Vehicle Break-In Period

bonnie_rickbonnie_rick Member Posts: 115
the now closed Welcome Conference's Vehicle
Break-in Period (Topic #257)
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Bonnie Rick
Town Hall Community Manager,


  • poconojoepoconojoe Member Posts: 42
    I purchased a 99 Dakota from my local dealer. He located it from a dealer 160 miles away in Doylestown PA. He assured me his driver would take his time. Although I figured they tell all their customers this, this particular vehicle had just the combination of options I wanted. When I went to pick up the vehicle it had 548 miles on it. I refused to take delivery of this used vehicle that who knows how many different drivers drove during the break in. The dealer was reasonable. Now I'm waiting on a factory ordered vehicle.
  • lars5lars5 Member Posts: 2
    I agree poconojoe. Dealers should have demo cars/trucks for customers to put the metal to the pedal, slam on the brakes, race the engine when it's cold and take it off road to drive over things. As a consumer, we shouldn't be asked to pay full price with test miles on it.

  • bondesonbondeson Member Posts: 11
    What is a reasonable number of miles "off the boat" - or whatever.

    How much backing up and driving around a lot for parkings, etc. is it reasonable for a dealer to put on a new car? I recently picked up my new vehicle with 35 miles on the OD. I figured they drove it around that morning.
  • jxyoungjxyoung Member Posts: 156
    My new truck came in and I drove it off with 4 miles on it! I ordered so it was not sitting around on the lot for test drives.
  • poconojoepoconojoe Member Posts: 42
    In 93 I purchased a car with 1 mile on the odometer. Something about only 1 mile made me choose that car. It turned out to be a great car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Was that a highway mile?...:)
  • poconojoepoconojoe Member Posts: 42
    Good one! The sad part is that when you purchase a new car it can be anything but new. Even returned, repaired and sold as new. Keep writing I usually enjoy your responses.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    I'm convinced that frequent oil changes, avoidance of overheating, and "gentle" driving when the engine is cold are major contributors to engine longevity.

    The preferred break-in procedure is bit harder to evaluate but it's difficult to argue with earlier suggestions for variation of speed and load during the initial few hundred miles. Too, the original oil should be replaced early. Popular Mechanics's automotive editor agrees with us on this.

    If I had a new VW, I would need some very convincing arguments from VW engineering, not a dealer shop, to keep me from changing the initial oil at ~500 miles. Some more information on the VW story would be interesting.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    It is posted on VW's internet site, but I always have trouble finding it, so I'll leave it to you guys.
  • zzeekerzzeeker Member Posts: 9
    Hi people - I just purchased a new 99 VW Jetta GLS and I am concerned about the recommended first oil change at 5000 miles. I heard VW puts in a special break in oil. Is this true? I would think on a new car you would want to change the oil after say 1000 miles. Anyone have any input here??
  • tom50tom50 Member Posts: 14

    I just changed the oil and filter on my '99 Ford Superduty PU at 1000 mi. As the engine goes through its break-in tiny metal shavings get into the oil. The filter may get most of them but it's the ones it doesn't get that may cause wear. So to be on the safe side, call the service dept at the dealer and ask what type of oil the car is shipped with. Use that same type of oil and a filter from the dealer so as not to give them a reason to void your warranty (it probably won't, but why give them anything to argue). Or, if your not the do-it-yourselfer, then take it to the dealer for service. I'll change mine again at 2K and 3K and every 3000 thereafter. It's cheap insurance and as the mechanic in the old Fram commercial used to say "You can pay me now or you can pay me later!"
  • markbuckmarkbuck Member Posts: 1,021
    Interesting to note that Fram (Allied Signal paid for the commercial) only gets paid if you change your oil. They don't get any money if you never change your oil....
    3,000 miles is not an absolute....
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Zzeeker, we've been tossing this question around. Take a look at topic 257. VW, apparently much more than the other manufacturers, seems to be pushing the idea that you must leave the break-in oil in for quite a while. I won't say they are wrong, but there are several of us who have good reason to believe otherwise. A few months ago the Popular Mechanics auto editor said flatly, "There's no such thing as break-in oil." The VW story is the only one that seems to contradict him. Let us know, please, if you get an explanation from VW.
  • buddhaseedbuddhaseed Member Posts: 26
    Here, too, encountered such a "break-in" oil hype. This morning I took my car for 500+ mi break-in oil change service. The dealer just insist on the regular maintenance schedule, which comes the first time at 3,750 mi. They, too, claimed that my new Accord contains initial factory break-in additives that it wouldn't be wise to drain it until 3,750 mi.

