Newer cars aren't supposed to burn oil, but Consumer Reports magazine found that some engines mainly from Audi, BMW and Subaru force their owners to add a quart as often as once a month.
In the magazine's annual survey of car owners, significant numbers reported what the magazine considered to be excessive oil consumption. Consumer Reports focused on 2010 to 2014 models and called on automakers to make repairs under the powertrain warranty or to extend warranties.
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"The companies should be willing to step up and take responsibility for their products," said Mark Rechtin, the magazine's cars content team leader.
Owners of newer cars, he said, shouldn't have to carry oil around and worry about adding it. Most cars, he said, have dashboard lights warning drivers if their oil gets too low. But failing to pay attention to that light eventually can cause engine damage. The magazine's survey didn't find any link between oil consumption and other engine problems, but it found that cars that burn oil early consume more as they age.
It's normal for cars to burn oil a little oil as they age toward 100,000 miles, the magazine said in its August issue. But for a late-model car to burn a quart or more between changes is not acceptable, Rechtin said.
The magazine focused on survey data from 498,000 owners of 2010 to 2014 models, finding that 98 percent did not have to add oil between changes. But even if the problem happens to only 2 percent of owners, that equals 1.5 million cars from the five model years, Rechtin said.
Several engines from the three manufacturers were the main offenders, according to the magazine, including Audi's 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder and 3.0-liter V6; BMW's 4.8 liter V8 and 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8; and Subaru's 3.6 liter six-cylinder and 2.0- and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines. The Subarus burned less oil than the others.
Affected models include Audi's A3, A4, A5, A6 and Q5; BMW's 5, 6, and 7 Series and X5; and the Subaru Outback, Legacy, Forester and Impreza.
Messages were left seeking comment from spokesmen for all three automakers.