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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How you break in your new vehicles engine can be a curtail factor in its operational life. There are many different takes on this, most of which have been beaten up on the internet in many discussion forums. This is simply my way.

Breaking in your vehicle properly can:
• Extend the life of your power-train
• Provide the maximum possible power out of your engine set-up

Things you should always do
• Turn your key to accessory (one position before start)
• Wait for your fuel pump and oil pump to pressurize (10-15 seconds)

Do the following while driving. Keep in mind the applicable laws in your local area.

0-500 Kilometers (aprox. 310 Miles)

Do not accelerate hard, try to baby the engine a little bit and stay below 3,000 RPM at all times.

501-1,000 Kilometers (aprox. 620 Miles)
Accelerate a little bit harder, but stay below 4,000 RPM at all times.

1,001-+ Kilometers
Start to accelerate to 5,000 RPM, then let the RPM drop then do it again and accelerate to 5,100 RPM, then let the RPM drop. Then 5,200 RPM…. Do this until redline.

3,000 Kilometers (aprox. 1865 Miles)
Change your oil.

After the first 3,000km, change your oil every 5,000km. Although oil quality monitoring systems and vehicle manufacturer recommendations can differ from this, it doesn’t mean it is the best thing for your engine, and that is what we are looking for here. Different driving habits can also affect your engines oil life and this needs to be considered as well. The 5,000 km mark is where I would put the average automotive enthusiast driver. We are the people that like to get into the throttle a little bit, not necessarily drive fast, or dangerously, or even illegally, but maybe just accelerate a little harder then that mother of 4 in the Caravan beside you. Lets face it, we are on an automotive forum because we love our vehicles, we are not the people that have the “it’s just a car” mentality.

An oil filter only lasts so long, it is better to change it before it is at the end of its life span. If you do not drive a lot then changing your oil at least every 3 months is important as it does break down over time. Synthetic oil doesn’t break down as fast, but the oil filters still get dirty just as fast, so what ever oil choice you choose, you always need to consider the life of the oil filter.

Terrain Forums and Danno (author of this post) take absolutely no responsibility for anything good or bad that could happen by following this "How To". I am simply posting the way that I prefer to do it. Neither I (Danno) nor Terrain Forums will be held accountable for any repairs, breakdowns, denials of warrantees or tickets and accidents. My break in method is one that I have used on many new engines as well as engines built/re-built for racing applications. I have found, in my own experience that the method listed down below is the best break in method that I am aware of. My posts are a representation of my own opinion and do not represent any affiliation of

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621 Posts
There was a lot of discussion on the Acadia forum early on about whether or not Break-in periods are still applicable with today's new engines. What do you guys think? Is there still a benefit to the break in process?

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58 Posts
I asked my dealer about breaking in our new Terrain and he said that today's new engines don't need to be broken in, however, he personally thought that you should always break in new vehicles and recommended that I keep in under 5,000 rpms and 150km/h for the first 2,000 kms. I think breaking in is a good thing, but everyone seems to have a different thought on the length and the rpms of the break in period.

This probably differs by vehicle and engine as my dad has a 07 vette and was told to keep it under a certain level (I forget what they told him). A tough task for a high powered engine.

My personal opinion is you should baby the vehicle until your first oil change. From what I understand, the factory uses "break-in" oil to help this period. Use your preferred synthetic oil and filter at first change and you're good to go.

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182 Posts
I know this is an old post, but just in case somebody stumbles across this. Mods - sticky?

Long story short, you might want to think twice about "going easy" on your engine as a method to 'breaking it in'. A quick Google search reveals it's actually the"]exact opposite[/URL] of what actual engine mechanics recommend. I've known several people in the auto industry, and the only reason why you're supposed to "go easy" on your engine is for liability reasons (so you don't get in your car, crash it, and subsequently sue).

Every mechanic I've ever talked to, including a bunch who prep bikes and cars for professional race teams (I'm pretty heavily involved in the local professional race scene), all mention exactly the same thing - running your engine and low, constant revs is about as bad a break in as it gets. Warm up the engine thoroughly, and run it through the entire rev range methodically. Essentially, take it out immediately to a medium-high speed road (or ideally a country road), and put the car in manual and just run it up and down 2nd and 3rd gear, never "cruising" at a set speed.

Do what you will to your own car of course... Just my opinion based on experience - and yes I have seen the difference on a dyno...

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446 Posts
I think I posted this somewhere else in this forum...

My father is a metallics expert, just retired from the US Air Force as a civilian engineer. His suggestion is to always make sure the engine warms completely to running temp before shutting it down. So try to not make any "short trips" at first. If you have one of the I4 engines, that should be easy as that engine seems to get to full operating temp in only a few minutes.

This full temp warmup and cool down cycle allows the metal to become more able to handle such cycles in temp over the long run. That way the likely hood of break down is less as your vehicle gets older.

