Honda Civic Break In Questions

gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
edited April 2014 in Honda
If a car (I'll be getting Civic EX MT) has been driven hard in a couple of test drives, doesn't that make it so it's ruined for someone who buys it and wants to break it in by the book?

Secondly, I'll have to make a 800+ mile round trip in this new car on roads where the speed limit is 70 -- isn't the break in speed 55? Should I take a slower route even though it will take me a month;-) to travel 400 miles just so I can break the car in properly?

Any ideas/advice would be helpful.


  • shiposhipo Member Posts: 9,148
    While I cannot speak for Honda and the Civic (I haven't bought one yet), my last several cars had a 1,200 mile requirement of keeping the RPMs below 4,500, varying the speed and keeping the absolute speed below 100 mph.

    Regarding hard test-driving, that's been going on for decades and yet we virtually never hear about properly maintained cars that have engines that failed before 200,000 miles (at the very least). If hard test drives were really so bad for an engine, I would think that we would be hearing about LOTS of early engine failures.

    In our case, of the last seven cars that my wife and I have bought new, two went from the showroom to our home, got packed and headed out for a long road trip, and a third was picked up in Germany and promptly driven at speeds just south of the century mark to Paris and back. So far every one of those cars has managed to hit 100,000 miles without a single engine problem.

    Best Regards,
  • gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for responding.

    Doesn't the break in period also affect the gas mileage one gets?
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    The so called "speed" requirement is really for the myraid of components and their interfaces to "break in" together. This affects/effects the longevity of those parts. So for example, it takes new tires app 300-500 miles to lose their mould release compounds and groove into the new (stress) patterns of use. Brake pads and rotors are another interface, suspension components also, etc, etc.

    Since I have broken in a Civic, my reading of the owner's manual and shop technical data would lead me to be more aggressive with the engine break in and do NOT travel long distances and times at a constant speed (this translates to rpms) Vary the RPMS (I would do a max of 75% of red line). Yes it does affect the mpg but the emphasis during the first couple of tank fulls is for proper break in. Other than that have a good trip and drive safely!
  • gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
    So are you saying if I have to take the car on the long trip that maybe I should go another route where I could play around with the rpms a bit more? Maybe go 55mph for an hour, then 65 and back down to 55 or should I do a quicker cycle? Or am I missing the point completely?

    So sorry, but what does 75% of red line mean? Do you mean I should take it up 3/4 of the way into the red on the tachometer?
  • blufz1blufz1 Member Posts: 2,045
    I would take the slower route and not use cruise control so the rpms will vary more. Be sure not to lug the engine. The most stress on the engine is in top gear. Try to get a few short spins on the car before the trip. Be smooth. Good luck!
  • gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
    I assume top gear is 5th in a 5 speed (I get confused since on a bike, higher gears are the harder ones to pedal, right?). I guess I'll have to learn how to drive before I go on this trip -- lol. I've driven 4 speed manual forever.

    The way I understand it, 5th gear is for when you're staying at a steady speed on the freeway. If the most stress is in the 5th gear, should I avoid using it altogether on the first long trip and only use the first 4 or would that be a mistake?

    Thank you all for your feedback -- Driving 101.
  • kipkkipk Member Posts: 1,576
    Might want to vary that rpm every few minutes.

    Pay more attention to RPM than which gear you are in.

    With a MT: Vary the rpm as often as you can. No more than 1/2 throttle, and keep the RPM between say 2500 and 4500 after the 1st 100 miles. Maybe 2500 to 3500 the first 100.

    With an AT just watch the upper rpm, the tranny will deal with the lower rpm.

  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    "So are you saying if I have to take the car on the long trip that maybe I should go another route where I could play around with the rpms a bit more? Maybe go 55mph for an hour, then 65 and back down to 55 or should I do a quicker cycle? Or am I missing the point completely?

    So sorry, but what does 75% of red line mean? Do you mean I should take it up 3/4 of the way into the red on the tachometer"

    Since the goal is proper break in, (now) with out being jerky, you can vary the rpms more and keep the speed more constant (you can do this with an automatic also, but you mentioned you had a 5 speed manual). You can always of course vary both the rpms AND speeds, but it depends on the folks on the trip tolerance. :)

    You got the concept down, but personally I would take the same route and STILL vary the rpms, but in MINUTES not an hour. Since you have a stick, you can also upshift and down shift, in addition to just pressing the accelerator to vary the rpms. I would also agree, you do not want to lug the engine in the execution of proper break in.

    So to use an example, you pull say 2200 rpms in 5th gear and go 70 mph. If you press the accelerator to go 3200 rpms you will be going faster than you want to. So just down shift. Your rpms will go up (vary) and you will be going closer to 70 mpg. I hope I am not being vague.

