Do you need a run-in period with your new car?

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Congratulations on getting the keys to your new car! We know you're itching to take it for a spin but, before you speed off, bear in mind that you need to run-in your new car!

The parts in your new car are in their new factory condition and require an adjustment period to settle in or, a run-in period.

Though advances in technology have superseded this process, many car manufacturers still detail procedures that drivers should follow when they run-in or break-in their new car.

How is my car different during the run-in period?

Your car will not reach its full potential until the end of the break-in process. For example, your brake pads are the softest when they're new and cannot deliver 100 per cent of its stopping power until a proper run-in. It should not require an extreme change to a person's regular driving style - unless you drive like a madman.

What is the ideal run-in period?

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There has been no universal consensus on the optimal run-in period for a new car. Official sources from BMW and Toyota state a run-in of 2,000km and 1,600km respectively while other sources (like what most local Parallel Importers and Authorised Dealers will tell you) claim that it should extend up to 5,000km.

In my opinion, it is better to be 'kiasu' and run in your car for at least 5000km to let all the parts settle and start working under ideal operating conditions before doing any crazy revving.

How do I run-in my car?

Just follow these four easy steps!

  1. Avoid hard acceleration
  2. Drive in different conditions
  3. Keep your speeds low
  4. Do not use synthetic oil

Avoid hard acceleration

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When you get a new car, the temptation to over-rev your engine will be high.

However, be gentle on your throttle, especially during its run-in period as a higher rpm would mean a greater strain on your internal engine components.

Just follow this simple guide on when you should increase your RPMs, and you'll be able to hit the max in no time:

  Petrol Cars Diesel Cars
First 1000km Less than 2500 RPM Less than 2200 RPM
Next 500km 3000 RPM 2500 - 2800 RPM
Next 1000km     Gradually increase to the maximum Gradually increase to the maximum

Drive in different conditions

During your run-in period, do not travel at constant speeds. Ideally, it would be best if you varied your engine speeds during your run-in period to expose your engine through different RPM speeds. Stay away from cruise control and avoid long trips or getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Keep speeds low

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Ensure that you do not exceed 60km/h for the first 5,000km. Driving at faster speeds means you need to brake harder at sudden stops and that wears out your brake pads.

The friction material on your brake pads is the softest when new. Under very hard braking, this material will come off in uneven patches across the surface of the rotors - leading to rotor wrapping and brake system damage.

Start slowly, gradually build up speed and go easy on the brakes.

Do not use synthetic oil

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Synthetic oils have lower viscosity and hence have better lubricating effects on your engine parts, and it allows your engine to run more efficiently. However, during the run-in period, using synthetic oils would slow down the breaking in of your car parts.

Unless you're driving a luxury or sports car which run on synthetic from the start, you're better off with regular mineral oil or manufacturer grade oil during the run-in period.

In conclusion

Keep in mind these few tips, and it will help to add to the performance and life of your new vehicle. You will also save yourself unnecessary trips to the workshop and reduce your car running costs. Aside from your engine, check out this article for tips on keeping your new car in showroom condition.

Be sure to also check your car manufacturer's handbook for any specific run-in procedures, and you're all set for your new drive! If you haven't bought a car yet, check out this guide on what to do and expect when you are looking for a new car.

This article was first published in sgCarMart.