Subaru Factory Fill & 1st OCI

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Jul 10, 2004
I've got a '05 Subaru Impreza WRX with around 700 miles on it. The first recommended oil change is at 3750, but I had planned on doing a change with 5w30 regular oil at 1000 miles then to Mobil 1 5w30 at the 3750 mark. My reasoning behind this was to get rid of all of the shavings in the oil from the 1000 mile "break-in" period rather than leaving them in for the remainder of the 3750 miles. Well, I found this forum and started reading and found that some manufacturers claim they put specially formulated oil for the break-in period and you should not drain it before their specified mileage. I also found more than a few posts from conspiracy theorists claiming that that’s just because of EPA regulations and the ability to advertise less maintenance. Usually these same people recommended a first oil change at 2-500 miles. So, should I change my oil at 1000 miles? Should I do the Mobil 1 at 1000 miles, or just plain 5w30? I haven't seen any claims by Subaru that their factory fill oil is anything special. Has anyone seen different?
I was wondering also, I just purchased a 2004 WRX with 29 miles on the clock. A hoot to drive, I am going to use Mobil 1 at some point but unsure when to change over.
I have an 02 wrx with about 55k on it. I changed the oil to m1 10w30 at 500, 1000, 2000 and 3000. Never had a consumption problem. I switched from m1 to syntec 10w30 then to royal purple 10w30, then settled on Amsoil ASL 5w30 for a while. The engine was quietest with the asl. I got really good UOAs from it too (check the uoa section). My latest OCI I went 7k on amsoil (a mix of series 200 and asl I had laying around) and consumed less than half a quart. If you are going to switch to m1, use the 10w30, it is better than the 5w, and we have seen a few wrxs consuming alot of oil on the m1 5w30.
I think M1 10w-30 is the best grade out there. No viscosity improvers, shear stable, moly. That's my pick.
Supposedly according to some it contains a "Special Mineral Based Break-In Oil" and Subaru states Break-In is 1000 mi. To me this means you can change at 1000 mi but not before. I cant find a UOA of the factory fill on the WRX so it may or may not have special oil in it. If you want a High Moly oil like most of the breakin oils you could use Redline or Torco for your change. These oils are also thicker than Mobil 1 which is a bit thin for a 30 weight. Gene
I am a little skeptical of the theory of running conventional for three thousand miles before you switch to synthetic. I switched at five hundred miles on my Dodge truck and the engine runs as good as it did from the factory. I've also used several different brands of oil even though the old timers say you should stick to whatever the engine had in it from the beginning.
Originally posted by Geoff: I think M1 10w-30 is the best grade out there. No viscosity improvers, shear stable, moly. That's my pick.
M1 10w30 is good, but imo, based on uoas posted here, you will get better results with RP or Amsoil in the WRX.
Redline recommends running the 'break in ' oil at least 1200 to 1500 miles. Subaru says wait until 3750 miles. Our Honda owner's manual says wait until 5000 miles. And most Audi and VW's also say 5000 miles. I changed our 2003 Subaru Outback factory fill at 3000 miles, and then one more round of conventional oil until 5000 miles total and switched to Redline. The 2004 Element I switched the factory fill to Mobil 1 at 3700 miles. In both cars I watched for the decline in the rate of oil consumption...which I associated with the rings seating well. On both cars I loosely followed the break-in procedure in the owners manual. I also did the old trick of cycling between full throttle accelerations for 15 seconds at 2400 RPM in a high gear...but not lugging the engine... then full vacuum for 15 seconds. I did this ten times after the engine was fully warmed up after the first hundred miles of break-in. This seemed to work OK, in terms of oil consumption, power, and MPG. I'm not sure whether the old method of draining oil immediately ( such as 100 miles, 500 miles, 2000 miles ) is that important any longer with modern factory motors. Perhaps some cars like VW/Audi, Honda, Subaru have 'special' break-in oil.
