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The Yankee Express

Expensive synthetic oil needed in Subaru?

John Paul

Q.  In May of 2022, I bought a new 2022 Subaru Crosstrek Sport. Love the Subaru and have had no problems with it. I took it in to the dealer last November for the six-month oil change, which was free. Yesterday, I took it back to get the oil changed again and the cost for it was $135. I was shocked it was that much. The explanation was the cost of synthetic oil. I do not mind spending money on needed maintenance, but I was expecting something in the $70 range. Do you think it was the dealer jacking up the price or does Subaru have higher costs? They also said the oil should be changed every 6 months or 6000 miles. I have always heard it was one year or 7500 miles, whichever comes first, which is what I have followed for many, many years now. I have had the Crosstrek for 16 months now and have only 5300 miles on it, so I do not want to get unnecessary oil changes in the future. Can I take the car to my local repair shop for oil changes? 
A. Subaru does indicate oil changes every 6000 miles or six months whichever comes first. You will need to do keep this oil change schedule to maintain your car’s warranty. The oil is a 0W-20 synthetic, which like everything has gone up in price. I recently purchased a quart of Pennzoil 5W-30 Platinum synthetic oil and was surprised at the $10.88 price. Certainly, your local repair shop could use a good quality oil and perhaps even a factory filter and although it may or may not be cheaper, it sounds like it would be more convenient.  

Q. In a recent column you recommended having a jump start pack such NOCO in your car for emergencies. With all the talk of electric vehicle fires, is it safe to keep a lithium battery jump starter in one’s glove compartment or trunk during the summer? What do think of the new non battery super capacitor jump starter packs?
A. I have a couple of different jump-packs in our three family cars, and they stay there all year round. One area that Li-ion packs do not like is extreme cold charging. I noticed in both a cordless tools and a jump-pack neither wanted to charge on a 20-degree day. So, I usually, three times a year I plug them in just to make sure they are charged up so they will work in cold temps. Also, when charging I always use the specific charging cord that came with the individual jump pack. As far as the capacitor jump packs are concerned, a company sent one to me several years ago, it seemed to work fine. The issue was that it was big and heavy, and it needed to be recharged on a regular basis.  

Q. If one is using traditional jumper cables to start a car with a dead battery, and one connects the cables in the correct sequence, is there a chance of damaging the sensitive electronics of either the donor or recipient car?
A. The jump start technique that I have always used is plus to plus, minus to metal. Positive connection to the booster car to positive connection of the discharged battery. Negative connection on the booster car to a metal bracket or jump start post (not the battery) of the discharged battery. This way if there is any chance of a spark it will happen away from the battery. To reduce the chance of injury to either car, I do not start the donor car. Once the “dead” car is running for a few minutes, then shut off the car and disconnect the cables. The issue is with some cars disconnecting the battery cable with the engine running can cause a voltage spike that can cause everything from burned fuses to electronics issues. 

Q. I look forward to and read your Car Doctor column in the paper every week. I am thinking of buying a low milage, used, 2010-2016, four-door Cadillac sedan. I do not need a race car but don’t want to be underpowered. Fuel consumption is not a big concern, since typically I do not drive that much. Is there a year and model that you would recommend? Any insight that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
A. Since you are buying a car that is 6-12 years old, no matter what model have it checked out by a reputable repair shop before you buy it. In a full-sized model 2013 seems to be the year with the most recalls and other issues, followed by 2014 and 2016. If I were looking, I would narrow my search to a 2015 XTS. The V-6 engine makes a little over 300 horsepower and is generally quite reliable. 

Q. How do you feel regarding the reliability of these newer dual clutch transmissions? I like the Kia Sorento, but it has a DCT transmission. I hear from people that this style transmission starts failing around five to seven years. What are your thoughts?
A. The DCT transmission is basically a manual transmission with two automatic clutches. Most of these designs have been pretty good, some have been terrible. The DCT in the Ford Focus was the subject of many recalls and class action lawsuits. The one issue with DCT is they require manufacturer specific fluid and generally fluid flushing is not recommended. If you are considering buying a Sorento, just follow the manufacturer’s service recommendations.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.