    An example of 75% of redline. Since you have a tach you can graphically see this (my Civic does NOT have a tach). Say redline is 6,000 rpm. 75% of redline would be 4,500 rpm.
  • gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
    If I'm understanding you correctly with this:

    "So to use an example, you pull say 2200 rpms in 5th gear and go 70 mph. If you press the accelerator to go 3200 rpms you will be going faster than you want to. So just down shift. Your rpms will go up (vary) and you will be going closer to 70 mpg. I hope I am not being vague."

    You're suggesting I should take it up to 3200 in 5th gear (which, for the sake of this discussion, would be, let's say 85) and then shift to 4th (which would result in the engine screaming a bit I guess) and then let it take itself down in speed? Then putting it in 5th again for that loop once again?

    Is 85 too fast for a break in period or is it the rpms only that matter and not taking it up too high?

    And, for an 8 hour drive, do I have to do this every few minutes the whole time? Yipes -- no zoning out with books on tape for me this trip.
  • gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
    Kip, I'm guessing that you're suggesting a little gentler breakin period? Are there benefits to breaking in more or less conservatively or is it just a personal choice? What I'm interested in is a long engine life and the best gas mileage I can get.

    Don't know what throttle is and how to know what 1/2 would be but maybe it means the rpms. Are you suggesting 2500 to 4500 after the first 100 miles only til the end of the break in period? Or all the time?

  • kork13kork13 Member Posts: 90
    Gabba, I had your identical problem when I bought my Si. I had to make 3 extended (100-250 mile) trips all within the first 1500 miles. For each of those three, I made a point of varying my rpms every 10-15 minutes. On a 65 mph highway, I took it between 45-105 mph, just to let my car see the whole range. I was able to use my 3rd gear (~3.5k-4k rpms while going 45) through 6th gear (~4.5k-5k rpms while going 105.

    The trick is that you want to show your car everything that you might eventually be doing in the future. That means some high, low, and mid-range rpms in each gear. You want to give each gear a chance to see a full-ish spectrum of rpms so that you can give each gear a chance to see what it feels like at low, mid, and high rpms, so that it can wear appropriately, and when you try to go into high rpms later on, your car can deal with it w/o causing damage. For my Si, that meant taking each gear between 2k and ~4.5k-5k rpms. I would speed up or slow down as necessary in order to accomplish that, stay at that speed/rpm rate for 5-15 minutes, then change it up. I cycled through that many times, going up and down my tranny, basically just helping it adjust to my driving style.

    As to your concerns about mileage, I believe that giving it a full break-in ('full' as in full-spectrum rpms, as I described above) will minimize late gear-wear (after ~3k miles), which would cause extra friction on/between gears(read: lower mileage). If you drive your car too much more wildly than you did during break-in, your car won't like it too much at all. That's why I was fairly liberal with my break-in, and my car's performed beautifully thus-far, including mileage, which has been no lower than 27mpg, as high as 38mpg. For an Si, that's incredible.

    TAKE NOTE HOWEVER: You do need to 'baby' it in other ways as well. Esp. for the first 300 miles or so, you need to make a concious effort to make everything you do slow and deliberate. Braking, accelerating, shifting, cornering, all of that. You want to push your car, but you need to do it gently and carefully.

    hopefully all of that hasn't been COMPLETELY confusing, and do keep in mind, I'm no expert. But really, just relax, take it easy a bit, push your car a bit, and you'll be fine. Don't race people, but otherwise your car should perform for you beautifully.
  • gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
    Thank you kork,

    That was the most comprehensive and understandable explanation I've gotten.

    When you say to baby it in other ways, I think you mean no jack rabbit starts, be careful about any hard braking if I can avoid it, shift as smoothly as possible, don't take corners too sharply, and ease it up into the higher rpms for the first 300 mi or so. Does it also mean I shouldn't downshift to slow it down (which might cause the rpms to get a little higher) or if that's the way I usually drive should I show her that also?

    It's almost as if you read my mind -- I do like a little racing from the stoplights now and again. But if I break it in as you suggested, will the poor baby be in shock when I start to drive her a little harder from time to time since during the break in period, I never took the rpms above 4.5 to 5? Or is it that by the time the break in period is over, she'll be ready to be driven a little more aggressively?

  • kork13kork13 Member Posts: 90
    once again, I'm so expert, so take it for what it's worth.. as for your summary, yea, that's pretty accurate. About shifting, I just meant that you don't want to slam the clutch/stick around too quickly, at least not at first. The parts in there will grind their natural wear patterns with regular driving, so until those start (again, I'd say within the first ~300-500 miles), you're safer to have the moving parts work into eachother slowly and deliberately.