In the UK 1st official service/oil change is scheduled at 1000ml's for the wrx. As i belive is also the case in Japan. Rest of europe get 1st oil change at 7500km, but think it because of european guidelines and minimising service recommendations to try and keep claimed maintenance/running costs down and competitive with other marks. [ July 12, 2004, 08:28 AM: Message edited by: ikar ]
On a VW TDI >>Re: Oils. Leave the factory fill oil in there for the first 5k miles. DO NOT change it before 5k miles. The SYNTHETIC factory fill oil is designed to help with the break-in process. There's no issue with "switching to synthetic oil" later on because it's already using synthetic oil right from the factory. The A4 TDI engine specifically REQUIRES synthetic oil, as described in the owner's manual. At your first scheduled oil change at 5k miles, use a good 5W-40 CI-4 rated synthetic oil, like Mobil Delvac 1. Your next oil change is 5k miles later, at 10k miles. It gets changed every 10k miles after that. Change at 5k, 10k, 20k, 30k, 40k,..., etc. The important thing regarding oils during the break-in process is to leave the factory fill oil in there for the full 5k miles! << >>Rules that apply for the life of the car -When the engine is cold (below the first 3 white marks at the base of the temp gage) rev the engine to at least 2,500 rpms. -When the engine is warmed up (above the first three white marks) Rev the engine to no less than 3,000 rpms. The reason for this is to keep the turbo on boost, clear the VNT guide vanes and apply firm pressure to the rings for optimal sealing against blow-by gasses. The rings need the boost to seal since its a turbo charged engine, babying the engine is detrimental and will lead to issues with compression if done so for very long. First 1,000 miles Keep rpms below 3,800. Avoid steady rpms. Frequent firm application of power is strongly recomended up to 3,800 rpm. Avoid the use of cruise control so that you naturally fluctuate the power with your foot. 1,000-5,000 miles Use the full 5,100 rpm power range. Avoid steady rpms. Avoid the use of cruise control. Frequent application of full throttle is recomended to help seat the rings. City driving is ideal for breaking in a TDI due to frequent stops and acceleration. Once you get to 5,000 miles change the oil and perform your first service per the manual 5,000-10,000 miles Use of the cruise control is ok at this point since most of the initial break in has occured. Continue to use occasional full throttle accelerations to continue to seat the rings. You will notice the engine become slightly louder during this phase due to less friction from the engine breaking in (normal for a diesel to become louder under lighter loads). If your going on a long drive and you are using the cruise, every so often step on the peddle to accelerate up about 20 mph then coast back down to your preset speed. 10,000-60,000 This is when the rest of the break in occurs. The engine from the factory will check out with about 475psi of compression pressure out of the crate. It will take at least 60,000 miles to reach the peak pressure of 550psi. For the most part once you get to 10,000 miles your compression will be around 510psi meaning that most of the break in has occured. 60,000-the life of the motor The engines I have seen so far using a 5w40 oil are maintaining 550 psi of compression pressure with over 200,000 miles on the odometer. The owners have followed the advice above and do not have any oil consumption issues. This also means that with the higher pressure the engine is more efficient returning optimal fuel economy and reduced smoke output.<< --------- >snip > The only factor in all this we have any control over, is 'ring seal'. In order to get a good seal the ring and cylinder wall must come into contact and form an even wear pattern. Combustion pressure is what is needed to produce this contact. But heat is a result of high combustion pressure and that's a problem as described above. The answer is to give short bursts of 'deep foot' throttling. Varying RPM also helps but don't accede the manufactures RPM limits. Some of us never 'get on it' so we are not helping our rings seat. So the miles needed to break in a motor vary from one driver to another (they have to put something in the owner's manual so the put in a safe figure). Finally we come to the oil, which as we can see is working very hard during break-in. The two big questions are when should I change the oil first, and when should I put in synthetic (which I assume you want to do). During the first 600 or so miles most of the metal that's going to go into the oil (from seating and run in) will have done so. So in a new motorcycle you make the change and get the metal out. But our TTs are not going into Audi for the first service until 5000 miles. Is that a problem? I say trust Audi, they use a synthetic oil straight from the factory and we need to assume they know what they are doing. Also assume your filter is holding anything big enough to cause concern. So why the question about changing to synthetic if it's there form the start? I am convinced that the oil formulation Audi uses is a special break in blend and must be left in for 5000 miles (although I changed to Valvoline mineral based at 2500). Mobil 1 makes many different formulations of oil; they all are called Mobil 1. The problem with true synthetic oil is that it is too slippery to allow the wear needed for good ring seating. Although the top manufacturers have extraordinary control over their ring and cylinder machining to the point that a good seal is almost assured, I still would follow the no refill with synthetic rule until at least 5000 miles (I held off until 9000). Don't forget that not all new engines come from the factory, rebuilds and build ups or any motor with plasma moly or chrome rings, can't use synthetic at all until broken in. One reason I said that this is a moving target is because new cars are synthetic ready, not the case with some older models. If you put synthetic in an old car with a rope-style main seal it would leak all over the place. I remember a case with a local police car using Mobil 1 right after it came out. The car's engine burned up and it was all over town. I was against synthetics for many years after that, when all the while it may have been a case of the sump going bone dry (now I know better). >>Most people seem to operate on the philosophy that they can best get their money’s worth from any mechanical device by treating it with great care. This