CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Break in oil in new Hondas

Does anybody know the chemical makeup? In other words, what is the special additive that Honda puts in new cars for the break in oil? I know that some on here from reading the forums, don’t believe they put anything the new cars, but I read about several energy credits they receive ($900M in 2011) and other manufacturers for enhancing engine performance, MPG, etc. so I would have to believe that an oil break in additive is believavble and would be part of an EPA filing somewhere. Anybody have a clue how to find out what that break down and additive would be?

Thank s guys.

You are reading too much into the EPA involvement. The thin oil specified for today’s cars is the manufacturer’s answer to getting that tiny increase in gas mileage to help meet EPA specs. The oil used in breaking in the engine is there only for one oil change and does not contribute anything to the rest of the engine life.

You can be sure that the engines testing for EPA reporting are broken in. The test is not a highway or city test, but a laboratory test with the car on rollers, and the driving cycle is “simulated”.

Engines are finished so well inside these days that often special break-in oils are not needed. Careful driving during the first 600-1000 miles is recommended, as outlined in owner’s manuals.

Any engine “credits” received would be for the steady-state performance and economy of the engines. I’m not sure where you get the $900 figure.

Doc, that was $900 million, not $900. That decimal place will kill you every time if you get it in the wrong place.

Hum, M is usually thousand but some like to use M as million, thus confusing the deal further. I can’t believe anyone would be giving nearly a billion dollars to a foreign company but who knows this day and age?

Agree though the break in additive identification is really of no importance. Probably just some extra zinc or something to help lubrication. They just would like you to leave it in for a normal period before changing oil but my Acura dealer had no problem with changing it at 5000 miles or 50% OLM.

Small “m” is usually used to desigmnate “milli” (or thousandth). Big “M” is usually used for millions.

Quote from Bing: “Probably just some extra zinc or something to help lubrication.” Unquote

This might be a very good guess. Extra ZDDP would get the engine through break-in and then you change the oil out to regular oil before the ZDDP can further damage the cat converter.

I was told years ago that Honda’s break-in oil contained molybdenum, but I have no way of verifying that information.

However, the fact remains that Honda is pretty adamant about not doing an early oil change with their cars, and that the factory oil should remain in the crankcase for…something like 5k miles, so it does appear that there is a difference between their factory oil and the general run of motor oils.

VDC is right. At least based on my “research”, mostly on the bobistheoilguy forums, the Honda new engine oil has high levels of molybdenum.

It states not to change it until the oil life monitor says to do so-or the one year mark. I have not heard anything bad happening with this, but also haven’t seen anybody who changed the oil earlier have much issues.

Oil obsessives have their own web-site as galant mentioned, bobistheoilguy.com where you can drift off into lubrication wonderland…

Honda uses the alumasil block/engine design where the pistons and rings ride directly in the aluminum-silicone cylinder bores without benefit of a steel sleeve…Break-in in this critical area is extremely important if "excessive oil consumption " is to be avoided. at some point down the road…

Funny thing about the break in business,a friend of mine had a Vega that as far as I know had very low oil consumption(the aluminum Vega engines were famous for oil burning) but his was a 3 spd auto trans mission,and he ran it home inadvertingly in 2nd gear from the dealer,by some quirk of fate it must have broken in correctly-Kevin ( so if you have an aluminum engine,better do what the manufacturer says,Hondas do better with what Honda says to put in them)

Does your owner’s manual say your car comes with special “break-in” oil? None of my Hondas came with special oil.

No Whitey, the owner’s manuals these days are not worth the paper they are written on. They shouldn’t even waste their time putting it in the dash. They are generic and would even make bad File 13 starter fluid for my fireplace. In order to really understand your car, you either have to had one before, or buy a subscription to something like the dealers and “fast retailers” - Not touting them one way or the other, but I have previously used AllData to look up and understand my cars, get diagrams, where is the oil fillter, where is your water pump, etc.
It helps to understand these things to keep from getting ripped off IMHO.

@Whitey ; We just bought a new Mazda, and the manual states only that no special driving style is required for break-in. Just do not drive at one speed (fast or slow) for a long period of time. It does not mention special oil and just gives the normal chanmge time for the first oil drain.

To the OP, if you think your owner’s manual isn’t worth reading, and they are printed with useless information because of some vast conspiracy, why would you give any weight to the advice complete strangers give you on the internet?

I’m outta here, folks. This thread is spiraling downward, and when it hits bottom, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

MosesRRed:

the owner’s manuals these days are not worth the paper they are written on

What specific information in the owners manual do you not think is valid? The maintenance schedule? Or the specifications for which oil to use? Tire pressure? Please do share as I’d be very interested.

Two ways to look at lousy manuals:

@JoeMario, as a lifetime technical writer, the manuals in most new cars nowadays are “generic”. In other words, if you go look at the Nissan Maxima, Altima, etc. manuals - they have gotten so lazy that the difference between the expensive car manual and the lower cost car manual are hard to tell apart.

First of all, the answer is directly related to their perception of taking away liability from them - read ond.d

I still have some of my old manuals from the 70’s. They were detailed, you had most of the information you needed in the manual provided by the manufacturer there was no need to purchase a Haynes or something like that.

They are trying so hard to say nothing - thinking it won’t bring liability on them, by saying so little, they are actually shooting themselves in the foot. But that is corporate bureauacry for you

If you go look at a 2009, 2010, 2011 2012 model years of a Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, cars like that - their manuals from year to year are virtually the same. They are doing a “save as” and think I didn’t notice? Wrong!

I have many friends in technical writing associations and we laugh, and then we don’t, because when you are under contract to write the manual, you have to do what the contract says - in other words, if I want to make the manual actually useable, the manufacturer won’t let me.

p.s. as to the comment about @Whitey, I am, and have very pleased with the answers I have received so far. The answer regarding molybdenum is exactly what I am looking for. This answer was VERY helpful and appreciated. I can then from there, do more search engine searches and validate that answer and pull the MSDS or whatever I so desire now.

You know this forum isn’t like the government, you know… you know the phrase “I’m from the government and I am here to help you.”. Well this forum so far has been the best car forum I have ever found. And I have been on about 1/2 dozen in the past 20 years or so. If you don’t like an answer, hush or delete - your choice.

Both of the Acuras we bought said special break in additives were in the oil and the oil should not be changed the first time until the normal oil change interval. That’s why when I got antsy at 5000 miles and 50% OLM, checked with the dealer first before changing it. I think the general consensus is to put at least 5000 miles on the factory oil, then you’re ok. I doubt Honda is any different.

My 2011 CRV manual clearly states that the original oil is different and details on what to do and when to change, including the one year mark. This seems to be the same with what Bing mentions with the Acuras. The manuals should be accessible online to everybody.

I found my manual to be quite in formative, even before I bought the car, I had a PDF of it and was looking through it.