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Engine Break in guidance

3178 Views 118 Replies 33 Participants Last post by  Montanan
1st post here - be gentle ;)

I have a 2024 Limited due to arrive in 4 weeks. Right about that time I want to go on roughly a 1000-mile trip. This is my 3rd Subaru with CVT and in the past, I've tried to vary speed during the first 1000 miles or so. That's been difficult to do with a CVT. The RPMs will drift a bit but regardless of speed, they are usually pretty consistent. My question is about the proper break-in. Besides not driving like a knucklehead, is there anything to really avoid? I plan to do an oil change right after the trip, but anything else? Thank you!
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Many years ago I was a big fan of the British Morgan sports cars. They had a very interesting break-in requirement...
At 1,000 miles, it was recommended to return to the dealership to have a thorough going-over and tightening of all the screws that held the wooden body framework together. (The car's low-slung chassis was steel, of course, but the superstructure to which the body's metal panels were attached was mostly all fashioned from ash wood.) After that, it was said, "road grime, and father time" kept everything tight.
That's a good one! Make sure they were all settled in place.
That's a good one! Make sure they were all settled in place.
Hey, AstroKats, I had a feeling you'd respond to that. Any Morgan experience?
Hey, AstroKats, I had a feeling you'd respond to that. Any Morgan experience?
Ha, ha, no. Early Triumphs and Jags and now a Lotus. Lot of respect for the Morgans, though.
Ha, ha, no. Early Triumphs and Jags and now a Lotus. Lot of respect for the Morgans, though.
Back in 1963 or 64 I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Peter Morgan (Son of company founder Henry) at the Morgan display at the International Automobile Show in NYC. Although I was only a highschooler at the time, Mr. Morgan took the time to show me around the car and answer my questions. Made my day...no, my year!
Buy alas, while I did eventually own a 1953 MG-TD, I was only to admire Morgans from afar.

Sorry for jumping off topic.
Back in 1963 or 64 I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Peter Morgan (Son of company founder Henry) at the Morgan display at the International Automobile Show in NYC. Although I was only a highschooler at the time, Mr. Morgan took the time to show me around the car and answer my questions. Made my day...no, my year!
Buy alas, while I did eventually own a 1953 MG-TD, I was only to admire Morgans from afar.

Sorry for jumping off topic.
Very cool! And don't worry about jumping off topic, just check my moniker.
This is a short article but to the point. I think I trust JD Power more than some of the armchair quarterbacks here. If anyone has some reputable articles about why it's NOT a good idea to break in an engine I'd like to see them. And not for racing cars as their engines are not expected to last that long between rebuilds or replacement.

That article just parroted back the usual theory. I鈥檓 more interested in people going to the extreme like not doing it or doing the opposite. I plan to switch to mineral oil at 250 mi and do oil analysis tests on every oil change.
That article just parroted back the usual theory. I鈥檓 more interested in people going to the extreme like not doing it or doing the opposite. I plan to switch to mineral oil at 250 mi and do oil analysis tests on every oil change.
Do what you do. I'm not an oil exec... ;)
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I'm with PDawg on the hard break-in method. I've taken a new Subaru from the delivering dealer, where I checked tire pressures, fluids, etc and driven straight to the steepest longest interstate mountain section and floored it at the bottom and never let up until cresting, where I engine braked on the way down the other side. :)

I've also followed the book on other new Subarus. (Lots of Subys in 32 years, lots of "experimenting.")

But I still drive the initial 100 miles with a version of hard and book... that is, some full throttle bursts and engine braking down to legal. Also, I avoid extended constant speed driving during the first 1000 or so miles. Just me, though, biased from building/rebuilding engines.

My results with newer cars were the same with both methods... great running engines that never burned oil.

You, do You. No advice here.
I dare say if you鈥檝e owned that many Subarus, you have never owned one past a mileage point where the failures of improper break in would start to be noticeable. In my life knowing folks who did not break in an engine properly, the ramifications didn鈥檛 pop up until well after 100 or 150k miles.

Proper care includes break in, timely oil changes, good driving habits, and of course is dependent on the owner鈥檚 geographical driving conditions. It鈥檚 the difference between an engine that goes 300k with minimal oil use, or an engine with 110k burning a quart between changes.
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I dare say if you鈥檝e owned that many Subarus, you have never owned one past a mileage point where the failures of improper break in would start to be noticeable. In my life knowing folks who did not break in an engine properly, the ramifications didn鈥檛 pop up until well after 100 or 150k miles.