is probably true, but in many cases it is necessary to interpret what great care really means. This is particularly applicable when considering the break-in of a modern, reciprocating aircraft engine. Aircraft owners frequently ask about the proper procedures for run-in of a new or rebuilt engine so they can carefully complete the required steps. Many of these recommended break-in procedures also apply to engines which have been overhauled or had a cylinder replaced. The first careful consideration for engine run-in is the oil to be used. The latest revision of Textron Lycoming Service Instruction 1014 should be consulted for this information. The basic rule which applies to most normally aspirated Lycoming piston engines is simple; use straight mineral oil of the proper viscosity for the first fifty hours or until oil consumption stabilizes. Then switch to ashless dispersant (AD) oil. The exceptions to the basic rule above are the O-320-H and the O/LO-360-E series. These engines may be operated using either straight mineral oil or ashless dispersant oil, however, if the engine is delivered with ashless dispersant oil installed, it must remain on ashless dispersant oil. The Textron Lycoming oil additive P/N LW-16702 must be added to the O-320-H and O/LO-360-E engines at airframe installation, and every 50 hours thereafter or at every oil change. An FAA-approved lubricating oil that contains, in the proper amount, an oil additive equivalent to LW-16702 will meet the requirements for the additive as stated in Lycoming Service Instruction No. 1014M. All Lycoming turbocharged engines must be broken in with ashless dispersant oil only. When taking delivery of a new aircraft, there is another point which must be emphasized. Some aircraft manufacturers add approved preservative lubricating oil to protect new engines from rust and corrosion at the time the aircraft leaves the factory. This preservative oil must be removed by the end of the first 25 hours of operation. Each new or rebuilt engine is given a production test run at the factory before the engine is delivered to an aircraft manufacturer or other customer. After installation in the aircraft, the engine is run again during the test flights. These test runs will insure that the engine is operating normally and will provide an opportunity to locate small oil leaks or other minor discrepancies. In addition, these test runs do the initial seating of the piston rings. The rest of the break-in is the responsibility of the pilot who flies the aircraft during the next 50 hours. A new, rebuilt, or overhauled engine should receive the same start, warm-up, and preflight checks as any other engine. There are some aircraft owners and pilots who would prefer to use low power settings for cruise during the break-in period. This is not recommended. A good break-in requires that the piston rings expand sufficiently to seat with the cylinder walls during the engine break-in period. This seating of the ring with the cylinder wall will only occur when pressures inside the cylinder are great enough to cause expansion of the piston rings. Pressures in the cylinder only become great enough for a good break-in when power settings above 65% are used. Full power for takeoff and climb during the break-in period is not harmful; it is beneficial, although engine temperatures should be monitored closely to insure that overheating does not occur. Cruise power settings above 65%, and preferably in the 70% to 75% of rated power range should be used to achieve a good engine break-in. It should be remembered that if the new or rebuilt engine is normally aspirated (nonturbocharged), it will be necessary to cruise at the lower altitudes to obtain the required cruise power levels. Density altitudes in excess of 8000 feet (5000 feet is recommended) will not allow the engine to develop sufficient cruise power for a good break-in. For those who still think that running the engine hard during break-in falls into the category of cruel and unusual punishment, there is one more argument for high power settings during engine break-in. The use of low power settings does not expand the piston rings enough, and a film of oil is left on the cylinder walls. The high temperatures in the combustion chamber will oxidize this oil film so that it creates a condition commonly known as glazing of the cylinder walls. When this happens, the ring break-in process stops, and excessive oil consumption frequently occurs. The bad news is that extensive glazing can only be corrected by removing the cylinders and rehoning the walls. This is expensive, and it is an expense that can be avoided by proper break in procedures. To summarize, there are just a few items to remember about engine break-in: (1) If a preservative oil has been added by the aircraft manufacturer, drain it not later than the first 25 hours of operation; (2) Follow the engine manufacturers recommendation regarding the oil to be used for break-in and the period between changes; (3) Run the engine at high cruise power levels for best piston ring/cylinder wall mating; (4) Continue break in operation for 50 hours or until oil consumption stabilizes. These simple procedures should eliminate the possibility of cylinder wall glazing and should prepare the engine for a long and satisfactory service life.<<
I changed my MY02 Impreza OBS at 500 miles, then switched to M1 5w30 at 2750 miles. Engine runs strong, no problems. I changed the wife's Baja oil at 1k, 2k, and now 3900k without a problem. I think the main issue with Subaru is that they don't want you to go synthetic until the first oil change with at least 3500 miles on the engine. But that also depends on who you talk to. No matter what, in general with Subaru, anytime after 2k is allright to go synthetic but before then I think you can change with dino oil anytime. Brian
I ran dino (whatever the dealer had laying around) until 12K, then M1 10W-30 until 15K, then M1 10w-30 spiked with 1 bottle 15W-50 until 29,5K, then (now) M1 5W-40. I'm staying with M1 5W-40 every 5K or going to Delvac 1 in the same viscosity depending on availability locally (I will not use oil not API SL or later, not GrIV or higher, and not available locally - it's just not that kind of party... This makes oil choices Mobil1, Mobil1, or Mobil1 - unless I chose Delvac1. Still, one could chose much worse!). My maximum use has been ~550 ml (say 600 ml to round up) for 5K mi, and my minimum has been "none" for 3K or ~300 ml for 5K.
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