Many of today’s new cars recommend a “break-in period” for a certain number of miles. Each automaker is different, but many recommend at least driving 500 miles before engaging in any spirited driving. That 500-mile recommended break-in period extends to Chevy and the all-new 2020 Corvette C8, though in a recent Q&A at CorvetteForum.com, Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter said he’d wait 1,000 miles. But that’s not all Juechter discussed. He recommended his 1,000-mile break-in period in response to a question asking about the C8 Corvette’s reduction in maximum torque for the first 500 miles.
The C8 Corvette reduces torque 25 to 30 percent in first and second gears for the first 500 miles, responded Juechter. The reduction in torque helps reduce undesirable break-in wear, which could be detrimental down the road. The C8’s torque reduction is just an extension of the variable redline introduced on the C7, which the team established to give drivers a “visual indication on when it would be advisable to take it easy on the car.” The car used the variable red line during the first 500 miles and then after when the car would be warming up to operating temperatures.
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Instead of a short, PR-like response, Juechter provided a detailed explanation as to why following the recommended break-in periods mattered. “For as long as I can remember we have recommended a 500-mile break-in period for new cars,” Juechter wrote in his response. “Not just Corvette, all cars. It has been emphasized in the owner’s materials with further definition around brakes and driveline.” Juechter then provided a technical explanation of the break-in period:
“Why is this important? Any machinery that has moving parts, whether they have point contact, a rotational interface, or slide against each other will “bed-in” over time. What that means is, no matter the manufacturing process, two interfacing parts will find their own equilibrium. You can think of it as mutually refining each other’s surface texture until they reach a steady-state. This steady-state condition generally minimizes noise, vibration, and wear. Although manufacturing has improved to a point where break-in effects are minimized, they are still at play despite claims to the contrary. And the truth is, there may be additional minor benefits to a longer break-in period. If it was my car, I would try to be patient for 1,000 miles.”
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It’s nice to see Juechter and others in the industry take time to not only answer questions, but respond in a way that breaks down technical mechanical processes into layman’s terms. Hopefully, you learned something new, and there's more of Juechter's answer at CorvetteForum.com.