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Father-in-law versus Pennzoil: who is right?

Hi there everyone! First off, let me say that I am a big fan of the show and as soon as I had a car question, I knew there was only one place to go. If I can’t talk to Click and Clack directly I think the listeners of this show are the next best thing.



I am a proud owner of a 2008 Honda Fit. This is my first car and quite an upgrade from the bike I have been driving to work/college all these years. I want to keep it in good working order of course, but the thing is I know nothing about cars so I have to ask other people regarding maintenance. My father-in-law who is not a mechanic but an intelligent guy told me to get my oil changed for the first time around 1,000 miles to help the car “break in”. So at 967 miles I went over to pennzoil this morning to get the oil changed. Their first question was, “how many miles are you at?” and when I told them under 1,000 they looked at me like I was crazy. There were two gentlemen who talked among themselves and concluded that there would be no reason to change under 3,000 and that went double for under 1,000. Also, they said it may hinder the break in process! Now, these pennzoil guys get paid to push oil changes and all sorts of extras to their customers, so I’m thinking they were being pretty honest right? So I left with no new oil in the tank and plenty of confusion. Who’s advice should I take? I can still get my oil changed now, but is there an advantage? And if I wait until 3,000 miles, what do I tell the father of my wife??? :slight_smile:

The owners manual for the car will tell you exactly what to do for break in - pull out the manual, find it, and follow it. If it doesn’t say anything, call your local Honda service dept and ask them.

I’m also guessing that Pennzoil (aside from being a brand of motor oil) is a local “quickie” oil change place. You really need a good local mechanic with a good reputation. Those quickie places are known for screwing up all sorts of things - though I admit that sending you away w/out an oil change gives them some credibility.

The answer is in the owners manual, which I expect will list the first oil change at the same interval as other oil changes.

30+ years ago, new engines came with something called “break in oil” in them. It was appropriate to run the break in oil for as long as recommended, but not longer! That might be why the techs suggested against early oil change. I have not heard the term “break in oil” for 30 years, so I am fairly sure that it is no longer used. If I am correct, you would do no damage by changing the oil early.

If I recall correctly, Honda recommends NOT changing the oil at an early odometer reading like 1,000 miles, and this has something to do with the type of oil that is placed in the engine at the factory. While I normally would not recommend the use of a quick-lube place, at least the personnel at that location do seem to be more interested in the integrity of the customer’s car than is typical.

As was said, reading the Owner’s Manual is the key to maintaining the car properly and I am confident that there is a statement in the manual on both break-in procedure and on when the initial oil change should take place. If the OP will get into the habit of reading (and occasionally re-reading) the Owner’s Manual, he will wind up operating his car for more years, and with greater economy than if he continues to ignore the information in that little booklet.

Put me down as another vote for reading the owner’s manual and the maintenance schedule that came with it.

"Break in oil’ is a thing of the distant past. There is no need to change the oil in your Fit until the mileage (or time period) specified in the owner’s manual.

My guess is the interval is much longer than 3,000 miles. Both of my cars (Honda and Subaru) specify 7,500 mile oil change intervals.

Tell your father in law to read the owner’s manual for HIS vehicle. He might learn something.

I often see differences in advice when one person is using experiences from “earlier” times in automotive technology and automotive developement.

Eary in my automotive career the word was Pennzoil will make scale and Champion’s are bad plugs, they sure have been around a long time in spite of this lable.

oldschool, what you said about Pennzoil and Champion is well taken. I agree that they work fine for me too but have no interest but in the truth and will keep that in mind as a reply to baseless opinion when someone says that Fram oil filters are not a quality product.

Yes read your owners manual but I had mine changed at 5000 which was at about 50% oil usage. I talked to the dealer first and said 5000 was OK. Personally I wouldn’t put Pennsoil in my lawn mower let alone a brand new car. I used to use it all the time despite warnings from people. When it wrecked my diesel, I threw it all out and now stick with Mobil. I would suggest for $30 to take it to the dealer at least for the first 20K or so and build a relationship with them.

