ll also discuss how to select the best oil for your Subaru, what type of oil Subarus typically use, and answer some other common questions. Now, you can hit the ground running!
Best Motor Oil Brands For Your Subaru
Now that you understand a little bit more about why you need to use the correct oil for your Subaru, it’s time to show you the best motor oil for Subaru cars. We’ve included both 5W-30 options and 0W-20 options, so you’re guaranteed to find something that’s good for your car.
Best Low-Cost Synthetic: AmazonBasics Full Synthetic Motor Oil – 0W-20
If you drive a Subaru that was manufactured after the year 2011, then it’s most likely going to utilize a thinner 0W-20 oil. If you have an older model that’s turbocharged, then you should also use the 0W-20 oil in order to maximize engine efficiency and lubrication for high-intensity turbo spooling. In addition to changing oil viscosity recommendations in 2011, Subaru also started recommending that all drivers use a full-synthetic oil.
Synthetic is known for being on the pricey side, so if you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank, then you can’t go wrong with AmazonBasics’ 0W-20 full synthetic. It doesn’t contain as many additives as higher-end fuels, which means that it’s not necessarily the best choice for older engines that need extra care. However, if you have a younger engine with less than 100,000 miles on it, then you should find this fuel to be satisfactory.
It has passed all of the necessary safety certifications and is guaranteed to help prevent engine wear, increase fuel efficiency, and preserved engine power. Who doesn’t like affordable synthetic oil?
- Affordable full synthetic.
- Works with newer Subaru models.
- Is good for newer engines that don’t need extra cleaning additives.
- Doesn’t contain as many cleaning additives or performance-enhancing compounds.
Best Subaru 5W-30: Subaru SAE 5W30 Synthetic Motor Oil
Sometimes, your best bet is just to trust the manufacturer. While aftermarket fuels can offer some enticing benefits, they may or may not be right for your particular Subaru. This is why the automaker has created its own custom synthetic oil designed to be used with its cars. Although it is a little bit pricier than standard synthetic, you can purchase it with confidence knowing that it was made for your vehicle.
Subaru recommends its synthetic 5W-30 oil on all Subaru models (especially turbocharged models) that were manufactured prior to 2011. This is due to the fact that those engines were designed to operate with slightly thicker oil. Additionally, most of those engines have higher miles on them by now, which means they’ll benefit from the better seal offered by Subaru’s 5W-30.
Subaru’s 5W-30 full synthetic is custom-formulated to provide maximum protection from wear and tear, create a tight seal in the engine (maximizing efficiency), and helps preserve horsepower. Additionally, it has a higher burning temperature, which limits the amount of oil lost to heat and engine burn (a common problem on long road trips or when pushing a turbocharged engine at high speeds).
- Full synthetic provides superior engine protection.
- Specially formulated for Subaru engines.
- Higher burning temp designed to limit oil burn-off and evaporation.
- Slightly more expensive than other popular synthetics on the market.
Best Subaru 0W-20: Genuine Subaru Oil – 0W20 Synthetic
If you have a newer model Subaru (manufactured after 2011), then you’ll most likely need to use a 0W-20 viscosity. As with the earlier models, Subaru also recommends that you use a full synthetic oil on all Subaru vehicles made before and after 2011. The main difference between this and the 5W-30 listed above is that this oil is thinner and is able to withstand cooler temperatures.
In 2011, Subaru started making their engines more fuel-efficient tightened the seals. Using a 0W-20 in the modern engines helps to dramatically improve fuel economy and ensures that the engine is lubricdated faster than it would be by a thicker 5W-30.
As with all of its custom formulated oils, Subaru’s 0W-20 is designed to the same high quality standards. This means that this oil is able to withstand high temperatures and resist oil burn-off and evaporation (despite the fact that it’s thinner than the 5W-30). It also contains the same added compounds that help increase engine life and are formulated to be used with Subaru’s horizontally-angled boxer engines.
- Designed to be used with newer model Subarus (2011-present).
- Thinner oil results in a more efficient engine.
- Resists engine oil burn-off and evaporation caused by heat.
- Full synthetic oil that doesn’t need to be changed as often.
- Specially formulated for Subarus.
- A bit pricey.
Good For Top-Offs: Genuine Subaru Oil – 5W30 Synthetic, 1 Quart Bottle
Above we discussed Subaru’s full synthetic 5W-30 motor oil that was designed to be used with all Subaru engines manufactured before 2011. The product we reviewed was the larger 1-gallon jug. Typically, the 1-gallon jug is perfect for an oil change where all of the oil is flushed out of the engine and your filter is changed. It’s also the best value for the money.
However, what if you just need a quick top-off? It’s not always convenient to carry around a bulky gallon-sized jug in your trunk. If you’ve got a long road trip coming up or you plan on pushing your Subaru on the track, then it’s a good idea to have the right oil so that you can top off the fuel if it starts burning off. You never know when you’ll find a dealership while you’re on the road!
