How To Know If Your Subaru Is Leaking Oil

Your Subaru could be the largest purchase you’ll ever make, and therefore it’s natural to want to keep your vehicle in the best possible condition. To ensure longevity, it’s best to identify and address common issues like oil leaks, which will negatively impact your vehicle’s lifespan and performance. So how do you know if your Subaru is leaking oil?

Here are common signs to know if your Subaru is leaking oil: 

  1. Blue smoke emissions from your vehicle’s exhaust.
  2. Consistently low oil levels.
  3. Frothy, foamy, or milky oil appearance.
  4. The oil pressure light on your dashboard turns on.
  5. Formation of black or brownish puddles under your car.

In this article, I’ll explain the most common signs that your Subaru is leaking oil, along with the associated causes. You’ll also see why it’s essential to prevent these leaks and learn some actions to arrest them.

Signs That Your Subaru Is Leaking Oil

If you see any of the following signs, your car may be leaking oil, and it’s best to take your vehicle for service to minimize damage to your engine.

1. Blue Smoke Emissions From Your Vehicle’s Exhaust

One of the most noticeable signs of oil leakage is the emission of blue smoke in the exhaust or under the hood. Unlike transmission fluid, engine oil isn’t as flammable, so it doesn’t burn but instead smokes with a strange odor.  

When oil leaks from the engine, it can make its way to the combustion chamber, where it’s exposed to high temperatures and can start smoking. 

Diagnosis: Pay attention to any changes in the color of smoke coming from the exhaust. If you notice blue-colored smoke, your engine is likely leaking oil. 

Note: It’s crucial to remember that oil leaks won’t always manifest as blue smoke. The color usually comes out when the amount of oil leaking is significant enough to burn. When your engine is leaking small amounts of oil, it may be difficult to notice any blue smoke. 

Solution: If you notice this smoke, your engine is likely leaking more than small amounts of oil, mainly due to faulty engine parts or wear and tear. 

Unless you’re an expert, it’s best to tow the car to a mechanic to avoid further damage. 

2. Consistently Low Oil Levels

While leaks can initially be minimal and difficult to detect, gradual leaking will impact your oil levels. Accordingly, one of the major signs of oil leakage is to notice consistently low oil levels on the meter.

The good news is that it’s easy to diagnose low engine oil levels, and you don’t require any specialized skills.

check oil level

Diagnosis: Diagnosing this problem requires regular oil checks, by following these steps:

  1. Locate the dipstick. 
  2. Remove the dipstick.
  3. Use a rag to wipe the dipstick. This ensures that you get an accurate reading.
  4. Place the dipstick back in its tube and ensure you insert it all the way in.
  5. Remove the dipstick and check the oil level by seeing how far up the dipstick the oil reaches.

If you find this level is below the minimum, it’s likely that your engine is low on oil – a common symptom of oil leaks.

Solution: If this is a consistent problem, your Subaru likely has an oil leak. It’s best to check for other common signs discussed in this article, following which you should have your engine checked and serviced as early as possible. 

Note: It’s natural for the engine oil to decrease over time, depending on how fast your car burns oil. The real issue here is consistently low levels, and if you notice the level decreasing more rapidly than usual even after adding oil, have your car serviced at the earliest. 

3. Frothy, Foamy, or Milky Oil Appearance

New engine oil has a slightly translucent, amber appearance. If you’re having a hard time imagining this, try picturing the same color and consistency as olive oil. 

However, oil leaks will change the natural color to a milky appearance. This milky or frothy hue is because of the oil and coolant mixture, which occurs when there’s an oil leak. The most common cause of this mixing is when the head gasket succumbs to the engine pressure and heat and consequently blows. 

Diagnosis: Properly diagnosing this issue requires regular checks on the engine oil’s appearance. The easiest way to do this is to use a dipstick, as previously discussed. Repeat the same steps as when checking the oil level, but this time check the color as well. 

If the oil is frothy, there may be leakage due to a blown head gasket. 

Solution: The best way to resolve a blown head gasket is to seek the services of a competent mechanic. As in the previous cases, it’s best to take your car for a service to resolve the issue.

Note: If the oil color is black or dark-brown, the oil is contaminated, and you need to change it. 

4. Oil Pressure Light on Your Dashboard Turns On

Another quick way to determine whether you have an oil leak is to check whether the oil pressure light comes on. When this light turns on, it signals low oil pressure in your car’s engine. 

Diagnosis: Keep an eye out for the various notification lights on your dashboard. If you notice the oil pressure light is turned on, it’s best to seek expert help.

Solution: It’s advisable to stop driving the vehicle when this light is on as this may result in further engine damage. 

Note: There are many factors that may impact the oil pressure level and cause this light to switch on. Sometimes, all that’s required is to top up the oil. However, it’s prudent to seek expert advice as the leak may be more complicated than you think. 

5. Formation of Black or Brownish Puddles Under Your Car

Perhaps one of the most easy-to-spot signs that your Subaru has an oil leak is the presence of oil puddles under your car. If you notice a black or brownish pool underneath, where the engine is located, it may be time to call for expert assistance. 

Diagnosis: Before driving your vehicle, take some time to check under the car. Look out for dripping oil or dark puddles, which will indicate that your Subaru is leaking oil.

Solution: If you find puddles, it’s best to bring in a licensed technician or mechanic to check your car. 

Note: Dark puddles under your car may be a sign of an oil leak, but they can be due to other factors such as a bad gasket or drain pump. The puddles may also be the result of faulty valves or seals. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so err on the side of caution and have your car checked.


If you notice any of the above signs in your Subaru, you may be dealing with an oil leak. Considering the potential damage this will have on your car; it’s best to bring in a technician or have your vehicle towed to the shop for expert analysis. 

Most importantly, be diligent and watch out for these critical signs. It could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in costly engine repairs or replacement. 

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