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July 19, 2017

5 Things to Consider When Breaking-In Your New Car

So you’ve saved up and bought a brand-new car. Congratulations. Now, the question beckons: should you break it in? That’s a common question facing new car buyers and one with straightforward answer.

In the first place, what does “break-in” even mean? Break-in or running-in, if you prefer another term, refers to the period when your new car is treated with a certain amount of care so that its components all adjust and work together properly. This is the period when various engine components such as piston rings, cylinder walls, and the like all mesh together so that they’ll reach optimum performance levels.

There are two general schools of thought when it comes to breaking in a new car. One group says that it’s best to take it easy and lay off the revs for a while. Another group meanwhile advocates driving “like you stole it.” And while advancements in metallurgy and manufacturing has greatly reduced the need to go through a stringent break-in process, every car owner’s manual, including those of high-performance cars, all recommend a light-load break-in at least before the first oil change (commonly pegged at 1,000 kilometers).

Though there are exceptions, modern day Ferraris and Lamborghinis to name two (their engines are already broken-in at the factory), here are some tips to consider when breaking-in your brand-new car:

#1: Keep the revs decent

The break-in period is generally in the range of the first 1,000 kilometers, but most experts agree that it’s best to keep decent engine speeds up to the first 3,000 kilometers. As a rule of thumb avoid redlining your engine and if you’re driving a manual, shift as early as possible. It’s best to keep the revs up to the halfway point of your redline at the most.

#2: Avoid driving short distance

For proper break-in to happen, your new car must have all its mechanical bits work at the proper operating temperature. This ensures that all the vital fluids work and circulate properly. Typically, this only happens when your car reaches halfway on its temperature gauge or if your car isn’t equipped with a temperature gauge, it’s when the blue light turns off. If short trips cannot be avoided, allow the engine to continue running until it’s properly warmed up before shutting it down (don’t rev it).

#3: Avoid sustained periods at high speeds

Long-distance driving is alright even when your car isn’t broken in, but make sure to vary the speed and don’t punch the throttle too hard. Though it’s tempting to feel the power of your new car, it’s better for your engine in the long run to vary the pace for as long as it’s safe to do so. The aim here is to make sure the piston rings seal against the cylinder wall properly. Oh, and if your car is equipped with cruise control, don’t use it. Again, you want to vary your engine revs and cruise control simply keeps it constant.

#4: Don’t overload your vehicle

A common break-in misconception is that you cannot use your air conditioner for the first 1,000 kilometers because that places additional load on your engine. Though that may be true for older cars, it’s perfectly fine with modern automobiles. Of course, carrying or towing unnecessary weight still puts stress on your engine so avoid it before the end of your break-in period. Apart from stressing your engine, it also puts added wear-and-tear on your brakes, tires, transmission, and suspension—things which are all part of a car’s proper break-in procedure as well.

And on the subject of brakes, modern brake rotors don’t really require a break-in procedure since the texture deliberately left on the surface of the iron disc will grind down the fresh surface of the pad within a few kilometers. That said, refrain from repeated high-speed stops or dragging the brakes during the first 1,000 kilometers.

#5: Never forget your first oil change

Breaking in means removing the tolerances in the engine block and that may result in having small pieces of metal and maybe some pieces of gasket going around inside the engine. Your first oil change is the best time to get these out before they cause any long-term damage.

Conventional wisdom says that new engines must be broken in on conventional mineral oil because fully-synthetic oils are “too slippery” delaying the break-in process. This is not true. High-performance cars are already factory-filled with fully-synthetic motor oils and fully-synthetic motor oils are proven to be better in keeping the engine running in tip-top shape.


It goes without saying though that in the event of an emergency, ignore all of these break-in tips and just do what needs to be done to keep safe. Remember, your life is worth more than any car even if it’s a new one.


  1. I read and article that in today's cars, most engines have already done the breaking in process from the factory. they run it for 8 hours straight in their quality assurance tests. now its just for compliance or a placebo effect to make the owner feel good about the process of using his/her new vehicle and to make the owner fully adjust to their car properly because new vehicle owners tend to mash the throttle when they get their new car.

    1. This is true for high-performance automobiles which arrive at the showroom pre-broken in. However, check any owner's manual and you'll see that a proper breaking in process is still followed.

  2. A manufacturer's way of saving money is letting you do the break in. How convenient.

    1. You have it the other way around -- you save money by doing the break-in yourself, instead of the manufacturer building-in the cost of a factory break-in to the vehicle price.

  3. A manufacturer's way of saving money is letting you do the break in. How convenient.

  4. So I have gone up to and over 4 thousand RPM's a couple times, but not with full throttle, cause my car was in manual not in automatic, I left off the accelerator and shifted. this was after about 50km on my new engine, this shouldnt affect my break in right? My engine was up to temperature and everything and I had been driving around normally.


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