The single quart bottles are more expensive by volume than the larger four-quart jugs. However, they’re smaller, easy to carry around and don’t add as much weight to your vehicle. It’s always a great idea to have an extra quart sitting in your trunk for emergencies!
- Specially formulated for Subaru vehicles made prior to 2011.
- Full synthetic for maximum protection.
- Small and easy to carry around.
- More expensive by volume than the large 1-gallon jug.
Great For Racing/Performance: Royal Purple 51530 High Performance Motor Oil 5W-30
While Subaru is known for making some of the top family cars in the industry, they’re also known for making fast cars. The automaker’s vehicles have been featured time and time again in action movies, racing video games, and are a favorite among both recreational and professional car racers.
As you’re probably aware, high speeds and quick acceleration put extra strain on your engine. If you want to limit the problems and potential repairs, then the best thing you can do is to use high-performance engine oil. Royal Purple has been producing racing-grade synthetic lubricants for over 35 years and is trusted by speed fanatics everywhere.
Like Subaru’s OEM synthetic oil, Royal Purple synthetic contains added compounds to improve lubrication and protect the heart of your engine. As a 5W-30, it’s perfect for any Subaru made prior to 2011. Despite its thicker weight, however, it offers the same fuel efficiency rating as a thinner 5W-20.
- Designed to withstand the strain of high-performance racing and high speeds.
- Full synthetic with added compounds to keep your engine clean and efficient.
- Offers enhanced fuel efficiency that’s similar to a 5W-20.
- More expensive than other common synthetic oils.
Best For High-Mileage Subarus: Castrol GTX 5W-30 High Mileage Motor Oil
Subarus are well known for their longevity and many drivers report putting 250,000 to 300,000 miles on their Subarus before trading them in or junking them. If you have an older model Subaru with high mileage (over 75,000 miles), then Castrol’s GTX 5W-30 is an excellent choice.
It offers the same great protection that Subaru’s OEM 5W-30 provides and is designed to help your engine go longer between oil changes. However, it also contains some added cleaning compounds that are designed to help burn the carbon and oil build-up that often plagues older engines. It also contains compounds designed to help stop or prevent engine leaks!
- Designed for high-mileage cars.
- Should be used in Subarus made before 2011.
- Full synthetic oil increases engine efficiency and reduces emissions.
- More costly than standard low-mileage synthetics.
What Type of Oil Do Subaru Cars Use?
Before you just go buy any oil, though, it’s important to know exactly what type of motor oil your Subaru needs. There are two major differences that separate most types of motor oil:
- Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil.
- The Oil’s Viscocity
Synthetic, Conventional, and Semi-Synthetic Oils
Back in the old days, all oil was conventional. This oil was usually thick, slightly dark, and was refined using crude oil harvested from oil refineries. It’s a decent lubricant, but it can sometimes leave build-up behind and needs to be changed more frequently than modern synthetic motor oils. The main advantage of a conventional oil is that it’s cheap.
Synthetic oil is made using 100% synthetic ingredients or by chemically modifying the structure of existing petroleum compounds. The advantage of synthetic oil is that the added compounds and chemicals help keep the oil homogenous so that it doesn’t separate and cause build-up. Additionally, synthetics contain cleaning agents that keep your pistons firing clean, maximizing power output and fuel efficiency at the same time.
Lastly, you’ll find semi-synthetic or synthetic blends. These oils typically utilize a conventional base with added synthetic compounds to protect your engine. They’re a bit more expensive that pure conventional oil and cheaper than pure synthetic. They’re a decent choice for younger engines that have less than 75,000 miles on them if you’re trying to save some money on oil.
Does Subaru Recommend Synthetic Oil?
Typically, Subaru recommends using a full-synthetic oil to maintain maximum fuel efficiency and ensure that the engine lasts as long as possible with minimal repairs. This is especially true given the unique nature of Subaru’s boxer-style engine layout.
Other than that, the main difference between oil types is the viscosity of the fluid. This is indicated by two codes divided by a small dash. The first set of numbers indicates the “winter (W)” rating of the oil. The lower the number, the less viscous, or thick the oil is. Thinner oil typically performs better in low temperatures or is used in high-performance engines that need quicker lubrication.
Thicker oils (such as 5W, 10W, or 15W) are better for older engines or extremely hot temperatures. They won’t burn up as quickly on a hot day or a long road trip, and they can create a better engine seal. However, the disadvantage of thick oil is that the vehicle becomes less fuel-efficient as the pistons lose power while they push through heavier oil.
Ultimately, you should go based on what the manufacturer says. Each engine is designed to work well with a specific type of oil, which should be listed in your owner’s manual or on the oil cap in the engine bay.
Thankfully, Subaru keeps it simple; most of the older Subarus use a thicker 5W-30, while most of the newer model or turbocharged Subarus use a light 0W-20 oil.
How Often Should I Change The Oil In My Subaru?
Subaru recommends changing your oil every 6,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. If you have an older Subaru (pre-2011), then you may want to consider changing the oil every 4,000 miles as those engines weren’t quite as efficient as today’s more modern engines.