Engine break-in procedures have long been divided between two camps. One camp is adamant that you baby the engine for the first 1,000 miles, letting it break in slowly. The other camp suggests you drive it like you stole it, showing the engine no mercy. But which method is the correct one? According to SavageGeese, the answer could be both.
The best way to break in an engine depends on the automaker and the engine type. Engines that are mass-produced for vehicles like the Honda CR-V or Hyundai Sonata require little to no break-in. They are designed for people to get in their car and go. Handbuilt engines or engines with exacting tolerances for high-performance cars like a Ferrari or Porsche benefit from some form of a break-in process.
One of the misconceptions about high-performance engines is that they are broken in at the factory. While it is true the engines are tested, it's a quality check to make sure they perform well and don't have leaks or other issues. That's why cars like the Corvette Z06 have a specified break-in period.
Another topic of debate is changing the oil after the first 1,000 miles. In the past, it was recommended to change the oil at this interval to remove any contaminants from the break-in process. However, engines and engine oil have come a long way in the past 20 years. In most situations, it's not necessary to change the oil after 1,000 miles. But it doesn't hurt.
So how should you break in your engine? If you want to follow a break-in process, the first thing to check is your owner's manual to see if it prescribes a set of procedures. But in absence of any official break-in process, the best thing you can do is drive your car normally. Give it time to warm up to its operating temperature. Vary the engine speed so it's not running at the same RPM all the time, especially on the highway.
Breaking in a car is about more than breaking in an engine. Your car comprises other moving parts like the transmission, differential, and wheels. There are components like brakes and suspensions. So if you are going to follow a set break-in process with your engine, it helps to be mindful of those other parts as well.