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New Car Maintenance During the Break-in Period

Hey all!

Well after a long hiatus from owing a car, I just bought a new Fiesta. My last car was an '87 Monte Carlo and at that time vowed I’d never buy a 4 cyl. econobox. Gotta say though, I love my little “go cart” as much as the Monte… but I do miss the t-tops.

Anyway, I have been reading that one should get an oil change within / before the first 500 - 1k miles. Is this true? My dealer gave me a coupon for a free oil change that is only valid for 90 days, so I reckon there is some validity to this.

Are there any things I should be doing during the break-in period? Besides the usual not going constant speeds, avoiding rapid acceleration, etc.

The owners manual will reflect what precautions should be taken while breaking in your new vehicle.


I have had a lot of great looking coupons that I couldn’t use. If you happen to put a lot of miles on the car then you could use the coupon. The way to make the car last a long time is to keep people from working on it until the work is necessary. If you read 500 miles in your maintenance schedule, good. If you read it anywhere else, forget about it.


One of the most important things you can do to extend the life of your Fiesta is read the owner’s manual and maintenance manual. They have all the facts that Ford thinks you need. And no one knows the Fiesta better than Ford.

Thanks for your advice. The OM doesn’t say anything about an oil change until after 10,000 miles. Pleasedodgeminivan, like your advice on the secret to a long running car is to keep people working on it needlessly.

I would have handed that coupon back to them, modern cars shouldn’t need oil changes every 90 days. They must be printing the same coupon for the last 25 years.

First free oil change offer at the places that I’ve worked were good for one year.

The need for a first oil change at 1,000 or so miles has basically gone away, with most recommending an oil change every 7,500-10,000 miles particularly if the factory fill is synthetic or a blend. This appears to have a similar system to Honda’s where it lets you know when the car is ready for an oil change.

My 2012 civic has the maintenance minder. Under normal driving it is 10k.

Modern machine tools, grinding methods and associated tooling, metal cutting bits and machining lubricants have apparently made it possible so there is very little more a running engine has to do to complete the break-in process. With that I have backed off from changing the oil and filter before 1000 miles but for our last new car I changed the oil filter before 1k miles and topped up the oil. May not be needed but it makes me happy.

I have opened the first oil filter from a good number of new cars to inspect the filter media with a magnifying glass and have never found any metal or other particles that I could see.

Change your oil filter after a few miles are on your new car. It costs little, is harmless and gives you the satisfaction of doing something rather than nothing.

Your engine is broken in within 20 miles. The 1000 mile cautionary period, etc is more of an insurance policy (so to speak) to protect the automaker than anything else.

I think that you will be making a huge mistake by relying on a 10k miles oil change regimen. Many people who have suffered trashed/damaged engines or discovered their fairly new car is an oil burner have learned this the hard way.

Agree with OK4450. I change my Acura with Synthetic at 5000 and my Pontiac with Dino at 3000. Cost very little in the long run. If you insist on 10K oil changes just keep a record to give to the next owner as a courtesy so they know what they are in for.

The best things that the owner of a new car can do during the break-in period are:

Read the Owner’s Manual and the Maintenance Schedule completely, and don’t be ashamed to refer back to it periodically.

Lift the hood and do fluid checks every couple of weeks. It is not unusual for brand-new engines to consume a bit of oil in the very early stages of use, and–especially with a tiny engine that has very little oil capacity–it is important to keep the oil topped off.

In my experience, people obsess over whether to change their new car’s oil at 1k or 1.5k miles, but then totally forget about checking fluid levels–which, ultimately, is much more important than a quick first oil change.

Anyway, regarding oil change intervals, I agree with ok4450.
Rather than focusing strictly on odometer mileage, the OP should note the elapsed time interval for oil changes that is probably mentioned in the Maintenance Schedule. (For example, it may say something like, “every 7,500 miles or six months, whichever comes first”), and the elapsed time factor is just as important as the odometer mileage factor.

In this forum, we have encountered all-too-many people who drive their cars only in local, short-trip driving situations, and who accumulate mileage very slowly. They came to this forum after their engines were trashed, due to a build-up of oil sludge, and then we finally deduced that these people had decided to follow the mfr’s odometer mileage guideline for maintenance, rather than the elapsed time guideline. These folks thought that they were still able to do oil changes every…let’s say…10k miles, even though it took them 2 years to get to that point!

In reality, those short-trip, low mileage folks needed to use the Severe Service maintenance schedule that is listed–and almost always overlooked by car owners. Instead of going by odometer mileage, these folks should have been changing their oil at least every 6 months, regardless of how little odometer mileage they had accumulated during that time span.

Personally, I won’t go more than 5 months between oil changes, and I usually do them every 4 months, due to doing a lot of local driving now that I am retired. As one of the veterans of this board likes to say, “Oil is relatively cheap, and engines are very expensive”, and that is what I keep in mind when I err on the side of caution with my oil change intervals.

On a new car, I would change the oil earlier then 10k at least for the first regardless of what of what the manual says. It feels better…that’s enough for me. The only time 10k seems reasonable for regular changes is for a 20k per year or higher driver with synthetic.

I also agree with OK4450. I’ve never been comfortable with 10,000 mile oil change regimens. Oil is cheap. Engines are expensive. I keep my cars for hundreds of thousands of miles or until my needs change. And I’ve never worn out an engine in 40++ years of car ownership.

And be sure to follow the rest of the maintenance regimen described in your owner’s manual documentation.

And CHECK YOUR FLUIDS REGULARLY. Fluids are the lifeblood of your car’s systems, including the brakes. If you see your brake fluid getting low, have the brakes checked.

Sincere best.

Welcome back, mountainbike.
It appeared that you had left us again for a few days, so it is good to see you back on this board.

Incidentally, in case anyone is interested, the “veteran of this board” whom I quoted above (“Oil is relatively cheap, and engines are very expensive”) is @the same mountainbike!

Thank you all for your advice. I should have mentioned that it’s a 2013, but technically still considered new. So what VDCdriver said would make sense to get the oil change as the car is really about a year old.

Dagosa, I’m with you on it “feeling” better. I don’t know if it is really my gut or just being a neurotic new parent that is telling me to go with the oil change, but I would feel more comfortable that it was changed after one year.