    So the break-in oil theory extends to Honda. My car will easily run beyond 1,000 mi after a week. I am afraid if I would have passed the best time to care my car from its infancy. Please advise.
  • detpassatdetpassat Member Posts: 2
    I have a 99 Passat and have two questions. One is
    about oil: is it better to use synthetic or traditional with a turbo engine? Also, has anyone ever found anything out about
    the "break-in oil"? My car is supposed to keep the original oil in for 5K miles (its' first scheduled maintenance). I didn't see a response from VW posted anywhere.
  • stevec5stevec5 Member Posts: 3
    As a former mechanic and now an engineer I can only say: there is a reason they say leave the break in oil for the xxxx miles. The engineers who designed these engines know them best. Sometimes traditional logic doesn't always prevail. I just purchased a 99 Accord and have owned a 89 Prelude for some time now and both have received the same treatment. These engines are designed to last a minimum of 250K miles follow the manufacturers recommendations. If there is one thing you do, read your owner's manual and FOLLOW the recommendations!
  • DrBugsDrBugs Member Posts: 1
    There has been a lot of discussion about this on the vwvortex forums. Some people have reported that the passat engine (really an Audi engine), has had problems with rings/valves setting properly if the initial oil is changed too early, or at least thats what several of the Audi people said. I figure the engineers know, since it has the 10 year/100kmile warranty on the engine. Someone also claimed that the dealer said changing the initial oil early would potentially void the 10year warranty...

    In europe, the std vw oil change is said to be 7500 miles, and they get a lot of miles out of them...
  • stevec5stevec5 Member Posts: 3
    My first car was a VW and it ran great! You're correct, VW/Audi offer the best drive train warranty in the market. With good reason their drive trains are practically "bullet proof". I don't know the chemical composition of this so called "break in" oil, but the designers didn't feel it was critical they wouldn't have spent millions (I'm sure) on it's development. If you think about it, why would they mandate this for nothing? I'm sure it even costs more than regular oils.

    Oh well, at a minimum, they (premature oil changers) are keeping the service stations busy.
  • waileewailee Member Posts: 1
    Maybe "Break-in Oil" is just "during 'Break-in' period 'Oil'". Regular motor oil used during break-in period, so people don't jump to synthetic oil too soon during the car's break-in stage.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    That is a very smart statement. Even those that say they use a special oil may just be told to say it for the reason you detailed. Especially since some manufacturers have no official position on synthetic, they might still worry about it. Honda is one that has not done testing, or at least Acura told me that by phone.
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    Very interesting specifications problem?? Does the break in oil meet or exceed api, and etc specs? If it does then it can't be anything but normal engine oil. If it does not; then you are in technical violation of the manufacturers warranty for using non specificed oils. And if it is not specifically covered under the warranty contract, to use "break in oil" then a very interesting dilemma.
  • stevec5stevec5 Member Posts: 3
    Manufacturers recommend and install the oil. Why would it void the warranty?
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    It would be great to have a manufacturer's engineering rep address the break-in oil mystery. Lacking input from such a person, I feel certain you guys are correct. Although we all hear references to "break-in" oil, I don't believe any of us have been able to find a source, here or elsewhere, who can identify the mysterious characteristics which differentiate "break-in" oils from standard motor oils. Indeed, as ruking1 points out, what properties are needed in a break-in oil but are to be avoided in subsequent crankcase refills?

    "Break-in" oil seems to be much like the 75-MPG carburetor which received considerable publicity several years ago. We all heard about it but nobody could find one ..... it didn't exist.

