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Breaking in a new car- Us vs the dealer

I have a 2000 Honda Odyessey that I LOVE! It has over 173,000 miles on it and I LOVE it! It has required more costly repairs and so we’ve been thinking of getting a new car. Here’s the question: my husband says he’ll NEVER get another new car that is NOT on the lot. He feels that if anyone else drives a new car and doesn’t break it in correctly, the car will always have future problems. I’m looking at buying a 2010 car now that the 2011 cars are coming to a dealer. I know that I want some specific features and occassionally a dealer will find a car within a couple of hundered miles with the features that we want. My husband says he doesn’t want to risk this not being broken in correctly. Yet the 2010 are getting scarce. Is this a real problem? WE NEED YOUR HELP! He listens to you and even respects your opinions!

We purchased a new Toyota 4Runner back in 2003 that was driven 120 miles from another dealer. We have had no problems with the car which could be traced back to being driven up from another dealer. It has never taken a drop of oil. Had it been driven hard,the rings might have scuffed the cylinder wall and caused a problem, or the rings may not have been seated correctly. The people employed to transport cars would likely be out of a job if they damaged cars. The minister at my church drove for Saturn when she was between calls for a church. A new car has a warranty, so I don’t think having the car driven from another dealer would be a problem.

Just think about what happens to new cars by techs on their PDI “test drives” yikes!

Just about every car on a dealer’s lot has been driven. There is no such thing as a demonstrator these days. All new cars are demonstrators. Any car with more than 10 miles on it has been driven by a prospective buyer. Even that is probably way too high. How many miles does it take to get on a truck, of the truck, and into a parking space at the dealer’s lot? Even if it’s shipped overseas, it’s not much more.

If you want a 2011, you can order a car with everything you want and it should be at rock bottom price. It’s not a speculative buy for the dealer, so you should get the best price available. You just have to wait for the next truck load to be delivered from that particular factory. The Odyssey is built in Alabama; you don’t have to get it on the next boat 6 months from now.

Well modern cars are difficult to drive in such a way as to cause damage. I would not worry about it. In fact I don’t even remember if I looked at the mileage on my last car. It is just not material.

What were those “repairs” that your car recently required. I am just wondering if they may have been not repairs at all but were maintenance. Now that they are done your current car may have many more inexpensive reliable miles and years in it.



The most critical part of the break in, seating the rings, was done at the factory where they put the car on a chassis dyno and do a dozen or so consecutive full throttle runs and coastdowns.

It’s rebuilt engines that often have oil consumption problems because the owners over-babied the engine right after the rebuild and never seated the new rings.

I would suggest that you bought a car with 120 miles on the odometer. It was probably transported on a truck. How that 120 miles got there is a whole 'nother onion.

Really? You’re usually so detail oriented. Interesting.

“If you want a 2011, you can order a car with everything you want and it should be at rock bottom price. It’s not a speculative buy for the dealer, so you should get the best price available.”

Yes, you can order a car with everything you want.

Rock bottom price is good.

Whatever price you manage to get is ipso facto the best price available.

It’s possible that those 120 miles were only put on in an hour.

99% of the lore on breaking in a new car is bunk. With a modern car, drive it off the lot and be nice to it for the first few hundred miles, or whatever it says in the manual. Manufacturing tolerances are so much improved that special “breaking in” procedures are no longer needed. And really, if you are worried about a 2010 with 120 miles from customer test drives, how do you know that the 2011 you want that comes off the carrier with 3 miles on the odometer wasn’t been used to make donuts in the parking lot at the factory before it was loaded. (You did see the news from the Detroit Chrysler plant, right?)

Although this will be a blow to his ego, there is nothing special your husband did in 2000 to break in your Odyssey, cars are just better these days. Don’t worry about a new car with a few dozen miles, if you can get a better price that way.

Modern engines don’t need the same break-in procedures as cars made decades ago. Your husband is making a mountain out of a molehill.

An engine can be broken in incorrectly so it should not be thrashed in the first 1000 miles although the engine will be settled in during the first 25 or so.
There’s a reason why the car makers advise caution in the owners manuals.

The dealer located the 4Runner we purchased through the computerized database. He found the vehicle we wanted on the database about 8:00 p.m. He called the dealer and made the arrangements. A driver brought the vehicle up the next day. If the driver made the 120 miles in an hour, he should be given a medal. I don’t think a 4Runner is capable of going this fast.

I think I’ve only bought 1 new car that had less then 100 miles on it…Never had a problem with any of the engines even well past 300k miles.

My state, and perhaps yours as well, has a maximum mileage limit that a car can have and still be sold as “new”. I’ve forgotten exactly what it is, but it’s low, perhaps 150 miles or less. While it is possible to get a new car that’s been abused to the point of damage, the probability is really the same whether you buy off the lot or order.

The problem is really your husband’s perception.

A break in period has not been required for many years. The manufacturer would advise against operating at high revs or pulling the maximum rated load for a few miles but other than that it appears that a car can, and should be driven normally from day one. Fleet trucks are bought new and put on the road with no concern for break in and operate for hundreds of thousands of miles with no apparent problems. The engines in fleet trucks are rebuilt and immediately put back into service and last hundreds of thousands of miles with no apparent problems. I’m curious what could be expected to improve if correctly(?) broken in, and exactly what would be considered a proper break in these days.