I'm mainly interested in learning about engine "break-in". I'm at just over 200 miles and would like to know if I should be taking any "special actions" over the next several months.
The following link is to an older article, but it still applies to your diesel engine:
TheDieselStop.Com Articles: Breaking in a Diesel Engine
In a nutshell, the best breakin is urban driving, with lots of red lights, stop signs, deceleration, and acceleration. But plan ahead and use the brakes as little as possible. The worst is cruising on the open highway. So if you simply have to take a long trip on an interstate highway or similar freeway before you have 1,000 miles of city driving on the odometer, then get off and back on at every exit, and change the cruising speed every 5 miles or so using something like this pattern for a 70 MPH speed limit:
55 for about 5 miles
65 for the next 5 miles
74 (ticket limit)
55 and repeat the above
And do NOT
use the cruise control for any reason until after you have 1,000 miles of breakin driving behind you.
Any advice on oil recommendations would also be appreciated. The few diesel aficionados I've spoken with suggest either Shell Rotella or Chevron Delo 400.
Any name-brand (including Wal-Mart's store brand) motor oil that meets the API specs in your Owner's Guide diesel supplement will be just fine. Most experts advise you to pick a brand and stick with it. Both Shell Rotella T and Chevron DELO 400 are readily available almost "everywhere", so either one of those is a good choice.
Go to any major intersection on an Interstate highway that has a big-truck oil-change business and you'll see what the big boys use. Shell Rotella T and Chevron DELO 400 are available at almost all of them. Some are run by an oil company, so they will have that brand too, but they will almost always have Rotella and DELO available to change the oil in OTR tractors.
But there are lots of other good brands, including Exxon, Mobil, Texaco, Phillips, Valero, Wal-Mart's SuperTech and on and on with all major brands. The only reason not to use those is you may be stuck somewhere needing an oil change, and your brand won't be easily available. So you'll be forced to change brands for that one oil change. That's no disaster, but I wouldn't want it to happen to me. So I took Darling Wife into Sam's Club and asked her to choose between Rotella T and DELO 400. She picked Rotella T, because of the package colors.
How about the high-priced synthetic motor oils? Are they worth the extra money? No. They are fine, but not cost effective. The only reason to use a synthetic is they are available in viscosity 5w40, which makes for easier winter starting than the common 15w40 dino oil. So if you live in cold country, you might want to run 5w40 synthetic in the wintertime and dino the rest of the year.
When you change your oil and filter, you will change most - but not all - of the oil. About a quart is in the high pressure oil reservour (HPOR), and it won't drain. So on mine, for example, the total system including the HOPR holds 16 quarts. But an oil change takes 15 quarts. So a normal oil change changes 93.75 percent of the oil. That other 6.25 percent mixes with the new oil. So when you change brands or types of motor oil, you will be running a mixture for that oil change interval (OCI). That's one reason the experts don't favor changing brands.
Inside scoop: Do you know what DELO means? Diesel Engine Lubricating Oil.
Do you know what "T" means? No, I don't either.