Breaking in engine on new car

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Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Browser » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:26 pm

Car makers used to recommend a breakin procedure for new engines. As I recall, that included driving at lower speeds and driving at variable speeds for the first 1000 miles or so. Mostly that meant not taking the vehicle out on the interstate and setting the cruise control to drive a constant speed and high speed for hours and hours when the engine was new. I'm thinking about buying a new car in Phoenix and driving about 2000 miles back home - all interstate driving. I'm just wondering what some of the board experts on this have to say. Does it make any difference anymore? Should you not do it just to be on the safe side?
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby NYBoglehead » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:29 pm

I'm not a car expert but I don't think driving it that distance is a big deal. When I was in the Marine Corps stationed in NC, I bought a car home in NY when I was on post-deployment leave, and drove it ~650 miles to North Carolina 2 or 3 days later. The car ran beautifully and I never had any problems with it whatsoever. I'm not sure if that was just luck but I think some of the old rules no longer apply.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Rupert » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:31 pm

You should do whatever the car's owner's manual says, but most manufacturers have done away with the break-in period. It went the way of the 3000-mile oil change.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby sscritic » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:33 pm

Don't forget to change the oil after 250 miles to get all the metal particles out. No, wait, it's not 1950 anymore. What is your manufacturer's recommendation? That's usually a good place to start.

P.S. I am old fashioned. I would accelerate to 75 then decelerate to 65 then accelerate to 75 ever minute or so. Not only will it be better for your engine, but just think how much fun you will have looking into your rear view mirror and watching the guy behind you pull out his gun.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Chan_va » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:40 pm

There are many schools of thought on this. Conventional wisdom says that machining tolerances and lubricating technology has advanced to a point where you don't need break in periods anymore.

However, another school of thought says that not exercising the engine and transmission through its full range (which you wont do with constant speed cruise control driving) isnt good. So, to be on the safe side, take a little detour every 500 miles or so for some stop and go driving, and some full throttle blasts.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby MathWizard » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:57 pm

This procedure was done to "set" the rings (compression and oil rings on the pistons).
The cylinder was "honed" to rough it up before the rings were installed, and the rings
expanded and wore a smooth path into the cylinder. During break-in you wanted a range
of different pressures on the rings (different speeds/accelerations) so that you got a
good overall fit to the range of normal driving.

Metals are better now, so this procedure is not really needed anymore, and the
tolerances are better so that this crude technique of matching the rings to the cylinder
is not necessary.

It used to be normal to burn a quart of oil every 3000 miles, oil which made
its way past the oil and compression rings. I can't remember the last time I had
to add any oil to a car, it must have been back in the 70's or 80's.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Stonebr » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:15 pm

In spite of all the modern advice to the contrary, you might want to take it easy on the car in the first 1000 miles. And then get the oil and oil filter changed.

One thing I've noticed in life is that people who give their cars unnecessary care and maintenance always seem to have cars that look better, last longer and run more reliably than others.
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby mike143 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:50 pm

2012 Honda Civic didn't have a break in procedure. It has gotten the same gas mileage from 0 mile to now 32k miles and only had three oil changes per the Maintenance Minder.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby HueyLD » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:01 pm

The owner's manual for my car has the following specific instructions:
During the First 1,200 Miles (2,000 Km), No formal "break-in" procedure is required with your new car. However, you can contribute to the economical operation and durability of your car by observing the following recommendations during the first 1,200 miles (2,000 km).

o Don't drive faster than 55 MPH (88 km/h).

o While driving, keep your engine speed (rpm, or revolutions per minute) between 2,000 rpm and 4,000 rpm.

o Use moderate acceleration. Don't start quickly or depress the accelerator pedal fully.

o For the first 200 miles (300 km), try to avoid hard stops.

o Don't lug the engine (in other words, don't drive so slowly in too high a gear that the engine "bucks":shift to a lower gear).

o Whether going fast or slow, vary your speed from time to time.

o Don't let the engine idle longer than 3 minutes at one time.

o Don't tow a trailer during the first 1,200 miles (2,000 km) of operation.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby ejvyas » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:23 am

