When I was still a kid, when we travel to the province, I sometimes see cars with posters at the back of their vehicle that say “Break-In”. At first I really thought it was funny since what I knew back then was literally to break in (or break the glass) in case of emergency. And these signs are usually placed at the rear window so that it can easily be seen. But as I grew older and became more familiar with vehicles, my grandfather told me quite a lot about what break-in really means when it comes to cars.
To break-in a car means to let the engines get used to working hard or getting used to revving. At the same time, you should try to avoid revving your engine too high since it will wear your engines easily. This is usually done on new cars so that the engines will get used to longer duration of activity. It is also applied to cars with new engines, or even newly overhauled engines. My grandfather told me that it is quite important since it will reduce the risk of the engine failing in long travels with moderate to high rpm (revolutions per minute or revs). It’s like warming up your engine for long term use.
Now, what do you actually do during break-in? Well, what most car owners do is to drive long distances at fair enough speeds. On a freeway or an expressway, you’ll probably be sticking to an average speed. Let’s say on a 50 kilometer expressway, you’d probably find yourself driving 90-100 kilometers per hour most of the time. At that speed, you’re probably driving your engine to around 3000 to 4000 rpm on either the 4th or 5th gear. Staying that way for a long period of time will make your engine used to revving. Thus, it won’t get into “shock” if you need to drive long distances again or if you need to rev it high enough when you need it.
A good two hours or so of straight driving will do and do it twice or thrice and then avoid going up to excessively high rpm let’s say around 5000 or up. Again, your engine may not be accustomed to that load.
Aside from long distance driving on level ground, another good way to break-in the car is to take it up to steep slopes. If you know a mountainous region where you can go uphill, that would be a good place to do it. Don’t put too much load on your engine by revving so high just to go up. Manage your rpm to around 3000 to 4000. Downshift when you need to unless of course you have an automatic transmission car.
Now one of the reasons why car owners place a break-in sign on their back window is to let other drivers know that the car is in break-in mode and is avoiding high speeds (thus high rpm). You’ll usually find them in the slow lane of the expressway or the freeway (usually the outer lane). Keeping a constant speed with constant rpm is one of the keys to break-in the car. This will definitely lengthen your engine’s life.
As for my personal experience, our car is already 16 years old but it has never been overhauled and it had a couple of days break-in. After a month or so of staying at a constant and moderate speed, your engine will be good to go for higher rpm and yes, higher speeds.
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But if you are actually concerned with how your car performs, then you know the truly indispensable accessories are usually not the flashier items. Invest in a performance muffler and short shifters before you start worrying about reverse gauges. Having your priorities straight will build the return on your investment in the long run.
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