Engine break-in is a fairly controversial subject — much like oil change intervals and tire pressure — and just like those, we recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Break-in periods typically require following a stringent driving style for a certain number of miles. Some engines, though, may have no break-in at all. All the info you need is in your owner’s manual, or may be available on the automaker’s website in the form of a downloadable owner’s manual.
The widely accepted reason for break-in period is to allow engine internals (specifically, the piston rings) to break in and seal properly, which theoretically will prevent oil from being burned when the engine starts to rack up miles. Don’t be alarmed, however, if during the break-in period the engine burns a little oil; that’s perfectly normal until the piston rings seat completely.
Most automakers recommend driving at varying speeds and acceleration rates and say you shouldn’t tow anything until you’re past the break-in period. Here’s an example of a break-in recommendation on the 2008 Chrysler Town & Country:
“A long break-in period is not required for the engine in your vehicle.
“Drive moderately during the first 300 mi (500 km). After the initial 60 mi (100 km), speeds up to 50 or 55 mph (80 or 90 km/h) are desirable.
“While cruising, brief full-throttle acceleration, within the limits of local traffic laws, contributes to a good break-in. Wide-open throttle acceleration in low gear can be detrimental and should be avoided.”
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