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Old 10-05-2011, 11:32 PM   #1
aserr
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Default 2011 WRX misfires, Subaru says my 5w-40 is the issue

Anyone ever have the dealer and Subaru tell them that Shell Rotella 5w-40 wasn't an acceptable oil?

Here's the story: CEL comes on at the end of August while I'm half way through a 250 mile trip. It came on right after I bought gas, obviously engine was hot, but I wasn't going to be home to my code reader for another 4 days because I was camping. Made a few short drives from the campsite, the CEL turns off by itself. I think okay no big deal, maybe it was a loose gas cap.

Fast forward two weeks: my wife is driving the car, CEL comes back on, she takes it to the dealer we bought it from. It was a Friday afternoon and he says, "Well, I pulled the codes and cleared them, but we're not going to fix it today, so call me if it happens again." He told my wife that he pulled misfire codes, but I don't know exactly which ones.

Fast forward another two weeks or so: the CEL comes back on. This time, I pull the codes, sure enough: misfires on all for cylinders P0301, P0302, P0303, and P0304. I call the service guy back at the first dealer and leave him a message, he doesn't call me back. I start calling other dealers. Finally make an appointment for Monday 10/3.

So I bring the car in on Monday, they verify the codes but there's no obvious problem. They clear the code and drive it around a bit. Fortunately, they're able to get it act up again and record some data that they send off to Subaru. The dealer tech tells me that the next step is to go deeper and to pull the valve covers and start poking around but that Subaru won't authorize the repair. He says that I need to authorize the repair and basically take responsibility for the fact that I might have been abusing the car. Not exactly an awesome way to treat customers. But he assures me that once they get in there and see that there's nothing unreasonably out of the ordinary, Subaru will authorize and cover the repair.

Not feeling like I had any choice, and knowing that I haven't abused the car in anyway, I authorize the dealer to proceed and leave the car there.

Today, the dealer calls me and says, "Subaru called us back after analyzing the data stream and said don't do anything until you put proper oil in it. We flushed the engine, put 5w-30 in, and put a few miles on the car and haven't seen any issues." Fine. Great.

But here's where I start to get annoyed. The dealer wants to charge me $110 for the oil change to a "proper" oil. But last time I checked the car manual, 5w-40 is an approved weight and of course the Shell Rotella is generally well-respected here on the forums. I don't think I should be paying out of pocket to hunt down a problem in a car filled with an approved fluid, and frankly, I shouldn't have had to assume any responsibility at any point when the car has such low mileage and zero after market parts.

The car has roughly 11k miles on it. It's bone stock. I do the maintenance myself and have copies of receipts for oil and oil filters. I will grant that I may be a bit paranoid on the oil changes, having done the first at 3500 and the second at 8500 (I'm sure the peanut gallery will tell me that changing the oil too soon has caused irreparable damage).

Thoughts? I hate to start another "Oil Thread" having read through so many of them before choosing the Rotella and knowing just how vicious they can get.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:57 PM   #2
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Well, your owner's manual says that it requires oil marked "SM" and "Energy Conserving", and I don't think the T6 fulfills both requirements. The manual also says that 5w30 synthetic should be used for optimum engine performance and protection.

YMMV on that one, but if it comes down to it, the T6 isn't an approved oil grade/type and therefore you're not going to win this.

How did they know you were using 5w-40?
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:59 PM   #3
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Shell Rotella does not meet Subaru's standards for engine oil. It also does not meet the API or JASO standards as recommended by Subaru.

In order to meet the tougher fuel economy standards all of the Subaru engine's that now require synthetic oil are built with tighter tolerances than previous engine designs and I would not doubt that using an unapproved oil could cause issues. Pay to put the recommended oil in the car and see if the problem is resolved. If it is then they are/were right.
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:51 AM   #4
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Ruh Roh Rotella...

Sorry, you might be out of luck, as new 2011 WRX/STI manuals say this now:





And the 2011 WRX/STI Quick Reference Guide says:


You might have an older 2011 manual that says 40 weight oil is OK for high ambient temperature use, but Subaru should have sent you an owner manual addendum correcting that to the current 5W-30 SM or SN Energy or Resource Conserving, ILSAC GF-4 or GF-5 requirement.

This is why I'm avoiding Rotella T6 for the time being and trying out the new Castrol Edge Titanium/Syntec oils. Many other members of this thread love Rotella T6 (supported by great used oil analyses) but I always suspected something like this might happen.