HueyLD wrote:The owner's manual for my car has the following specific instructions:
During the First 1,200 Miles (2,000 Km), No formal "break-in" procedure is required with your new car. However, you can contribute to the economical operation and durability of your car by observing the following recommendations during the first 1,200 miles (2,000 km).

o Don't drive faster than 55 MPH (88 km/h).

o While driving, keep your engine speed (rpm, or revolutions per minute) between 2,000 rpm and 4,000 rpm.

o Use moderate acceleration. Don't start quickly or depress the accelerator pedal fully.

o For the first 200 miles (300 km), try to avoid hard stops.

o Don't lug the engine (in other words, don't drive so slowly in too high a gear that the engine "bucks":shift to a lower gear).

o Whether going fast or slow, vary your speed from time to time.

o Don't let the engine idle longer than 3 minutes at one time.

o Don't tow a trailer during the first 1,200 miles (2,000 km) of operation.


I hope you reach your destination in time :-) Are you buying 2000 m away because it is cheaper ?
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Pacific » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:27 am

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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby dewey » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:33 am

Your mileage may vary...
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Browser » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:50 am

No, I'm buying because I'm leaving my old car at my place in Phoenix as a second car and would drive the new one. Makes you wonder about buying the new car from a dealer who says he can trade with another dealer to get the model you want, and have a lackey drive it back from the other dealer (I've encountered this). How would you like the first few hundred miles to be put on your new car by that guy?
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby og15F1 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:09 am

I continue to see divergent opinions on this

Personally I don't believe it matters. That's not based on any evidence however.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Frugal Al » Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:49 am

The owner's manual is your friend. Telling some people to "just drive normally" doesn't always work either. My first wife could ruin a car pretty quickly.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby NHRATA01 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:54 pm

og15F1 wrote:I continue to see divergent opinions on this

Personally I don't believe it matters. That's not based on any evidence however.


I've seen new engines get broken in on a chassis dyno running wide open and run many miles and drag strip passes for years after. Many car guys I know believe in the theory of "brake them in as you're going to run them"


My opinion, if you are anal with a daily driver you want to run til death, simply do not abuse the car or run for extended intervals at a steady rpm for the first 1,000 miles. Then have the oil changed to remove wear in metals in the fluid as well as remnant assembly lube. Proceed as normal thereafter.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby TxAg » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:06 pm

I received a 2013 Ford Explorer as my new company vehicle in October. The employee at the Ford dealership told me to drive as I please.

9,500 miles later the car is continuing to run beautifully. I'm no mechanic, but I'd say don't woory about it.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby investor » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:35 pm

I would go by the owners manual. My new Acura said something like 500 mi break-in. That was 12 years ago when i bought it. Any damage done will not show for many many miles... Dealers, like salesmen, will tell you anything that they think you want to hear. And make you feel good about it.

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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby TxAg » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:18 am

investor wrote:I would go by the owners manual. My new Acura said something like 500 mi break-in. That was 12 years ago when i bought it. Any damage done will not show for many many miles... Dealers, like salesmen, will tell you anything that they think you want to hear. And make you feel good about it.

investor



It's a free car....it was ordered by my company, and when it arrived, I turned in the old car and drove off in the new one. No reason for the dealership to fib to me.

I'll flip through the owners manual tomorrow to see what it says.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby fishndoc » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:43 am

While I had always previously followed the drive-it-easy-during-breakin-period philosophy, when I last purchased a new F-150, I picked it up from the dealer just a couple of days before we set out on a month-long cross country trip, loaded with 2 kids, a bed full of gear and luggage, and towing a 3000 pound camper.
Now, thirteen years and 212,000 miles later, it still runs like new, and has only required routine maintenance and minor repairs for expected wear and tear.

So no, I wouldn't worry about a break-in period for the engine.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby david9117 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:45 am

Be careful of doing oil change sooner than what the car manual recommends. Some cars have special oil for the break in period.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Frugal Al » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:12 am

fishndoc wrote:So no, I wouldn't worry about a break-in period for the engine.