Dear Bing: Is it possible that you documented evidence to prove beyond doubt that Pennzoil wrecked your diesel engine and that you took that evidence to them and that they said, yes, you are correct, we wrecked your engine with our oil and will pay you for damages sustained? Did you? Did they?

Was your Pennzoil marked on the bottle for use in a diesel? I used to use it in my diesel as long as the bottle was marked for diesel but that has changed. I still have my diesel; Pennzoil did not wreck my diesel engine.

What makes me think that your view of Pennzoil is just horse pucky? Convince me! Convince everyone here!

I remember a test in Consumer Reports some years back where the organization tested motor oils. Some of the oils were different in different parts of the country. I would bet that the oil is botled by different refineries in different parts of the country and the same oil may go out under different labels. I had a relative that was a chemist in a canning factory. The canned goods went out under different labels, but were all the same. This saved shipping costs. I would bet that the oil companies do the same thing.

No sweat OP! Just get it changed as your in-law says . . . keep family peace and clean out the (possible) metal shavings found in a new engine while it is running its’ first thousand miles. The $25 oil change will not hurt anything, new oil and filter are always a plus in my book. I changed my oil in my '89 Honda at 1000 miles when purchased new and every 3000 thereafter . . . today it has 477,568 miles on it, no engine repairs related to oil, just normal stuff. Good luck with your new Honda! Rocketman

I would also think no harm, keep the peace, etc, but I wonder about the reason I often hear to ‘get rid of the metal shavings’…doesn’t the oil filter do that?

JMHO, but the oil should be changed at around a 1000 miles.
This will remove many of the contaminants that may exist in the oil since an oil filter will not remove many of them. If the filter is rated at 25 microns for example, this does not even mean that anything 25 microns or larger will be removed; only that the filter should get the majority of that. The smaller stuff will continue to circulate.

Besides, the engine is broken in within 20 miles anyway. It does not require 500 or a 1000 miles for everything to seat in.

Honda puts in a specific engine oil engineered for break in with additives to aid the process. Dumping this mix earlier counteracts the engineering placed into the engine. They specifically outline this in their owners manual.

Honda puts in a specific engine oil engineered for break in with additives to aid the process. Dumping this mix earlier counteracts the engineering placed into the engine. They specifically outline this in their owners manual.

They start this process back up??? My wifes 96 Accord says “Honda does NOT add any special oil from the factory.” I know years ago many companies use to do this…but I thought the practice was stopped 20 years ago.

Fact remains is that it does not require 1000 or even 500 miles to break in an engine; 20 miles does it.

My '08 owners manual specifically states that special break-in oil is used and not to change it until the computer signals the proper interval. That’s why I consulted the dealer first before changing at 5000 and 50% used. Once again read and understand the owners manual and consult with the dealer.

I had a Fram filter start leaking from the seam 400 miles from home. That was enough for me. Since then I put only Honda filters in my Honda and Toyota filters in my Toyota.

Yup! The OP is yet another example of a car owner who has decided to NOT read the Owner’s Manual/Manufacturer’s Maintenance Schedule that is sitting in the car’s glove compartment.

It was very nice of Bing to provide the correct information from the manual (which confirms the advice in my earlier post), but unless the OP learns how to open the glove compartment and utilize the little book that sits inside the compartment, this is just the beginning of his/her confusion and problems regarding the car.

Trust the owner’s manual. Anyone who disagrees with it is wrong. There is no need to change a new car’s oil at 1,000 miles. As far as breaking in is concerned, just don’t drive it really hard for the first few hundred miles.

Just tell your father-in-law that cars and oil have improved so much that you no longer need to change oil as often as you once did.

By Pennzoil, do you mean a quick oil change place? If so, don’t go back. Quick change places are the bottom of the barrel for mechanical competence. They have a well deserved bad reputation for catastrophic screw ups. Instead, take your Fit to the dealer or to a well recommended independent Honda shop. The best reason for going to the dealer during the warranty is that it eliminates any excuses if you need warranty work on the engine.