Running in (or breaking in) your new car is a standard practice that has been recommended by car manufacturers for the longest time.
The task is simple – drive the car until the designated mileage set for the first service (anything from 1,000-2,000 km), but do not exceed 3,000-4,000 rpm to let all the mechanical bits ‘set in’.
However, automotive technology have advanced tremendously in the automotive world, with manufacturers utilizing better quality materials for the mechanical bits, all in the pursuit of better efficiency.
Does that mean you now can simply drive your new car out in the usual manner once you were handed the key? Not quite.
Generally speaking, it's our human nature to be careful and pay extra care to any new things that we own, and you should do the same to your car, regardless of how advanced technology has grown. So how does one properly run-in a new car?
Avoid hard acceleration, keep your revs low
During the running in period, engine components such as the valves, piston rings, and bearings need time to set themselves properly.
Subjecting your engine to high revs and wide-open throttle can lead to unnecessary wear and damage in the long term. You want to keep your rev below 3,000-4,000 rpm.
Your brakes, transmission and tyres need running in too
Not only your engine requires running in, but your brakes, transmission and tyres need them too. The friction material on your brake pads press into the brake rotors, clearing off the most fragile layer of friction material and clears the coating off the brake rotor in order for it to stop better.
The transmission usually feels tight and a little sluggish when it’s new. Let the fluid work its magic properly by not overloading the transmission with unnecessary input/shifting and avoid aggressive driving.
After a while, you’ll notice that it will become smoother.
Similarly, your new tyres require run-in period to ensure that they deliver their designated ride quality at their full potential. Tyre manufacturer applies a release lubricant to new tyres to prevent them from sticking in their mould.
Some of the lubricant stays on the surface of your tyres, reducing traction until it wears away.
Avoid short trips, drive further
Short trips like dropping the kids at school or heading to a local grocery store is not ideal as the engine does not have sufficient time to warm up. Cold engines have to work harder, putting a lot of stress on the oil delivery cycle and can lead to condensation.
Similarly, you should let your car (and yourself) some rest if you’ve gone for a long running in trip, as this will allow the engine to cool rather than coming to an abrupt stop.
There are a few good reasons why it’s a good idea to break in your new car. You car will run efficiently in the long run, as new engines don’t reach peak efficiency untiluntil it's past the first few thousand km.
As with other mechanical bits on the car, running in will help improve engine, transmission and braking performance because friction is limited and parts are working harmoniously. With parts working at their best and oil flowing smoothly, running in ensures optimum performance and health in the years to come.