Proper care includes break in, timely oil changes, good driving habits, and of course is dependent on the owner鈥檚 geographical driving conditions. It鈥檚 the difference between an engine that goes 300k with minimal oil use, or an engine with 110k burning a quart between changes.
Very good points! It's difficult to get any evidence of this considering most people don't buy a new car and keep it for ten years. Wolverine isn't posting any more.
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That article just parroted back the usual theory. I鈥檓 more interested in people going to the extreme like not doing it or doing the opposite. I plan to switch to mineral oil at 250 mi and do oil analysis tests on every oil change.
I like to hear actual owner experiences not just those who selectively parrot internet articles. Most of those are just click bait anyway, and sure can't trust everything you read.
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I like to hear actual owner experiences not just those who selectively parrot internet articles. Most of those are just click bait anyway, and sure can't trust everything you read.
What? But it's on the internet, so it has to be true!!!
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Very good points! It's difficult to get any evidence of this considering most people don't buy a new car and keep it for ten years. Wolverine isn't posting any more.
Not to mention if you buy a car knowing you're going to trade it in less than 5 years, you won't really care aboit breaking it in. All you will care about is documenting service to increase its value to the next buyer.
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What? But it's on the internet, so it has to be true!!!
LOL! RP won't pay any attention to any documentation you may find. He's set in his ways, as am I... ;)
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LOL! RP won't pay any attention to any documentation you may find. He's set in his ways, as am I... ;)
Well, set or not, what I do has worked. I am on my 5th Subaru now, and 3 of my past ones went over 300K kms with no major issues. And my Crosstrek with just over 50K after 5 years still feels and looks like new. Didn't get as much driving on this one, because the EVs were the primary vehicle. I'll soon be passing it off to my son, who will be using it a lot more. And I didn't change the oil every 6 months. What a crock that is...

I do take it easy on new cars the first 1000 kms as recommended in the manual, and varied the rpms. That's not to say I didn't occasionally tromp it to see what it could do or if I needed to pass some poker.

And on the Crosstrek, still have the original OEM battery, and still going strong. It has seen many winter ski trips, so I know cold didn't bother it. But I know how to maintain and take care of batteries. And never used a dash cam with it running all night when the car was off!. We used to talk batteries on the forum long ago when rlouie was a moderator. Now everyone here is back to blaming the OEM battery if they have a problem. Rlouie was a very knowledgeable and helpful guy and had a Crosstrek. And not to mention an excellent moderator. I wonder whatever happened to him. He left suddenly, maybe sold his Crosstrek?
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I dare say if you鈥檝e owned that many Subarus, you have never owned one past a mileage point where the failures of improper break in would start to be noticeable. In my life knowing folks who did not break in an engine properly, the ramifications didn鈥檛 pop up until well after 100 or 150k miles.
Makes no sense. Break in two cars completely differently and they both have the same oil consumption at 50K miles. What makes them different at 250K miles???
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Makes no sense. Break in two cars completely differently and they both have the same oil consumption at 50K miles. What makes them different at 250K miles???
im not sure if you are trolling or actually not aware of internal combustion engine basics....

inside the engine are many components, but the most likely ones to suffer from an improper break in would be piston rings, cylinder walls (which could be scored from improper ring seating during break-in), valve train/lifters/cam (which can be damaged from improper break in initially with tight tolerances or from inadequate oil change intervals in which older contaminated oil is thicker with sediments dilution and even metal shavings and cannot be slung through the small pathways any longer like fresh new oil can), and the gaskets and seals of course can also suffer, from an inadequate break in period of temperature changes with the metals and gasket materials expanding and shrinking into their long term positions, which can lead to leaks and worse.

Inside an internal combustion engine are a lot of parts that if cared for with basic effort, they are actually amazingly reliable and overall quite minimal in maintenance considering how much is going on inside, and how much we put engines through. You drive 100,000 miles and its all in the past to the memory, but that engine was managing millions of micro explosions in all sorts of heat and cold temperatures, with all different degrees of oil purity, under varying loads and expectations from you - and almost always, they take the abuse and keep going.

