Ownership of a brand new vehicle is a pretty emotional experience, and naturally, new car-owners cannot wait to try every modern feature and enjoy the speed and smooth ride as much as they can during this exciting, courtship period.
But getting to know your new car better comes with a rather frustrating caveat. Like a newborn child who isn’t quite ready to go fishing with you yet, the vehicle also has to undergo a “break-in” or a “run-in” period. Having patience with the break-in procedure and not straining the machine while it is still new, will reward you for many years to come because you will get much better performance from an engine that has been eased into a peak performance condition in a safe and gradual manner. Here are some common rules of breaking-in that you should be aware of:
# 1: Know The Break-In Mileage Limit
• Different cars have different break-in timeframes. It could be 1,000 miles or 1,500 miles or 2,000 miles – check your owner’s manual for the information.
# 2: Hold Off On Interior Protectants
• You may not want to `overprotect’ the interiors just yet with protectants that might leach plasticizers out of new vinyl and cause age-related cracks later on. But go ahead and use something like Scotchgard if you want, to protect the fabric upholstery from dirt, grime and mildew if you like.
# 3: Let The Engine Idle When You Start
• Don’t drive off as soon as you start the car. Wait 15-30 seconds – especially in cold weather – for the engine to warm up and lubrication to get into all the right places first.
# 4: Tires Have A Break-In Period Too
• Check your owner’s manual to find out what the break-in timeframe for your tires is. During this period, you may experience some driving `characteristics’ that is just part of the wearing in process. Also remember that the new tires may have a film left over from the molding process and stopping distance may not be as good as it will be later on.
# 5: Don’t Strain The Engine
• Avoid driving too fast during the break-in period. A good rule of thumb is to stay under 65 mph if possible. Vary the speed frequently, so the rpm changes every few minutes and the engine gets used to varying conditions that helps to wear it in. Do not labor the engine, and try not to use cruise control.
# 6: Avoid Short-Distance Travel
• If you take the car out for a quick errand run to the nearby grocery store, the engine does not get the opportunity to warm up and reach an optimum operating temperature to ensure consistent functions like smooth oil flow.
# 7: Don’t Take A New Car On A Road-Trip
• The driving conditions on the freeway are counterintuitive to the rules of break-in because you will be covering hundreds of miles of open freeway and speed variation will be too consistent for the engine to break in robustly.
# 8: Don’t Tow
• Towing with a brand new car puts high load on the engine. The more the weight load, the more power you will need to accelerate, and this is not a test you want to put your new engine to during the wearing-in period.
# 9: Is Oil Change A Good Idea?
• A lot of new car-owners like to switch out the oil early, but manufacturers often put extra additives in it that helps during the break-in process. So it is a good idea to keep it for as long as the manual suggests.
# 10: Know Your Tool Kit
• Familiarize yourself with the toolkit of your new vehicle. Be confident that you can perform a first change-of-tire in stressful conditions if the need ever arises. Also, remember to transport necessary stuff like jumper cables, snow brushes etc. from the old car to the new one.
# 11: Do The Boring Homework
• That means, noting down maintenance schedules on the calendar and re-evaluating your current insurance policy to make sure you are not paying too much or too little coverage.