How to Break in a New Engine by Driving

Written by william zane
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How to Break in a New Engine by Driving
(engine image by goce risteski from

Buying a new car is a much anticipated experience. The car is brand new, and no one but the new owner has driven it extensively. And while a new car's interior has that "new car smell," it's not just the interior and exterior that are brand new, but the mechanical aspect of it as well, from the engine to the tires. Breaking in a new motor is a critical part of new car ownership and helps ensure that the motor runs reliably for a long time to come. Breaking in a new car's engine is simple and generally only requires a little patience and some conservative driving. There are a lot of theories about this, some even suggesting that you don't even have to break in a new car engine. But there's nothing wrong with being gentle with a new motor.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Drive conservatively for the first 500 miles or even the first 1,000 miles. While modern car engines are generally broken in at the factory before the car is even sold to the consumer, it is still prudent to drive moderately at first. BMW, for instance, recommends driving and using the clutch and other mechanical components gently for the first 1,200 miles.

  2. 2

    Let the engine warm up before using a lot of throttle and do not use full throttle starts. If the car you have is an automatic, try not to mash the throttle suddenly while driving, which will cause the gearbox to downshift quickly and cause a spike in RPMs. When possible, avoid frequent cold starts and short drives as well.

  3. 3

    Avoid high RPM driving. Keep the motor below 4,500 RPM for the break in period. This may be difficult with today's smooth, high revving engines but is better in the long run. At the same time, some manufacturers, such as Porsche, warn drivers against "lugging" new vehicles below 1,500 RPM. "Lugging" an engine refers to keeping the gearbox in a higher gear than necessary while the engine operates at lower RPMs--rather than downshifting to keep the RPMs up.

  4. 4

    Drive the car in a variety of conditions and speeds, including higher speed freeway driving, in town driving and medium speed conditions on secondary roads.

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