When you get a new car, you’ll probably have many concerns about how to keep it in the best shape possible. Oil changes are one of the most important things to stay on top of, so understanding the best time for a new car’s first oil change is a great place to start.
Some people recommend changing the oil after driving anywhere from 500 to 3,000 miles to remove any small particles that may be present in a new engine after the break-in period.
However, modern cars don’t require the same attention, and many manufacturers no longer recommend an early oil change.
You should follow your car’s manufacturer recommendations, which is often the standard oil change interval. This is generally anywhere from 3,000 to 12,000 miles depending on the vehicle, the type of oil used, and the driving conditions.
Find Out When To Change the Oil In Your New Car?
Manufacturers and their engineering teams work hard to design vehicles and provide the ideal maintenance schedule. When you’re trying to figure out the best time for a new car’s first oil change, you should rely on their expertise and follow what your manufacturer recommends.
Not only do manufacturer recommendations provide optimal maintenance schedules, but following them is often necessary to keep your warranty coverage. If you fail to stick to the provided maintenance schedule, manufacturers can void your warranty and not step in to help if things go wrong.
In many cases, the first oil change of modern cars has the same interval as any other oil change, which usually follows these guidelines:
However, it’s worth noting that some experts still recommend performing your first oil change early.
If it doesn’t void your warranty, this can be a helpful step to remove any metal shavings or debris that may be present in your new engine. It also might be useful if the vehicle has been sitting on the lot for a long time.
How early to change your oil is a matter of debate. Some people will change it at just 500 miles, while others say 3,000 miles is ideal.
Many people land in the middle of this range and say the best time for a new car’s first oil change is 1,500 miles. While this is likely much earlier than you need to change your oil, it can provide extra protection for your new engine and additional peace of mind.
Not too long ago, cars had an intensive break-in period where owners had to use extreme caution. This typically involved concerns related to:
Your new car might still have some of these concerns, and if so, you should always follow what the manufacturer says. Stick to any recommended speed limits, oil changes, and break-in guidelines to protect your new vehicle.
But most modern cars have less significant break-in issues. It can still be wise to avoid full acceleration or pushing your brand-new engine too hard, but some manufacturers have absolutely no break-in recommendations for their new cars.
The break-in period isn’t as intense because today’s manufacturing process is much more stringent. The facilities are incredibly clean, parts are made to precise specifications, and your car’s components should be free of debris immediately.
Because of this, changing your new car’s oil usually isn’t any different than any other oil change.
It’s understandable if you still want to change your oil before the standard interval to do everything possible to protect your new baby. While we recommend sticking to what the manufacturer recommends, it is unlikely that changing the oil early will cause any mechanical problems.
The only situation where this would be problematic is if your car is using a specific break-in oil, which lacks anti-wear additives to allow for controlled friction to let piston rings break in. In this rare case, you should strictly follow the manufacturing guidelines.
Otherwise, changing the oil early won’t cause any mechanical damage.
It might be an extra expense you don’t need to incur, but there’s no reason your car needs to keep old oil in it. By changing it early, you simply refresh the oil and remove any contaminants.
When you’re ready to change your new car’s oil for the first time, you’ll need to identify the correct type of oil to use. Once again, the first place to look is at the manufacturer’s recommendations.
You can usually find the oil recommendations in your owner’s manual, and you should always follow what it says. This will include:
You might have the choice between conventional or synthetic. Many people prefer synthetic because it lasts longer and doesn’t break down easily, even in challenging conditions.
But some people still use conventional because it costs less or they prefer to change their oil more often, especially if driving in dusty environments that might cause oil contamination.
The oil rating, such as 5W-30 or 0W-40, is a non-negotiable specification you must follow. This provides the specific thickness, or viscosity, of the oil during cold starts (“W” is for “winter”) and at operating temperature (the second number).
Some cars use different W ratings depending on the ambient temperatures the car encounters. For example, if you live in a warm climate that never sees cold temperatures, you might be able to use a 10W instead of a 5W or 0W formula.
Finally, the volume specifies how much oil should go into the engine after draining the old oil. It’s critical to refill your engine with the right amount of new oil. Too little or too much can cause serious engine damage.
If you’ve never changed a car’s oil before and don’t know where to start, it’s worth taking it to a professional. They’ll verify the viscosity and volume, and if the manufacturer allows either, can talk to you about synthetic vs. conventional.
But if you’re ready to change your new car’s oil on your own, follow these steps:
Getting a new car is an exciting time. One thing you need to figure out right away is the best time for a new car’s first oil change. In most cases, you should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, which in many modern vehicles is the usual oil change interval between 3,000 to 12,000 miles.
Some people prefer to perform the first oil change sooner, anywhere from 500 to 3,000 miles. While little mechanical harm is possible, you’ll want to make sure you won’t void your car’s warranty before changing the oil early. Otherwise, you can swap it out with the recommended oil, which can help remove any potential contaminants leftover from the manufacturing process or break-in period.
Jason Farrell is a certified master technician, the editor of Mechanic’s Diary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Technology from Pittsburg State University. With nearly 18 prior years of experience in the automotive field, he has extensive knowledge about Domestic, European, and other foreign makes and models of cars and light trucks. Jason’s experience working as a technician and service manager at dealerships, gave him the experience and know-how of most aspects of inspection, diagnosis, and repair from engine and drivability to electrical, HVAC, brakes, steering and suspension and everything in between.