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5 Mistakes that Will Hurt Your New Car

Some things in life need to be broken in before you can really put them to the test. Hiking boots, newly healed bones, and cohabitation with a romantic partner come to mind. But something else that really needs a breaking in period to avoid long-term problems is a car’s internal combustion engine. There are certain things you should and shouldn’t do while you are breaking your car in if you want to get the most out of it in the long run.

For example, making these 5 mistakes can seriously decrease the performance and lifespan of your car’s engine. They can even damage the engine enough that you will be looking at some major auto repairs. So, here are 5 mistakes you should avoid to keep your car in good shape for many years.

5 mistakes to avoid for good engine life

  1. Making short trips: While you’re breaking in your car, your goal is to get the engine up to its normal operating temperature every time you drive it. Very short trips often don’t give the engine the time it needs to get up to that temperature.
  2. Flooring it: No jackrabbit starts is absolutely critical while your engine is in its break-in period. You don’t want to put the engine at full throttle right away, no matter how tempting it may be with a powerful engine.
  3. Towing: Just like flooring it will put your engine at full throttle, towing something heavy will also increase the amount of throttle your car needs to move. Definitely avoid towing anything until your vehicle is broken in.
  4. Shifting at redline: If your new car is a manual transmission, you’ll want to change the timing of your gear shifts slightly during the break-in period. Drivers often wait until they’re at the redline, or maximum RPMs, before shifting into a higher gear. But for best engine performance, break it in by shifting up at lower RPMs, well before you hit maximum.
  5. Using cruise control: Your car needs to get used to running its engine at a variety of RPMs while it’s being broken in. Putting on cruise control will keep the engine running at a single RPM. It’s also a good idea to do a combination of city, carriageway and motorway driving during this period for the same reason.

So, avoid doing any of these things with your new car until it’s nicely broken in. How long will that take? Well, it depends on the car. It can range from a few hundred miles to a few thousand, and there are some cars that may even be broken in by the time they get to the dealership. To be sure what your car’s break-in period is, check your owner’s manual.