    I am certain the Volkswagen owners are correct in reporting that VW insists on a long-use interval for the initial oil. Maybe there are technical differences in the oil. Or perhaps VW has a strong oil-conservation corporate policy combined with knowledge that their good engines can perform well with infrequent oil changes. I would like to be proven wrong -- with oil-specification facts; innuendo won't suffice.
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    A definite ditto with regard to the man rep.

    BMW has started prefilled with syn oils all the way around. However, that implies a whole level of specifications, which for lack of a long explanation, costs way much more than is currently charged at the consumer level. It is of course included in the price of a new BMW.
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    I own a 98 Honda Accord and 98 Lexus ES300. On the ES, I changed my first oil at 1000miles, then the second one is the 5000 one. But when I brought the Honda about two month later, the dealer told me not to change the oil too early because the special "Break in Oil" is being used...... so I waited until 5000 miles for the first oil change. Now both car runs fine without any notification of problems.

    Just a few weeks ago I brought my Lexus RX300. Before I brought the car, I test drove dealer's "Demo", and find that the demo is always smoother than the one I purchase. (same experience on both ES and RX)

    So my question is - is there a better way to break in, warm up, maintain, drive, to make one car to be smoother than another (same model). I am sure the dealer knows what they are doing, but when I raise the question, they insist that they just do what normal people would do. But the fact is the fact, their car is running smoother than my (could I be that unlucky to get TWO so-call unsmooth car?) But there must be a better way to break in a car. I believe.

    Any thoughts?
  • axmanaxman Member Posts: 1
    I just brought a 99 hyundai and there was no talk of brake in oil ,it will be change at 2000 mi and then every 2000 after the so called brake in oil is none other then 5w20 HD
    i used to work for AMC and thats what thay called there brake in oil ,came in 55 gl drums
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    I checked with Lexus dealer and they said that there is no special engine oil used for new Lexus...... but their demo car still feel smoother than my new RX....... why????
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Yamato, with your description, it seems very unlikely that your smoothness concern is related to the engine oil. With a new car, however, if something operates distinctly "rougher" than the demonstrator, suggest that you be insistent that the dealer correct the problem. In such a case, I would be firm in my insistence that it be corrected ...but be a little patient if they need to wait a few days to schedule the work. Good luck.
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    Thanks for the advise. But from my experience, it is very hard to fight for this kind of "problem". Everybody feels differently. To me, my RX is a bit rougher, but to the dealer, it might be normal. I already can imagine they tell me "well, this engine is running smooth to me, I can't see any problem".......

    according to my dad, it is because there are many people abuse the demo engine and force it to break in quicker than my very carefully driven Rx. To certain degree I agree with this point of view. Because with my ES, it was also very rough in the beginning, but is very smooth a year later. So I want to wait and see if my RX engine will turn out to be as smooth as my ES.

    again, thanks for the advise.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    I agree. We should always listen to Dad!
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    is this an insult??? Spokane?

    or you really agree on what point of view?
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    No offense was intended, Yamato.

    Your most recent description indicates the "roughness" problem is not severe. With this information, my intent was to endorse the point that your Dad made. Too, I agree with your subsequent point that your RX is likely to become "smoother" with age.

    Because your RX is being driven much more carefully that the demonstrator, a comparison of the two vehicles at the time each reaches 10,000 miles would be interesting. I would expect your car to be quieter with respect to rattles, buzzes, and vibrations. The engine smoothness would probably be same ...or perhaps a little better on your car at that mileage.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. It's my belief that Fathers, while not always correct, do almost always have a valuable opinion which, as a minimum, should be respected and carefully considered.
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    got you.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    good point.
  • gekkogekko Member Posts: 1
    i am looking to buy a 2 door toyota salara
    v6.. they told me it had the same engine and drive shaft as a lexes 300gs//is this true/
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    I believe it's 300 ES, not GS. Yes, they do shair the same eigine and drive shaft, but with 5000 more, you get much much better interior and services.
  • dknndknn Member Posts: 6
    I have a 99 Lexus ES300 with 1600 miles. I'm wondering if i should wait til 5000 miles to get the first oil change or should i change the oil and filter now.
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    better do it now. I asked Lexus and confirmed that no special "break in Oil" is being used.