Also if the oil change does fix your misfires, then you do owe the dealer $110. ..but if it doesn't fix the problem then I would withhold payment until they actually fix it.
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Old 10-06-2011, 03:42 AM   #5
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Thank you all for your feedback. Indeed, I have one of the original 2011 manuals that says:

Quote:
SAE viscosity No. and applicable temperature
5W-30* (Whole temp band)
5W-40 (Whole temp band)
10W-30 (-20C to top of band)
10W-40 (-20C to top of band)

If the vehicle is used in desert areas, in areas with very high temperatures, or is used for heavy-duty applications, use of oil with the following grade and viscosities is recommended.
API classification SN (or SM):
SAE viscosity No.: 30, 40, 10W-50,
20W-40, 20W-50

*: 5W-30 is recommended.
I must have the addendum around here somewhere, but I'm thinking I made my oil choice before receiving it. I seem to recall being under the impression that the addendum only included a requirement for synthetic and a maintenance interval of 7500 miles, no changes to the allowable viscosities, but obviously the images above indicate otherwise.

And while Rotella is, in fact, marked "SM," it does not include the "Energy Conserving" provision.
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:02 AM   #6
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You're right. RT6 is most definitely an API SM oil. I might buy their argument if the WRX had a new engine, but it doesn't. IMO, they cannot PROVE that it was the oil especially since the original manual lists thicker viscosities. It also cannot be proven that you received the addendum.

$110 just for the oil change or does that include a diagnostics charge? Find another dealer and also bring your own oil from Wal-Mart.

-Dennis

Last edited by bluesubie; 10-06-2011 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesubie
You're right. RT6 is most definitely an API SM oil. I might buy their argument if the WRX had a new engine, but it doesn't. IMO, they cannot PROVE that it was the oil especially since the original manual lists thicker viscosities. It also cannot be proven that you received the addendum.

$110 just for the oil change or does that include a diagnostics charge? Find another dealer and also bring your own oil from Wal-Mart.

-Dennis
Also the new manual says you can use 5W-40 if 5W-30 isn't available. Sounds like the dealer is feeding you BS.
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesubie View Post
Find another dealer and also bring your own oil from Wal-Mart.

-Dennis
Yeah, and next time you go out to eat, bring your own steak and hand it to the waitress. Tell her you want the chef to cook that one.

Bon Apetit!
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonklein611 View Post
Also the new manual says you can use 5W-40 if 5W-30 isn't available. Sounds like the dealer is feeding you BS.
According to the images above, its for replenishment purposes only, and to change it at the next oil change.
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:35 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by lordgrinz View Post
According to the images above, its for replenishment purposes only, and to change it at the next oil change.
Correct, but this also means that it is an acceptable type oil (yes temporary, but still) which is not what the dealer is stating. They are saying it can't be in the engine at all.
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Old 10-06-2011, 02:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonklein611 View Post
Correct, but this also means that it is an acceptable type oil (yes temporary, but still) which is not what the dealer is stating. They are saying it can't be in the engine at all.
The dealer is correct, Rotella 5w-40 is absolutely not an acceptable oil based on the owners manual. Yes, the weight is allowed, but it needs to have the energy conserving seal.
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Old 10-06-2011, 03:56 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by SpamBot View Post
Yeah, and next time you go out to eat, bring your own steak and hand it to the waitress. Tell her you want the chef to cook that one.

Bon Apetit!
apples to oranges - dealerships can still charge and make good money on the easy labor involved with an oil change. sure, not as much as if you bought their overpriced oil, but they still get their fair share. it's a bit rude IMO unless you are bringing in oil that they do not supply and they gave you their blessing, but it's different, none the less.

a chef cooking your product is working for free.
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:49 PM   #13
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The 5W-40 mentioned in the owner's manual referring to replenishment states "5W-40 conventional" may be used. There's no such thing!

-Dennis
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:51 PM   #14
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Dupe post
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesubie View Post
The 5W-40 mentioned in the owner's manual referring to replenishment states "5W-40 conventional" may be used. There's no such thing!