Its worth following the manual provided by the company that put millions and billions of dollars and several decades into perfecting their product - yes some of the guides are for CAFE standards and emissions crap, but overall the manufacturer knows what is best for the product they created, and it is wise to heed it as much as possible.
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Its worth following the manual provided by the company that put millions and billions of dollars and several decades into perfecting their product - yes some of the guides are for CAFE standards and emissions crap, but overall the manufacturer knows what is best for the product they created, and it is wise to heed it as much as possible.
[/QUOTE]


The Manufacturer knows whats best when it comes to turning a Profit, something unaffected if an engine consumes oil or only lasts 100,000 miles. The soft break in is done to minimize warranty claims on the few new cars that have a major defect. They are a business, many things are done for the sake of the Accountants, not the engineers. Too many who followed the directions have oil consumption issues, and too many who haven't followed the directions had zero issues. As a former car porter at a large dealership, I can assure you no one ever followed the official break in procedures when the new cars were shuttled around. This would be a subject better researched by talking to mechanics, not the Internet. As I mentioned earlier, both are good enough.
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Its worth following the manual provided by the company that put millions and billions of dollars and several decades into perfecting their product - yes some of the guides are for CAFE standards and emissions crap, but overall the manufacturer knows what is best for the product they created, and it is wise to heed it as much as possible.

The Manufacturer knows whats best when it comes to turning a Profit, something unaffected if an engine consumes oil or only lasts 100,000 miles. The soft break in is done to minimize warranty claims on the few new cars that have a major defect. They are a business, many things are done for the sake of the Accountants, not the engineers. Too many who followed the directions have oil consumption issues, and too many who haven't followed the directions had zero issues. As a former car porter at a large dealership, I can assure you no one ever followed the official break in procedures when the new cars were shuttled around. This would be a subject better researched by talking to mechanics, not the Internet. As I mentioned earlier, both are good enough.
[/QUOTE]
I'm still like to see some reports of why it's NOT a good idea to break in an engine, not just someone's opinion on a forum.
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The Manufacturer knows whats best when it comes to turning a Profit, something unaffected if an engine consumes oil or only lasts 100,000 miles. The soft break in is done to minimize warranty claims on the few new cars that have a major defect. They are a business, many things are done for the sake of the Accountants, not the engineers. Too many who followed the directions have oil consumption issues, and too many who haven't followed the directions had zero issues. As a former car porter at a large dealership, I can assure you no one ever followed the official break in procedures when the new cars were shuttled around. This would be a subject better researched by talking to mechanics, not the Internet. As I mentioned earlier, both are good enough.
I'm still like to see some reports of why it's NOT a good idea to break in an engine, not just someone's opinion on a forum.[/QUOTE]Bean counters rule the roost, more's the pity.
The last time I know engineers pushed a huge change through against the will of the bean counters was the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon back in 2003. It's a pretty cool story too. I'm a bit biased of course but still

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The Manufacturer knows whats best when it comes to turning a Profit, something unaffected if an engine consumes oil or only lasts 100,000 miles. The soft break in is done to minimize warranty claims on the few new cars that have a major defect. They are a business, many things are done for the sake of the Accountants, not the engineers. Too many who followed the directions have oil consumption issues, and too many who haven't followed the directions had zero issues. As a former car porter at a large dealership, I can assure you no one ever followed the official break in procedures when the new cars were shuttled around. This would be a subject better researched by talking to mechanics, not the Internet. As I mentioned earlier, both are good enough.
I'm still like to see some reports of why it's NOT a good idea to break in an engine, not just someone's opinion on a forum.
[/QUOTE]
For what it鈥檚 worth, I think some of the best evidence to support a proper break in of an engine would be forums like this one. Look at how often people who brag about not following break in or OCI鈥檚 have leaks or consumption issues, and look at how often the 鈥渄orm care鈥 types trade in. This forum alone has seriously raised my eyebrows to whether or not buying used is wise anymore - with dopes using 10w30 and going 8k between changes with no initial break in etc, I don鈥檛 want thier 40k mile trade in that hasn鈥檛 been properly cared for. Sucks for anyone buying a pre owned crosstrek I鈥檒l bet.

outside of that observation - I鈥檓 afraid almost all evidence for or against break in periods would be anecdotal, since the only controlled tests are done by manufacturers, in which for decades they have proven that not following basics of new engine break in will likely cause oil consumption and or cracked piston heads among other issues. The rings need time to seat, wrist pins need to acclimate, cylinder walls are still expanding and shrinking with each cycle of higher operating temps, and all these things need to be done carefully within reason to allow optimal seating of internal engine components in order to assure the best long term reliability.
Sure, not following break in recommendations might still get you to 150k without a catastrophic engine failure: but it鈥檚 also unlikely that engine will go as far without major problems as the guy who has followed his manual and the manufacturers recommendations.

so - again aside from the few manufacturer run tests to prove efficacy of break in, all evidence would likely be anecdotal based on how many people did follow it and had good results, versus people who didn鈥檛 follow it and had bad results, as well as factoring in the less common opposites of both metrics.
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