New Vehicle Break In

One of the most common questions has been how to "break in" your new car.  There are a lot of suggestions and recommendations, but I was looking for the "official word" from Chevrolet.  This is what I found:

2001 Chevrolet Impala Owner's Manual (2-29):

Your vehicle doesn't need an elaborate "break-in."  But it will perform better in the long run if you follow these guidelines:

Don't drive at any one speed -- fast or slow -- for the first 500 miles (805 km).   Don't make full-throttle starts.

Avoid making hard stops for the first 200 miles (322 km) or so.  During this time your new brake linings aren't yet broken in.  Hard stops with the new linings can mean premature wear and earlier replacement.  Follow this breaking-in guideline every time you get new brake linings.

Don't tow a trailer during break-in.

Crate Engine Start Up Procedure

It never ceases to amaze me what I can find on the 'net.  While I was poking around in the Chevrolet site, I came across the following start up procedure for their crate engines.  If you don't know, you can order an engine in various stages of assembly direct from the manufacturer or other companies.  These are known as "crate engines" because they come to you in a wooden crate.  You can even get them ready-to-run, which usually means drop it in your car, connect everything, and fire that bad boy up.  The following is the procedure Chevrolet provides as the start up procedure for crate engines.  NOTE:  I reproduced it exactly, so some things don't apply.

1. SAFETY FIRST! If the car is on the ground, be sure the emergency brake is set, the wheels are chocked, and the transmission cannot fall into gear.

2. Be sure to check the oil level in the engine and prime the oil system

3. Run the engine between 2,000 and 2,500 RPMs, with no-load on the engine for the first 30 min.

4. Adjust the distributor timing roughly by hand for a quick start up and smoothest idle possible.

5. Adjust the carburetor settings, if necessary.

6. After the first 30 minutes of the engine running, set the ignition timing (see install ignition section for timing specifications).

7. Drive the vehicle with varying speeds and loads on the engine for the first 30 miles. Be sure not to use a lot of throttle or high RPM.

8. Run five or six medium-throttle accelerations to about 5,000 RPM (55 to 60 MPH), then letting off in gear and coasting back down to 20 MPH.

9. Run a couple hard-throttle accelerations up to about 5000 RPM (55 to 60 MPH), then letting off in gear and coasting back down to 20 MPH.

10. Change the oil and filter with 10w30SG oil and PF1218 AC Delco oil filter (PN 251605610

11. Drive the next 500 miles normally, without high RPM's (below 5,000 RPM), hard use, or extended periods of high loading.

12. Change the oil and oil filter again.

13. Your engine is now ready for many happy cruising miles!

Final Comments

Everyone seems to have their own procedure to "break-in" a car.  Pick and choose from what I have provided here, or follow something else.  Changing the oil and filter at 500 miles seems to be the most common recommendation.  Here in Hawaii, one step is to tie ti leaves to the back of the car.  Locally, the Ti plant is used to ward off evil spirts and the leaves are used in many blessing ceremonies and to bring good luck.  If you ever see a University of Hawaii game, you'll also see the fans waving ti leaves in support of their team.  Think that is strange?  What about throwing salt over your shoulder if you spill some?