    In this situation, it wouldn't hurt if you do it now.

    you might be under a risk of having your engine damaged because you want to save lets say 50 bucks. Why take the chance on such nice car?
  • klp57klp57 Member Posts: 2
    Some Land Rover experts in OPEN ROAD magazine insist that the Discovery OHV V8 should be driven hard, and that the "little old lady from pasadena" driving style is actually bad for the engine, and, "you should drive the living piss out of them", especially during THE BREAK-IN PERIOD. The so called "granny cars" that are lightly driven develope carbon deposits on their valves. So the so-called standard break in period for this engine is null and void, and would actually be detrimental to it.
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    To the extent that tolerances are normal, yes. To the extent that tolerances are crafted to bypass normal wear-in procedures, no. Are there many that craft to these tighter tolerances? Yes. BUT not many.
  • bluemistbluemist Member Posts: 23
    I have a 1998 Ford Escort ZX2, and the service dept. told me that, before I put in synthetic oil, I should have at least 15,000 miles on the car.

    As I'd like to put in the synthetic oil before winter (at which time I'll have around 12,000 miles on the car), the break-in period seems high.

    Does this seem unreasonable?

    And how should I be driving the 2.0L Zetec engine during this period?
  • markbuckmarkbuck Member Posts: 1,021
    Take it easy till 1000 miles. Lots of stop and go city driving. Gradually start womping on the motor as you approach 1000 miles (always once the engine is warm).

    Switch to dexcool orange antifreeze.

    Baby the engine always when cold.

    Wouldn't hesitate to switch to sythetic after 5,000 miles.

    Don't forget when it comes time for spark plug replacement that your engine uses two different types of platinum plugs. Two cylinders get one model, the other two get another part number.
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    Actually, sounds good to me. Best of luck in your 98 Ford.
  • hhmahhma Member Posts: 6
    My children (or maybe myself) left the interior
    (dome) light on for 24 hours. I still can start
    my new 99 Prizm without any problems. I went highway for 20 minutes just to charge it. Just a
    dumb question, how long does it take for such to run the battery out? In other words, what is the current for interior light or glove compartment light? If it takes a few hours then one should protect it somehow since it is so easy to do it. Thank you in advance for your kind help!!
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    I think for the interior light, you will probably never use up the entire battery (not that it won't, but just talk a long time). What you should concern is the head light, which takes a lot of energy our of battery if your engine is off.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    If left on over time, the dome light will draw all the current from the battery. It really depends on what the current draw from the dome light is, and what sort of shape your battery is in. I left the dome light in my Corolla on for 24-36 hours once, and my battery was marginal. It took a jump start to get me going again. In the shop, I've seen things go both ways. Someone leaves a door or a trunk open, and a light on over night, and the car may start the next morning or it may not. I'm guessing that, since your car is relatively new, the battery did not discharge as quickly as it may have if it were old and so-so.

    Headlights draw a lot from the battery. They can kill a battery in a matter of hours (I'm sure many users have found this out the hard way).
  • hhmahhma Member Posts: 6
    Thank you both for the useful information. I guess the bottom line is there should be some design so the current draw from any source will be dummy-proof.

    Thanks again. I (or my kids) should be careful next time.
  • bluemistbluemist Member Posts: 23
    What harm does it do if the break-in miles are not "significantly varied in speed" (as my commute is 60 miles each way in Mass, where I maintain 65-80 MPH speed)? Does the break-in just take longer? Or does it do actual damage?
  • markbuckmarkbuck Member Posts: 1,021
    Take it in and out of OD if constant speed commuting is the only way you have to break in.

    Not as good as around town stop and go break in......
  • yamatoyamato Member Posts: 13
    I think with constant speed, it just take longer for your car to break in, will not harm the engine.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    According to the manufacturers, grooves can be worn in the cylinders from a break-in of constant speed. What you can do is vary your speed as much as possible. Perhaps a couple minutes at 45, then a couple at 65 or whatever you feel comfortable getting away with (75, 80?). That would be good.
This discussion has been closed.