That's a great statistical sampling method. Brilliant of you to make such a statement based on one vehicle. Please don't go into the pharma business.
A lot of anecdotal evidence here that doesn't amount to squat. Apparently the mfrs just want to waste paper by even discussing the break-in period in their manuals.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby House Blend » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:12 am

The owner's manual for my 2013 car says this:

BREAKING-IN
You need to break in new tires for approximately 300 miles (480 kilometers). During this time, your vehicle may exhibit some unusual driving characteristics. The engine also needs to break in. Avoid hard accelerations and driving too fast for the first 1000 miles. If possible, avoid carrying heavy loads up steep grades during the break-in period.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Browser » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:58 am

I took the advice to check the User Manual on the vehicle I'm considering, which I downloaded from the manufacturer's website. Here's what it said:
During the first 1,200 miles (2,000 km),
follow these recommendations to obtain
maximum engine performance and ensure
the future reliability and economy of
your new vehicle. Failure to follow these
recommendations may result in shortened
engine life and reduced engine
performance.
● Avoid driving for long periods at constant
speed, either fast or slow, and do not run the
engine over 4,000 rpm.
● Do not accelerate at full throttle in any gear.
● Avoid quick starts.
● Avoid hard braking as much as possible.
Looks like I better avoid driving it 2000 miles on cruise control until it has 1,200 miles of local driving on it.
● Do not tow a trailer for the first 500 miles
(800 km). Your engine, axle or other parts
could be damaged.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby umfundi » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:13 pm

Check the owner's manual.

Drive the car normally. I would avoid long periods of light load for the first few hundred miles. (Avoid long trips on the interstate.)

Brake gently. That has nothing to do with the engine, it has to do with the brakes.

Change the oil when you need to, according to the maker's schedule. More frequent oil changes are simply a waste of your money and of resources.

May I tell a story? In the late 1990s I was involved with the team that implemented GM's oil change algorithm. Your car tells you when to change the oil. This was the result of work by a genius engineer, Shirley Schwartz, who figured out how to "calculate" oil life based on time and temperature history.

http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Rea ... oil-change

It was a huge battle against the interests of GM dealers and the quickie oil change industry, who had convinced consumers to change their oil every 3,000 miles. That we "won" the battle for our customers and the environment is still a great source of satisfaction to me.

Our 2012 Malibu is now asking for its first oil change at 8,600 miles. Amazing.

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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Toons » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:17 pm

Purchased a 2012 Honda Fit last year,no mention of break in period :happy
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby TxAg » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:53 pm

Checked the manual. No mention of a break in period...


My "anecdotal" evidence must surely be flawed
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Frugal Al » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:35 am

TxAg wrote:9,500 miles later the car is continuing to run beautifully. I'm no mechanic, but I'd say don't woory about it...Checked the manual. No mention of a break in period...
My "anecdotal" evidence must surely be flawed

Check the manual again--look under driving hints. The common advice is given, such as not towing for the first thousand miles, etc. The fact that your Ford Explorer is running beautifully at 9,500 miles really is what I meant by meaningless anecdotal evidence. Thanks for making my point.

While there's little argument that engines require less break-in today than in the past due to better materials and manufacturing methods, I'll listen to the engineers that designed and spec'd the vehicle. Once again, the owner's manual is your friend.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Cherokee8215 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:10 am

I'd think the only really bad thing you could do to a 2013 car is to floor it to redline when it's got like 25 miles on it.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby arkerr123 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:40 am

Umm, remember that your engine does not see 'speed' while you drive down the highway. It only experiences the RPM - which will change depending on what gear you are in .

So, just avoid staying at the same RPM for a long time. But really though, just keep your foot out of it and you will be fine.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby midareff » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:48 am



You betcha... I do think as a knowledgeable individual he had the responsibility not to "over rev" the engine regardless of any verbal agreements over damages. You can't waive negligance, there or here.

I picked up a new vehicle 2 months ago, they advise against full throttle until a thousand miles or so.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby steve88 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:02 pm

company gave me a car (ford taurus). Break in advice was drive it like you stole it and I did. 25000 miles later the car dump a puddle of transmission oil on the driveway.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Mister Whale » Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:56 pm

I disagree with much of the advice in this thread, particularly the "treat it gently for the first 1000 miles" type of advice.

