Be Gentle During the Break-in Period

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Be Gentle During the Break-in Period

It's important to take it easy on your new car's engine.

© iStockphoto.com/mangostock

Owning a new car is an exciting experience. After going through the often challenging process of buying one, it's only natural to want to enjoy it by seeing what it can do out on the highway. But it's important to take it easy on a newly manufactured engine -- initially, at least.

The "break-in period" usually refers to car's first 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers). During this time, it's important to keep the throttle in the lower RPM range, but also to vary your driving speed from time to time. You don't want to be sticking to one particular speed or gear; you want to utilize the entire range of your car's performance.

Consult your car's owner's manual for the best results, but you usually won't want to go any faster than 75 miles per hour (120.7 kilometers per hour) or so during the first 600 or 700 miles (965.6 or 1,127 kilometers), or exceed 3,500 RPM the first 500 miles (804.7 kilometers) [source: Autotropolis].

Why is this? New engines have new parts that need to get accustomed to their role in your car's engine -- the piston rings in particular. These rings need to shape themselves to the cylinders in your engine, and it takes time and careful driving for that to happen properly. If the rings aren't seated correctly, the car may continue to burn oil down the line.

Breaking in your engine may seem like a hassle that prevents you from enjoying it, but it could mean the difference between an engine that lasts 100,000 miles (160,934 kilometers) and one that lasts 200,000 miles (321,869 kilometers). Be good to your engine at first -- it, and your wallet, will thank you later [source: Car Talk].

Next, learn how to properly treat your engine on cold days.

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