    However, like I also said, as you progress, you want to build up to more and more demanding stuff. In all technicality, your 'break-in' period could probably be realistically put at around 1200-1500 miles. It's just the first 600 miles (so recommended by Honda) that are the most forming. So what I'm saying is that you also want (need?) to start showing it the higher ranges during the 500-1500 mile period. That will form the necessary wear patterns to allow you to do it without any trouble in the future. I think that's your last question... If you don't show your car the high ranges when it's still willing to break in some good wear patterns (before the engine's become harder/more solid-state), your car would still be able to get up there (as you may have seen eldaino say before, the k20's made for it), it may just not like it quite as much. What you would see in response to it 'not liking' the high rpms (if not broken-in for them) would be decreased fuel economy and possibly slightly decreased performance. Long story short, drive it during the break-in like you normally will, or at least similar, so that your car won't be 'surprised' when you do it later on.

    On a side note, as far as why I say economy would be hurt... You get good fuel economy by being easy on your engine, as you probably are very familiar with. However, the reason for that is because when you try to punch it and throw your car around more, that causes everything in the engine to bang around alot harder/faster. When an engine is not used to that, it becomes harder for the engine to operate that way, making it work harder, and decreasing your fuel economy, possibly along with your engine performance. This is the general premise I'm going on in this post and my last one.. by showing your car the upper reaches that it was designed for within the first 500-1500 miles or so, your car can still adapt at that point to those sort of wear patterns. This would make your car more able to deal with harder driving, and allow for better economy/performance than if you didn't break it in at all up in the high rpms.

    Final note... I drive the exact same way, I love to just take my car out and play. Zipping out at random times, and especially since I've been in Germany for the last 3 weeks and miss driving my car, as soon as I get back I'm gonna take her out into the more forested areas, and just go to town with all the winding roads and such. :P
  • gabbadabbagabbadabba Member Posts: 10
    Yay! I understand now!

    I'm in Northern California and we have some fun roads to drive here also. I can't wait to get through the break in and start to have a little fun! :shades:

    Thank you, kork, for being such a good writer.

  • stillerstiller Member Posts: 3
    Sorry.....throwing it around won't hurt anything. These are vague generalizations at best for break in.

    Stomp the criminy out of it.......change the oil at 500 (there is NO such thing as "break in oil"). Heat and only heat will break in your new engine properly. Baby it and you will have a oil eating poor MPG ride for life.

    Honda manual says go easy cause they are the ones holding the warranty.....which isn't worth a hoot anyways.

  • shiposhipo Member Posts: 9,148
    Sorry, your information seems to be biased and highly suspect. Like it or not, you do not know more about your engine than the engineers that designed and built it.

    A few points for break-in purposes:
    - It is important to keep the RPMs below the threshold set by Honda and keep the overall load on the engine low as well.
    - There is such a thing as "Break-In" oil in the case of Honda as the factory fill contains more additives than conventional oil
    - "Heat and only heat will break in your new engine properly" - Preposterous statement
    - "Baby it and you will have an oil eating poor MPG ride for life" - That statement is even sillier than the one you made before it

    Please, before you post more of such bilge, get some education on the issue at hand. I'd hate for a new member to read the things that you've posted and screw up their perfectly good new car.

    Best Regards,
  • drmbbdrmbb Member Posts: 80
    New Honda's ship with a very high moly (Molybdenum Disulfide) content oil. The moly reacts with the metal in a hot engine to form a protective coating over all contact surfaces. Honda recommends leaving the factory oil in until the first oil change as specified in the owners manual service schedule (which for the civic, is to follow the oil life indicator on the dash).
  • stillerstiller Member Posts: 3
    Jeese Owwww reason to jump down some throat just because they don't have the same opinion as you. I must be stupid with only 3 posts, right? You must be the source of knoweledge with 6994 posts, right?

    Look, heat and only heat will let your engine smooth out high friction points over the rpm range. How you going to make the heat with out putting some good load on the engine?

    The high moly content of the oil Honda puts in their new cars is nothing new. High moly oils have been a point of controversy in engines since the beginning. Mobile makes the factory oil for Honda to use, and they do NOT make a "break in" oil for ANY car. Honda will try to say a "special break in additive" has been added. This statement your told is either wrong OR scary. What, like they are going to add something to your oil that increases friction and break in. NO, they don't. This would be detrimental to the engine for sure. Honda is as good as anybody elce out there selling "snake oil" claims and products, and if there is some special something in their oil that clings to the engine parts and protects........even more reason to flush that stuff out ASAP (along with all the other metal fines and almost microscopic metal dust that can cause premature wear.