Here's an article that I believe succintly and correctly sums up the mechanical reasons behind, and the correct driving techniques for, achieving a proper break-in:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/ho ... -a-new-car
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Frugal Al » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:47 pm

Mister Whale wrote:I disagree with much of the advice in this thread, particularly the "treat it gently for the first 1000 miles" type of advice.

I don't know that anyone said to treat anything "gently" for the first 1000 miles. While some of the article you referenced may indeed be true, I'm not sure any major manufacturer is building engines with stray washers and nuts sloshing around in them. If they are, then they've got bigger problems than break-in issues. I've been through modern, mass production, engine assembly operations, both here and in Japan, and modern assembly methods and QC practices generally prevent that from happening.

Article excerpt:
Also, the first oil change invariably reveals small particles of gasket sealer, chunks of unidentified plastic, the occasional metal flakes that weren’t cleaned off before assembly and even the odd washer or nut. It’s pretty scary. Better this junk come out sooner rather than later.

As an earlier poster pointed out, Honda specifically recommends NOT changing out the factory fill early, because they want the moly lube to stay in the engine for a while.

As in investing, what some people think they know just isn't true. So, by all means, ignore what is written in your owner's manual. You can't trust the engineers that design the cars for advice. After all, what do they know.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby umfundi » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:37 pm

Frugal Al wrote: You can't trust the engineers that design the cars for advice. After all, what do they know.

When I was a kid, a neighbor bought a new car. He spent the next two weeks to pull the engine and disassemble it to the last component and then reassemble it. He did not trust that the auto company had done it right.

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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby foxfirev5 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:44 pm

I've had new cars every couple years for business purposes. Over the last 30 years I've put about 1.5 million miles on these vehicles with all going over 130k miles up to 170k. I never had any problem with any of them and certainly never gave them any special break in treatment.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby NHRATA01 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:45 am

Frugal Al wrote:
Mister Whale wrote:I disagree with much of the advice in this thread, particularly the "treat it gently for the first 1000 miles" type of advice.

I don't know that anyone said to treat anything "gently" for the first 1000 miles. While some of the article you referenced may indeed be true, I'm not sure any major manufacturer is building engines with stray washers and nuts sloshing around in them. If they are, then they've got bigger problems than break-in issues. I've been through modern, mass production, engine assembly operations, both here and in Japan, and modern assembly methods and QC practices generally prevent that from happening.

Article excerpt:
Also, the first oil change invariably reveals small particles of gasket sealer, chunks of unidentified plastic, the occasional metal flakes that weren’t cleaned off before assembly and even the odd washer or nut. It’s pretty scary. Better this junk come out sooner rather than later.

As an earlier poster pointed out, Honda specifically recommends NOT changing out the factory fill early, because they want the moly lube to stay in the engine for a while.

As in investing, what some people think they know just isn't true. So, by all means, ignore what is written in your owner's manual. You can't trust the engineers that design the cars for advice. After all, what do they know.


Or you could tone down your rhetoric a bit and stop taking what is intended to be an informative thread so personally. People have their own methods for maintaining automobiles, just as they do for investing. Initially divergent paths can often end up in the same place.

Engineers are not infallible; I know this, I am one. And the manufacturer's best interests aren't necessarily yours. The manufacturer is interested in getting the vehicle to meet any number of required standards AND get the vehicle to last through the warranty period. A lot of times that's a mere 3 years and 36K miles, a modern equivalent of the Yugo will last that long. For instance in many cases manufacturers moved to a 5-30 oil requirement, in some cases even 5-20. Specific applications can benefit from a thin oil. Many more do not. Thin oil will fall off the bearing surface too quickly and will also have more blowby. But wait, the manufacturer recommended it? Yes, because when the EPA certifies it's drive cycle mileage, the car must be in as-sold condition. The thinner oil, with less parasitic flow restriction will bump up mileage and help the manufacturer's CAFE numbers. Will the added bearing wear manifest itself within 36k, or 50K miles? Highly unlikely. I run a 40W oil in one of my cars, which based on oil analysis from that particular engine, provides much superior wear protection. But wait, the owner's manual suggested a 30W!

