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Cross country trip during break in period for a new car?


My 2002 Nissan Altima just died an untimely death, just before I was leaving to drive cross country with my 22 year old son, Siberian Husky and cat to a new job in Boston. The trip is 3-4 K miles (depending on how much scenery we take in on the way). I bought a Honda Fit for the trip. Will it hurt my car to drive so many miles during the break in period? Is there anything I should do to reduce the strain on my car?

It won’t hurt the car. Read the owners manual…it will tell you all you need to know about how to break in the vehicle.

The first 1000 miles you won’t be able to go very fast, as outlined in the manual. But you can make that you scenic trip. As previous OP says, read the manual.

In addition to strictly following the break-in advice contained in your Owner’s Manual, I would advise you to check the oil daily. Some cars will use a bit of oil during the break-in period, before the piston rings are properly seated, and you don’t want to run your new engine without sufficient motor oil in it. If you need to add oil, be sure to use the viscosity listed in the manual.

Also–be sure that the tires are inflated to at least the pressure listed on the label on the driver’s door jamb. If you are carrying a fairly heavy load, it will be beneficial to the tires if you inflate them 2 or 3 lbs. higher than the recommended pressure. This will help the tires to run cooler at high speed and lessen the chance of a blow-out (which is an admittedly remote chance on new tires).

Enjoy the trip, and be sure to use those lonely nights in motels to read the entire Owner’s Manual!

It won’t hurt the car a bit. I did something similar withthe break-in of my last new car, and that was 225,000 miles ago!

Thanks to everyone for your very helpful responses. I have one more question- Honda fills the engine with a special “break in oil” and the break in period section of the owners manual advises you not to change the oil until you reach the scheduled maintenance time. The time for the oil change is calculated by the onboard computer on the basis of engine operating conditions and accumulated engine revolutions. Would you wait for the computer to say its time for an oil change, or would you take it for an oil change after completing the trip? I would have done so otherwise, but I don’t want to lose the benefits of the break in oil. Thanks!

wait for the computer to say when(usually 5k miles). If it comes on during your trip, most any shop(NOT jiffy/quick Lube type place) should be able to work on it.

Agreed, wait for the scheduled time, but you will probably be home first. If the reminder light comes on during your trip, you can still safely go a healthy distance before getting your oil changed. The engineers built a lot of leeway into their calculations. It’s not something to obsess over.

Manufacturers that make specific recommendations for how to drive the car during the break in period say three things:
(1) Don’t rev the engine up to red line. A typical suggested limit is 4,000 rpm.
(2) Don’t use full power all the time. After the first few hundred miles, accelerating briskly up to highway speed is OK. Just don’t do it all the time.
(3) Vary your speed. That is, don’t get out on the interstate, set the cruise control and pound along at the same speed for hours on end.

You can make your trip within these constraints by taking the scenic route instead of the interstate. Two-lane highways have lower speed limits than the interstate and you will have to slow down for towns every few miles.

The first 1000 miles you won’t be able to go very fast, as outlined in the manual. But you can make that you scenic trip. As previous OP says, read the manual.

Every vehicle I’ve bought since 98 never had a limit on how fast you can go the first x miles. Just says to vary the speed for the first 3k miles. Then do a normal oil change.

First look at the manual and see if there is anything listed about break in. If nothing listed drive the car normally and forget about it. I think most advice posted has no proof or bearing to back it up currently.

My last car was a new 95 Honda driven its first 2000 miles with cruise 90% of the ride and no variance. I sold it in 2004 with 225k miles and it did not burn a single drop of oil nor had any mechanical problems ever with the transmission or engine.

Keep it below 70 MPH for the firat 2,000 miles and you will be doing alright. It’s always nice to be able to follow all the other suggestions, but sometimes you just have to take the trip.

Mike, my Toyota manual very spifically says not to go too fast (excessive speed) the first 1000 miles, but it also says not to drive at any one speed (fast or slow)for a long time. Proper seating of the rings depends on putting some stress on them by wide open throttle acceleration every now and then. If you set the cruise control on a new car at moderate speed and drive from Detroit to Denver, your cylinder walls will be polished but they will not have good seal, so the car will use oil.

Break-in will occur in the first 20 miles. After that, vary the speed a bit now and then and drive all you want.
(And I would recommend at oil change when you arrive at your destination. Personally, I believe a new engine should get an oil change around the 1000 miles mark but that may not be possible in this case.)