Running in a New Car – Should You Do This?


Even if your car manufacturer hasn’t recommended a running in procedure on a new car, it is still wise to treat it with some consideration. The reason for this is to allow the machinery to bed in, though manufacturing tolerances on modern cars are so close that a lengthy running-in period is no longer necessary. That said, it is not unusual, especially for diesels, for the engine to use a little more oil than usual during the first few thousand miles. Indeed, there are certain circumstances in which a used car needs a running-in period, as we’ll see.

Check your handbook for manufacturer’s suggestions but the usual advice is that you avoid full throttle acceleration and try to keep below about 4,000 rpm for a petrol engine and 2,000 rpm for a diesel, for at least 1,000 miles. You should never work a cold engine hard, no matter how old it is, but should be especially careful not to do it with a new engine. It takes about four miles for an engine to reach its normal working temperature at which oil flows most freely, which is why many cars have water temperature gauges and high performance cars also have oil temperature gauges. A few cars, mostly Japanese and Korean, also have a blue or green warning light, showing a thermometer, which goes out when the engine reaches working temperature.

Running in New Car Running in a New Car   Should You Do This?

Brakes

You should also avoid heavy use of the brakes because new brake pads also need to bed in as the friction materials wear to take account of any slight irregularities in the disc or drum.

Tyres

New tyres also need a couple of hundred miles to start giving their full grip so be particularly careful on new tyres in the wet. If you look at a tyre that has never been used you’ll see why: manufacture leaves tiny spikes of rubber sticking up and keen edges to the tread blocks which need to be worn away before it can grip properly. New tyres may lose a little air in the first few days and wheel nuts should be checked for tightness after the first 30 miles.

The run-in period for new brakes and tyres applies to old cars, too, and if the engine has had major work it is probably wise to go easy on it at first.

Feathered fiends

Finally, keep an eye on the paintwork because new paint is more vulnerable to damage from environmental contaminants like factory fallout and bird mess: seagull droppings are particularly damaging. You don’t have to keep washing the car, just slosh the mess off.

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