Still necessary to do early oil change on new cars?

Hello car talk community,

I recently purchased a 2012 Focus, and am at 1,000 miles on the odometer. I have heard that it’s a good idea to get 1 “early” oil change at 1000 miles (I have also heard 500 and 1500 miles) because of the engine being broken in or something, and I was wondering if that was still necessary with new cars, or if it is just a holdover from when machining was less precise and I can just go right to the normal maintenance schedule from the get-go.

There is nothing in the owner’s manual about an early oil change, but I thought I should get a 2nd opinion.

Thanks in advance.

You’ll get lots of opinions here. Honda new cars come with a special oil from the factory for break in; so if you were talking Honda the answer would be no. To my knowledge other manufacturers don’t use anything special in the oil the put in at the factory. Modern oil filters do a better job at catching and removing bits of metal that are part of the manufacturing process and initial wear off as the parts start to move together.

I think there is a bit more friction in a new engine, meaning higher temps for the oil and greater sheering of the oil molecules. I would not do a 1,000 mile change anymore. But I would expect the original oil to work harder so I’d not push it to the limit either. I’d suggest a 3,000 change and no more than 5,000. After that whatever the manual suggests. Pay attention to the “severe” schedule and if you drive mostly short trips in town the severe schedule might apply.

Not necessaryily, but it’s still necessary to read the owner’s manual and follow its recommendations. Besides, it keeps the warraty intact.

These early oil changes are no longer necessary. If anything, a little extra initial wear helps the rings to seat properly and this will ensure litle or no oil consumption in normal driving.

Ok, thanks all, I’ll take it in at 3,000 which is what the manual recommended for severe driving.

Attaboy. Let the manual be your guide.

Just so you know…you do NOT have to take it to the dealer.

But DON’T take it to any of the fast-lube chains. Find a good trusted mechanic.

I’ll just echo avoiding the fast-lube chains. Maybe someone who plans on heading to one soon will change their mind and do the right thing. My fingers are crossed.

I’m of the opinion that the oil should be changed around the 1000 miles mark. The same principle applies to a vehicle that has the engine rebuilt or a remanufactured one installed.

Keep in mind there is not a filter on the face of the Earth (air, fuel, or oil) that will stop all contaminants; whether they be results of the manufacturing process or from the environment. Many filters routinely pass particles of 25 microns in size, even with a filter rated to catch them, and those particles are constantly moving through a musical chairs type of lubrication system.
Oil is cheap; engines are not.

It may not be necessary, but I still do an early oil change on a new car.

A botched oil change may not be the number one engine killer but I figure that it could be on a top ten list. Leave everything alone until the recommended time. Make the engine last at least until the first scheduled oil change.

Hey Uncle (or anybody) is that “break-in” oil really a myth, or does it actually exist? I heard this many times but never followed-up on it. What does it do? What weight is it? I’ve had a few engines done for me and my builder never mentioned it, but always suggested the early oil change. Rocketman

Could be a myth. Nothing in my '03 Civic owner’s manual about a special break in oil. It just says to run the oil to the recommended oil change interval, which is every 10K miles for normal service. I believe I heard or read that Honda uses a special oil from the factory, but can’t tell you where to find it.

Years ago many cars had special "break in " oil with special additives to help them through that period. My 1965 Dodge Dart V8 had such an oil and you had to keep it in the full length of the drain interval. Cylinder walls are much better machined these days, and the normal initial wear will seat the pistons and rings.

My understading is that engines are now “pre broken in” at the factory.

Recently, I listened to a Podcast on and they did a podcast on how engines are turned at the factory without oil for a very specific number of revolutions which is equivelent to a specific amount of wear which is equal to the wear that would be done during the traditional break in period.

Additionally, after this turning process, the engines are completely flushed to get rid of any metal particles or shavings

Therefore, breaking in is no longer an issue, it has been done for you !

I usually allow my new vehicles to run 3-4K miles on the factory oil and have never had any problems or failures with any of the engines.

rocketman wrote:
Hey Uncle (or anybody) is that “break-in” oil really a myth, or does it actually exist?

My understanding is that Honda adds molybdenum of some sort to the break-in oil.