    I love my new Honda, but this does'nt mean I believe the host of WOWS they try to lay on you in the dealership. I will break this car in the same as all of my other new rigs, hard and fast. I will then report from time to time the true MPG and oil consumption to show no harm in a fast break in.

    To date, I have broken in 12 snowmobiles, 2 motorcycles, 3 cars, 2 trucks, all new. I have never had a problem one with any of them and my milage has been beter than average for all but the 2004 Subaru, it got average Suby milage. Along with breaking in all these rigs new, I filtered the first oil drain through from all, except snowmobiles, through silk screen and held a bright light to the remains. What I have seen is tiny shiny goodies in the remains that have no reason staying in the engine.

    I'm not telling someone to go out and put the pedal all the way down and watch the rpms go to redline. But finding a good hill and working the 2500-4500 rpm range will be a favor for the longevity of the engine, your future mpg's, and oil consumption.

    If you baby your new engine, it will be a dog for life, get poor mpg's AND burn more than normal oil......

    No I don't have almost 7000 posts. But I'm not new to engines or false claims by auto manufactures.

  • drmbbdrmbb Member Posts: 80
    meh, to each his own. For what it's worth, I've also broken in my share of new autos, and a couple of pickups, and I've done it pretty much the complete opposite of you. I've always got better then EPA rated mileage on my vehicles, and they've all lasted for years and in excess of 100K miles before I've sold or traded them.

    To be quite honest, I tend to think the whole "break in" issue is largely a myth. Modern car engines are built to such tight tolerances that any break in happens within the time it is driven out of the factory, onto a truck/train/ship and then driven off onto a dealers lot. Those few miles are likely all it takes to seat and wear things. Many people pay no attention whatsoever to the manufacturers break in recommendations, or anyone else's, and their cars seem to last as long as anyone's and run as well as anyone's.

    So, you break yours in "hard and fast" and I'll keep babying my new vehicles for the first 500-1000 miles or so. This debate has been going on for years, and will continue to go on, and their is no definitive way to end it.
  • shiposhipo Member Posts: 9,148
    Dude, your arrogance is not going to win many friends or convince many people of anything other than the fact that you are fond of your own opinion.

    Like it or not, you do now know more than the engineers who designed and built your engine. Like it or not, Honda DOES use various pastes and assembly lubes while building their engines, and those pastes and lubes are specifically designed to compliment the oil that they put in the crank case to aid in the breaking in of the engine.

    As for the insignificant amount of anecdotal evidence you've provided to support your arguments, completely and absolutely irrelevant. Nineteen engines? You've got to be kidding, the fine engineers at Honda have designed, built, run to destruction, analyzed, redesigned, rebuilt and re-run to destruction literally thousands of engines over the years and I'm quite happy to say, they don't believe your opinion over the hard evidence that they have in their possession.

    As for your premise of "heat and only heat", ummm, who told you to say that? True, heat is one part of various forces that help an engine properly break in, but to say that it is the only one is simply naive.

    Regarding me and my experience, I could care less if I have a large number of posts and you have virtually none, that said, what I do care about is the thirty plus years I have of wrenching on engines and seeing first hand the cause and effect of various types of treatment. FWIW, I always break my engines in per the manufacturers recommendations, although I do do it at the harder driven end of that allowable spectrum. While it is no more relevant than your "proofs", I have yet to have a single engine that was low on power, got poor fuel economy and burned oil. Not one.

    Case in point, one of my current cars, a car I bought new during the summer of 1998 by the way, now has a little over 150,000 miles on the clock, it is still returning better fuel economy than even the optimistic EPA estimates of that era, it still has at least as much power as it did when it was new, and it still uses only about a quart of oil every 7,500 miles, just as it should. That car is no exception as all of my cars have returned similar results.
  • kelli5kelli5 Member Posts: 3
    so i just bought my new 08 civic 3 weeks ago and the rattling is getting on my nerves. i did have some rattling in my old car, but i thought it was from it being old... i'm taking my new car in to the dealership next week... i think part of the noise/rattling is coming from 1 of the windows?? it's not a serious concern, but it is very annoying and i guess you can say disappointing because it IS a honda... didn't expect that. my boyfriend has a 05 corolla and has even more rattling coming from the dash/ac vents, which i completely understand i suppose because both the corolla and the civic are inexpensive cars. you get what you pay for... but my window??? that's disappointing.
    anyone else experience the same thing? :confuse:
  • ricetickricetick Member Posts: 6
    I am experiencing rattling too :(
    Do you have any update? I hope it is nothing serious :(
    I just got my car 3 weeks ago....
  • ricetickricetick Member Posts: 6
    I am experiencing rattling too
    Do you have any update? I hope it is nothing serious
    I just got my car 3 weeks ago....
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