Another example, the famed oil life monitor algorithm previously mentioned. GM has had an problem with their 3.6 V6 stretching timing chains. The F/A suggests that the extended oil intervals (well over 10K) were leading to some sludge build up restricting the small passages that provide lubrication of the chains via the block. Their correction was to reflash the computer with a revised oil change indicator algorithm to shorten the duration. A number of owners were doing earlier oil changes before the TSB was issued with some success. But wait, the owner's manual said go by the OCI!

Here's a couple of certainties about break in:
1. The rings have been seated before you've even taken a test drive
2. The engine will shed particles, on an exponentially decreasing curve, over roughly the first 8-10K miles before leveling off

And
3. The QC and tolerances of a modern engine as well as factory startup procedures are such that, short of running without oil, any John Doe can follow any break in procedure he sees fit and there is a 99.99% probability the engine will easily exceed 100K miles of operation.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Browser » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:55 am

NHRATA01 wrote:
Frugal Al wrote:
Mister Whale wrote:I disagree with much of the advice in this thread, particularly the "treat it gently for the first 1000 miles" type of advice.

I don't know that anyone said to treat anything "gently" for the first 1000 miles. While some of the article you referenced may indeed be true, I'm not sure any major manufacturer is building engines with stray washers and nuts sloshing around in them. If they are, then they've got bigger problems than break-in issues. I've been through modern, mass production, engine assembly operations, both here and in Japan, and modern assembly methods and QC practices generally prevent that from happening.

Article excerpt:
Also, the first oil change invariably reveals small particles of gasket sealer, chunks of unidentified plastic, the occasional metal flakes that weren’t cleaned off before assembly and even the odd washer or nut. It’s pretty scary. Better this junk come out sooner rather than later.

As an earlier poster pointed out, Honda specifically recommends NOT changing out the factory fill early, because they want the moly lube to stay in the engine for a while.

As in investing, what some people think they know just isn't true. So, by all means, ignore what is written in your owner's manual. You can't trust the engineers that design the cars for advice. After all, what do they know.


Or you could tone down your rhetoric a bit and stop taking what is intended to be an informative thread so personally. People have their own methods for maintaining automobiles, just as they do for investing. Initially divergent paths can often end up in the same place.

Engineers are not infallible; I know this, I am one. And the manufacturer's best interests aren't necessarily yours. The manufacturer is interested in getting the vehicle to meet any number of required standards AND get the vehicle to last through the warranty period. A lot of times that's a mere 3 years and 36K miles, a modern equivalent of the Yugo will last that long. For instance in many cases manufacturers moved to a 5-30 oil requirement, in some cases even 5-20. Specific applications can benefit from a thin oil. Many more do not. Thin oil will fall off the bearing surface too quickly and will also have more blowby. But wait, the manufacturer recommended it? Yes, because when the EPA certifies it's drive cycle mileage, the car must be in as-sold condition. The thinner oil, with less parasitic flow restriction will bump up mileage and help the manufacturer's CAFE numbers. Will the added bearing wear manifest itself within 36k, or 50K miles? Highly unlikely. I run a 40W oil in one of my cars, which based on oil analysis from that particular engine, provides much superior wear protection. But wait, the owner's manual suggested a 30W!

Another example, the famed oil life monitor algorithm previously mentioned. GM has had an problem with their 3.6 V6 stretching timing chains. The F/A suggests that the extended oil intervals (well over 10K) were leading to some sludge build up restricting the small passages that provide lubrication of the chains via the block. Their correction was to reflash the computer with a revised oil change indicator algorithm to shorten the duration. A number of owners were doing earlier oil changes before the TSB was issued with some success. But wait, the owner's manual said go by the OCI!

Here's a couple of certainties about break in:
1. The rings have been seated before you've even taken a test drive
2. The engine will shed particles, on an exponentially decreasing curve, over roughly the first 8-10K miles before leveling off

And
3. The QC and tolerances of a modern engine as well as factory startup procedures are such that, short of running without oil, any John Doe can follow any break in procedure he sees fit and there is a 99.99% probability the engine will easily exceed 100K miles of operation.

