It is a rare thing to ask someone for their opinion and not get it - whether they happen to know anything about the topic at hand or not. And perhaps this is how so many "how to break in a new car" myths got started.
After all, it just makes sense that, having just spent (or financed) a nice large chunk of change on a new ride, you now want to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
So your next best resource will be the people who work with and on cars for a living - these are the folks who can tell you, step by step and part by part, how to effectively break in your new car so it will last far longer than the dealership predicts.
In this Buying Guide, learn how to break in each facet of your new car successfully yet gently.
Engine Cylinder Walls
For the first 1,000 miles, you will want to avoid using cruise control, speeding for miles at a time and open throttle settings past the first few minutes. In fact, strange as it may sound, stop-and-go rush hour traffic is a good thing for your brand new fresh vehicle.
The goal during these first critical 1,000 miles is for the piston rings to use the high pressure of internal combustion gases to push the rings outward and seal against the cylinder bores. To accomplish this, open the throttle at lower RPMs and let up as RPMs climb (think of a driver joy-riding a new Porsche off the truck and into the storage shed and you'll have a good idea of what to do).
Where bearings are concerned, your goal during the first critical 1,000 mile period is to drive as normally as possible. Steer clear of towing anything heavy or racing a friend in his or her equally new car. After the first 1,000 miles has passed, however, all bets are off.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to brand new car oil changes. Definitely plan to change the oil after the first 1,000 miles driven. For high performance new cars, you may want to change the oil pretty much right after you drive it off the lot (around 20 miles or so). This is to help with burnishing new car insides so they are well lubricated and smooth.
If your new car has an automatic transmission and the manufacturer has used automatic transmission fluid (ATF), you may not need to change it - ever. But for manual transmissions or engines not using ATF, plan to change the fluid after about the first 1,000 miles. This will reduce the chance that debris and metals from the initial fluid will end up circulating through the pump and hoses.
So long as you are not sitting on the brakes or stopping suddenly at every light, your brake pads will pretty much break themselves in with normal everyday driving. After the first 100+ miles, your pads should be broken in well enough.
As much as you might like to spritz on layers of shine boosters and surface protectants all over the interior of your new car, try to resist. These chemicals can build up and cause cracking and flaking over time. It is okay to use Scotch Guard on cloth and carpet.
You can feel free to wax your new car right from day one - the new paints can handle it and the wax coat means you won't risk scratches or chips when you go to clean away dead bugs, debris or water.
A Word About Synthetic Oil & New Cars
In some circles, synthetic oil is considered too slippery to use on a brand new vehicle. Of course, the question then becomes - why do so many high-performance vehicles (Porsche, Corvette, et al) use synthetic oil
The truth is, it is really up to you whether you use traditional mineral oil or synthetic oil for the first 1,000 miles of use.
Ultimately, synthetic oil is a better long-term choice than mineral oil. You may pay more, but you won't have to change the oil so frequently. Synthetic oil also withstands temperature and driving extremes much better - a perk if you live in very cold or hot climates or like to off-road it.