-Dennis


That and "replenishment" typically doesn't mean 4.5 quarts... it would be a quart or so between LOFs if the oil level is low.
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Old 10-07-2011, 03:59 PM   #16
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The new Prius will throw misfire codes if 0w20 synthetic is not used.. Engineers at Toyota said it has to do with the calibration of the crank and cam sensors. Thicker oil causes the rotating assembly to spin at a slightly slower speed which is interpreted by the ecu as a misfire.. Sounded ridiculous to me...
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Old 10-07-2011, 04:02 PM   #17
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why not just make life easy and stick with a 5w30 synthetic?
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcarlson546
why not just make life easy and stick with a 5w30 synthetic?
Because most 5w-30's are what Uncle Scotty calls "girly man" oils. AKA they suck.

Very very few 5w-30s are inexpensive and protect as well as Rotella.
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:45 PM   #19
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Well, based on the mixed reactions here, I opted not to argue with dealer. I paid for the oil change to 5w-30 and drove away hoping all was well. I'll be honest: the car did seem to run smoother, but maybe it was just my imagination.

But, surprise, surprise, the problem is not fixed . The CEL came on again this evening while idling at a stoplight. I haven't pulled the codes yet, but I'd be shocked if it wasn't more misfires. Needless to say, I'll be calling the dealer tomorrow...
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Old 10-08-2011, 12:32 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aserr
I'll be honest: the car did seem to run smoother, but maybe it was just my imagination.
Mine runs smoother after a car wash. Tell them to ask SoA to name a brand of 5W-40 conventional. Heck, some people say that they can't force you to use "synthetic" when that is only a marketing term with no industry definition.

Good luck.

-Dennis
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Old 10-08-2011, 12:42 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonklein611

Because most 5w-30's are what Uncle Scotty calls "girly man" oils. AKA they suck.

Very very few 5w-30s are inexpensive and protect as well as Rotella.
OT/Slight thread hijack.
I'm actually being bold right now and trying a Motul oil with girly man levels of ZDDP. X-clean C3 5W-30. It's SM rated, but it doesn't get the official girly man Energy/Resource Conserving seal because it meets Euro ACEA A3 specs with a higher High Temp High Shear and it's also thick at 100C like GC (which gives me some comfort). Low TBN though so I won't be pushing it too far. Although someone here did a 7,500 mile run in an STI (and without a TBN reading).

-Dennis
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Old 10-09-2011, 01:53 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by bluesubie View Post
OT/Slight thread hijack.
I'm actually being bold right now and trying a Motul oil with girly man levels of ZDDP. X-clean C3 5W-30. It's SM rated, but it doesn't get the official girly man Energy/Resource Conserving seal because it meets Euro ACEA A3 specs with a higher High Temp High Shear and it's also thick at 100C like GC (which gives me some comfort). Low TBN though so I won't be pushing it too far. Although someone here did a 7,500 mile run in an STI (and without a TBN reading).

-Dennis
Do post the UOA when you can get it - I'm interested. At $9+ a quart, it better be good...

Quote:
Originally Posted by aserr View Post
Well, based on the mixed reactions here, I opted not to argue with dealer. I paid for the oil change to 5w-30 and drove away hoping all was well. I'll be honest: the car did seem to run smoother, but maybe it was just my imagination.

But, surprise, surprise, the problem is not fixed . The CEL came on again this evening while idling at a stoplight. I haven't pulled the codes yet, but I'd be shocked if it wasn't more misfires. Needless to say, I'll be calling the dealer tomorrow...
Damn sorry to hear it is isn't fixed yet. I would not pay for any additional work until the dealership has fixed the problem and kept the car for at least 2-3 days beyond that without the CEL coming back on.
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Old 10-09-2011, 03:41 AM   #23
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this whole 'oil issue' is just ****ign ridiculous....bloody, bleeding ****ing out of their ****ing minds

ridiculous

if subaru is telling anybody that using a 5w40 oil will cause CEL's or ANY issue...they need to pull their heads outa their collective ass and FIND THE REAL PROBLEM and not blame the ****ing oil bing used

THAT is just bull****.
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:30 PM   #24
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Might be nothing or it might be a cause to the problem, but what gas are you filling up with?
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:02 PM   #25
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Quote:
if subaru is telling anybody that using a 5w40 oil will cause CEL's or ANY issue...they need to pull their heads outa their collective ass and FIND THE REAL PROBLEM and not blame the ****ing oil bing used
Thank you for weighing in on this Scotty, as the de facto oil guru on these forums, your input will make me more confident if I have to argue my case any further.

Quote:
but what gas are you filling up with?
Yeah, when the CEL first came on, I thought it might have been bad gas, but the light has now come on with fuel from 3 different stations and 2 different brands (Shell and Chevron). And I'm only putting 91 in it.
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