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1,081 Posts
We did almost the exact same thing (however was easier overall on it) on our 4 cyl Malibu LTZ last year and although it runs great the car gets semi-poor MPG and doesnt seem to have the same amount of power as my friends car. His is exactly the same and his constantly gets better MPG and has more power in my butt dyno.

Ive even let him drive the car and he couldnt improve the MPG either.

With our Terrain we wont be taking it hard but wont be taking it easy either.

This is a GREAT post though and is overall the way we will be doing it with our Terrain.

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116 Posts
Im not sure what to think anymore. My dad has been a mechanic his whole life and he says with engines now en days you just need to drive them.
The tranny / most other parts will wear out before the engine. I know driving engines hard give you more horse power upfront but in the long run it has been proven to cause issues. There is alot of info out there hopefully everyone finds what is best for them and it works.

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692 Posts
ckmullin said:
Any other members have personal experience or what you did do or did not do with your Terrain?
I followed the manual verbatim, both times. Also, I avoid short trips of any kind as much as possible.

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973 Posts
From the manual ( I already broke recomendation 2 a little)

New Vehicle Break-In
Notice: The vehicle does not
need an elaborate break-in. But it
will perform better in the long run
if you follow these guidelines:
. Do not drive at any one
constant speed, fast or slow,
for the first 805 km
(500 miles). Do not make
full-throttle starts. Avoid
downshifting to brake or
slow the vehicle.

. During the first 1 000 km
(600 miles), avoid using more
than moderate acceleration
in lower gears and avoid
vehicle speeds above
110 km/h (68 mph).
. Between the first 1 000 km
(600 miles) and 5 000 km
(3,000 miles), heavy
acceleration in lower gears
can be used. Vehicle speeds
above 110 km/h (68 mph)
should be limited to
five minutes per use.
. Avoid making hard stops for
the first 322 km (200 miles) or
so. During this time the new
brake linings are not yet
broken in. Hard stops with
new linings can mean
premature wear and earlier
replacement. Follow this
breaking-in guideline every
time you get new brake
. Do not tow a trailer during
break-in. See Driving
Characteristics and Towing
Tips on page 8‑58 for the
trailer towing capabilities of
your vehicle and more

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17 Posts
Age has its privileges and in my case, it's experience: I have personally broken in dozens of new car engines over my (many) years not including many custom built hobbyist race engines. The "break in" is primarily a seating of your piston rings and secondarily the other moving internals; on modern engines, that ring seating happens in the first few hundred miles if not sooner.

The best way to seat your rings is not to baby the engine and not to beat on it either. Rather, on a fully-warmed up engine (after 15min driving)*, apply moderate to heavy throttle loads frequently when driving around town and do so each time you drive a car with a new engine to ensure the OIL reaches full operating temps. That ensures you have good lubrication flow and that you can burn off some contaminants residing in the oil...that means no short trips of a mile or two which kills economy and reduces the engine's life.

After a few hundred miles, you still have some break-in to do with the other moving surfaces (i.e. cam, valvetrain, crank and rod bearings) so you should still avoid steady-state cruising but feel free to do a few full throttle runs ON A FULLY WARMED UP ENGINE*.

After about 1000 miles, change the oil, and you should be good to go.

- never ever rev the new engine while in neutral or parked (i.e. without a load).
- never run a cold engine (new or old) hard like racing, towing, jackrabbit starts etc.
- never floor a new engine to redline excessively
- never baby-throttle a new won't let the rings seat well

When the engines are assembled at the factory, they are started and run through their rpm range to ensure they initial ring-set run-in, but care still needs to be taken to fully seat the rings. If piston rings are not set properly, you end up with compression losses (less power/economy) and potentially excessive oil use over the engine's lifetime.

This is what I've done and still do for ALL my vehicles and I've never needed to add oil between oil changes on any engine and have always gotten the EPA-rated, or better, fuel economy on my vehicles.

*An engine isn't truly "fully warmed up" until the engine oil is also fully hot. Oil flows best onto fast-moving parts when the oil is fully warmed up. So, even if the temp gauge reaches normal operating temp, it may take several more minutes on a cold day for oil to fully reach its operating temp too.

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205 Posts
Good How-To GuntherCam
That's how I have done my Break-ins on all of my cars going all the way back to the first motor I ever built back in 1977.
That motor went into a 68 Camaro that was driven every day and raced every weekend.
My 92 Z has 172,000 miles on it and was still pulling 13.9 in the 1/4 and getting 26 mpg HWY when I had to park it.
Needs restro as the rear end is shot, to many runs down the 1/4 on Drag Radials.

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1,147 Posts
Aww...I thought this thread was going to give me step by step instructions on how to nab my neighbors BMW M3 that isn't always garaged. :(

Seriously though, I just use the common sense break-in method of no extremes for the first 3k miles or so. Common sense as in no redlining the engine, but also not puttering around trying to baby it. (unless it's cold out and the engine hasn't warmed up) Other than that, I don't obesess over it and just use teh thing for what I bought it for.
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