Break-in oil for a newly acquired vehicle



I recentlly got a 2008 Toyota Highlander Limited and before I perform its first preventive maintainence, is a new engine that is filled at the factory called a “break-in” motor oil? The salesperson at the dealer the Highlander was sold at told says to change the oil & filter at the first 5000 miles. Should I follow his advice or just change the oil & filter at 500 miles (as most service manuals suggest after rebuilding an engine), then follow the first maintenence schedule at 5000 miles? For reference, I have about 280 miles on the odometer.


Your first and most important lesson in new car ownership is to disregard everything a salesman tells you. (That goes double for salespersons. If you can’t figure out what they are then surely… oh, never mind.)

Youe next lesson is to locate the Highlander’s owner’s manual and… read it! Yep, cover to cover. All the answers to your posted questions will appear in the manual, and we can’t improve on them. Check back here for problems not covered by the manual.


This has come up before. Does the owner’s manual back up what the salesman said?

The manufacturer knows best regarding their engines and today’s oil specifications. You can change it sooner but it won’t hurt to leave it in to the mileage the manual specifies. Be sure to use the oil specified when you do change it.


I also purchased a new Toyota recently. The manual clearly says to have the first oil & filter change at 5000 miles. I’m close to that now and will change to a 5W30 synthetic oil which is good for summer or winter. There may be some special additives in the initial fill at the factory facilitating break-in. The most important thing to observe in the manual is your driving style for the first 1000 miles or so; take it easy, but not too easy. Normal city driving is actually a good way to break in the engine. Rebuilding shops have their own reasons for suggesting 500 miles for the initial change; they probably have much more debris to get rid of. Some years ago Toyota had a much longer interval, I believe 9000 miles, and got a lot of sludged up engines. Such an interval is only good for all highway driving. As the previous poster said, read the manual.


Read and follow the owner’s manual. NEVER trust what a salesperson tells you. They usually know little or nothing about cars, and could just as easily be selling refrigerators or time shares in Vail.


Everybody is correct. Do not follow any car salesman’s advice regarding maintenance of a vehicle! The only credible source is the Owner’s Manual/Manufacturer’s Maintenance Schedule, which can be found in your glove compartment. If you do not read the maintenance advice or the other information regarding the safe and economical operation of your vehicle, you will live to regret it.

Consider the booklet(s) in your glove compartment to be tantamount to a Bible when it comes to your car!


“Consider the booklet(s) in your glove compartment to be tantamount to a Bible when it comes to your car!”

I’ll resist my “temptation” to comment on the veracity of the bible.

Regarding the owner’s manual, it does contain the basic information required for your car to survive the duration of the warrantee period. In general, I would consider it the minimum acceptable maintenance for the average owner who will only keep a car for several years and 100 - 150K miles. If you plan on keeping it longer than average, find yourself a good independent shop who specializes in you make of car and take his advice regarding routine maintenance. Don’t complain when he recommends things that are not in the “bible.”


You’re trying to go where no data has gone before. I have had new cars that didn’t fall apart when I left them alone until the recommended time/interval. I watched Star Trek movies. Remember when Mr. Spock gave his life for the needs of the many? He didn’t do it when there was an hour and a half before certain death. He waited until all other options were exhausted and time was running out. While it is true that he didn’t do it perfectly when he left his memories with Dr. McCoy; he left me with a few philosophies on how to do things. Never do what does not have to be done. Don’t do it too early even if it has to be done, or you could be wasting it. If you only have one life to give; you can only do it once, so it won’t solve every problem, except the ones in YOUR future. You could also just do crazy reasoning like I do. Pretend that it is the only oil change that you are allowed to do. You then wouldn’t do it in 500 miles. Practice patience and you will be rewarded with…more patience.