That's an interesting post. I have a 2002 Honda CRV that uses recommended 5-20 oil and has almost 150K miles on it. Are you perhaps suggesting that I might go to 30W or so to provide better wear protection, particularly since it's an older vehicle with high mileage?
If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine. – Jim Barksdale
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby NHRATA01 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:52 pm

Browser wrote:
NHRATA01 wrote:
Frugal Al wrote:
Mister Whale wrote:I disagree with much of the advice in this thread, particularly the "treat it gently for the first 1000 miles" type of advice.

I don't know that anyone said to treat anything "gently" for the first 1000 miles. While some of the article you referenced may indeed be true, I'm not sure any major manufacturer is building engines with stray washers and nuts sloshing around in them. If they are, then they've got bigger problems than break-in issues. I've been through modern, mass production, engine assembly operations, both here and in Japan, and modern assembly methods and QC practices generally prevent that from happening.

Article excerpt:
Also, the first oil change invariably reveals small particles of gasket sealer, chunks of unidentified plastic, the occasional metal flakes that weren’t cleaned off before assembly and even the odd washer or nut. It’s pretty scary. Better this junk come out sooner rather than later.

As an earlier poster pointed out, Honda specifically recommends NOT changing out the factory fill early, because they want the moly lube to stay in the engine for a while.

As in investing, what some people think they know just isn't true. So, by all means, ignore what is written in your owner's manual. You can't trust the engineers that design the cars for advice. After all, what do they know.


Or you could tone down your rhetoric a bit and stop taking what is intended to be an informative thread so personally. People have their own methods for maintaining automobiles, just as they do for investing. Initially divergent paths can often end up in the same place.

Engineers are not infallible; I know this, I am one. And the manufacturer's best interests aren't necessarily yours. The manufacturer is interested in getting the vehicle to meet any number of required standards AND get the vehicle to last through the warranty period. A lot of times that's a mere 3 years and 36K miles, a modern equivalent of the Yugo will last that long. For instance in many cases manufacturers moved to a 5-30 oil requirement, in some cases even 5-20. Specific applications can benefit from a thin oil. Many more do not. Thin oil will fall off the bearing surface too quickly and will also have more blowby. But wait, the manufacturer recommended it? Yes, because when the EPA certifies it's drive cycle mileage, the car must be in as-sold condition. The thinner oil, with less parasitic flow restriction will bump up mileage and help the manufacturer's CAFE numbers. Will the added bearing wear manifest itself within 36k, or 50K miles? Highly unlikely. I run a 40W oil in one of my cars, which based on oil analysis from that particular engine, provides much superior wear protection. But wait, the owner's manual suggested a 30W!

Another example, the famed oil life monitor algorithm previously mentioned. GM has had an problem with their 3.6 V6 stretching timing chains. The F/A suggests that the extended oil intervals (well over 10K) were leading to some sludge build up restricting the small passages that provide lubrication of the chains via the block. Their correction was to reflash the computer with a revised oil change indicator algorithm to shorten the duration. A number of owners were doing earlier oil changes before the TSB was issued with some success. But wait, the owner's manual said go by the OCI!

Here's a couple of certainties about break in:
1. The rings have been seated before you've even taken a test drive
2. The engine will shed particles, on an exponentially decreasing curve, over roughly the first 8-10K miles before leveling off

And
3. The QC and tolerances of a modern engine as well as factory startup procedures are such that, short of running without oil, any John Doe can follow any break in procedure he sees fit and there is a 99.99% probability the engine will easily exceed 100K miles of operation.

That's an interesting post. I have a 2002 Honda CRV that uses recommended 5-20 oil and has almost 150K miles on it. Are you perhaps suggesting that I might go to 30W or so to provide better wear protection, particularly since it's an older vehicle with high mileage?


I would browse the Bob Is the Oil guy forum (they revere oil like this forum does low cost index investing) regarding that car, or more broadly perhaps that K-series engine and see there thoughts. My instinct would be to go a hair thicker at that mileage (a 5-30), particularly if oil consumption has increased a little, or you are in a hot climate. The other pertinent thing about oil weights is they specify a range of viscosity, so one manufacturer's 20w may be heaver than another's. I recall Mobil 1 some years back was not liked becuase the 5-30 thinned to virtually a 20 at operating temperature compared to an Amsoil 5-30.

