When you buy a new car, there are plenty of things to think about such as getting your car insurance and rego taken care of, making any additions, and arranging finance.
Something many new car owners don’t think about, however, is the “breaking in” period of new car ownership. In general, new cars need a period of gentle use so that all the separate parts have a chance to settle into each other and begin working smoothly, so how do you do this? There is a lot of conventional wisdom floating around out there about how you should break in your new car, but a lot of it boils down to common sense. The following are a few general tips for wearing in your car gently to ensure years of solid use.
While you don’t want to run your brand new engine at high RPMs non-stop for the first few hundred kilometres, taking it too easy on your engine in the beginning won’t help it either. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it will help your engine in the long run if you give it a few seconds of wide-open throttle in a higher gear. This acts to snug up the new piston rings against the cylinder walls by giving them a blast of high pressure derived from combustion.
Basically, if you take it too easy on your car in the beginning, then you will have high volumes of blow-by – which means excessive oil consumption and shortened engine life. For the first 1600 kilometres, avoid constant speeds and throttle settings – essentially, your normal stop-and-go commute is much preferred over long cruise-controlled trips.
In general, new brake pads on new brake rotors don’t really require a break-in procedure – as long as you aren’t driving like a maniac. The texture deliberately left on the surface of the iron discs will help to grind down the fresh surface of the pad material after a few kilometres.
To help this process work itself out, it’s important that you refrain from high-speed stops or dragging the brakes, as doing so will cause high temperatures to glaze the surface of your pads, which will reduce the overall effectiveness of your braking system. In general, with a new car or even just new brakes, your braking system will always last longer if you brake slowly and minimally.
While manufacturers will tell you to get your first oil change after about 5000 kilometres, the pros generally recommend that the first oil change be done after about 50-150 kilometres instead. That is because the oil that comes in the car will pick up a lot of debris from the new engine, such as metal flakes that wear off rubbing surfaces, gasket sealer, chunks of unidentified plastic and even the odd washer or nut. It’s better to purge this gunk earlier rather than after it has clogged up the engine. To flush out the remaining bits that will inevitably continue to come off in the early stages of use, change the oil yet again at about 3000 kilometres, just to be safe.
In general, breaking in your car doesn’t have to be difficult or done according to a strict pre-arranged formula. The thing that all cars want at the start of their lives is simply to be driven gently so that all the parts have a chance to wear in and begin working as one smooth unit.