Engine Break-in Procedures

I have just purchased a 2009 Toyota Camry. The engine has less than 150 total miles. The manual recommends not driving at continuous high speeds for long periods of time, but does not specify a speed limit or time frame. The service dept at the dealership had very little guidance to offer. We would like to take the car on a road-trip that will require about 3 hours of highway driving. Is it okay to take the car on this trip? What should be our limitations for speed and distance?

Thank you.

New Car Owner in Decatur, GA

I would take the guidance to mean to not set your speed control, or to not do the trip in one long driving period. What we have found to work well is to do normal stop and go driving, since our driving habits include a mix of highway and city.

I would break up the trip both by time driven, not more than one hour continuously and by varying speed a bit during each time period. I would not drive over 60, but my theory may be outdated. We have never taken a trip without having at least 500-600 miles on the engine, so I can’t say that this method will absolutely work, with good results. The old adage was not to drive over 50-55 mph during the break in period of about 500 miles, does not seem to apply anymore, so I drive a bit faster, in highway situations, but seldom 70 or more during break in.

For the first few hundred miles, you should avoid running the engine above 4,000 rpm, using full throttle and driving at the same speed for a long distance. Depending on the manufacturer, the recommended break in distance varies from 500 to 2,000 miles.

There is no reason to put off your trip. Instead of getting on the interstate and setting your cruise control, take two-lane highways. Traffic and slowing down for small towns will take care of varying your speed. Not flooring the accelerator pedal is your responsibility. I used this procedure with a brand new Subaru Legacy -250 miles each way. It is still running strong after 10 years and 180k miles.

Relax and enjoy your new Camry the way you normally would, except accelerate conservatively. In those three hours you’ll be doing what, maybe 200 miles tops? and that’ll include a few rest stops, perhaps a hill of two? In reality, that’s nothing.

I broke in a 1989 Toyota Camry on the highway at highway speeds commuting 103 miles each way. I got 338,000 miles out of the vehicle with no internal engine work and it wasn’t even burning oil…well, about 1 quart every 1200 or so miles…it would probably still be running if it hadn’t gotten hit and totalled.

Happy motoring.

I am with mountain on this one. Don’t set the speed control and leave it there, but don’t get too concerned. Personally I would like to have a few more miles before taking a trip, but that is not all that long a trip. Those first 1,000 miles or so often area testing time when any weakness missed at the factory is more likely to show up. Take a cell phone with you. Good luck and have a good trip.

I would just refrain from using the cruise control and drive the speed limit. If I remember correctly, Decatur, GA and the surrounding area is a little hilly (at least not as flat as Florida). That will help you vary your engine speed.

I would just like to add to check your oil level before, during, and after the trip. The owner’s manual for my 2006 Sienna stated that it was normal to use up to 1 quart per 1000 miles when it was new. To date, the Sienna does not use any detectable amount of oil between changes.

Ed B.

In the old days, we used to vary the speed of a new car which was put immediately into service to help seat the piston rings. I remember starting out on a 600 mile trip in 1960 in a new Rambler with less than 100 miles on the odometer that my dad had just purchased. He varied the speed and drove conservatively to the destination. The car never used oil in its lifetime and ran well. I’m certain that a car 48 years later on a 300 mile (whoops, I meant 3 hour–if you are averaging 100 miles per hour in your new car you certainly aren’t doing it any good) trip should do as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is more than an engine that needs to be broken in on a new car. All the bearings, transmission, brakes, tires, etc are new. Don’t see how fast you can start away from one stop sign and stop and the next one. Give all the components a chance to be broken in.

I’m with the majority here. Don’t use your cruise control, don’t accelerate too hard, and consider throwing a two-lane stretch in the middle of the trip if you can.

vary your speed.use overdrive.keep the rpm’s as low as possible.let the engine warm up.espically with the first start of the day.just baby it till it breaks in.remember,up to about 90% of engine wear is when the engine is started cold and all the oil is still in the pan.

Unlike most people here, unless you intend to own this car for less than five years (and don’t care much about its condition afterward), I’d not take the new Camry on this trip.

Driving various speeds and not exceeding 55 mph for the first 1000 miles or so may not be recommended or required by car manufacturers, but it certainly won’t hurt the car.

It can only be good fand is the best thing you can do for it.

I’ve broken in each of my new cars very slowly and carefully and the shortest period of ownership I’ve ever had for a car is 16 years - with no major problems and no oil leaks.

I’m only basing my advice on my own experience and you can take it for whatever value or non-value you may give it…

Not scientific - but why not take it easy for those first thousand miles? You’ve nothing to lose and possibly much to gain.

High speed is probably any speed over XX MPH. You wouldn’t want to press a new engine to go really fast. Just don’t do 90 for long and you will be doing the car a favor. Normal driving will definitely be alright. Go as far as you want. Stop for your health but don’t worry about the car.