New Car Break-In Strategy?

drunkpenguindrunkpenguin Member Posts: 9
edited March 2014 in Toyota
I just recently bought a brand new 2003 Toytoa Matrix. When looking through the owner's manual, I noticed that Toyota recommends a break-in period for the engine of: driving under 55MPH, keeping the RPMs between 2-4000, varying speeds, etc. for the first 1000 miles. After reading a few posts, I'm getting conflicting information.

Some people say that newer cars have their engines "broken" in at the factory. Others say that it still helps to keep the longevity of the car and helps with fuel efficiency.

Since I do plan on keeping this car for a long time, I want to try to do the conservative thing. But it's just incredibly difficult to keep it under 55 on the freeways when the speed limit is 65 and I'm sitting in my brand new car!

Any constructive advice would be appreciated.


  • fwatsonfwatson Member Posts: 639
    My new '01 Mazda Millenia came with basically the exact same recommendation. As I planned a vacation about a month after buying it, I intentionally put 800 miles on it locally by driving around about a 50 mile radius of home, mostly on state and county highways. Instead of being a chore, I really enjoyed this opportunity to get acquainted with my new car, and it was a great three weeks of just driving around for the fun of it. And my Millenia has repaid me so far, with almost 5000 trouble free, and enjoyable miles, including that 3000 mile vacation trip.

    Enjoy your new car. Both of our cars have a very high level of quality built in, but I think that break-in is a good idea. Nothing mechanical is worn in from the factory, regardless of how finely the machining of the drive train and other components was done. They still benefit from a honeymoon before getting down to the hard work we subject them to.

    It's also a great way to know everything is OK right away while you are close to the selling dealer.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I believe that the important component in Toyota's recommendation is "varying the speed".

    What you don't want to do to a new engine is any of these:

    1. extreme RPM levels

    2. lugging or loading up the engine by driving too slow in too high a gear (e.g. 20 mph in 4th or 5th--auto trans people disregard this)

    3. driving at steady speeds all day.

    4. Letting it sit and idle for ten minutes every morning to "warm it up" (possible causes fuel dilution of the oil).

    So I'd suggest driving normally, and even at very brisk freeway speeds, but be sure to vary our speed.

    No modern car is "broken in at the factory", since nobody wants a new car with 500 miles on it. . A few of the really expensive cars are, however, test run and dyno-tested, to check for the right amount of HP. If they don't meet it within a few percent, they are torn down to see what's wrong.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the most important part of that discussion in Ford manuals is to vary the speed within 10 mph, and stay within all speed limits, doing mixed driving, for the first 500 miles. this varies the pressure on the rings, which varies how they scrape on the piston walls, and that apparently prevents setting in grooves on the cylinder walls.

    oh, yes, and they and their service managers at the dealerships are pretty adamant about leaving the factory oil in for exactly 5000 miles... I guess they are trying to say "we want the extra abrasion from foundry sand, metal chips, and the like to wear in the proper tolerances in the free-flow lubrication areas, because we designed it that way" without using words that imply the final polishing of internal parts is done by the user.

    it's the same way Digital Equipment used to "AHEM! uhhh, Very Strongly Advise that all mainframe computer backups be done with the /VERIFY option active." with the option off, of course, every bit whacker knows you have a stack of write-only tapes, which don't preserve your job when a hard disk dies. but I had to push that question because a boss several lives ago insisted we save the several hours of overtime. geez, it never changes.

    satisfaction in practice so far on my two recent (for me, anyway, '90 and '00) new vehicles. this is not a scientific survey, a valid sample, based on disassembly and inspection, etc.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Member Posts: 593
    Just to clear out all of the "junk" that swschrad mentioned, I'd definitely change the oil at 500 miles. I've been doing that on my new cars for the last 30 years, and have never had an engine problem.
    Never mind what the service manager might tell you, it's YOUR car, not his
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the two arguments are "by the book" and "change it now and often." I couldn't gut it out with the manufacturer method, but I didn't take one road trip and dump the oil, either, as leadfoot did. wimped out from both hard arguments.
  • cynthiagcynthiag Member Posts: 63
    Congrats on your Matrix!

    I'd wanted to buy one, but then I test drove it, and the ride was a bit too rough and jiggly (i.e. sporty) for me... I have chronic tendonitis in both arms, can't take much of that. So sadly, I had to pass and go buy a Subaru Outback wagon. (Love it so far though!)

    Anyway, as for your concerns on the break-in, I broke in my 1985 Toyota Camry much as the dealer suggested (pretty much what you listed), however, since my commute was mostly freeway in nature, I could not follow the 55 and under part. Mostly, I just varied the speed and drove it gently for the break-in period.

    There were 198,000 miles on the car when I turned it over to the Subaru dealer last Thursday. It was NOT the engine that was about to kick the bucket, it was the transmission that was beginning to fail.

    So drive your car easy, vary the speeds and don't worry too much!

    BTW, I changed the oil in the Camry about every 5K... and the engine was still going strong.
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Member Posts: 191
    by using the new car for 1-hour joy rides in the country where I can vary speeds continuously, keep top speed under 55, and avoid much idling. Nice way to start off with a new car. Of course, this won't work if the new car is your only car and you need to commute to work on the freeway the day after you buy it.
  • urethraurethra Member Posts: 1
    I have an opportunity to buy a 2002 Passat GLS (1.8T) from a "motivated seller." The car has about 8500 miles on it. I'm not sure that he's had the oil changed. Big problem? Has warranty been voided? Otherwise the car looks and drives great.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    The most importanrt thing in a new car is to vary the speeds for the first 1000 miles, and not to rev it too much. I recently bought a new Toyota celica, and that is one high-revving car, so it was really hard, but I managed to keep it under 3500 rpm for the first 1000 miles. I did not follow the Toyota under-55 recommendation either, but I did keep it under 70. And for the first time ever, I decided to believe what the manual was telling me, and I did not change out the first oil until 5000 miles.

    I actually have a 2nd car - a Sub outback sport, and I followed the same procedure with that one, except that the first oil change was at 3500 miles, still more than many people on these boards recommend. I am happy to report that after 115K miles, it still has perfect compression, and does not burn or leak any oil.

    I think the real point of all these break-in regulations from the manufacturers is to give the seals and rings a chance to seat with the normal operation of the engine, before you stress it out too much.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

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