Buying a used car

Easy does it: Running in a new car

It used to be absolutely essential to follow rigorous care and advice and to “run in” a new car. A procedure which helps to condition the various parts which move and wear against each other to finalise the last small bit of size and shape adjustment that settles them into their life pattern. In the past, you could see a new car moving slowly in the nearside motorway lane with a “running-in, please pass” sign in the rear window!!

Nowadays, huge improvements in design, engineering processes and material quality means that the necessity of taking such care in the first few thousand miles is somewhat redundant.

Or is it?

It’s still a good idea to take that little more extra care, particularly if it’s a new car which you’re planning to keep for a while! Reliability of mechanical parts and oil and fuel consumption can all benefit.

Here we have summarised general driving advice and car care for the first thousand miles or so, which will help ensure that your new pride and joy stays exactly that – an (as new) pride and joy!

The first thousand miles

  • Avoid harsh accelerating and heavy braking. Take it easy and move up and down through gears gently and steadily.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes suddenly – give yourself plenty of time to slow down gradually. This gives time for all the major components such as brake pads and discs to bed in.
  • Change gear regularly, avoiding over-revving:
    • For diesel engines, keep the engine speed below 3000 rpm, but make sure the revs regularly reach this limit
    • For petrol engines stick to a 3000 rpm limit for the first 500-600 miles and then increase the limit to around 4000 rpm. Again, revs should regularly reach this limit.
  • Avoid putting unnecessary strain on the engine by changing up through the gears too quickly. This labours the engine and also reduces fuel efficiency.
  • New tyres have a thin oily coating – a mixture of oils from the rubber and a release agent to prevent the tyre sticking to the manufacturing mould. Until this wears off the handling will feel different, especially in the wet.
  • Check oil and coolant levels at least once a week – this is a new car so you don’t know how much oil it will use. Oil consumption can be higher than expected for the first 6000 miles or so but should slow as the car run’s in particularly if the car has been treated gently in the early days

At the 1000mile point, some people opt to have a basic oil and filter change, although this is now not a manufacturer recommendation. However, it can help to remove any minute engine particles that have circulated through the oil in the car.

Taking the time to gently run-in your new car is a worthwhile investment, and one that will ultimately save you money in the long run.

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