Well heck I figured I'd search while writing the reply. Seems there's a lot spirited discussion on this Honda-related topic: https://www.google.com/#hl=en&tbo=d&q=h ... 20&bih=666

If it puts you at ease my opinion probably mirrors what I saw one poster say - It's a Honda, it could probably run forever on tea oil!
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Browser » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:33 pm

I would browse the Bob Is the Oil guy forum (they revere oil like this forum does low cost index investing) regarding that car, or more broadly perhaps that K-series engine and see there thoughts. My instinct would be to go a hair thicker at that mileage (a 5-30), particularly if oil consumption has increased a little, or you are in a hot climate. The other pertinent thing about oil weights is they specify a range of viscosity, so one manufacturer's 20w may be heaver than another's. I recall Mobil 1 some years back was not liked becuase the 5-30 thinned to virtually a 20 at operating temperature compared to an Amsoil 5-30.

Well heck I figured I'd search while writing the reply. Seems there's a lot spirited discussion on this Honda-related topic: https://www.google.com/#hl=en&tbo=d&q=h ... 20&bih=666

If it puts you at ease my opinion probably mirrors what I saw one poster say - It's a Honda, it could probably run forever on tea oil!

Thanks. I'm going to that link now to read. I have noticed that I use a little oil these days, especially on long trips at high speed on the interstate. I'm surprised when it shows low because it never did when it was a little younger (I guess the same applies to me).
If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine. – Jim Barksdale
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Frugal Al » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:59 pm

NHRA, you seem to be the one that is taking it personally, with your own personal recommendations somehow overriding what an owner's manual might say, because you know better. And I never said engineers were perfect. As to some of your other comments, some of them are just wrong, particularly the statement about rings being seated in "before you've even taken a test drive." While that is true on some engines, for most mainstream mass production engines, that is not the case. While the additional break-in benefits may be marginal, they are there well past the initial test drive.

NHRATA01 wrote:any John Doe can follow any break in procedure he sees fit and there is a 99.99% probability the engine will easily exceed 100K miles of operation.

I should hope so That's not a very high bar. If I don't get 250k miles out of an engine with just routine maintenance, something is wrong.

Also, your comment about thinner oil falling off the bearing surfaces too quickly is largely myth, given the modern additive packages in quality oils.

As a former purchasing mgr for a Japanese transplant, I worked with our metallurgist/engineers to source most of the aluminum and steel bar in the engines made in the US, and worked closely with the major steel and aluminum companies in North America and Japan. My section was also responsible for lubricants. During US sourcing it was important to understand the hows and whys of our specifications, and how common US spec differentiated from our engineering standards. I discussed many of our engine specs with the people that designed the engines. What was great is some of the same engineers worked on our early F1 engines as well.

Browser, you can try going to a 5w30 in your CRV--it won't hurt anything. It probably won't help much either. Some oil use is normal at 150k. The question is how much? I wouldn't be concerned unless it is more than a litre between changes.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby umfundi » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:16 pm

Browser wrote:
I would browse the Bob Is the Oil guy forum (they revere oil like this forum does low cost index investing) regarding that car, or more broadly perhaps that K-series engine and see there thoughts. My instinct would be to go a hair thicker at that mileage (a 5-30), particularly if oil consumption has increased a little, or you are in a hot climate. The other pertinent thing about oil weights is they specify a range of viscosity, so one manufacturer's 20w may be heaver than another's. I recall Mobil 1 some years back was not liked becuase the 5-30 thinned to virtually a 20 at operating temperature compared to an Amsoil 5-30.

Well heck I figured I'd search while writing the reply. Seems there's a lot spirited discussion on this Honda-related topic: https://www.google.com/#hl=en&tbo=d&q=h ... 20&bih=666

If it puts you at ease my opinion probably mirrors what I saw one poster say - It's a Honda, it could probably run forever on tea oil!

Thanks. I'm going to that link now to read. I have noticed that I use a little oil these days, especially on long trips at high speed on the interstate. I'm surprised when it shows low because it never did when it was a little younger (I guess the same applies to me).


Really, I would not screw with it. Stick with what the owner's manual says. Don't even ask the dealer. Think of them as a "full service" broker. They will recommend something expensive.

