Do New Cars Still Require a Break-In Period?

Car driving on a road Photo: iStock

It used to be that a new car required a detailed break-in period to protect the engine and extend its longevity. But has modern technology made cars more robust and break-in periods obsolete?

“I reached out to a manufacturer, in this case Volvo, and they said there is no prescribed or necessary break-in procedure with their newer cars,” says Mike Monticello, Consumer Reports’ road-test manager. “The powertrain continuously adapts to the driver’s style, and break-in is not really necessary.”

But some automakers give more instructions for new-car owners than others. For example, although the owner’s manual for Consumer Reports’ 2019 Mazda3 test car says that no special break-in process is necessary, the automaker still gives some recommendations. One of the most important suggestions is for owners not to race the engine, meaning don’t push it really hard when it’s brand-new. The manual also says it’s best to avoid driving at one constant speed, either slow or fast, for a long period of time. Do not drive constantly at full throttle or high engine RPM for extended periods. Avoid unnecessary hard stops. And avoid full-throttle starts. Of course, most of these are things you don’t typically want to do to any car, especially with a high-performance sports car or sedan

Some mechanics will also add that you probably shouldn’t tow with a new car, either, in those first few thousand miles.

“With today’s new cars, the break-in period isn’t as critical as it used to be,” says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing. “Cars are a lot more robust now, and for the most part you don’t have to worry about the break-in period as much anymore.”