Your oil consumption on "long trips at high speeds" is not that at all. Most trips in the USA (key on to key off) are less than two miles. Your oil gets diluted by combustion condensates (unburned gasoline and water, and all the nasty corrosive compounds in between) from all those cold starts, because your engine never warms up. When you go on the interstate for a long trip, you are not using oil. You are boiling off the condensates that were contaminating your oil. The oil is actually used on cold starts.

By the way, the GM oil change algorithm knows about this. If you take that long interstate trip, your remaining oil life will increase!

Back in the 1990s, Shirley Schwartz showed that you could run a car on the interstate and never change the oil. So long as the oil did not get contaminated by condensates, adding a quart of oil every few thousand miles to compensate for normal oil consumption was enough to replenish the additives.

And, by the way, did you notice that the oil on your dipstick is black? Not golden, like new oil. That's the additives doing their job.


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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby Browser » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:51 pm

Your oil consumption on "long trips at high speeds" is not that at all. Most trips in the USA (key on to key off) are less than two miles. Your oil gets diluted by combustion condensates (unburned gasoline and water, and all the nasty corrosive compounds in between) from all those cold starts, because your engine never warms up. When you go on the interstate for a long trip, you are not using oil. You are boiling off the condensates that were contaminating your oil. The oil is actually used on cold starts.

That's an interesting concept I hadn't heard before. I didn't get an oil change right before my recent 2000 mile trip to Arizona, as I usually have before. Last oil change was synthetic for the first time. Had put a lot of local driving on it and of course the weather had turned cold and the car was parked outside overnight instead of being garaged, so cold starts were really cold. I was surprised that about half-way on the trip when I checked the oil it was maybe 1/3 or 1/2 quart down even though it was on the mark when I left. Never had seen it that low before so soon. Just assumed it was starting to use oil.
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Re: Breaking in engine on new car

Postby NHRATA01 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:19 pm

Frugal Al wrote:NHRA, you seem to be the one that is taking it personally, with your own personal recommendations somehow overriding what an owner's manual might say, because you know better. And I never said engineers were perfect. As to some of your other comments, some of them are just wrong, particularly the statement about rings being seated in "before you've even taken a test drive." While that is true on some engines, for most mainstream mass production engines, that is not the case. While the additional break-in benefits may be marginal, they are there well past the initial test drive.

NHRATA01 wrote:any John Doe can follow any break in procedure he sees fit and there is a 99.99% probability the engine will easily exceed 100K miles of operation.

I should hope so That's not a very high bar. If I don't get 250k miles out of an engine with just routine maintenance, something is wrong.

Also, your comment about thinner oil falling off the bearing surfaces too quickly is largely myth, given the modern additive packages in quality oils.

As a former purchasing mgr for a Japanese transplant, I worked with our metallurgist/engineers to source most of the aluminum and steel bar in the engines made in the US, and worked closely with the major steel and aluminum companies in North America and Japan. My section was also responsible for lubricants. During US sourcing it was important to understand the hows and whys of our specifications, and how common US spec differentiated from our engineering standards. I discussed many of our engine specs with the people that designed the engines. What was great is some of the same engineers worked on our early F1 engines as well.

Browser, you can try going to a 5w30 in your CRV--it won't hurt anything. It probably won't help much either. Some oil use is normal at 150k. The question is how much? I wouldn't be concerned unless it is more than a litre between changes.


You made 3 posts in this topic with a condescending tone to 3 different individuals, none of whom were me.

And if you cared to look, my personal recommendation was basically along the lines of what most manufacturers suggest
My opinion, if you are anal with a daily driver you want to run til death, simply do not abuse the car or run for extended intervals at a steady rpm for the first 1,000 miles
My only adder was changing the oil after 1k miles which most manufacturers do not specify.

Additive package provides many benefits but viscosity is what will most effect the pressure seen at the mains. Excessively thin weight oil will provide less protection, particularly on a high mileage car where natural wear will open up the bearing tolerances. I am sure if you put a pressure gauge on browser's car it will read 5-10 psi lower for a given rpm than in the car's younger years.

In any event I will bow out as I don't care to get in a heated debate regarding hotly contested break-in preferences in a help thread on an investing forum.
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